B-202910 June 29, 1981

B-202910: Jun 29, 1981

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This bill would require all Federal agencies to issue advance agendas listing the areas in which they will propose significant rules over the succeeding 12 months. The preliminary results of work we have in progress on the problems of regulatory coordination leads us to believe that the publication of such agendas. The publication of a central and more detailed Calendar of Federal Regulations for major rules is a useful device for coordination and reduces the incidence of regulatory conflict and overlap. Although the procedure for congressional negation of agency rules in section 4 is not actually a legislative veto since it is accomplished by joint resolution requiring Presidential signature.

B-202910 June 29, 1981

The Honorable William V. Roth, Jr. Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs United States Senate

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing in response to your request for our comments on S.344, the Agency Accountability Act of 1981. This bill would require all Federal agencies to issue advance agendas listing the areas in which they will propose significant rules over the succeeding 12 months. The bill also provides a procedure for Congress, by joint resolution, to negate agency rules.

We support the proposal for requiring an advance listing of proposed significant rulemaking proceedings. During the previous Administration, Executive Order 12044 required the publication of a semiannual agenda by Executive agencies, which lists proposed rules and provides some details on the need for and justification of the rules. The current Executive Order on regulation, E.0.612291, generally has a similar requirement which applies to all proposed rules. The preliminary results of work we have in progress on the problems of regulatory coordination leads us to believe that the publication of such agendas, and the publication of a central and more detailed Calendar of Federal Regulations for major rules is a useful device for coordination and reduces the incidence of regulatory conflict and overlap.

Although the procedure for congressional negation of agency rules in section 4 is not actually a legislative veto since it is accomplished by joint resolution requiring Presidential signature, this section nonetheless presents many of the same policy problems as a legislative veto. These problems include increasing the congressional workload, and the creation of additional delay and uncertainty in the regulatory process. Although the bill notes that failure to enact a joint resolution of disapproval should not be deemed an expression of approval, in practical terms it is likely that both regulated entities and agencies would view Congress as the 'final arbiters of particular regulations (in this bill, subject to Presidential veto). We urge Congress to carefully consider whether this is preferable to current oversight arrangements or other alternatives.

Please call on us if we can be of any further assistance.

Sincerely yours,

MILTON J. SOCOLAR Acting Comptroller General of the United States

cc: Mr. Van Cleve (OGC) Mr. McCormick (OP) Mr. Fitzgerald (OCR) Mr. Havens (OCG) Mr. Myers (PAD) Mr. Corazzini (PAD) Mr. Simmons (PAD) Mr. Nadel (PAD)