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Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government 
Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate:

March 2005:

Unfunded Mandates:

Views Vary About Reform Act's Strengths, Weaknesses, and Options for 
Improvement (Appendix IV, E-Supplement):

GAO-05-497SP:

Appendix IV: Parties' Feedback on UMRA and Federal Mandates:

This is appendix IV of our report, Unfunded Mandates: Views Vary About 
Reform Act's Strengths, Weaknesses, and Options for Improvement, 
[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-454]. To return to 
the full report click on the following link: [Hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-454].

During this review, we solicited information from knowledgeable sources 
regarding issues associated with UMRA, and federal mandates in general, 
and options to address those issues. Table 2 below presents those 
parties' detailed responses. To facilitate open and candid discussions 
during our review and associated symposium, we have not identified the 
specific sources of the information we received.

To provide a framework for presenting and analyzing the considerable 
amount of information conveyed by the sources, we itemized the parties' 
responses, as much as possible, into a set of discrete separable points 
and then assigned each item to broad themes. In some instances, if a 
party's comments were part of a more lengthy discussion addressing a 
larger issue, we kept the material together to avoid losing the context 
of the input. Our coding into themes was not intended to be precise or 
to limit suggested options to only certain topics, but simply to help 
group together items that included input relevant to a given topic. In 
some cases, individual items were assigned to more than one thematic 
category and may be repeated throughout this document. The following 
are the themes and their related codes used in the tables:

A. Items containing input on UMRA:

A1. Uses and usefulness of information generated under UMRA A2. 
Coverage of UMRA A3. Enforcement of UMRA A4. UMRA Analytic Framework 
A5. UMRA consultations A6. Other items regarding UMRA:

B. Items containing input on federal mandates and programs in general:

B1. Design and funding of federal mandate programs B2. Evaluation and 
research needs regarding federal mandates B3. Other general items:

Where possible, we also included a code within the column containing 
the strengths and weaknesses identified by the parties to indicate 
whether the issue raised was considered a strength [S] or a weakness 
[W] of UMRA or federal mandates in general.

Table 2: Knowledgeable Parties' Responses Regarding Umra and Federal 
Mandates:

ID: 1; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA has been successful in bringing attention to 
the fiscal effects of federal legislation on state and local 
governments, improving federal accountability, and enhancing 
consultation [S]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA raises awareness of the problem of 
unfunded and under-funded federal mandates; UMRA fosters a more 
balanced state-federal partnership; 
Theme code(s): A1; A5.

ID: 2; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Unfunded and underfunded federal mandates 
continue to pose an undue burden on state and local governments; 
Continued pressure for mandatory federal spending and restrictions on 
the growth of discretionary spending promote a tendency to seek the 
accomplishment of national goals through federal mandates on state and 
local governments; [W]; 
Why this item is significant: These actions have resulted in 
substantial costs to state and local governments, and collectively, 
have eroded state legislators' control over their own states' budgets; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Ensure sufficient funding for state-federal partnership 
programs through the mechanism of mandatory spending. If the federal 
government is unwilling to provide such funding as an entitlement to 
states, states should be absolved of their legal responsibility to 
provide services to entitled individuals and fulfill other federal 
mandates. A promising approach is the "trigger" mechanism that delays 
the testing requirement contained in the Elementary and Secondary 
Reauthorization Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-110) for any year in which the 
federal government does not meet its stated funding commitment; Any 
proposal that places a cap or enforces a ceiling [on the cost of 
federal participation in any entitlement or mandatory spending program] 
should be accompanied by statutory offsets that reduce state spending, 
administrative duties, or both; Enact legislation that would require 
federal reimbursement, as long as the mandate exists, to state and 
local governments for costs imposed on them by any new federal 
mandates; Restrict the preemption of state laws; 
Theme code(s): A6; B2.

ID: 3; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Passage of the State Flexibility Clarification 
Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-141) [an amendment to UMRA] [S]; 
Why this item is significant: Expanded the requirement for cost 
estimates and mandate statements for legislation that caps federal 
funding for large entitlement grant programs without providing 
offsetting state flexibility; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Any proposal that places a cap or enforces a ceiling [on 
the cost of federal participation in any entitlement or mandatory 
spending program] should be accompanied by statutory offsets that 
reduce state spending, administrative duties, or both; 
Theme code(s): B2.

ID: 4; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Title I of UMRA has been successful in reducing 
the number of unfunded mandates passed by the Congress. Further, the 
unfunded mandate point of order and other procedural mechanisms 
contained in UMRA have proven to be effective without impeding the 
legislative process [S]; 
Why this item is significant: In several instances, the preparation of 
a CBO cost estimate has prompted members of Congress to rework proposed 
legislation to remove an unintended effect of legislation on state and 
local government or lower its cost; 
Theme code(s): A1; A3.

ID: 5; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Many unfunded mandates are not subject to UMRA's 
procedural tools because they do not meet the strict definition under 
UMRA [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Excluding such legislation from the 
requirements of UMRA precludes an official accounting of the costs 
proposed under such legislation; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Modify the existing exclusions under § 4 of UMRA; Expand 
the definition of an unfunded mandate to include all open-ended 
entitlements, such as Medicaid, child support, and Title 4E (foster 
care and adoption assistance) and proposals that would put a cap on or 
enforce a ceiling on the cost of federal participation in any 
entitlement or mandatory spending program; Expand the definition of 
mandates to include new conditions of federal funding for existing 
federal grants and programs, including costs not previously identified; 
Expand the definition of mandates to include proposals that would 
reduce state revenues, especially when changes to the federal tax code 
are retroactive or otherwise provide states with little or no 
opportunity to prospectively address the impact of a change in federal 
law on state revenues; Expand the definition of mandates to include 
those that fail to exceed the statutory threshold only because they do 
not affect all states; Revision of the definitions of mandates to 
include indirect costs, or other provisions of the law, to capture and 
more accurately reflect the true costs to state governments of 
particular federal actions; Require that mandate statements accompany 
appropriations bills; CBO, within its resources, endeavors to provide 
information on the costs of mandates outside of UMRA's strict 
definition. The Joint Committee on Taxation, responsible for performing 
costs estimates of tax legislation, should provide similar additional 
information; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 6; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Title II has been only marginally effective in 
reducing costly and administratively cumbersome rules and regulations 
on states and localities. Further, consultation with state and local 
governments in the construction of these rules is haphazard [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Improve title II, including enhanced requirements for 
federal agencies to consult with state and local governments and the 
creation of an office within the Office of Management and Budget that 
is analogous to the State and Local Government Cost Estimates Unit at 
the Congressional Budget Office; 
Theme code(s): A1; A3; A5.

ID: 7; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Most federal programs (such as No Child Left 
Behind, IDEA, and Head Start) have not been fully funded [W]; 
Why this item is significant: This leaves state and local governments, 
and the non-profit community that directly provides some of the 
services, with financial difficulties; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There should be money to support federal mandates, but 
federal programs and standards should not be contingent on being fully 
funded by the federal government; 
Theme code(s): B1; B2.

ID: 8; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Federal regulatory preemptions, and a shift away 
from deference to state and local standards, are a general concern. 
Federal rules that preempt or restrict the public disclosure of 
information are a particular issue of concern [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The preemption issue is part of the 
overall debate about the role of government; Restricting disclosure of 
information that state and local governments have may hinder efforts to 
monitor compliance with regulatory requirements; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Federal regulatory standards should set a "floor" of 
protections [that everyone must meet]. But state and local governments 
should be able to set standards that exceed the federal floor [i.e., 
that are more stringent or are more protective], if they wish; 
Theme code(s): B1; B4.

ID: 9; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There is some anecdotal evidence that 
consultations are a concern. In particular, there are questions about 
whether federal agencies do an adequate job of complying with the UMRA 
requirements [W]; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 10; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA's definition of a mandate leaves out many 
significant federal actions that restrict the actions of state and 
local governments; In particular, the grant-in-aid loophole [i.e., the 
definitional exception for conditions of federal financial assistance] 
is a significant concern [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Federal actions that steer policies 
nationwide can leave little room for state and local government policy-
making. CBO's information on impacts of federal mandates tends to focus 
on short-term and financial costs. The "authority costs" of mandates do 
not draw as much attention; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It is important to go beyond the narrow framework of UMRA 
and, in a broader systemic sense, look at the "authority costs," not 
just the fiscal costs, of federal actions; It would be helpful to amend 
UMRA to adjust the provisions dealing with mandates linked to grant 
funds. Also, the thresholds could be indexed to inflation; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 11; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Various knowledgeable parties do not normally 
recognize the benefits of federal mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There may be an intergovernmental 
consequence, but it is obvious that there are beneficial impacts from 
federal mandates; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Conduct research on a sample of a few mandates and measure 
the positive effects from the mandates; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 12; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Research on the cumulative fiscal impact of 
mandates is needed [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It would be helpful to have a truly careful and 
comprehensive study of the cumulative fiscal impact of mandates, based 
on a careful analysis of budgets in a selection of state and local 
governments; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 13; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Evaluations of the outcomes of mandates are 
needed [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The performance costs of federal mandates 
are being given more attention than the outcomes of the mandates. This 
approach to policy direction does not work well with federal mandates, 
because not all the costs are covered; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It is pertinent to focus on measuring objectives or 
performance afterwards; Also, because federal mandates are not 
conducive to the same kind of decision making provisions as other 
government programs, a sunset provision may be needed to create a 
rigorous approach for evaluating these federal programs; 
Theme code(s): B1; B3.

ID: 14; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Lack of coverage under UMRA is a major concern. 
The act currently leaves too many federal actions exempt that have huge 
consequences. "We shouldn't have UMRA if there are huge areas not 
covered." [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Often, state and local officials raise 
concerns and questions about the fiscal and other consequences of 
federal actions, but discover that the federal actions were exempt from 
UMRA; so detailed estimates of the potential consequences were not 
available. As a result, the act does little to decrease the burden on 
state and local governments; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: UMRA needs some dramatic strengthening. Any potential 
amendment or change to strengthen UMRA's coverage would be an 
improvement; Even if it is considered going to far to extend the reach 
of UMRA's enforcement mechanisms (e.g., legislative points of order) to 
the areas currently exempt from the act, it would be beneficial if 
there was a requirement to at least provide information on their 
potential effects; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 15; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The cumulative effect of mandates has not been 
recognized as an important issue [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The total effects of many smaller 
mandates can be dramatic; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Study the cumulative effect of mandates]; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 16; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The main issue is broader than just UMRA. States 
need a way to address the imbalance between mandate costs and available 
revenues; Also, constituents [beneficiaries] of federal programs don't 
view these programs as voluntary (so states can't realistically treat 
participation in the programs as voluntary) [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Federal funding is not keeping up with 
the growth in the costs imposed on states. Because growth in state 
revenues is hindered by limitations such as tax caps, and the level of 
federal assistance is not keeping up with actual costs of these 
programs, the unfunded mandates are growing faster than state revenues 
can increase; The federal government imposes rules on states and 
establishes formulas for providing assistance, but demographic shifts 
over the years make those original assumptions and formulas out of 
date; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Something bigger than just amending UMRA is needed to 
address this policy issue; Question whether an entitlement approach and 
model for federal funding (as with the Medicaid program) makes sense as 
public policy for providing federal assistance. An eligibility-based 
system becomes an entitlement program under which costs are hard to 
control. In contrast, a block grant model lets states experiment with 
flexible approaches and cap some costs. However, it is questionable 
whether there would ever be a way to modify the federal model for these 
programs so they weren't entitlements; 
Theme code(s): B1; B2; B4.

ID: 17; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The one significant strength of UMRA is that it 
forces people to think about these issues, but one of the significant 
weaknesses is that they don't have to think about them enough [S] [W]; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 18; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The real inherent dilemma is the incentives that 
are part of the current federal mandate process for the federal 
government to "over leverage" federal funds--to use its funding 
contribution (sometimes relatively small as a percentage of the total 
program costs) to attach conditions in return for the funding. In 
addition, Congress can add other conditions or place more requirements 
that were not in the original mandate [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The federal funding is contingent on 
states' compliance with federal conditions, which creates an unfair 
level of federal control. States may not oppose the goals of the 
federal programs, but the additional costs to states interfere with 
other state priorities for use of their resources; Most of the things 
that annoy states, they don't have to do [i.e., participation is 
voluntary]. But if the states want the federal money, Congress can 
attach conditions that are exempt from UMRA's coverage, and it is not 
very costly for Congress to do this. Due to the financial incentives, 
states become tied in to these programs, which may have well-organized 
constituencies, so they do not realistically have the option of not 
participating and dropping the programs within their jurisdictions; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: This dilemma can't be solved by just another federal 
statute or amendment to UMRA. Discipline is the only real solution to 
curbing the practice of Congress adding, and often changing, lots of 
conditions that come with federal programs and funding; Changing UMRA's 
provisions to eliminate definitional exceptions (e.g., for conditions 
of federal financial assistance and voluntary programs) might make the 
identification of mandates less meaningful. The more red flags run up, 
the less important the red flag becomes. Further, the actions that 
trigger UMRA only require a notification of the fiscal impact on state, 
local, and tribal governments. It does not decrease the number of 
federal mandates that are placed on states, or even eliminate the ones 
that are currently being enacted. Therefore, broader coverage of UMRA 
may not be the solution; 
Theme code(s): A2; B1.

