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Memorandum on Regulatory Compliance

January 18, 2011

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Regulatory Compliance

My Administration is committed to enhancing effectiveness and efficiency in Government. Pursuant to the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, issued on January 21, 2009, executive departments and agencies (agencies) have been working steadily to promote accountability, encourage collaboration, and provide information to Americans about their Government's activities.

To that end, much progress has been made toward strengthening our democracy and improving how Government operates. In the regulatory area, several agencies, such as the Department of Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency, have begun to post online (at and, and to make readily accessible to the public, information concerning their regulatory compliance and enforcement activities, such as information with respect to administrative inspections, examinations, reviews, warnings, citations, and revocations (but excluding law enforcement or otherwise sensitive information about ongoing enforcement actions).

Greater disclosure of regulatory compliance information fosters fair and consistent enforcement of important regulatory obligations. Such disclosure is a critical step in encouraging the public to hold the Government and regulated entities accountable. Sound regulatory enforcement promotes the welfare of Americans in many ways, by increasing public safety, improving working conditions, and protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink. Consistent regulatory enforcement also levels the playing field among regulated entities, ensuring that those that fail to comply with the law do not have an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors. Greater agency disclosure of compliance and enforcement data will provide Americans with information they need to make informed decisions. Such disclosure can lead the Government to hold itself more accountable, encouraging agencies to identify and address enforcement gaps.

Accordingly, I direct the following:

First, agencies with broad regulatory compliance and administrative enforcement responsibilities, within 120 days of this memorandum, to the extent feasible and permitted by law, shall develop plans to make public information concerning their regulatory compliance and enforcement activities accessible, downloadable, and searchable online. In so doing, agencies should prioritize making accessible information that is most useful to the general public and should consider the use of new technologies to allow the public to have access to real-time data. The independent agencies are encouraged to comply with this directive.

Second, the Federal Chief Information Officer and the Chief Technology Officer shall work with appropriate counterparts in each agency to make such data available online in searchable form, including on centralized platforms such as, in a manner that facilitates easy access, encourages cross-agency comparisons, and engages the public in new and creative ways of using the information.

Third, the Federal Chief Information Officer and the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and their counterparts in each agency, shall work to explore how best to generate and share enforcement and compliance information across the Government, consistent with law. Such data sharing can assist with agencies' risk-based approaches to enforcement: A lack of compliance in one area by a regulated entity may indicate a need for examination and closer attention by another agency. Efforts to share data across agencies, where appropriate and permitted by law, may help to promote flexible and coordinated enforcement regimes.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

The Director of OMB is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


NOTE: This memorandum was published in the Federal Register on January 21.

Barack Obama, Memorandum on Regulatory Compliance Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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