Clean Air Rulemaking:

Tracking System Would Help Measure Progress of Streamlining Initiatives

RCED-95-70: Published: Mar 2, 1995. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) progress in streamlining its clean air rulemaking process, focusing on: (1) improvements that might enhance EPA streamlining activities; and (2) Office of Management and Budget (OMB) efforts to reduce the time associated with reviewing EPA rules.

GAO found that: (1) in an effort to expedite clean air rulemakings, EPA eliminated a duplicative step in the internal review process; (2) in June 1994, EPA grouped rules into three categories and varied the amount of review needed in each category, allowing over half of EPA clean air rules to be assigned to a "fast track" category; (3) despite its efforts to reform the rulemaking process, EPA acknowledges having missed over 60 percent of the statutory deadlines imposed under the Clean Air Act; (4) EPA has been unable to demonstrate the effectiveness of its streamlining efforts because it does not have a system for identifying problem areas in the rulemaking process; and (5) OMB has concentrated its review efforts on significant clean air rules only, but it is still unknown if this change has enhanced EPA ability to expedite clean air rules.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: EPA's Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) is developing a new regulatory tracking system, which links to EPA's Regulatory Information System (RIS). The RIS holds information on all EPA regulatory actions, from the workgroup stage to final Federal Register publication. OAR's system will include information on all those key regulatory phases plus additional information relevant to air programs, such as data on State Implementation Plans, the regulatory package signature process, and Steering Committee actions. The system will also include Government Performance and Results Act, cost accounting, and other information that managers need to identify problem areas and measure impact of changes made.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should implement a rulemaking tracking system that maintains key dates for major phases in the rulemaking process, provides for analysis of the length of time that rules spend in the major phases of the rulemaking process, and tracks the resources allotted to rules and other historical information that managers need to identify problem areas and measure the impact of changes made.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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