ID: 19; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The consequences of federal mandates are not well 
understood [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: A beneficial option to explore would be to look at one 
mandate, such as special education, very carefully to get a better 
understanding of all its consequences; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 20; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Forcing agencies to think systematically about 
their rules is a good thing. It is also important to be able to cite 
UMRA in arguments with agencies [S]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It is important for Congress to track "unfunded mandates," 
defined broadly, and for Congress and OMB to develop more expertise on 
regulations and how to govern them; Congress should have a centralized, 
objective source of information on regulatory matters. A source of 
broader independent reviews of the regulatory process is needed. 
Specifically, Congress should fund the Truth in Regulating Act or 
something like it to bring together in one spot, and with a public 
interest perspective, expertise about the regulatory review process. 
Such an office could do for the regulatory side what CBO does for the 
legislative side. This information function would be useful to 
Congress; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 21; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA doesn't appear to "bind" much, compared to 
the many significant regulations caught by Executive Order 12866 [W]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 22; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There is very little activity and attention on 
private sector mandates under UMRA [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The private sector does not view UMRA as 
an effective tool; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 23; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): A more comprehensive approach to defining and 
evaluating the results of regulations is needed [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There are many regulatory review 
requirements and approaches--OIRA's regulatory reviews under E.O. 
12866, the Congressional Review Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 
and UMRA-- that all get at the same thing and were enacted for similar 
reasons; It is questionable how agencies could really "do GPRA" without 
having this type of information to get at the post-implementation, 
after-the- fact analysis of what regulations actually accomplished and 
cost. Agencies and other researchers do few such retrospective looks; 
Such information would help agencies and other parties to know more 
about the regulations and perhaps encourage changes in those 
regulations, if not result in the regulations being pulled back; Also, 
having such information in hand might help agencies to think about and 
guide decisions regarding models and approaches to be used in future 
rules. In the long run, information from retrospective evaluations 
might change agencies' behaviors. Such evaluative information could 
make budget information more useful by providing information on what an 
agency's regulations were actually accomplishing; Retrospective 
evaluations would be useful because rules can change people's behavior 
in ways that can't be predicted prior to implementation; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It would be worth taking a step back to (a) define the 
results we want to get out of federal regulations and (b) implement a 
comprehensive approach to assess the impacts of those regulations. 
Ultimately, the analysis addresses a simple question. Either we are 
getting the results we want or not; Related to this evaluation 
proposal, there might be room to introduce an approach within UMRA to 
ensure that such data were available whenever a new mandate is created. 
If a data base was created to allow future evaluations of the mandate, 
this might encourage both internal [federal agency] and external 
parties to complete analyses of the results achieved and check the 
accuracy of the agency's original benefit-cost analysis. (However, it 
was also recognized that such a requirement would, in itself, be a 
mandate and also a data collection subject to approval under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 24; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): [Other suggestions for amending UMRA] [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Congress could include provisions in statutes creating 
mandates stating that the mandate would not cost state and local 
governments more than a specified amount-- setting a limit on the cost 
of the mandate to them; 
Theme code(s): B2.

ID: 25; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): [Other suggestions for amending UMRA] [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Including sunset provisions in legislation is an option 
worth investigating. The provision could call for revisiting a mandate 
5 to 10 years after it goes into effect. Such a mechanism would shift 
the analytical burden of proof to the agencies to show that the mandate 
was effective. However, businesses had opposed this idea in the past 
because they thought it might lead to too much uncertainty about 
regulatory requirements; 
Theme code(s): B1.

ID: 26; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The primary concerns focus on regulatory 
mandates, particularly those issued by EPA. EPA's analyses sometimes 
reflect a poor understanding or lack of knowledge about public 
utilities and local government functions [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Regulatory impact analyses often exhibit 
only a cursory understanding of, or totally ignore, the unfunded 
mandates implications of proposed regulations for public utilities. In 
particular, when it comes to understanding the differences between 
investor-owned and publicly-owned utilities, it is sometimes 
"conceptually difficult for them [the agency] to get it."; Sometimes, 
agency regulators do not realize that some publicly-owned entities are 
also among the facilities covered under proposed rules. Further, even 
if recognized as covered, the agency might assume that the consequences 
for public utilities are the same as those for private utilities; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: To agency staff's credit, once they are made aware of these 
issues and concerns, they are receptive to meeting with the public 
utilities; It might help to provide more training and education to 
agencies' regulatory staffs and their contractors who prepare many of 
the rulemaking studies and materials, such as regulatory impact 
analyses. Giving these personnel some background about state and local 
governments and related trade associations could alleviate the need for 
those governments and associations to educate the regulators about 
potential consequences to their constituencies after regulations are 
proposed. Having representatives of these groups come to talk to the 
agencies' and contractors' staffs would not only provide more insight 
on potential consequences of federal actions but also increase agency 
and contractor awareness of these groups as valuable contacts during 
the rulemaking process; 
Theme code(s): A5; B3.

ID: 27; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA's definitions and estimation processes need 
clarification [W]; 
Why this item is significant: It does not appear that agencies are 
always clear on what an unfunded mandate is or what costs and 
consequences should be included for purposes of mandate estimation. For 
example, some costs that the agency might consider minor or indirect, 
such as paperwork costs associated with regulations, in some cases meet 
or exceed the total PILOT (payments in lieu of taxes) obligation of a 
municipal utility; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Reexamine UMRA's definitions and the exclusion of some 
types of costs from UMRA estimates]; 
Theme code(s): A4.

ID: 28; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Regional and localized impacts of federal 
regulatory mandates are not always recognized [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Some regulations can have significant 
regional or highly localized impacts, but these consequences are not 
always identified or understood by the regulatory agency. For example, 
in one EPA rule, the 21 of 66 public utilities that were estimated to 
be at risk of having to shut down due to the rule were located in 
Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, and western New York. Most regulatory impact 
analyses, including UMRA estimates, focus on the national impact; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Some agencies, such as the Department of Energy and OMB, 
have demonstrated that they understand and look for regional and 
localized consequences of regulations. [Other agencies should do the 
same]; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 29; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The potential unfunded mandates implications of 
homeland security actions are a concern [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There are worries about the potential 
costs of these rules "coming down the pike" and whether relative risks 
are being considered when adding new regulatory requirements; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Homeland security regulations should be covered and that 
relative risks should be considered when adding new regulatory 
requirements]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 30; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are too many exceptions in UMRA; In 
particular, conditions of federal financial assistance are not covered 
by UMRA but can have big impacts on state governments; The exemption of 
independent agencies is also a concern [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The many exemptions from UMRA's coverage 
are "not in the spirit or intent" of the law. Although these programs 
don't technically meet the UMRA definition of a federal mandate, they 
are perceived as such by state legislatures and agencies. No Child Left 
Behind and IDEA are among the most important examples. "Arguing the 
semantics [of the definitions] is an insult."; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Revisit the exceptions; UMRA should cover conditions of 
federal financial assistance; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 31; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Changes in conditions and/or formulas associated 
with long-term federal grant programs can be a problem; There can also 
be mismatches between a federal formula and state needs. (For example, 
the federal formula for providing funding through the Abandoned Mine 
Reclamation Trust Fund is based on the current level of mining 
activity, not on the level of need for reclamation.); Congress and 
federal agencies do not present a viable alternative to accepting 
federal funding under mandates; Not enough consideration is given to 
the timing of federal actions and program changes [W]; 
Why this item is significant: States (and the beneficiaries of the 
federal programs) come to rely on and budget for a given level of 
federal assistance, so over time participation effectively is no longer 
really "voluntary." No viable alternative to mandates has been 
developed that does not cost the state any money; Federal mandates, 
such as those associated with the seatbelt law and .08 blood alcohol 
level limit, did not provide any flexibility for the states or take 
into account the diversity of states and legislative practices. Some 
federal program changes (e.g., in formulas) can have disproportionate 
impacts on states; Not all states have the same flexibility to 
reprogram funds to react to federal changes (for reasons such as short 
legislative sessions and different budget processes); 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Major changes in grant conditions and/or formulas should be 
treated as new federal requirements, with some recognition of the 
costs. Perhaps UMRA-like estimates are needed when this happens; Most 
states have created a budget that is dependent on the federal funding, 
and measures need to be taken to wean the state system off the federal 
revenue; There needs to be some recognition that states (and 
populations served by federal-state programs) are very diverse [Explore 
more flexible funding arrangements and requirements]; 
Theme code(s): A2; A4; B1; B2.

ID: 32; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): With regard to the definitions in UMRA, (a) the 
definitions within the UMRA legislation are not clearly understood or 
consistently interpreted and (b) the definition of costs in the UMRA 
legislation only considers direct costs of a mandate [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The definitions are not as clear as one 
might think. Terms such as "federal mandates" and "enforceable duty" 
may be interpreted differently by different states (or even entities of 
the same state government) and federal regulatory agencies; There can 
be a significant gap between the annual federal funding increases for 
these programs and the actual costs to states. The federal estimates 
don't take into account all potential costs of the federal action 
(e.g., indirect and downstream effects, such as the risk of states 
being sued for failing to meet adequacy standards). Also, the original 
federal estimates of the additional costs can be much less than actual 
costs, again leaving a significant gap that causes states to reprogram 
funds. There is a fundamental difference between state governments and 
Congress as to what constitutes a budget gap; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Address what is included in the estimates of impacts. For 
example, indirect and downstream effects of federal mandates need to be 
considered as a cost to fairly represent the fiscal impact on the 
states and local governments; 
Theme code(s): A2; A4.

ID: 33; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Consultation is a missing link. There is an 
uneven level of quality among federal agencies' outreach and 
consultation efforts [W] [S]; 
Why this item is significant: Some agencies' efforts are excellent 
(e.g., the Department of Homeland Security and, in some cases, the 
Environmental Protection Agency), but others are not. The legislative 
side works much better than the regulatory side. CBO does a great job 
on outreach to the state and local groups. CBO organizes regular 
meetings with representatives of the national state and local 
organizations; The process at OMB and agencies just focuses on whether 
a regulation hits the UMRA threshold, but CBO has a more analytical 
process that is more useful to the state offices; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Consultation needs to be defined more accurately (i.e., 
what should be considered consultation--just talking to associations or 
going to actual state officers and agencies?); It would be useful on 
the regulatory side to have a process similar to what CBO does--regular 
periodic consultations with the state and local associations on what is 
coming; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 34; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The whole concept of "unfunded mandates" does not 
fit laws that protect these fundamental rights of disabled persons to 
participate in society. By definition, many of our issues are mandates; 
The exceptions [exclusions] in UMRA have helped to protect persons with 
disabilities [S]; 
Why this item is significant: The disability community has been very 
concerned about UMRA when it was initially enacted and as the unfunded 
mandates issue continues to be debated, because they see disability 
issues primarily in civil rights terms; There is a concern that the 
"unfunded mandates" label just becomes a rallying point for opponents 
of certain federal laws; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Retain current exclusions for provisions that enforce 
Constitutional rights of individuals or that establish or enforce 
statutory rights that prohibit discrimination]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 35; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The federal government should not have to provide 
the money for fully funding things that are fundamental rights. It is 
an appropriate role for the federal government to require compliance 
with certain mandates [S]; 
Why this item is significant: Persons with disabilities are very 
dependent on entitlements, and it would be a bad precedent if states 
don't have to do something if there are not enough federal funds; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Compliance [with federal mandates] should not be tied to 
whether or not there is full federal funding; 
Theme code(s): B2.

ID: 36; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): A potential weakness in analyses and estimates of 
federal actions is that some analyses are focused on the costs, not 
also on all the benefits, of such actions [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Many actions addressing disability issues 
are getting more people involved in society and working. Such actions 
enhance people's ability to be more productive, but it can be hard to 
quantify that kind of benefit; 
Theme code(s): A4; B3.

ID: 37; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The main issue is the question of how to make 
federal mandates more effective [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Some federal mandates are inevitable, 
because the federal government does not have the resources to do 
everything. For example, in an area such as environmental protection, 
the federal government has no way to take on a comprehensive program 
that would enforce federal laws and standards regarding all pollution 
sources, so states have to take on some of this. Members of the public 
don't care what level of government does this; they just want these 
things done; However, the federal government has a "crummy" record of 
enforcing the law (e.g., deadlines set for states by the Clean Air Act 
and its amendments have not been enforced); 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: A first step in getting states to do what laws mandate is 
simply to report, in a straightforward way, what states are or are not 
doing (e.g., have a "national scorecard" or central point of contact 
where one could go to get such information); A second suggestion is 
that the federal government consider using a "zero-based budgeting" 
approach to funding for federal mandates. Such an approach would flip 
the usual arrangement so that states would get no federal funds (e.g., 
federal highway funds) until they do what is required under federal 
statutes; 
Theme code(s): B2; B3.

