Regulatory czar wants to speed up review process

The Obama administration's regulatory czar said Tuesday he is looking to modernize the federal government's rule-making process.

Howard Shelanski, administrator of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which reviews all of the government's rules before they are published, testified before a Senate subcommittee that he wants to create a more efficient regulatory system by speeding up the approval process and weeding out bad rules.


"Together we are working to achieve this administration's and Congress's goals of promoting economic growth and opportunity while simultaneously protecting the health, safety, and welfare of Americans now and into the future," Shelanski testified at the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce.

As the Obama administration's primary regulatory agency, OIRA has often found itself in the crosshairs of Democrats, who complain the rule-making approval process is too slow, and Republicans, who say it is overly burdensome on businesses and the economy.

Shelanski said he is trying to address both concerns.

One of OIRA's major efforts is a process known as "retrospective review," whereby federal agencies are encouraged to streamline the rule-making process and remove outdated and redundant regulations.

"Retrospective review is a crucial way to ensure that our regulatory system is modern, streamlined, and does not impose unnecessary burdens on the American public," Shelanski said. "Even regulations that were well-crafted when first promulgated can become unnecessary or excessively burdensome over time and with changing conditions."

Shelanski pointed to the Transportation Department's plan to rescind a rule that requires truck drivers to submit inspection reports even when the driver is not aware of any problems with the vehicle. OIRA estimates this would save the industry $1.5 billion in paperwork hours each year.

"Retrospective review of regulations on the books helps to ensure that those regulations are continuing to help promote the safety, health, welfare, and well-being of Americans without imposing unnecessary costs or missing the opportunity to achieve greater net benefits," Shelanski said.

But Shelanski said OIRA is also looking to speed up the review process for new rules from federal agencies. Democrats and public interest groups have complained that the review process takes too long.

Normally, regulations are supposed to go through the approval process within 90 days, but oftentimes OIRA takes longer to review the rules. Shelanski said he is working to reduce the backlog of regulations that have been awaiting review at his office.

"It is a top priority of mine to reduce the frequency of extended regulatory reviews and to work with agencies on rules that are already under extended review," Shelanski said.