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August 01, 2016

ABA calls for more transparency in the regulatory process

The ABA expressed support this month for key reforms in Title II of H.R. 712, House-passed legislation designed to increase transparency in the federal regulatory process.

In an Aug. 1 letter to Senate leaders, ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote that the Title II provisions in the legislation, the “All Economic Regulations Are Transparent Act” (ALERT Act), are consistent with ABA policy adopted by the association’s House of Delegates in February and should be enacted.

The bill would amend and strengthen the Unified Regulatory Agenda, which enables regulated parties, consumers, workers and other interested persons to understand and prepare for new rules that are planned or under development by approximately 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions.

In the past, the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice has expressed concerns when the federal government was not meeting its obligation to publish the semi-annual United Regulatory Agenda in a timely manner. The new ABA policy calls upon Congress to ensure that the United Regulatory Agenda is updated continuously and otherwise enhanced.

The Title II provisions in the bill would require the head of each agency to submit certain information to the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on a monthly basis, including, among other things, a summary of any rule that the agency expects to propose or finalize during that year, the objectives of and legal basis for the issuance of the rule, the stage of the rule making, and, if applicable, an approximate schedule for completing action on the rule. OIRA then would be required to make the information publicly available on the Internet within 30 days. Each year, OIRA also would be required to publish online all the information it has received from agencies regarding their rules, along with other information regarding the total number of rules proposed and finalized, or repealed or narrowed, by each agency.

These key reforms in the legislation, which are consistent with recent recommendations from the Administrative Conference of the United States, would “increase transparency in the regulatory process, improve the usefulness of the Unified Agenda, and provide benefits to the public,” Susman explained in his letter.

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