ID: 38; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): I don't believe that genuine federal mandates (as 
distinct from preemption and funding restrictions) are sufficiently 
pervasive to constitute a problem that's worth worrying about; 
Why this item is significant: With respect to preemption, the problem 
is that the federal government preempts too much internal and state 
legislation (esp. crime--see the medical marijuana question) and not 
remotely enough state legislation that interferes with interstate 
commerce and the national economy. This is a substantial problem, and 
an essentially managerial tool like UMRA cannot tackle it; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Keep the mandate issue separate from the other two issues, 
which are genuine; I would strongly oppose any extension of UMRA that 
would even arguably make it harder for Congress or administrative 
agencies to preempt states; With respect to funding conditions, the 
most urgent reform is to give states a revenue-neutral way of opting 
out of federal programs (e.g., NCLB). Here again, I would strongly 
oppose any UMRA reform that might make it harder for the federal 
government to attach restrictions to funds. In many of the major 
programs, and especially Medicaid, the problem is excessive 
"waiverization," not excessive stringency; 
Theme code(s): A2; B2; B4.

ID: 39; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): One of UMRA's strengths is that its provisions 
apply to some federal laws that restrict the ability of states to 
collect revenues; A greater weakness is that the federal tax actions 
with the biggest effects on states' and localities' revenue collections 
have escaped UMRA review [S] [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Preventing states from collecting taxes 
is exactly equivalent to an unfunded mandate. Because they must balance 
their budgets, states must raise other taxes, or shift funds from other 
programs, in order to make up for the lost revenue resulting from 
federal actions, just as they would have to raise taxes or shift funds 
from elsewhere to pay for unfunded mandates; Because of the way state 
and federal tax codes are tied together, the major federal tax cuts 
passed in 2001, 2002, and 2003 are costing state governments more than 
$2 billion a year in lost tax revenue. None of these laws triggered 
UMRA review. Of the revenue actually lost by states under federal 
actions in the last several years, only a small portion was deemed a 
"mandate" under UMRA; Policymakers are concerned about the implications 
of federal tax actions on states, particular when states are facing 
difficulty balancing their budgets. With an expansion of its capacity 
in this area, CBO could make an important positive contribution to 
federal tax debates; Failure to include these federal actions under 
UMRA gives a misleading impression of the size and nature of the 
"unfunded mandates" issue. A major goal of UMRA is to draw attention to 
the fiscal impact of federal decisions on states. A $2-billion-plus 
loss of revenue for states is every bit as significant as a comparably 
sized increase in mandated expenditures. By minimizing this aspect of 
federal policy, UMRA distorts the policy debate; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: UMRA should be broadened to include all federal tax actions 
that reduce state revenue; There are some obstacles to changing UMRA in 
this manner. For instance, CBO would need greater capacity to conduct 
analyses of the impact of federal tax changes on states. Cooperation 
with the Joint Committee on Taxation and an expansion of CBO's own 
capacity might be needed. A decision would also need to be made whether 
an UMRA estimate of such changes would take into account the prospect 
that some states would decouple, or whether it would assume that all 
states would conform to the change. Either approach would be preferable 
to the current failure to acknowledge such costs entirely; 
Theme code(s): A2.

Why this item is significant: ID40: When policymakers have information 
on the impact of federal tax changes on state, they can choose to act 
on that information. The dividend tax reduction was enacted as a rate 
change, rather than a partial exclusion, because some policymakers were 
using information about the estimated impact on state revenues and 
wanted to avoid that impact; There is an important state-federal policy 
interest in a shared definition of income, of taxable estates, and 
other items for tax administration purposes. By piggybacking on the 
federal code, states essentially adopt federal definitions of income, 
expenses, and other items. Yet it is this same link that results in 
revenue loss to states when federal taxes are changes in particular 
ways. It is sometimes argued that federal policymakers need not take 
into account the effect of federal tax actions if states have the 
option to "decouple." Decoupling has its own negative consequences. 
Moreover, there are times when decoupling is simply not feasible for 
states; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: ID40: [Empty]; 
Theme code(s): ID40: [Empty].

ID: 40; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Full and accurate public information about 
federal initiatives is of critical importance. We are all better off if 
information on the expected consequences of federal actions is 
required. The most important point is to clarify in advance what 
consequences they will have [W] [S]; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 41; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The most salutary aspect of UMRA is that it 
places in statute some of the expectations for analysis of federal 
actions that were also put in Executive Order 12866 [on regulatory 
planning and review] [S]; 
Why this item is significant: It is a real strength of UMRA that it 
provides a statutory basis for requiring consideration and analysis of 
the consequences of federal actions, because an executive order can 
always be amended or eliminated at the discretion of an administration; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 42; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The second major strength of UMRA is that it 
reaches beyond regulation and into legislation as well [S]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 43; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are a lot of gaps and exclusions in UMRA 
that walled off examination of some federal actions [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The exclusion for independent agencies 
created a significant weakness in UMRA; If states are offered financial 
help by the federal government, but that help comes with strings 
attached, those requirements shouldn't be excluded from review under 
UMRA; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Some of these exclusions and exemptions may be justified, 
but they merit a closer look to see if all of them are still justified. 
In particular, the following exclusions and exceptions should be 
candidates for elimination or amendment: 

* Independent agencies - There should at least be a very careful look 
at the justification for excluding independent agencies from UMRA's 
coverage; 
* Conditions of federal financial assistance; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 44; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): It is not clear that the Joint Committee on 
Taxation does as much regarding potential mandates in revenue 
legislation as CBO does in its mandate estimates for other legislation 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: A huge array of mandated costs is 
associated with tax legislation. The more spotlights that can shine on 
these actions, the better; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: UMRA needs to include a clearer obligation and authority to 
review tax legislation. If this review function were to be beefed up, 
it doesn't matter who does it, just that it is done; 
Theme code(s): A2; A6.

ID: 45; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The discrepancy in title II focusing on just 
expenditures, rather than economic effects, for purposes of triggering 
UMRA's cost threshold [while title I focuses on direct costs] needs to 
be emphasized. A full accounting of the effects and consequences of 
regulations would be useful, [but] title II's limited definition does 
not do this [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Economic effects of that magnitude [$100 
million in any year, adjusted for inflation] are every bit as relevant 
as direct expenditures at that level; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Congress should change the language of UMRA [to use 
estimates of the direct economic effects of regulations, not just 
expenditures, for purposes of triggering UMRA's cost threshold]; In 
contrast with some other observers and commenters, I am okay with 
UMRA's definition being limited to the direct effects of the federal 
action, rather than also attempting to include indirect effects; 
Theme code(s): A4.

ID: 46; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA includes limits on analytical requirements 
if costs are difficult to estimate [W]; 
Why this item is significant: A continuing problem, one common with any 
statute or executive order, is that there will be cases in which it is 
alleged that costs cannot be estimated; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It should not be so easy to dispense with estimates. In any 
change to UMRA's language, there should not be an expectation that you 
only do the analysis if estimates can be done with precision or 
certainty. Rough ballpark estimates are also useful; Further, a 
periodic reckoning regarding the estimates and the effects of federal 
mandates is needed. There should be an audit, preferably an independent 
analysis, of what the actual experience has been regarding federal 
mandates that have been enacted; 
Theme code(s): A4; B3.

ID: 47; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): On the margin, the act has forced Congress to 
open its eyes about the impacts of federal actions on state and local 
governments. However, in the last few years, state and local government 
officials sense that the federal government is making policy with 
little attention to the fiscal implications on lower levels of 
government [W] [S]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There may be a need to "toughen up" UMRA. Making the "roar" 
of UMRA a little bigger might at least increase attention to these 
issues. However, it is not certain one could get Congress to pay more 
attention legislatively, nor can you legislate Congress from imposing 
mandates. In short, it is not certain that there are any procedural 
fixes that could address the problem of unfunded mandates; 
Theme code(s): A1; A3.

ID: 48; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): When state and local officials think of unfunded 
mandates, they often think of the big-ticket items, but questions about 
the potential effects of such items are not always answered by UMRA 
because they are considered voluntary programs or conditions of federal 
assistance [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The example of NCLB illustrates something 
that is not a mandate, in terms of UMRA, although it is perceived as 
such by state and local officials. In effect, most state and local 
governments can't turn down the federal funding available, so the 
federal conditions attached to the funding are not viewed as voluntary; 
The federal government often does something that affects the revenue 
side of state and local governments and that worsens the structural 
side of their finances; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies consideration of including conditions of federal 
financial assistance and voluntary programs under UMRA's coverage]; It 
is not enough to just focus on federal appropriations. One approach to 
restructuring UMRA could be to have a broader focus to capture revenue 
effects of federal actions; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 49; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Federal mandates raise a whole set of difficult 
conceptual problems; It is sometimes difficult to single out the 
additional cost associated with mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Methodologies for figuring out the 
funding gaps associated with mandates are all over the place. For 
example, some estimates are based on a comparison of authorized versus 
appropriated amounts for programs. What are the true costs? In the 
absence of an independent objective examination of the impacts of 
mandates, lots of people are making big charges about the size of the 
funding gaps; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It is definitely worth pursuing an evaluation of the 
effectiveness of mandates to improve our knowledge about the true costs 
and effects of federal mandates. Such evaluations shouldn't necessarily 
be the domain of one agency. Among appropriate parties to be involved 
in such evaluations are GAO, CRS, and National Science Foundation 
funding of research on the issue; GAO's report on UMRA should try to 
bring a little more clarity to the mandates issue. It would be valuable 
to discuss conceptually what an unfunded mandate is and identify the 
associated federalism issues; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 50; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA emerges from the materials as a rather 
toothless statute. This is particularly true when it is compared to 
other legislative efforts to curb alleged regulatory shortcomings or 
burdens [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The legislation relies on an implicit, 
and naïve, assumption that some degree of transparency or sunshine will 
be sufficient to cause legislators and rule makers to restrain costs of 
this sort. Add to this the numerous exemptions from the legislative 
provisions and the result is anything but a formidable obstacle to a 
proposed government action with a powerful supporting constituency; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There appears to have been an obvious choice by the 
drafters of UMRA to eschew the use of certain devices that have been 
used in other major statutes with similar intent to structure or 
constrain the decisions of agencies, for example: 

* PRA requirements to obtain clearance for new requirements and draw 
down on an information collection budget;
* Various statutes focusing on the protection of small business have 
substantial outreach and "tiering" requirements;
* NEPA provisions for a finding of "no significant impact" or, 
alternatively, an environmental impact statement developed using 
procedural devices that ensure public participation at various stages; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 51; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The structure of exemptions and exceptions 
preempt consideration of a wide range of potentially significant costs. 
Of these, the exclusion of indirect costs, broadly defined, is likely 
the most significant [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The exemption of "indirect" effects is 
worrisome. From a structural perspective, it appears to invite broad 
and vague initial statements of policy--be it in statute or rule--
followed by subsequent actions that are more specific but crafted to 
individually cost less than the minimum amount to trigger UMRA. And, 
obviously, for those affected a loss of business or income is just as 
damaging as a direct compliance cost; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies a suggestion to address the structure of 
exemptions and exceptions, in particular the exclusion of indirect 
costs]; On the regulatory side, in those cases when a formal cost- 
benefit analysis is conducted, the analytical and threshold issues 
should be resolved. Thresholds are obviously needed so that legislative 
and regulatory attention can be allocated rationally. However, it might 
be useful to at least consider a more sophisticated "tiered" approach 
in which agencies are required to at least reveal the existence of 
unfunded mandates at lower levels without anything other than an 
expectation that the public can comment on them during the rulemaking 
phase; 
Theme code(s): A2; A4.

ID: 52; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The serial actions of the Congress and the 
regulatory bodies also weaken the legislative scheme [W]; 
Why this item is significant: CBO has stated that a prominent reasons 
they are unable to estimate costs of mandates is because the costs 
depend on future regulations; Rulemaking agencies have a number of ways 
to inform themselves about costs associated with new regulations, 
including input from the public during the "notice and comment" stage 
of the process. However, GAO's report on UMRA reveals that 25 of the 65 
rules [with new requirements on nonfederal parties that might be 
perceived as "unfunded mandates"] that GAO studied were issued with no 
prior notice. Based on this one data point, one could hypothesize that 
not only is UMRA ineffective in capturing very large categories of 
unfunded costs, it may be having the unintended consequence of inducing 
agencies to avoid public participation in rulemaking; However, unlikely 
that effect might be, it is not implausible that legislation that 
likely meets the UMRA standards of impact (but CBO cannot estimate) is 
turned over to agencies. They then issue rules in "bite sized" packages 
that individually fly below the radar; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: APA notice and comment rulemaking requirements would appear 
to allow public involvement in the UMRA-related issues in all 
rulemakings, but these are frail tools if the type of rulemaking is 
avoided by agencies or if the public is given little or no information 
on which to base their comments; 
Theme code(s): B4.

