Regulatory Flexibility Act:

Agencies' Use of the November 1996 Unified Agenda Did Not Satisfy Notification Requirements

GGD/OGC-97-77R: Published: Apr 22, 1997. Publicly Released: May 7, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed whether federal agencies' entries in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions satisfy the public notification requirements of subsection 610(c) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980.

GAO noted that: (1) although there is no legal barrier to an agency using the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions to satisfy the public notification requirements of subsection 610(c), GAO does not believe that agencies' entries in the most recent edition of the Agenda met those notification requirements; (2) of the thousands of entries in the Unified Agenda submitted by 58 federal departments, agencies, and commissions, 3 agencies identified a total of 21 entries as section 610 reviews; (3) none of those 21 entries satisfied all of the requirements of subsection 610(c); and (4) furthermore, the size of the United Agenda and the lack of any index or special section in the document make the entries identified as section 610 reviews difficult for the public to find and comment on.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On June 10, 1997, the OIRA Administrator sent a memo to regulatory policy officers at executive branch departments and agencies instructing them on how to use the Agenda for subsection 610(c) compliance. She reminded them of all three items in the recommendation, and said the next edition of the Agenda would contain a separate index for 610 entries.

    Recommendation: In fulfilling her responsibilities under Executive Order 12866 to specify how agencies should prepare their agendas, the Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), should instruct agencies that chose to use the Unified Agenda to satisfy the requirements of subsection 610(c) of title 5 on how to do so. Specifically, the Administrator, OIRA, should remind agencies using the Unified Agenda for that purpose that, to be in compliance with subsection 610(c), Agenda entries must: (1) identify existing rules with a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities that the agencies expect to review during the next 12 months; (2) describe the rules and note the need for and legal bases of the rules; and (3) invite public comment on the rules.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget: Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The October 1997 and the April 1998 editions of the Unified Agenda contained indexes to "Entries That Agencies Have Designated for Section 610 Review." The indexes listed, by agency, the sequence number and title of each entry the agencies said were section 610 reviews. Therefore, this recommendation has been implemented.

    Recommendation: The Executive Director, RISC, should develop an index or special section in the Unified Agenda that specifically identifies the rules that agencies plan to review under section 610 in order to provide the public with adequate notice and the opportunity to comment on those rules.

    Agency Affected: General Services Administration: Regulatory Information Service Center


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