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Agencies Have Cut $37 Billion Worth of Red Tape, White House Says

New reports highlight 800 initiatives in five years.

Though Republicans in Congress remain skeptical, the Obama administration’s five-year-old “regulatory review” has saved the government $38 billion, the White House announced on Wednesday.

Howard Shelanski, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, in a blog post marked progress toward creating “a more cost-effective, evidence-based regulatory system for the 21st century” through reductions in paperwork and burdens on industry and state and local government.

“This administration has made more progress on retrospective review and achieved more cost savings than any prior administration,” he wrote. Newly delivered biannual “look-back” reports from agencies tallied 800 regulatory review initiatives, he said.

The $37 billion figure—up from $28 billion announced in March—results from streamlining the process and removing duplicative or outdated rules, Shelanski said. An example is the Labor Department’s harmonization of chemical hazard warning requirements with those of other nations, which helped “reduce trade barriers and saving employers more than an estimated $3 billion over five years.”

The Transportation Department, Shelanski added, stood out among other agencies for issuing a final rule in 2015 that will save $8.9 billion and 40 million hours in paperwork over five years. It rescinded the requirement that commercial motor vehicle drivers operating in interstate commerce submit, and motor carriers retain, inspection reports when the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any vehicle defects or deficiencies.

“While a key aspect of retrospective review is to review and revise regulations to better adapt to a dynamic world of evolving technology and changing circumstances,” Shelanski wrote, “the president has directed agencies to go beyond this and eliminate rules that are unnecessary. In fact, to date, agencies have removed more than 70 notable regulatory provisions from the books.”