ID: 53; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): I could make a final point about post-hoc 
evaluation of UMRA findings and estimates, but the general condition of 
program evaluation of this sort by the agencies is such that I'd be 
spitting in the wind [W]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 54; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Public policy issues related to unfunded mandates 
come in three flavors: (1) constitutional legitimacy, (2) 
accountability of legislators and regulators, and (3) full and 
impartial disclosure of mandates' scope and scale of effects; (1) 
Constitutional legitimacy: UMRA does not address constitutional 
legitimacy because the law is founded on the premise that congressional 
authority is without functional limit. That may be convenient, but it 
does not make the issue go away; (2) Accountability: UMRA includes very 
limited tools to address accountability, and virtually none of these 
tools affect regulatory agencies. There is no evidence that UMRA has 
restrained agencies from imposing unfunded mandates; (3) Full and 
impartial disclosure of effects: Because UMRA is a charade with respect 
to addressing accountability, it cannot accomplish full and impartial 
disclosure of mandates' scope and scale of effects [W]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA purports to restrain heretofore 
minimally constrained federal power. It fails because these critical 
public policy issues have not been addressed; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: (1) Constitutional legitimacy: The primary (and heretofore 
unaddressed) policy issue is, "What principles should guide the federal 
government's imposition of burdens on the states? Can these principles 
be articulated into legislation that would lead to consistent 
legislative and/or regulatory decisions?"; (2) Accountability: Before 
voting on legislation that would impose an unfunded mandate, Congress 
must have valid and reliable information concerning the likely scope 
and scale of impacts. Where proposed statutory language is ambiguous or 
subject to administrative discretion of an executive branch department 
or agency, estimates should be based on reasonable worst-case 
assumptions concerning how implementing agencies could actually 
interpret ambiguous language. Where Congress remains concerned that 
unfunded mandates could be excessive, it could amend proposed 
legislation in ways that reduce the reasonable worst-case burden; (3) 
Full and impartial disclosure of effects: In any case where legislation 
imposes an unfunded federal mandate, accountability requires that the 
votes of individual members be accurately recorded. An UMRA amendment 
intended to enhance accountability must include provisions requiring 
specific roll call votes; 
Theme code(s): A3; A4; A6; B4.

ID: 55; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Which features of UMRA constitute "strengths" and 
"weaknesses" depends on what one believes is the law's purpose. For 
example, if one believes the law was intended to reduce the scope and 
scale of unfunded mandates, then the absence of any mechanism to 
enforce agency compliance constitutes a fatal weakness. However, if one 
believes that the purpose of the law was to pretend to provide relief 
without actually doing so, then the absence of such an enforcement 
mechanism is clearly its chief strength; Whether intended or not, UMRA 
is in fact hortatory legislation. If Congress had wanted to reduce 
unfunded federal mandates, it would have included language permitting 
the states to reject mandates on their own authority, or language 
permitting them to litigate congressional and/or agency noncompliance 
with clear statutory criteria. Congress did neither; hence, it is 
reasonable to infer that it was not serious about reducing mandates [W] 
[S]; 
Why this item is significant: The effectiveness of legislation cannot 
be fairly evaluated without first giving serious consideration to its 
purposes, both stated and unstated; UMRA's stated purpose was to limit 
the federal government's heretofore minimally restrained imposition of 
unfunded mandates. If these stated purposes are taken seriously, UMRA 
was designed to fail. If they are not taken seriously, UMRA was 
designed to succeed; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: If Congress is serious about limiting unfunded mandates, it 
should amend UMRA to: 

1. ensure full and impartial disclosure of impacts based on reasonable 
worst-case interpretations of agency discretion; include effective 
accountability tools, such as genuine judicial review of agency 
determinations; and impose on itself principled constraints on the 
exercise of federal power; or; 
2. empower the states to either reject mandates on their own authority 
or litigate congressional and/or agency noncompliance with clear 
statutory criteria; If Congress is not serious about limiting unfunded 
mandates, no statutory changes are needed. Proposed changes should be 
screened carefully to ensure that they will have no discernable effect; 
Theme code(s): A3; A6.

ID: 56; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): With respect to executive branch decision making, 
the information currently generated by UMRA is no better than useless 
and often highly misleading [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Because information about impacts that is 
currently generated is either useless or misleading, Congress is 
incapable of using this information to make informed legislative 
changes; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Research into the scope and scale of unfunded mandates will 
not be informative unless and until the law has adequate incentives for 
compliance and accounting; GAO may be able to generate impact 
estimates, but it is likely to be perceived (especially by the states) 
as biased because it represents Congress. Therefore, impact estimates 
must be fully disclosed well in advance of legislative action, 
reproducible by qualified third parties, and objective in both 
substance and presentation. (These criteria, and others, already apply 
to information disseminated by all Executive Branch and independent 
agencies pursuant to the Federal Data Quality Act. However, because 
OMB's government-wide implementing guidelines exempt information 
agencies provide to Congress, GAO has no basis for concluding that 
agency-supplied estimates satisfy these statutory standards. Congress 
would have to incorporate within an UMRA amendment language 
specifically stating that information agencies provide to GAO is 
covered by the Federal Data Quality Act); 
Theme code(s): A1; A4.

ID: 57; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The effectiveness of federal agencies' 
consultations with state and local governments cannot be credibly 
evaluated because UMRA does not provide state and local governments any 
meaningful tools [W]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA depends on federal/state 
consultation to ensure that state and local government concerns are 
accounted for. State and local governments are subordinate entities in 
these consultations because they lack the tools to ensure that the 
federal agencies take their concerns seriously. Consultation is 
effective only to the extent that federal agencies insist on it, and in 
those cases UMRA is superfluous; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: State and local governmental authority to reject mandates 
or litigate based on noncompliance with clear statutory criteria [see 
ID 86 above] would dramatically improve states' ability to ensure that 
federal agencies take seriously their duty to consult; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 58; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Current law grants agency heads unlimited 
discretion to certify the absence of significant unfunded mandates, the 
estimated magnitude of unfunded mandates, and/or the absence of less 
burdensome alternatives [W]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA does not impose a significant 
obstacle to the imposition of unfunded mandates. Even certifications 
that are ridiculous on their face cannot be challenged under the 
current law; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: A variety of reforms can be imagined that would provide 
increasing levels of discipline, such as: 


* effectively applying the Federal Data Quality Act to agencies' UMRA 
analyses, 
* reassigning the certification functions to an independent entity 
(e.g., OMB; OMB and GAO combined) or to the states themselves, and; 
* capping the magnitude of actual state and local outlays at a level 
equal to the Congress's or an agency's prior estimate of those burdens. 
(Such a reform would eliminate incentives to underestimate impacts; 
Theme code(s): A3; B1.

ID: 59; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): One of the most important issues is differential 
costs of complying with any mandate; 
Why this item is significant: If the mandate is not fully funded by the 
feds…then some states or localities may face higher costs than others 
of complying. This is not equitable, and is probably inefficient, as 
well, if it requires diversion of resources from other activities, or 
higher taxes; Higher level mandates can be an efficient instrument for 
overcoming free ridership in the provision of public goods, 
particularly goods with an important redistributional component. This 
instrument can be used to put a lower bound on the race to the bottom. 
It is always better to have more rather than fewer policy instruments. 
In principal, mandates can act like grants-in-aid, or centralized 
provision, in that they represent an efficient solution to the problem 
of coordination among many competing jurisdictions. Hence the 
complaints of local officials about mandates should not always be taken 
at face value, in that they may represent an efficient equilibrium; 
Theme code(s): B1; B4.

ID: 60; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The more complete and accurate data released to 
the public because of UMRA is a positive result; The legislative goal 
of UMRA--to get a better handle on the mandate situation--is laudable 
[S]; 
Why this item is significant: In general, more information and better 
information is a good thing; 
Theme code(s): A1; A6.

ID: 61; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Another strength of UMRA is the section 1503 [2 
USC 1503] exclusions [S]; 
Why this item is significant: This section accepts that one of the main 
roles of the federal government is to provide basic protections in 
areas such as constitutional and statutory rights. This raises a deeper 
question of whether there are other activities that are so inherent to 
the federal government's role that they also need to be off the table; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Congress should reconsider what other things should be 
added to the list of exclusions; Add exclusions for mandates that 
ensure levels of public health, safety, and environmental protection; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 62; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The limited judicial review provision is a 
strength [S]; 
Why this item is significant: It would be a nightmare if the substance 
of agencies' regulations were subject to challenge under UMRA. It is 
fortunate that the remedy if a court finds that an agency did not 
comply with UMRA's procedures does not impede the regulatory 
proceedings, but requires agencies to complete the UMRA study. It is a 
reasonable action towards agencies. This limitation is important 
because the substantive intent of UMRA could conflict with the 
substantive effect of the law underlying a regulation. Interposing UMRA 
regarding the substance of agencies' rules could confuse the 
application of laws that Congress carefully crafted; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 63; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The narrow focus of UMRA directs agencies to 
assess the fiscal impact of actions in isolation. It is looking at only 
one side of the balance sheet, the costs and funding gaps associated 
with federal mandates; It is misleading to look only at the costs and 
only at costs on a mandate-by-mandate basis, in isolation [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Only the costs are being analyzed, and 
there is no look-back at the benefits. What is also missing by studying 
only the mandate funding gaps is the big picture of intergovernmental 
fiscal relations. This is both an empirical and a conceptual problem. 
The whole purpose of federal revenue collections is redistributive. 
Looking at costs on a mandate-by-mandate basis ignores other funding 
coming from the federal government to the state and local governments 
with no strings attached; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies a suggestion to analyze the benefits, as well as 
the costs, of mandates and also to examine the fiscal impact on state 
and local governments in the context of all federal revenues and 
requirements]; 
Theme code(s): A1; A4; B3.

ID: 64; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA could have a subtle "chilling effect" on 
otherwise legitimate actions [W]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 65; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The extra work of cost assessments, which UMRA 
requires of agencies, is diverting the agencies from performing their 
principal tasks and takes the agencies' staff from their duties [W]; 
Why this item is significant: It is not known to what extent this is 
happening, but the cumulative impacts could be a problem; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 66; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The inclusion of the private sector within UMRA 
is another distinct weakness [W]; 
Why this item is significant: This was not an issue covered in the 
original policy debate over UMRA. What does this have to do with 
intergovernmental fiscal relief? This is back door regulatory relief; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies reconsidering UMRA's applicability to private 
sector mandates]; The real question is whether something is a 
legitimate regulation. If it is justified, let it be. This is not a 
cost question; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 67; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA potentially alters existing statutory 
regimes. The imposition of cost-benefit analysis on certain existing 
statutory regimes that explicitly reject the use of cost- benefit 
analysis--e.g., laws employing technology-based standards--is a concern 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA explicitly requires agencies to 
consider cost-benefit information that their statutory regulatory 
authority might not allow them to consider. The same is true for the 
"least burdensome option" provision. Otherwise, UMRA could amend 
regulatory statutes in an unconsidered way; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: The legislation needs to allow for amendments or 
flexibilities; Congress should clarify that the least burdensome option 
should be "the least burdensome option that meets the statutory 
requirement."; Implicit in this point is another research need, "Has 
the statute [UMRA} changed agencies' regulations?"; 
Theme code(s): A6; B3.

ID: 68; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA has mechanisms to improve communications 
with state, local, and tribal governments, however, it excludes other 
affected constituencies from its consultation provisions; Further, if 
you have these intergovernmental consultation communications, they 
should not be off the record [W]; 
Why this item is significant: This can skew the public policy process. 
Other parties are relegated to a lesser status; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: More parties may need to be covered by the consultation 
provision (e.g., not just focused on state, local, and tribal 
governments); Intergovernmental communications should be documented and 
made part of the rulemaking proceeding while deliberation about the 
proposal is still going on. If not, the decision making process is 
opaque; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 69; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): [Re: funding options for mandates]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There hasn't been sufficient consideration of user fees. 
For example, if there is a permitting program that is delegated to the 
states, the applicants should bear the cost of the permitting process, 
not the states; 
Theme code(s): B2.

ID: 70; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The current UMRA seems to have changed the tone 
but not the substance of the federal mandate binge; UMRA has improved 
the tone of many federal efforts, and we are collaborating better [S] 
[W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Each review should result in tangible measurable 
improvements. That is the only thing likely to have long term results; 
Theme code(s): A5; A6.

