White House tells independent agencies to conduct reg review

President Obama issued an executive order on Monday instructing independent agencies to undergo a review of existing regulations in order to identify those that are outdated or could stifle economic growth and job creation.

The memorandum comes after President Obama ordered a similar review at executive branch agencies in January and suggested independent agencies take part voluntarily.

"With full respect for the independence of your agencies, I am asking you today to join in this review and produce your own plans to reassess and streamline regulations," Obama said.

"I hope you see this as an opportunity to do something big and lasting — to change the ways of Washington; to focus on what works; and to forge a 21st-century regulatory system that makes our economy stronger and more competitive, while we meet our fundamental responsibilities to one another."

The Federal Communications Commission had already agreed to conduct its own review after a request from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The Commission identified more than 50 outdated regulations and 25 sets of unnecessary data collection for removal, including the Fairness Doctrine, which hasn't been enforced since 1987. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski set an August target date for eliminating the outdated rules.

"I welcome the president’s executive order today," Genachowski said.

"We have also removed regulatory restrictions on spectrum use and we moved to bring market-based incentive auctions to reallocate inefficiently used spectrum," he added.

"We have taken action to preserve free data flows and free markets on the Internet, increasing certainty and predictability, and spurring investment in both applications and infrastructure."

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator Cass Sunstein acknowledged the FCC's progress on identifying regulations for elimination but suggested the 120-day period given by the White House could be used to identify additional burdensome rules.

The review is not mandatory, but Sunstein called the president's executive order a significant development. He said the administration's success with the executive branch agencies convinced them to expand the review to independent agencies.

Sunstein also cited encouragement from the president's jobs council and indications that some of the executive agencies would welcome such an opportunity to clear out old rules from their books. He said agencies must conduct the reviews in accordance with their available resources.