White House Gives Federal Agencies Additional Guidance on Reviewing Existing Regulations

May 3, 2011

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”) has issued further guidance to federal agencies on how to conduct the review of existing regulations ordered by the President in January.  This on-going regulatory review provides companies an opportunity to ask agencies to reconsider and possibly repeal regulations that are outdated or impose unwarranted costs.

On January 18 of this year, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing federal agencies to more closely scrutinize proposed regulations and regulations already on the books, to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.  See our previous alert on this topic.  Among other things, the Order directed agencies to submit a preliminary plan for periodically reviewing regulations to OIRA by May 18.

Last week, the Administrator of OIRA, Cass R. Sunstein, issued a memorandum providing additional guidance on this periodic review of regulations.  The memorandum suggests that agencies make their proposed regulatory review plans public and states that in the 30 days following, “agencies should promote public consultation about the plans” through “public meetings, Federal Register notices, social media, or other kinds of outreach.”  Agencies should then “revise their plans in ways that are responsive to the public input received” and finalize their plans within 80 days of their release.

The memorandum emphasizes the importance of periodic review of significant regulations and states that “agencies should give careful consideration to how best to promote empirical testing of the effects of rules both in advance and retrospectively.”

The April 25 memorandum is further evidence that OIRA expects federal agencies to conduct a serious review of existing regulations, and to listen to concerns expressed by regulated entities, among others.  The agency review process is an opportunity for businesses and business associations to comment on key regulatory regimes to which they are subject and to identify areas where empirical evidence may be offered to support an improved regulatory environment.

Gibson Dunn’s Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Group has an exceptional capacity to represent clients seeking to challenge or defend government regulation or bring about appropriate regulatory action.  The group comprises lawyers from an array of practice groups in the firm, many of them with high-level government experience.  The Group is available to assist in addressing any questions you may have regarding the Executive Order and its application to pending rulemakings or existing regulations.  Please contact the Gibson Dunn attorney with whom you work, or any of the following:

Eugene Scalia – Practice Chair, Washington, D.C. (202-955-8206, [email protected])
Douglas Cox – Washington, D.C. (202-887-3531, [email protected])
Thomas Hungar – Washington, D.C. (202-955-8558, [email protected])
Raymond Ludwiszewski – Washington, D.C. (202-955-8665, [email protected])
Daniel Davis – Washington, D.C. (202-955-8245, [email protected])

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