ID: 71; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): When the masters of obfuscation get through with 
a notice it is often difficult to tell what is proposed [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: We need a process that will generate and circulate the note 
with ample time and notice to respond; Notes and notices need to be 
written in plain English. It would help if the notice and fiscal note 
required three examples of where and how it would apply in the simplest 
terms possible; 
Theme code(s): B4.

ID: 72; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The adoption of UMRA has no doubt brought greater 
attention to the need to fund federal requirements imposed on state and 
local governments. However, the measure has been less than successful 
in its stated purpose since many federal requirements are still not 
fully funded; The Act has failed to provide additional funding for many 
federal requirements. Nor has it necessarily resulted in blocking the 
congressional approval of legislation that is not fully funded. This is 
a major failure of the UMRA [S] [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Many states, cities and local governments 
continue to suffer from negative fiscal pressures brought on by federal 
budget and economic policies that either deny states and cities 
revenues and/or [do not] fully fund federal programs; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Federal requirements should be fully funded through a 
combination of sources, including generating additional revenues when 
needed; It would be useful for the GAO to provide an annual report 
documenting the total budgetary shortfall of unfunded mandates; 
Theme code(s): A1; B2.

ID: 73; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): While Congress made a number of important changes 
to UMRA before it was adopted and signed into law, there are still 
serious flaws with the Act. One of the remaining concerns with the 
legislation is that it treats most federal requirements in the same 
manner [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Not all federal requirements are 
burdensome nor are thy necessarily costly. The original Act fails to 
recognize that some federal laws and requirements are very important to 
help promote sensible safeguards, fair and consistent treatment, and 
worthy public policy objectives. Moreover, many of these include 
fundamental worker protections and benefits; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 74; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA's strength is that it attempts to place 
greater emphasis and encourage debate and consideration of the 
budgetary consequences of federal legislation; The information 
generated by UMRA can be helpful in illuminating the underlying 
budgetary factors [S]; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 75; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The most pressing question surrounding this 
debate should never have been whether new laws and requirements are 
needed or not. The fundamental issue has always been, "How does 
government generate the resources to meet the vital needs of our 
communities?" [W]; 
Theme code(s): B1; B4.

ID: 76; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA is not self-enforcing, and it is not 
directly triggered by legislation/rule that causes a revenue loss of 
this magnitude [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Amend UMRA to address the enforcement and triggering 
issues noted in the strength/weakness column]; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 77; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The definition/threshold should be changed so 
that it applies to legislation that would reduce intergovernmental 
(state or local) revenue by more than $50 million [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Amend UMRA to change the definition/threshold as noted in 
the strength/weakness column]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 78; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Just as exclusions were created for 
constitutional rights, rights that prohibit discrimination, and Social 
Security, new rights in the areas of worker rights, civil rights, 
disability and some environmental protections also should be excluded 
[W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Amend UMRA to expand the exclusions as noted in the 
strength/weakness column]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 79; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The Act fails to create any judicial review of 
those who might be wronged by the impact of the UMRA [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Amend the judicial review provisions of UMRA as noted in 
the strength/weakness column]; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 80; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The Act should not require federal agencies to 
consult with state, local and tribal governments before a regulation is 
proposed [W]; 
Why this item is significant: This unfairly elevates the position of 
one particular voice in the debate before opening the regulations to 
public comments; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Amend the consultation provisions of UMRA as noted in the 
strength/weakness column]; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 81; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Since UMRA took effect, both the amount of 
information about mandate costs and interest in that information have 
increased dramatically. In addition, numerous pieces of legislation 
that originally contained significant unfunded mandates were amended to 
either eliminate the mandates or lower their costs. In those respects, 
title I of UMRA has proved to be effective [S]; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 82; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA defines federal mandates narrowly. The law 
is further narrowed by its exclusions [W]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA's "success" is tempered in some 
observers' view for three main reasons: because conditions for 
obtaining federal grants are generally not considered to be mandates; 
because indirect, or secondary costs, are not accounted for in UMRA; 
and because some bills are specifically excluded from UMRA's 
requirements; According to the law, the conditions attached to most 
forms of federal assistance (including most entitlement grant programs) 
are not mandates. Yet complying with such conditions of aid can 
sometimes be costly, and states often think of new conditions on 
existing grant programs as duties not unlike mandates; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 83; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA focuses on direct costs that entities 
affected by mandates would bear [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Federal mandates also impose indirect 
costs, including the effects on prices and wages when the costs of a 
mandate imposed on one party are passed along to other parties; 
Theme code(s): A4.

ID: 84; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are several challenges in the UMRA 
estimation process; Determining what constitutes a mandate can be 
complicated (e.g., distinctions between what is voluntary and what is 
mandatory are not always clear); UMRA is unclear about whether a bill's 
effect on the costs of existing mandates should be counted as a new 
mandate cost when the bill itself contains no new enforceable duty; 
Other implementation challenges include determining how many entities 
would be affected and whether the effects are uniform. It is also 
sometimes impossible to estimate costs of mandates before the 
regulations needed to implement them have been developed (although CBO 
often estimates costs for mandates before rules are promulgated, e.g., 
if the agencies already have a clear idea of the direction they are 
likely to take, there is a good "analogous" rule or program on which to 
base estimates, or if the legislative language is very prescriptive and 
clear about what the regulated parties must do) [W]; 
Theme code(s): A4.

ID: 85; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The loopholes in the act are a major reason for 
non-compliance [W]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 86; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA provides a statutory basis for requiring 
agencies to do an analysis similar to that required by Executive Order 
12866 (which can be rescinded or amended at the discretion of the 
President) [S]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 87; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act was an important 
step in restoring greater balance and mutual respect to the federal 
system. It has raised awareness of the importance of State, local and 
tribal government and private sector concerns among agency 
decisionmakers [S]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Do more to involve State and local governments early in the 
rulemaking process. Consultation means little if it occurs after the 
opportunity to improve a rule is passed. Agencies should consult with 
State and local governments, including their elected officials and 
Washington representatives, before they have committed to any 
particular rulemaking alternative; Bring more uniformity to the 
consultation process to help both agencies and our intergovernmental 
partners know when, how and with whom to communicate. States and 
localities should have a clear point of contact in each agency, and 
agencies must understand that "consultation" means more than making a 
telephone call the day before a rulemaking action is published in the 
Federal Register; Enforce the UMRA to ensure that agencies are 
complying with both the letter and spirit of the law. The Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs should return a rule that is not in 
compliance with UMRA to the agency from which it came. If an agency is 
unsure whether a rule contains a significant mandate, it should err on 
the side of caution and prepare a mandates impact statement prior to 
issuing the regulation; 
Theme code(s): A3; A5; A6.

ID: 88; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The positive effects of UMRA had on the 
legislative process and on federalism are often intangible and not 
easily measured; Title I of the Act has provided a host of intangible 
benefits to both the Congress and to states and localities-
-not the least of which is increased communication between members of 
Congress and their staff with state and local officials and their 
representative national organizations on issues related to the 
imposition of unfunded federal mandates [S]; 
Why this item is significant: When UMRA was introduced in 1995, 
concerns were raised that UMRA would obstruct the legislative process, 
would impede expeditious movement of legislation and would weaken 
congressional authority to address pressing concerns. None of these 
concerns have materialized into real threats to the legislative 
process; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 89; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Intergovernmental cost estimates provide powerful 
information and create awareness of unfunded mandates. The work of 
CBO's State and Local Government Cost Estimates Unit is laudable. [S]; 
Why this item is significant: These estimates have significantly 
reduced the number of unfunded federal mandates passed by Congress. A 
score above the threshold defined in the law will often compel a member 
of Congress to make adjustments in legislation to avoid the appearance 
of an unfunded federal mandate; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: The work of the CBO State and Local Government Cost 
Estimates Unit would be enhanced by more timely access to bills and 
joint resolutions that may impose unfunded federal mandates; 
Theme code(s): A1; A4.

ID: 90; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The true value of the "point of order" is in its 
role as a deterrent [S]; 
Why this item is significant: Anecdotal evidence of UMRA's deterrent 
role, particularly threats that a point of order may be raised against 
legislation, have improved the process of consultation among Congress, 
CBO and states and localities; The threat of a point of order against a 
legislative proposal has caused members and staff to rethink and revise 
many proposals that would have likely imposed unfunded federal mandates 
on the states in excess of the threshold set in the law; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 91; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Broad exceptions and exclusions, as well as 
interpretations of law, expose state and local government to 
potentially large unfunded mandates not addressed in UMRA [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The definition of "federal 
intergovernmental mandate" requires that provisions impose an 
"enforceable duty" on state and local government. Enforceable duty, 
however, is not defined under the law. Further, it is rare that 
interpretations of what constitutes "enforceable duty" err on the side 
of the state and local government. Thus, many legislative proposals 
considered by Congress that would impose a cost shift or preemption go 
unaddressed under UMRA; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It is worthy of our collective attention to assess whether 
the exclusions were excessive and perhaps necessary; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 92; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): We have three primary concerns related to Title 
II: 

1. Enforcement of Title II has been non-existent; 
2. Agency consultation with state and local elected officials and their 
designated representatives is haphazard and inconsistent; 
3. Agency compliance in preparing and disseminating federalism 
assessments is rare [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Title II, regarding Regulatory 
Accountability and Reform, requires administrative agencies to consult 
with state and local government officials and their designees and 
provides for regulatory accountability and reform. It has been only 
marginally effective in reducing costly and administratively cumbersome 
regulations on states and counties; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Each of these deficiencies is repairable without further 
statutory changes; 
Theme code(s): A3; A5.

ID: 93; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The UMRA reports are the only tangible items that 
are created from the UMRA legislation. It is a good exercise to report 
on the direct expenditure impacts; However, the UMRA reports are not 
beneficial [S] [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The estimates that are provided in these 
reports are not the information that is needed. The detailed numbers do 
not convey the same type of message and are not as useful as describing 
the size of the federal mandate impacts; The problem also lies in the 
report's public exposure (i.e., not widely read). Also, the public 
largely ignores the report unless it can help a certain cause 
politically; State officials are generally aware when a federal mandate 
is coming and do not need report estimates to become aware of their 
budget issues created by a federal mandate; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 94; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There is a lack of performance measures built 
into the UMRA legislation [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Therefore, it is difficult for the public 
to determine whether the mandate is effective; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Implementing performance measures into federal mandates may 
be difficult or even impossible. Another possibility is that 
performance measures could create an added cost; The focus of research 
should be redirected. The financial cost should not be a measure of 
what's effective in mandates; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 95; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are two flavors of federal mandates. The 
first category has mandates that require certain actions on the part of 
state and local governments and are typically recognized under UMRA. 
The second category includes mandates in which federal funding is 
conditional upon a state taking certain actions (e.g., conditions on 
federal highway funds related to state actions on seat belt use or 
setting blood alcohol limits). Such actions are not covered by UMRA 
because participation is considered "voluntary." Actions that fall 
under some of UMRA's exclusions, such as those regarding national 
security and civil rights, are also things that can have significant 
consequences for states, but UMRA does not address [W]; 
Why this item is significant: From the receiving end, such federal 
actions or programs look and feel like mandatory requirements; Unfunded 
mandates put new demands on state budgets and interpose on states the 
federal government's priorities for use of the states' resources; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: While it is important to advise Congress that there is, for 
example, a civil rights or homeland security issue involved with a 
proposed requirement, Congress should still consider the consequences 
of such actions on lower levels of government; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 96; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The whole value of the UMRA process is to provide 
information on mandates; The reporting requirements are a great step 
forward [S]; 
Why this item is significant: There are not many folks who think you 
can prohibit unfunded mandates. This is what the federal government 
does. But UMRA is useful because you can make [Congress and federal 
agencies] recognize the effects on state and local governments, making 
sure they are not using mandate authority without thinking about the 
consequences; UMRA has been an excellent example of how you go about 
bringing attention to the potential consequences of federal actions; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: What effort is made to make the potentially affected 
nonfederal parties aware when there is a finding that proposed 
legislation contains a mandate? 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 97; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The definitions need to be tightened up [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: In particular, there is a need to address the civil rights 
and national security exclusions and the exceptions for requirements 
that are voluntary or conditions of federal financial assistance; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 98; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are other loopholes in the process for 
requirements that would otherwise be considered mandates [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Examples of loopholes to address include things that get 
added in conference committee or are added to legislation late in the 
process. However, these might be "irreparable," and you cannot get 
around such diversions from the regular legislative process; Another 
category of federal actions that should be considered mandates, but is 
not necessarily treated as such under UMRA, concerns tax changes that 
affect state tax codes; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 99; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There is a need for information on the 
effectiveness of mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There might be some public policy goals 
where a federal intergovernmental mandate is the most efficient way to 
accomplish the goal. However, it would be valuable, particularly for 
proponents of particular mandates, to have information on the 
effectiveness and actual costs of the mandate; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Provide information on the effectiveness and actual costs 
of the mandates; This evaluation should be done by the federal 
government, both because the federal government is doing the mandating, 
but also because of a need for a consistent nationwide look at whether 
mandates are really accomplishing their purposes and at what costs; One 
would probably not want to do this for every mandate, but it might be a 
good idea to focus on two or three big ones every year. For a first cut 
on which mandates to examine, I recommend looking at the most expensive 
mandates. I also suggest sending a survey to majority and minority 
legislative aides and the chiefs of staff of committees to identify the 
two or three mandates they view as priorities, then also going to 
nonfederal organizations, such as the National Governors Association 
and the National Conference of State Legislators; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 100; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA is successful at the congressional level. 
Title I of UMRA has been generally successful; The Act provides members 
of Congress and the general public with important data concerning the 
scope and cost of federal mandates. Moreover, Congress imposed 
discipline on itself by mandating that the House and the Senate examine 
the costs of potential laws before legislating; Furthermore, point of 
order procedures ensure that debate in Congress considers the direct 
costs of any mandate contained in the legislation being considered [S]; 
Theme code(s): A1; A3.

