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Jan
10

Good government means untangling regulation language

Editor’s Note:  A recording of the broadcast interview may be found here.

From: FederalNewsRadio.com 1500AM

Almost a year ago, President Obama signed an executive order telling agencies to write their regulations in plain English, so members of the public could participate in the regulatory process. The administration is now requiring that agencies put the bottom line up front when they publish complicated rules, in the form of an easy-to-understand executive summary. The guidance comes in one of two new memos just distributed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“Rules are often long and complex,” said Cass Sunstein, OIRA’s administrator. “Sometimes they’re well over 1,000 pages. And, to figure out exactly what they’re doing and what the public is supposed to respond to, both in the comment period when there’s a proposed rule and when the rule is finalized, what they’re supposed to do in response, is often a lot of work.”

Sunstein told The Federal Drive with Tom Temin this lack of clarity compromises open government, makes it difficult for people to provide input and makes compliance more costly and difficult.

“What we’re doing — it seems like a simple, small step, but I think it’s a quite big deal — is to say for every complicated or long rule, there has to be a straightforward executive summary right up front, so people will know what to respond to when they’re commenting and so people will know what to do when the rule is finalized,” Sunstein said.

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