President Obama on January 18, 2011 issued an executive order directing federal agencies to propose or adopt regulations protecting public health, safety, and the environment while promoting economic growth and job creation. The President, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, stressed that finding the right balance between preserving the free market system and necessary public safeguards is "the operating principle of our government."
The Executive Order, "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review," outlines Obama's strategy and directs relevant agencies to follow several key principles when proposing or adopting new rules. According to the presidential order, agencies must consider costs and benefits and choose the least burdensome method to keep the regulatory process transparent, streamlined and flexible; and must base regulations on objective scientific evidence. Agencies also must review current regulations to determine if they are still necessary and designed effectively. Outdated regulations should either be revised or repealed.
To reduce regulatory burdens on small businesses, Obama issued a memorandum requiring agencies to consider certain "flexibilities" in the rulemaking processes. They include: extended compliance dates; performance standards in lieu of design standards; reporting and compliance requirements, such as electronic filing; different requirements for large and small firms; and partial or total exemptions.
Obama, in the Wall Street Journal piece, said the regulatory review "will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades." According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Obama is taking a "common sense" approach to the regulatory process.
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