ID: 101; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The independent CBO review is key to the success 
of UMRA [S]; 
Why this item is significant: CBO's statements provide advocates and 
opponents with a nonpartisan, thorough analysis of the potential 
impacts of legislation; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 102; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Agencies are not held to the same high standards 
that Congress set for itself; As structured, Title II authorizes an 
agency to be the final determinator over whether the regulations it 
proposes are mandates or not, and whether the agency's own analysis 
adequately describes the costs and impacts of the mandate [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Under this process, Congress, the 
Administration, and the American people are often deprived of the 
information needed to ensure that federal agencies regulate in the most 
cost effective, least burdensome manner; Due to the lack of independent 
review, an agency may deliberately underestimate the costs of a 
proposed rule or conclude that UMRA does not apply because of other 
statutory provisions. In these instances, the agency controls both the 
information and debate, and its determination is virtually 
unreviewable; UMRA Section 205 requires that agencies consider many 
alternatives when proposing regulations. From these alternatives, 
Section 205 also requires agencies to "select the least costly, most 
cost-effective or least burdensome alternatives that achieve the 
objectives of the rule" or explain why more burdensome options are 
necessary. However, Section 205 is not operative unless an UMRA 
analysis, as specified in Section 202, is required. Therefore, when 
agencies circumvent Section 205 by concluding an UMRA analysis is not 
required for by grossly underestimating the cost, the agency thwarts 
the intent of Congress; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Federal regulatory agencies should not be allowed to avoid 
congressional mandates by mischaracterizing the cost of a rulemaking. 
New provisions should be enacted to address this deficiency; First, 
Title II should be amended to establish independent analysis of UMRA 
statements conducted by agencies when considering mandates. An 
independent body--such as GAO or the Office of Management and Budget--
should be charged with reviewing the assumptions and policy decisions 
contained in the mandates analyses. This will help ensure that mandates 
to both the public and private sector will be fully considered before 
regulations are finalized; Second, permit early judicial challenge to 
an agency's failure to prepare UMRA statements. Section 401 of UMRA 
states that an agency can be compelled to prepare the necessary 
statements, but only when the final rule has been promulgated. A rule 
cannot be stayed, enjoined or invalidated solely because an agency did 
not prepare an UMRA analysis. For this reason, the rulemaking 
proceeding is permitted to continue when analysis of the costs involved 
might otherwise be grounds to terminate the proceeding. By removing 
this provision and allowing a court to potentially invalidate a rule at 
an early stage because of a missing or deficient UMRA analysis, 
regulatory agencies will hopefully be more likely to prepare accurate 
UMRA statements; 
Theme code(s): A3; A4.

ID: 103; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA is effective for legislation to which it 
applies [S]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 104; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Many federal actions that have significant "cost 
shifting" implications for state and local governments are not being 
covered under UMRA because of the definitions, exemptions, exclusions, 
and thresholds in the act; In particular, the UMRA exceptions for 
conditions of federal financial assistance and participation in 
voluntary programs are perceived as significant problems [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There has been broad and growing concern 
on the part of state and local governments regarding cost shifts [from 
the federal to state and local governments] occurring because of 
various federal actions. When the ways these cost shifts were happening 
were examined, it was often found that the sources were federal actions 
not covered under UMRA. Because these actions fell outside of the 
requirements for UMRA reviews, estimates of their potential effects 
were not prepared; Federal grant conditions are perceived as mandates; 
The "voluntary participation" exception can be a problem when 
participation is effectively not perceived as voluntary (e.g., when 
state and local governments come to depend on certain levels or 
conditions of federal funding); 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Amend the definitions, exemptions, and exclusions in the 
act. In particular, the following types of federal actions should be 
treated as mandates covered by UMRA's requirements: 


* Federal grant conditions [i.e., conditions of federal financial 
assistance]; 
* New mandates added within preexisting programs, which can put 
governments into a position of having to accept new conditions to keep 
getting funding; 
* Federal preemptions of state and local laws and regulations; 

* Subsequent changes in the conditions or funding levels of existing 
federal programs that result in new costs for state and local 
governments, especially once beneficiaries of the programs come to 
expect program assistance; 
* Secondary and/or indirect costs, including cost shifts associated 
with state and local governments having to prove eligibility or compete 
for grants, or situations where the direct cost is assumed to fall on 
another actor, but indirectly falls on state and local governments; 
Revisit the reasons why these limitations were incorporated at the 
inception of UMRA. Determine whether the original concerns are still 
valid; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 105; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Insufficient information is available on the 
impacts of federal mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Interested parties are currently lacking 
a complete set of data on the true costs of federal mandates. In 
particular: 

* There is little good information about the impacts of mandates on 
local governments. Most of the information that is available focuses on 
state-level impacts; 
* No good data base has been available for tracking estimates of 
cumulative costs of federal mandates since ACIR; 
* As UMRA is currently implemented, there is no way to capture "highly 
focused local costs" that affect one state or region without exceeding 
the national-level threshold; Also, estimates are not always made 
available when a determination is made that the costs of mandates will 
be below UMRA's thresholds (a "black hole" for information on the costs 
of mandates); 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Good data are needed on; (a) the impacts of mandates on 
local governments, (b) the cumulative effects and costs of federal 
mandates, and; (c) highly focused local costs that affect one state or 
region without exceeding the national-level threshold; Basing such data 
only on things identified under the current UMRA definitions would be 
inadequate; Another important component of such data would be including 
the effects of the many mandates that did not exceed the UMRA 
thresholds; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 106; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There is currently no attempt by CBO or 
regulatory agencies to look back after mandates have been imposed to 
check whether the initial cost estimates were accurate [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It would be useful to study whether the true costs of 
mandates were similar to the impacts originally estimated; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 107; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are uncertainties and inconsistent 
judgments in the mandate identification and estimation processes; In 
particular, some definitions in UMRA are unclear, agencies may apply 
different interpretations and judgments, and there is uncertainty about 
how estimators at CBO and other federal agencies handle cost ranges 
when preparing estimates and making determinations under UMRA [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Federal agencies can apply different 
judgments or interpretations during the mandate estimation processes 
that affect determinations of whether or not a change is a mandate; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies examining the mandate identification and cost 
estimation processes and definitions in UMRA and as implemented by 
different agencies]; 
Theme code(s): A2; A4.

ID: 108; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Perceptions about the quality of information and 
consultations on mandates are mixed; CBO's estimates and outreach 
efforts are generally perceived as good. However, there are some 
problems when CBO concludes that it can't determine cost estimates for 
some mandates; Regulatory agencies' analyses are "uneven." The agencies 
and the Joint Committee on Taxation are not making sufficient efforts 
to consult with state and local governments about the impacts of 
proposed mandates. OIRA's outreach also "fades." [S] [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The depth and quality of UMRA information 
and consultations are generally better for legislative mandates than 
for regulatory mandates; Overall, it is not certain that local 
government officials who actually have to implement federal mandates 
are adequately consulted about the possible impacts of such mandates; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: CBO's approach of more centralized reviews of statutes and 
direct contacts with state and local governments when preparing 
estimates are more effective than the decentralized approaches of other 
agencies and those agencies' reliance, for consultation purposes, on 
Federal Register notices with requests for comments; 
Theme code(s): A1; A4; A5.

ID: 109; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA hasn't been a disaster, but is also a "lion 
without teeth." UMRA does not attract much attention, [S] [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There are synergistic effects and benefits to be realized 
from exploring the joint implementation of the Data Quality Act and 
UMRA. DQA currently has a higher profile than UMRA, and outside parties 
view DQA as a useful tool. The data an agency used to make its 
determination about UMRA's applicability could be challenged under DQA; 
If agencies had to make their UMRA determinations, and the supporting 
data and analyses, public before rules are published, this could 
elevate attention to UMRA earlier in the rulemaking process. Agencies 
could publish their determinations and identify the availability of 
supporting data and analyses in Federal Register notices, perhaps as 
periodic batch notifications; This could be done without legislative 
action. For example, OMB could revise its guidelines to agencies on the 
implementation of UMRA to (a) instruct the agencies to publicly 
announce their UMRA determinations periodically and (b) advise the 
agencies that those determinations would be subject to DQA petitions; 
Theme code(s): A1; A3; A6.

ID: 110; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The chances of UMRA's title I provisions working 
are slim, no matter how the act is crafted, because of the way the 
legislative process works [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Because there is always some support for 
proposed legislation, it is difficult to use UMRA's point of order 
mechanism to block legislation; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 111; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): It is difficult to find a good paper trail to 
document agencies' UMRA determinations under title II [W]; 
Why this item is significant: In reviewing agencies' rulemaking 
dockets, it is hard to find much to document the analyses and data that 
agencies used to certify whether or not their proposed rules triggered 
UMRA's threshold. It can also be hard to find a paper trail to show 
that, if a rule did trigger UMRA's threshold, the agency identified and 
selected regulatory alternatives per UMRA's criteria; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Follow specific rulemakings to monitor the implementation 
of UMRA and see how agencies treat unfunded mandates issues and make 
their determinations on whether UMRA applies. This could illustrate how 
consideration of UMRA can be incorporated during the development of a 
rule; 
Theme code(s): A4.

ID: 112; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA provides little meaningful relief or remedy 
if agencies have not complied with the act's requirements [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The limited enforcement and relief 
available under UMRA might not make it seem worthwhile for nonfederal 
parties to challenge agencies' compliance with the act's requirements; 
In particular, private sector entities view UMRA as something that is 
very complicated and are not sure what they get out of this; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Use judicial review to challenge agencies' compliance with 
UMRA requirements and get agencies and OMB to pay more close attention 
to UMRA; If the current judicial review provisions are perceived to 
provide insufficient relief, Congress could amend those provisions to 
provide more redress on the part of a court that found an agency did 
not do a required UMRA analysis or prepared an incomplete analysis-- 
perhaps allowing the court to defer the effective date of the rule; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 113; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA's exemptions are confusing [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Although any one [of the exemptions] 
might make sense in isolation, together they are a big deal; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Independent agencies should be covered by UMRA, and 
Congress should rewrite the rest of the exemptions in a more condensed 
form; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 114; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): It is easy to alter a mandate to make it exempt 
from UMRA [W]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 115; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The results of some federal processes are not 
necessarily regulations, so UMRA does not apply, but those results 
might have the same effect as regulatory mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: A process that results in an unfunded 
mandate is the same as a rule that is an unfunded mandate; In an 
information society, processes that result in de facto unfunded 
mandates are an important issue, and there is a growing number of such 
non-statutory, non-regulatory actions not covered by UMRA; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Broaden the definitions in UMRA to apply to federal 
processes that do not result in published rules but have the effect of 
a mandate. A wider definition of UMRA's applicability is needed to 
address such processes. Examples include the National Toxicology 
Program's (NTP) listings on whether individual chemicals are human 
carcinogens, which can trigger regulatory actions on the part of 
government agencies, and decisions by the Internet Corporation for 
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which can have the effect of 
regulatory mandates on the private sector; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 116; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA continues to protect basic civil rights laws 
[S]; 
Why this item is significant: The three most obvious examples are the 
Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities 
Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Other 
statutes considered civil rights laws and, therefore, exempt from UMRA 
include the Air Carriers Access Act of 1986, the Fair Housing Act, and 
the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act. The assumption is 
that these are still things that would be excluded under UMRA; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: If UMRA were looked at again, it would help to create an 
actual list of which laws come under the UMRA exclusions, either as 
part of UMRA or in conference language, to clarify what UMRA does not 
cover. It might be important to reaffirm what are the civil rights laws 
that protect persons with disabilities. One would want to do this in a 
comprehensive way, but this also could open old wounds and debates; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 117; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): A potential concern regarding the unfunded 
mandates issue is that future Congresses might revisit some of these 
[civil rights] laws and programs because of increasing fiscal pressures 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: Attacking federal disability entitlements 
because of their costs might spur new unfunded mandates debates. This 
might be particularly true of Medicaid. With the impact of tax reform, 
deficits, and other financial pressures, there is a concern that the 
federal government might seek to escape from its share of these program 
costs; 
Theme code(s): B4.

