Federal Mandates: Few Rules Trigger Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

GAO-11-385T Published: Feb 15, 2011. Publicly Released: Feb 15, 2011.
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Many federal programs and initiatives involve shared responsibilities--and benefits--for the federal, state, local and tribal governments, and the private sector. Federal statutes and rules often require nonfederal parties to expend their resources in support of certain national goals. The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) was enacted to address some of the concerns about federal statutes and regulations that require nonfederal parties to expend resources to achieve these goals without being provided funding to cover the costs. UMRA generates information about how these potential federal mandates could affect other levels of government and the private sector as Congress and agency decision makers consider proposed legislation and regulations. Congress has asked GAO to evaluate the effectiveness of UMRA procedures and requirements several times since it was enacted. Based on that body of work, this testimony focuses on Title II of UMRA regarding federal mandates in rules and (1) describes the exceptions and exclusions in the act when identifying a federal mandate and (2) summarizes GAO findings on UMRA's implementation over the years and views of knowledgeable parties on potential improvements. GAO is not making recommendations in this testimony.

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