Regulatory Reform:

Comments on S. 981--The Regulatory Improvement Act of 1997

T-GGD/RCED-97-250: Published: Sep 12, 1997. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO addressed issues in regulatory management as part of consideration of S. 981, the proposed Regulatory Improvement Act of 1997.

GAO noted that: (1) S. 981 represents a continuation of efforts that have been made by both the legislative and executive branches to improve the rulemaking process and, as a result, produce better regulations; (2) during the past 20 years, Congress has enacted a series of statutory requirements intended to, among other things, reduce paperwork, lessen regulatory burden on small entities, and curb mandates imposed on state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector; (3) in the same vein, each of the last six presidents has issued executive orders or taken other actions intended to improve the regulatory process; (4) Executive Order 12866, issued in September 1993, is the Clinton administration's statement of policy on regulatory planning and review; (5) the executive order makes the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) responsible for carrying out regulatory reviews and, to the extent permitted by law, for providing guidance to agencies; (6) S. 981 addresses many of the same issues as Executive Order 12866, including cost benefit analysis, agency reviews of existing regulations, interagency coordination, and transparency in the regulatory review process; (7) the bill goes beyond the order's requirements on these issues and adds some new elements to the rulemaking process; (8) GAO's work indicates that some of the executive order's requirements have not always been met; and (9) enactment of S. 981 would help ensure that the underlying purposes of the order's requirements are more consistently achieved by OMB and regulatory agencies and provide a sound basis for congressional oversight of regulatory management issues.

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