Agencies finalize strategies for cutting burdensome regulations

More than two dozen federal agencies on Tuesday released final plans to streamline or eliminate regulations, which Obama administration officials said will save $10 billion over five years.

The proposals are the result of a January executive order that set off a governmentwide evaluation of outdated or needlessly burdensome regulations. Agencies in May released draft plans for public comment. The final strategies published Tuesday include more than 500 regulatory reforms from 26 federal agencies.

According to Cass Sunstein, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator, some agencies already have publicly proposed reforms or issued final rules, while others are in early stages of development and have a "great deal of work to be done to get them on the ground making a difference." The changes finalized or available for public comment could save $4 billion over the next five years, while the monetized savings from the reforms announced Tuesday are likely to exceed $10 billion in that same period, according to the administration.

More than 100 reforms came from the Transportation Department, while the Health and Human Services Department proposed 77 changes. New rules are being analyzed with the current economic situation in mind, according to Sunstein.

The proposals are significant because they emphasize that agencies will be expected to periodically review regulations and gather public feedback, said Sunstein, noting that this is not a "one-shot endeavor." The initiative also goes beyond agency-specific reviews to drive much larger cost savings, he said.

"Some agencies have statutory requirements of look back, others have had a general practice over years, but we haven't had in history this kind of sustained, presidentially driven process for look back," Sunstein said. "There's never been anything of this level of ambition."

President Obama in July issued a second directive widening the review to include independent agencies, which were asked to report results within 120 days.

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