Last month, MARPA joined with a broad coalition of U.S. industry associations and representatives who together signed on to a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in support of current legislative efforts to enact reform of the regulatory process. The multi-industry letter emphasized the importance of creating a level playing field for citizens regulated by federal agencies, holding agencies accountable to the public, and improving the transparency of agency actions.
Transparency and participation between federal agencies and the citizens they regulate is an important part of the regulatory process. Rulemaking processes that are opaque or secret can result in regulations that are not only unduly burdensome, but which also may ignore important advances in industry practices and techniques, due to an absence of industry participation and information. Such regulations also undermine industry confidence in the regulatory agencies and can lead to unjust or unreasonable penalties as a result poorly drafted rules or rules that are unworkable in practice.
The legislation before the House of Representatives, H.R. 2804 Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency (ALERRT) Act, draws upon concepts described in a number of other bills. Several key elements are included in the ALERRT Act:
- Federal agencies will submit monthly or yearly reports describing planned or final rulemakings to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). OMB would then release information about those rulemakings, including cost and benefit, to the public.
- The Administratve Procedure Act will be updated to provide greater transparency to the public during the rulemaking process. This is particularly important in light of the recent increase in regulations creating million- or billion-dollar burdens on industry.
- Bring more transparency to the “sue and settle” process under which outside advocacy groups often take control of an agencies agenda and regulatory priorities.
- Expand the scope of required regulatory impact analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
By enacting the above mentioned reforms, Congress can help to create a level playing field for its citizens, better hold agencies accountable to the public, and improve the transparency of agency actions. Improved access and confidence in the regulatory process should result in fewer unduly burdensome or unworkable regulations and encourage increased stakeholder participation in the rulemaking process.