Comments on H.R. 3263

PAD-80-37: Published: Jan 7, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 7, 1980.

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While GAO strongly supports proposed legislation which would require regulatory agencies to carefully and comprehensively evaluate the effects of proposed and existing rules for executive agencies, suggestions were offered for improving the bill. The definition of a major rule provides that it is any rule which will cause a substantial change in costs or prices for industries, geographic regions, or levels of Government, or otherwise have a major impact. Clarification of the major rule definition is needed, and the impact standard should be indexed to an appropriate inflation index so that the monetary threshold will be implemented in constant dollars. The analysis guidelines should include an analysis of the projected economic effects as well as health, safety, and noneconomic effects. The bill does not establish an explicit structure for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) oversight of agency reviews of existing regulations. GAO believes that a Congressional support agency should monitor compliance with the requirements of the bill, and that GAO is the appropriate agency for that function. The language which addresses the management of Administrative Law Judges needs to be clarified, particularly concerning performance appraisals and bonuses. Specificity is also lacking in an OMB report which suggested ways to implement Executive Order 12044, and which covered only briefly the question of accountability of the independent regulatory agencies.

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