The Difficulty of Planning Regulation: Insights from the US

Editor’s Note: For a discussion about the resurgence of interest in implementing a regulatory budget, please see here.

From: L’Osservatorio AIR

Fabrizio Di Mascio

For more than 35 years, federal regulatory agencies have been required to notify the public about their upcoming rules in the United States to ensure the transparency of the rulemaking process. The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires that Cabinet departments, independent agencies, and independent regulatory agencies publish “regulatory flexibility agendas” in the Federal Register each April and October describing regulatory actions they are developing that are likely to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Further, Executive Order  12866 requires the same agencies to “prepare an agenda of all regulations under development or review, at a time and in a manner specified by the Administrator” of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).


The report recommends that OIRA determine whether the Unified Agenda should become a “real-time” database of agency rulemaking actions. If OIRA concludes that a real-time agenda is not justified or feasible for all rules, the report recommends that it take other steps to ensure that the public has access to more up-to-date information on agencies’ ongoing and completed actions by providing links on the Unified Agenda website to departmental and agency websites and information systems. If OIRA concludes that a real-time agenda is justified or feasible a number of recommendations are advanced by the report in order to reduce inconsistencies in the agenda information.

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