Comments on S. 1601

B-205136: Published: Nov 17, 1981. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1981.

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Senate Bill 1601 establishes regulatory negotiation committees to negotiate proposed regulations. The bill requires the Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the membership of the committee represents all of the affected interest groups. GAO believes this provision should be strengthened to require that the Chairman act affirmatively to ensure the representativeness of the committee. If all groups are represented, there are still no guarantees that a compromise solution could be reached. Consequently, the negotiation committee process could lengthen the entire rulemaking procedure and would reduce the adversarial nature of the formal system. GAO believes that the exemption of all the written materials of the committee from the Freedom of Information Act is necessary to induce committee members to make available their most detailed cost estimates on the effects of alternative regulations. However, this provision has the potential to increase the secrecy of the regulatory process.

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