Regulation

Regulatory watchdog: Obama administration cutting corners on rules

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) is concerned about what he sees as a pattern of underhanded rulemaking by the Obama administration.

“You have penalized those you regulate by enforcing standards [you] never articulated,” wrote Lankford, who serves as somewhat of a rulemaking watchdog as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on regulatory affairs.

Lankford called it a “government-wide problem,” in the letter sent Friday, but focused on policies stemming from the Education Department. He is concerned about the agency’s use of informal guidance documents.

Federal agencies will often times issue guidance documents in place of formal rules because they can be pushed through more quickly.

The guidance is only intended to be taken as a recommendation and does not hold the same authority as a formal rule.

However, federal agencies are abusing the process by enforcing the recommended guidance documents as if they were formal rules, Lankford alleged.

Lankford is particularly concerned that the Education Department is issuing guidance documents known as “Dear Colleague” letters to colleges and universities.

He called it a “poor vehicle to alert regulated entities of new requirements” and threatened to “rein in the regulatory abuses.”

This is a sequel to Lankford’s earlier letter in January to the Education Department.

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