ID: 118; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Another potential issue for clarification is 
whether the entitlements aspect is clear in UMRA [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It might help to clarify what is or isn't an entitlement 
(that should be excluded from UMRA's coverage.); 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 119; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The structure and philosophy of [UMRA] is 
fundamentally sound, in particular: 

§ 2 - Purposes; § 423 - Duties of the Congressional committees 
(although § 423(d) is a problem if Congress appropriates "such sums as 
necessary"); § 425 - Legislation subject to a Point of Order (in 
particular the language in 425(iii)); § 204 - State, Local and Tribal 
Government Input (however, this does not seem to work well on the 
regulatory side); § 205 - Least Burdensome Option or Explanation 
Required [S]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: These are parts of UMRA that, in particular, should be 
retained; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 120; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Another criticism of UMRA is the issue of 
Congress providing "such sums as necessary" in the authorizing 
legislation [W]; 
Why this item is significant: This is seen as a problem, because, 
although CBO may score something as a mandate, they would not consider 
it unfunded or underfunded because Congress is providing "such sums as 
necessary." Since appropriations are not subject to CBO review, there 
is no process or mechanism to make sure Congress actually appropriates 
"such sums as necessary."; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies consideration of a process or mechanism to check 
whether Congress appropriates "such sums as necessary."]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 121; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The disability community fought hard to keep 
civil rights laws like ADA out of the UMRA, and we think that was the 
correct outcome [S]; 
Why this item is significant: Philosophically, we in the disability 
community do not see civil rights and equal opportunity laws like the 
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Part B of the Individuals with 
Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)…as unfunded federal mandates; Any 
time you tie basic civil rights protections to a funding stream, you 
run the risk that the protection will evaporate when the funding 
doesn't keep pace with the costs of compliance; To lump [the ADA and 
other disability rights laws] in with economic regulation and other 
forms of federal mandates is to cheapen the laws and threaten their 
ongoing impact as a force for equal opportunity and fair play; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies maintaining the current exclusions in UMRA 
covering civil rights laws]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 122; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA's coverage is not casting a broad enough 
net; With regard to title I, UMRA does not require CBO to review 
potential mandates in appropriations bills. Also, there may be a 
disconnect in the funding to cover federal mandates between the amounts 
in authorizing legislation and what is actually made available through 
subsequent appropriations; With regard to title II, UMRA leaves out 
independent regulatory agencies [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Appropriations might have mandates, so 
this potentially is a big problem; Why does UMRA not apply to rules 
issued by the independent regulatory agencies? One would expect them to 
be covered. Also, has research been done to examine whether UMRA's 
exclusions have created an incentive for any sort of shift in issuing 
regulatory mandates through independent agencies? 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Broaden UMRA's coverage to include appropriations bills and 
rules issued by independent regulatory agencies; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 123; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): A concern regarding how UMRA's provisions are 
enforced is the possibility that Congress under utilizes UMRA's point 
of order mechanism [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Experience in following the federal 
budget process shows that budget points of order are underutilized. 
Congress might similarly underutilize the mechanism regarding UMRA; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: The mechanism could be more useful if more information 
about mandates were provided to Congress. In general, however, there 
might not be a better way to try to enforce UMRA; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 124; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): More narrowly focused federal mandates tend to be 
undone and lose effectiveness because of cost shifting done by state 
and local governments. The federal government is more effective when it 
uses broader distribution and spending [W] [S]; 
Why this item is significant: Research suggests that narrowly focused 
and targeted federal mandates do not tend to achieve the desired 
effects. They may achieve the goal of expanding coverage, but not the 
goal of expanding the resources available overall to targeted 
populations (e.g., resources for education programs for poor districts 
go up, but less money goes to other programs for those districts); The 
more constraints that the federal government places on its funding to 
limit how the money is used, the less efficient the effort may be in 
achieving the federal objectives; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Federal mandates that are broader in scope appear to be 
more effective. This argues for more flexibility in federal funding; 
The federal government is in a good position to do broad distribution 
of resources. It makes sense to raise funds broadly, and, to the extent 
possible, use revenue sharing; 
Theme code(s): B1.

ID: 125; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Judicial mandates are essentially unfunded and 
can impose big costs [W]; 
Why this item is significant: If the mandate is binding, the state will 
need to shift resources. Empirically, it is hard to figure out the 
actual cost of a judicial mandate; 
Theme code(s): B4.

ID: 126; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): I am skeptical that disclosure statutes are an 
adequate response to the mandate problem [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Such statutes rest on the premise that 
mandate-imposing legislators are unaware of what they are doing and 
will stop imposing mandates when they are informed. This strikes me as 
a naïve definition of the problem and explains why historically 
disclosure statutes have not significantly impeded the adoption of 
mandates; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies a suggestion to consider a different framework 
than a disclosure statute to address federal mandate issues]; 
Theme code(s): B1; B4.

ID: 127; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA has been a great success overall. In 
particular, it does a good job regarding intergovernmental mandates. 
The act brought unfunded mandates to the forefront of congressional 
debates and slowed down the enactment of new unfunded mandates [S]; 
Why this item is significant: The reduced number of new unfunded 
mandates is the primary evidence of UMRA's record of success. By that 
standard, the law has been a complete success; 
Theme code(s): A1; A6.

ID: 128; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): One of the strengths of UMRA has been that it 
doesn't try to be more ambitious than it needs to be [S]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA is narrow enough now to work. It 
focuses on new legislation and provides a shield to protect state 
budgets from federal coercive intrusion. This is the most important 
thing; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Putting more in the act might make it less effective; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 129; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The information generated by CBO, both the 
estimates on individual legislation and the annual reports on UMRA 
activities, has been very useful [S]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Although additional program evaluation of federal mandates 
would help, this was not the initial intent of UMRA; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 130; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The act doesn't cover everything it should; The 
point of order mechanism is generally weak [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The weakness of the point of order 
mechanism could be a problem if the mood in Congress shifted and new 
members were more willing to enact additional federal mandates; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: To strengthen UMRA and make it more effective: (1) expand 
UMRA to cover appropriations bills, discharged bills, bills amended 
later in the legislative process, and emergency spending bills (if 
there is a way to cover "non-emergency" emergency legislation); and (2) 
strengthen the point of order mechanism; 
Theme code(s): A2; A3.

ID: 131; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA hasn't been as successful in dealing with 
previous mandates as in discouraging new mandates [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: I am not sure how UMRA could be changed to address that. 
Politically, it could be difficult to try to fix pre-1994 mandates. 
There is a concern that putting more in the act might make it less 
effective; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 132; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Among some members of Congress and other parties 
there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of what an unfunded 
mandate is, and such misunderstandings can undermine the effectiveness 
of UMRA [W]; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 133; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Underfunding of federal mandates is sometimes a 
problem [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Some of the federal programs that states have identified as 
unfunded mandates are voluntary, so states can opt out of them; In some 
ways, states are using UMRA to intrude on the federal budget by trying 
to bully the federal government into providing more funding to the 
states; 
Theme code(s): B2.

ID: 134; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The most significant strengths of UMRA are that 
it allows CBO to identify potential mandates in bills, it makes such 
information available to members of Congress and the general public, 
and it permits a point of order to be raised against an unfunded 
mandate [S]; 
Theme code(s): A1; A3.

ID: 135; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): [The accountability of Congress and federal 
agencies for the fiscal consequences of their decisions could be 
strengthened.] [W]; 
Why this item is significant: [The following were comments on the 
significance of options proposed in the next column: 

(re: 3. Conditions of Federal Aid) Strictly speaking, the so-called 
mandates in statutes such as the No Child Left Behind Act are not 
mandates. They are conditions of federal aid; any state and local 
government wishing not to comply can simply refuse the aid. However, 
because such conditions are most often attached to large aid programs, 
such as highways, Medicaid, education, and criminal justice, from which 
state and local governments cannot feasibly withdraw as a practical 
matter, then these conditions are de facto mandates; (re: 4. 
Preemptions) There has been an exponential increase in federal 
preemptions of state and local powers since 1969; (re: 5. National 
Security/Treaty Exclusion) Mandates related to national security and 
treaties can have substantial impacts on state and local governments; 
(re: 6. Rights-Related Exclusions) Some mandates under the three rights-
related exclusions in UMRA can have substantial fiscal impacts on state 
and local governments, especially in their custodial capacities over 
persons in schools, prisons, mental-health facilities, and the like. 
Rights are a matter of interpretation, often political interpretation; 
hence, UMRA should cover these types of bills so that state and local 
governments are not saddled with the fiscal costs of rights mandates 
enacted merely by bare majorities in Congress; (re: 10. U.S. Supreme 
Court Rulings) Most Court rulings involve interpretations of federal 
statutes or resolutions of conflicts between federal and state 
statutes. Consequently, Supreme Court rulings constitute a secondary 
fiscal impact of federal statutes on state and local governments, an 
impact not identified by CBO during the legislative process or an 
impact never intended by Congress]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Reforms in the UMRA process should be designed to increase 
the extent to which the Congress and federal agencies are able to be 
held accountable to taxpayers for the fiscal consequences of their 
decisions and to increase, as a result, the fiscal responsibility of 
the Congress and federal agencies. UMRA, thus, should be strengthened 
in the following ways (listed from more important to less important): 

1. CBO should be required to identify and review potential mandates in 
all bills, including appropriations bills, acted upon by Congress. This 
would provide much more information to members of Congress and the 
general public and also ensure that no significant unfunded mandates 
would slip through the legislative process without any possibility for 
challenge; 
2. UMRA should require a three-fifths vote, rather than a simple 
majority, to overturn a point of order. This change would strengthen 
the institutional salience of UMRA and ensure that no significant 
mandate could be passed by a bare simple majority of either house; 
3. UMRA should be amended to require CBO to identify and estimate the 
costs of conditions of federal aid that will require state and local 
governments to expend $50 million or more of their own revenues in 
order to comply with the conditions; 
4. UMRA should be amended to require CBO to identify and estimate the 
costs of federal preemptions that will either cost state and local 
governments $50 million or more in lost revenues or require state and 
local governments to expend $50 million or more of their own revenues 
in order to comply with the preemptive statute and also alter their own 
institutions and processes so as to adjust for the preemption; 
5. The UMRA exclusion pertaining to national security and treaties 
should be repealed. CBO should be authorized to identify and estimate 
the costs of potential mandates embedded in national security and 
homeland security bills and in proposed treaties and trade agreements. 
Matters of great national significance would surely survive the UMRA 
process; matters of not-so-great importance would deservedly not 
survive the UMRA process; 
6. The three rights-related exclusions in UMRA should be repealed, 
namely (a) bills enforcing constitutional rights, (b) bills 
establishing or enforcing rights against discrimination, and (c) bills 
relating to the old age, survivors, and disability insurance program. A 
right of any importance will be supported by more than a bare majority 
in Congress and, thus, will survive the UMRA process and, in turn, be 
viewed as more legitimate by the public and by state and local 
officials; 
7. UMRA should authorize CBO to identify and estimate the costs of 
potential mandates in final agency rules. This would be a purely 
informational function; 
8. UMRA should lower the fiscal impact threshold for federal agency 
intergovernmental mandates from $100 million to $50 million; 
9. UMRA should authorize CBO to identify and estimate the costs of 
potential mandates in rules issued by independent regulatory agencies. 
This might be a controversial recommendation; however, it would serve 
an important information purpose for Congress and the general public; 
10. UMRA should authorize CBO to identify and estimate the costs of 
potential mandates in U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The information 
provide by CBO analyses of judicial intergovernmental mandates would 
allow the Congress to provide compensatory funding to state and local 
governments and/or to amend statutes that produce unintended judicial 
mandates; 
11. UMRA should require GAO to analyze, five years after enactment, 
from a cost- benefit perspective the effectiveness of any federal 
mandate--funded or unfunded--that entails the expenditure of $100 
million or more annually of federal, state, and/or local dollars. This 
is a major research need regarding the impacts of intergovernmental 
mandates; 
Theme code(s): A2; A3; A4; B3.

ID: 136; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The whole concept of unfunded mandates has some 
underlying problems. There is a risk that the rallying cry of "unfunded 
mandates" could be a wolf in sheep's clothing used to deregulate and 
undermine fundamental health, safety, and environmental protections 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: Anything the government does could be 
called an unfunded mandate. Taken to extreme, this could be used to 
dismantle safeguards and basic protections, such as civil rights laws, 
that are essentially part of the social fabric; This is what 
regulations do; they require things of people but are not accompanied 
by significant amounts of money [to pay for the costs of compliance]; 
The federal government is the only entity that is in a position to set 
minimum standards that everyone must meet and to halt a regulatory race 
to the bottom by state and local governments. If the unfunded mandates 
label were used as a banner to try to deregulate a lot of things, it 
would reduce the federal government's ability to act in this way. If 
the federal government was less able to set such standards, state and 
local governments would be under greater pressure to cut costs for 
regulated entities by loosening regulatory standards to avoid giving 
their neighbors a competitive advantage. In the long run, this would be 
harmful to the public protected by the standards; 
Theme code(s): B4.

