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Lankford Subcommittee Analyzes Latest Federal Agency Retrospective Review Process

WASHINGTON, DC – The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, under the chairmanship of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), held a hearing today to examine federal agencies’ current retrospective review efforts, in response to President Obama’s Executive Orders 13563 and 13610. Specifically, the Executive Orders directed agencies to develop and submit to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) plans for periodic review of existing significant regulations to determine whether they should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed.

The Subcommittee discussed the overall number of regulations reviewed and the results of those reviews, as well as how agencies have prioritized their reviews. They also examined any possible barriers encountered during the process, as well as, best practices to solicit public comment on reviews. Possible legislation to strengthen the retrospective review process was also discussed.

“It is essential for the federal government to clear out old rules and restrictions that are burdensome and ineffective,” said Lankford. “The government works for the American people, not the other way around. Changing industry circumstances and technological improvements make out-of-date regulations difficult for small businesses to grow and create jobs, and they can make products too expensive for families. Congress must strengthen regulatory reviews to ensure that regulations maintain basic common sense, instead of intensify bureaucratic processes.”

The hearing witnesses included: Elizabeth Klein, Associate Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Interior; William Nickerson, Acting Office Director of the Office of Regulatory Policy and Management at the Environmental Protection Agency; Megan Uzzell, Associate Deputy Secretary at the Department of Labor; and Christopher Zehren, Deputy Director for Program Analysis, Office of Budget and Program Analysis at the Department of Agriculture.

In Elizabeth Klein’s written testimony, she said, “We understand that we need to regulate in a way that is smart, efficient, effective and not more burdensome than necessary to meet our goals. We look forward to continuing our efforts to meet these challenges.”

In July, Lankford and Ranking Member Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced the Smarter Regulations Through Advance Planning and Review Act, which would make agency retrospective reviews mandatory for the most expensive rules. The bill passed Committee on October 7 by voice vote.

In all, Lankford and Heitkamp have introduced three regulatory improvement bills, which passed the Committee several weeks ago. Besides the Smarter Regulations Through Advance Planning and Review Act, they introduced the Early Participation in Regulations Act of 2015, which would allow Americans to participate in the regulatory process earlier, and the Principled Rulemaking Act of 2015, which would ensure that agencies propose rules that address verifiable problems.

Lankford and Heitkamp have made regulatory reform a central focus for their work on the Subcommittee. Today’s hearing was their sixth hearing or roundtable discussion on the federal regulatory process, including a hearing with OIRA Administrator Howard Shelanski in July. In March, the Senators launched a national #CutRedtape Initiative, an online tool for American families and businesses to share their stories about how federal regulations impact them on a daily basis. So far, the bipartisan initiative has received more than 260 submissions on regulations from a variety of federal agencies, including the EPA, USDA, Department of Education, and many others.

CLICK HERE to read the hearing opening statements and view the hearing video. CLICK HERE to view Senator Lankford’s opening statement and question and answer portion of the hearing.