Implementation of Executive Order 12612 in the Rulemaking Process

T-GGD-99-93: Published: May 5, 1999. Publicly Released: May 5, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the implementation of Executive Order 12612 on federalism, focusing on: (1) how often the preambles to covered agencies' final rules issued between April 1, 1996, and December 31, 1998, mentioned Executive Order 12612 and how often they indicated that the agencies had conducted federalism assessments under the order; (2) what selected agencies have done to implement the requirements of Executive Order 12612; and (3) what the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has done to oversee federal agencies' implementation of Executive Order 12612 in the rulemaking process.

GAO noted that: (1) federal agencies covered by Executive Order 12612 mentioned the order in about 27 percent of the more than 11,000 final rules they issued between April 1996 and December 1998; (2) the agencies indicated, however, that they had prepared federalism assessments for only five of these rules; (3) of the 117 major rules issued by these agencies during this period, the preambles indicated that only 1 had a federalism assessment; (4) state and local representatives that GAO consulted said that certain federal agencies should have done assessments for more of these major rules; however, the agencies said that their rules did not have sufficient federalism implications to trigger the executive order's requirements; (5) all three of the federal agencies GAO visited had some kind of written guidance on the executive order and had designated an official or office responsible for ensuring its implementation; (6) however, the methods the agencies use to determine whether federalism assessments are needed varied among the agencies; and (7) OMB officials told GAO that they have taken no specific actions to implement the executive order, but said the order is considered along with other requirements as part of their regulatory review process under Executive Order 12866.

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