ID: 137; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The second issue that is very troubling is the 
effort of companies and operators to take the mantle of unfunded 
mandates from the framework of intergovernmental mandates and apply it 
to private sector mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: The UMRA legislation was sold to the 
public as an accounting of what federal mandates cost state, local, and 
tribal governments. The inclusion of private sector mandates did not 
fit conceptually with the intent of the act; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies a suggestion to delete private sector mandates 
from UMRA]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 138; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The constitutional and statutory rights 
exemptions in UMRA are essential. However, other rights are also 
important [S] [W]; 
Why this item is significant: It is equally important to be safe and 
healthy. These protections are legitimately something that it is hard 
to argue are different from civil rights. Inherently and 
intellectually, they are the same; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies a suggestion to maintain the existing rights 
exclusions in UMRA and add exclusions for federal mandates regarding 
health and safety]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 139; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Another important issue wrapped up in a lot of 
this debate about mandates is preemption. There is a concern if 
preemption were brought into or linked to UMRA; 
Why this item is significant: The subject of preemption can emerge In 
the more general context of environmental federalism issues. Businesses 
are concerned about being at a competitive disadvantage if their state 
and local governments have more strict regulations than those 
applicable to competitors. In this context, there is a concern that 
federal preemption could be used to prevent state and local 
governments' regulations from being more stringent than federal 
standards. This is "a sort of reverse unfunded mandate." Also, it is an 
interesting juxtaposition and hard to reconcile that the same people 
who are fighting other federal mandates to preserve states' rights want 
the federal government to intervene to prevent states from imposing 
more stringent regulations and standards supported by their citizens; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: UMRA is not the thing to address preemption; 
Theme code(s): A2; A6.

ID: 140; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): I have no problem with estimating the costs and 
benefits of regulations, but it is necessary to recognize the 
difficulty of coming up with hard numbers (estimates of costs and 
benefits of federal actions) in advance. The assumption that hard 
numbers are available is unrealistic [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There are often enormous uncertainties 
associated with estimates of the impact of proposed legislation. You 
try to do the best job possible, but it is an inherently flawed 
assumption to expect hard numbers; People can misunderstand what these 
numbers are or use them to "deep six" something based on flawed 
estimates; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: To address this issue, there needs to be congressional and 
general recognition that these numbers are soft; 
Theme code(s): B3.

ID: 141; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): A significant weakness of UMRA is that it 
primarily focuses on costs of federal requirements, with little or no 
recognition of the benefits achieved by federal mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There is often a difference between who 
bears the direct costs of a mandate versus who has negative 
externalities imposed on them that the federal mandate attempts to 
address. As a result of its cost focus, UMRA gives a one-sided 
statement of the legislation, not a balanced discussion of what is 
being proposed. What would people's reaction be if the legislation only 
required looking at the benefits side of the equation? 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: [Implies a suggestion to have the UMRA process focus on 
benefits as well as costs of potential federal mandates]; 
Theme code(s): A1; A4.

ID: 142; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Without UMRA you would have more unfunded 
mandates because, with UMRA, you have "this invisible wall" that people 
don't want to cross; Absent the point of order enforcement mechanism, 
people will overlook the significance of the mandate reports. They will 
not pay attention to the reports without the consequence of a point of 
order being raised [S]; 
Theme code(s): A3; A6.

ID: 143; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The point of order mechanism in UMRA is 
cumbersome and odd [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Trying to restrict the content of 
legislation through procedure is awkward (not much of a solution). 
Congress is not likely to use the point of order procedure to challenge 
provisions; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: It is probably imprudent to put procedural restrictions on 
what can be legislated. Congress will simply find a way to get around 
it, if members want to. You can't stop a legislature from legislating, 
so there is no sense expecting the procedural hurdles of UMRA to stop 
mandates. You ultimately have to rely on a political will to stop 
unfunded mandates; It is not certain that fixing or simplifying UMRA's 
procedures would address the underlying purposes of the act; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 144; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA's current process to identify mandates is 
flawed because of the things that are not covered; Because of the many 
available ways that UMRA may not be applicable, the act fails miserably 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: The definition of a mandate under UMRA 
excludes many things of concern to affected parties. There are also 
other things that would meet UMRA's definition of a mandate but escape 
scrutiny under UMRA for other reasons, such as not following the 
regular legislative process; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Tighten the exclusions. Look at the existing loopholes in 
UMRA and clean them up (e.g., only counting expenditures for purposes 
of triggering title II and UMRA not applying to rules without a notice 
of proposed rulemaking); 
Theme code(s): A2; A4.

ID: 145; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Congress has never used the Byrd amendment 
provisions in UMRA. The Byrd amendment provisions are not well 
developed or precise. They are more complicated than they need to be 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: You can't fund a mandate through the 
authorization of a mandate. The Byrd amendment provisions are an 
attempt to come to grips with this (i.e., the possibility that Congress 
will not appropriate the funding authorized to pay for a mandate); 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Get rid of the Byrd amendment. Simplify it to say that, if 
in any year a mandate is not funded, then the mandate is abolished. 
Leave it to Congress to remedy the elimination of a mandate, if it 
wishes, by re-legislating; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 146; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): There are situations when the costs of 
legislative mandates cannot be estimated at the time of enactment, 
because they depend on future regulations [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Amend UMRA to include a look-back method. If Congress 
enacts legislation that has an impact that cannot be calculated at the 
time of enactment, the provision would automatically sunset unless 
Congress reconsiders the legislation; 
Theme code(s): A4; A6.

ID: 147; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Title II only requires agencies to self- certify 
and to do analyses they are already doing under other requirements. 
Title II is meaningless given these other requirements, and there is no 
real sanction on agencies for noncompliance [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Revisit the provisions of title II. Consider moving 
oversight of title II from OIRA to a congressional committee or some 
other actor. This would also allow someone to oversee the independent 
agencies; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 148; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Title IV (re: judicial review) is practically 
toothless [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Expand title IV so that someone of the Big 7, for example, 
could bring suit. Expand it also to cover title I statutes; 
Theme code(s): A3.

ID: 149; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): CBO's estimation methodology of potential 
mandates costs does not appear to be subject to oversight or challenge. 
The absence of such oversight, and the omission of other information-- 
in addition to the CBO estimates--that is supposed to be provided by 
Congressional committees under UMRA's reporting requirements, indicates 
that the information provided by committees should not be taken at face 
value [W]; 
Why this item is significant: If the committee report, including the 
CBO estimate, is of questionable value and use, the requirements in 
UMRA should be reexamined; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Open the CBO methodology for comment, perhaps through the 
Federal Register or by requiring an independent examination of the 
process used by CBO; Put some backbone into the UMRA requirements that 
committees provide information, e.g., set up a hurdle for consideration 
of legislation if committees leave out required information; 
Theme code(s): A3; A4.

ID: 150; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): [Funding options for federal mandates]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: As an option for addressing the funding of mandates, 
consider waivers or swaps. Amend UMRA so that, if a mandate is 
legislated, then state and local governments gain certain waiver 
rights; 
Theme code(s): B2.

ID: 151; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The inclusion of the private sector in UMRA is 
confusing [W]; 
Why this item is significant: It is not clear why UMRA covers private 
sector mandates. Their inclusion dilutes the original intent of the 
statute to address the issue of unfunded mandates, as the concept is 
generally understood [i.e., to refer to intergovernmental mandates]; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 152; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA is generally duplicative of everything else 
the agencies do to analyze their proposed rules. The only thing that is 
different with UMRA, compared to EO 12866 is that UMRA requires 
agencies to specifically address their choice of regulatory options 
[W]; 
Why this item is significant: UMRA is redundant, covering much the same 
territory as analyses required by EO 12866, the Federalism EO, the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, and others. For example, the agencies will 
look very carefully at the effects of their rules that exercise 
preemption of state and local authority under the Federalism executive 
order; 
Theme code(s): A4.

ID: 153; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA also overlaps the Federalism EO and others 
regarding its requirements for consultation during the rulemaking 
process [W]; 
Why this item is significant: In practice, the agencies generally have 
received no response to consultation letters they sent to potentially 
affected parties. It is hard to get folks to focus too early in the 
process, i.e., before the substance of a rule has been proposed for 
comment. …The agencies get few or no responses to the information they 
provide on forthcoming mandates (e.g., through the semi-annual 
regulatory agenda) and to the opportunities provided to participate in 
and comment on the rulemaking process; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 154; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The work of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 
has not obstructed committee action, but rather has served to enhance 
congressional decision-making through better information [S]; 
Why this item is significant: The very threat of a CBO report has 
engendered efforts to reach out to state and local leaders before the 
fact--instead of after. It has changed the nature of our 
intergovernmental discussion in a very positive way; 
Theme code(s): A1.

ID: 155; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Exemptions from UMRA are a growing problem [W]; 
Why this item is significant: While UMRA has led to a significant 
improvement in Congress, its very success has demonstrated areas where 
the spirit of the law has been circumvented, notwithstanding 
extraordinary impacts on states; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 156; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Environmental protection mandates are a 
significant issue. These rules are causing a big unfunded mandates 
problem for local agencies [W]; 
Why this item is significant: EPA sometimes has a way of getting around 
UMRA by claiming that its actions would impose no additional 
incremental costs on localities, because the state/EPA already regulate 
in the area. This is an unfair technique, and large implications are 
being felt by many localities; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Affordability criteria should be considered regarding 
mandates, and there could be a state regulatory "off ramp" to get 
waivers when faced with costly mandates. However, the affordability 
criteria should not be based on EPA's existing guidance that sets the 
bar based on a community's medium household income and ignores poorer 
segments of the populations and other financial obligations a community 
faces; 
Theme code(s): B1; B2.

ID: 157; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): A particular concern is the quality of federal 
agency cost estimates for proposed mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: There are concerns that EPA and its 
consultants underestimate costs; There is no real consequence if agency 
estimates undershoot actual costs by a big margin; If the federal 
agency would only truly look at the costs of mandates, other options 
and site-specific alternatives might be identified; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There has to be a better way to make the agencies 
accountable for their cost estimates. A related question is whether the 
federal agencies that are imposing the mandates should also evaluate 
the mandates. We advocate third-party review of the benefits of agency 
mandates, and their cost estimates or some similar mechanism to have 
someone look at the agencies' mandates, estimates and data; UMRA 
estimates should be done on a regional/local level basis also, not just 
at an aggregate national level; Federal agencies are not looking into 
the cost-benefit ratio of their mandates. When you spend that much 
money, what do you get from it? 
Theme code(s): A4; B3.

ID: 158; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Another area of concern is agency efforts at 
public outreach and consultation regarding mandates [W]; 
Why this item is significant: Although EPA offers opportunities for 
comments and is willing to meet with state and local officials, it has 
been very frustrating when the agency disregards the information 
provided by state and local officials on the potential impacts of 
mandates; Also, there is no outreach to the public about why these 
mandates are needed and why the costs are so high. All local agencies 
will need to raise revenues and raise rates [to address increased 
federal standards], but the average citizen is not aware that the 
increase is caused by the federal government. Therefore, the citizens' 
blame and resentment is directed toward the localities; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Unless there is an environmental emergency, EPA should be 
required to justify the mandate before it can implement it; EPA should 
be held accountable for the cost of implementing mandates and then 
finding they underestimated the benefits to the community. Placing the 
cost for errors on those that cause them is a way to bring a sense of 
control and accountability to governmental entities managed by 
appointed officials; 
Theme code(s): A5.

ID: 159; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): Although UMRA recognizes and brings attention to 
an important aspect of federal action, there needs to be more than a 
"check the box" solution to the problem [S] [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: Identifying that something is a federal mandate is not 
enough; give it [UMRA] more teeth; 
Theme code(s): A6.

ID: 160; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): The language and exclusions of UMRA create an 
illusion that there are not many unfunded mandates occurring [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: There are many mandates present that have a significant 
funding gap, and these should be considered unfunded mandates; 
Theme code(s): A2.

ID: 161; 
Strength or weakness of UMRA as enacted or implemented (or of federal 
mandates in general): UMRA doesn't apply to preexisting legislation 
(e.g., the Clean Water Act). There is no retroaction application [W]; 
Suggested options (if any) to reinforce strengths or address 
weaknesses: A targeted effort to do some look back at prior mandates 
would be useful; 
Theme code(s): A6.

Source: GAO.

[End of table]

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