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Improving Government Regulations Remarks on Signing Executive Order 12044.

March 23, 1978

I think this is the first time in history that a Presidential Executive order has been circulated for comment before it was issued, and the comments have been very constructive. We received some very careful and helpful comments from more than 350 people, and I think this is indicative of the interest that is shown in this particular action on my part.

This is also the first time that the executive branch, so far as I know, has attempted in a fundamental way to improve the Government regulatory process by making regulations simpler, less burdensome, and by giving the public a chance to be involved in a critique of the effectiveness of regulations, which quite often have the far-reaching effect of law and quite often are not as carefully considered as a legal act by the Congress.

Greater accountability will be built into the process in the future, since agency heads are required to publish semiannually a list of significant regulations which they are considering or which they have under review, and because, again, of a greater opportunity for public involvement before the head of an agency makes a decision on a regulation.

We have also required in this Executive order, which I shall soon sign, that agency heads reassess the effectiveness of existing regulations to determine not only the prospective need for regulation that's new but the continuing of demonstrated need of existing ones.

When a regulation is determined to be required, we want it to be the ]east burdensome alternative among many that are considered. I want to be sure that the regulations, for a change, will be written in plain English that I can understand and that the head of the department can understand, and that the person who's written the regulation be identified by name. I want to have a lot of pride of authorship in the regulation and not shame when a regulation is indecipherable.

Another requirement in the Executive order will be that the economic impact of regulations be assessed, whether or not they contribute to a burdensome and costly additional requirement on those who have to comply with the regulations. In the major ones we want to be sure that they don't contribute to inflationary costs and that they are compatible with the overall economic policy of our country.

I will be personally involved in assuring that the Executive order is carried out. And under me, the Office of Management and Budget will be working very closely with the heads of agencies and departments to assure that the spirit and the letter of the Executive order is honored. We want to make this a common effort.

The independent regulatory agencies are not included in the Executive order. Many of the heads of those agencies are here. The overwhelming response of almost everyone in the initial publication of the proposed Executive order was that regulatory agencies should come under the Executive order. I don't think that's necessary. I think their independence should be preserved. But to the extent that the Executive order is applicable and advisable, I would certainly hope that the regulatory agencies would decide to implement them on your own initiative as a voluntary effort.

You might want to go even further in some instances than I have done in this Executive order, because this has to apply to literally dozens of agencies. And you might, through your own actions, focus more nearly on correcting a defect that exists within the ICC or the FTC or others.

I'm very pleased that a common effort has brought this into being, and I'm looking forward to a benefit for our entire country because of the cooperation that I expect.

I'd now like to sign the Executive order which I think will be a major step forward for the people of the United States, to make my job easier, make your job easier. I think everyone benefits by this one; nobody will stiffer except people who sell typewriter ribbons, and maybe some of the printers won't have as much to print. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 10:31 a.m. at the signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Improving Government Regulations Remarks on Signing Executive Order 12044. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244546

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