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Memorandum on Regulatory Reform

March 04, 1995

Memorandum for Heads of Departments and Agencies

Subject: Regulatory Reinvention Initiative

Last week, I announced this Administration's plans for further reform of the Federal regulatory system. This is a central part of reinventing our Government. All Americans want the benefits of effective regulation: clean water, safer workplaces, wholesome food, sound financial institutions. But, too often the rules are drafted with such detailed lists of dos and don'ts that the objectives they seek to achieve are undermined. Clear goals and cooperation would work better. Too often, businesses, especially small ones, face a profusion of overlapping and sometimes conflicting rules.

We have already made real progress in reforming regulation. This memorandum will build on the regulatory philosophy set forth in Executive Order No. 12866 of September 30, 1993, "Regulatory Planning and Review," which is premised on the recognition of the legitimate role of government to govern, but to do so in a focused, tailored, and sensible way.

In the year and a half since that order was signed, we have opened the rulemaking process to the public, we have increased cooperation and coordination among the Federal agencies, and we have seen good processes produce good decisions.

However, not all agencies have taken the steps necessary to implement regulatory reform. To reaffirm and implement the principles of Executive Order No. 12866, regulatory reform must be a top priority.

Accordingly, I direct you to focus on the following four steps, which are an integral part of our ongoing Regulatory Reform Initiative.

First: Cut Obsolete Regulations

I direct you to conduct a page-by-page review of all of your agency regulations now in force and eliminate or revise those that are outdated or otherwise in need of reform. Your review should include careful consideration of at least the following issues:

  • Is this regulation obsolete?
  • Could its intended goal be achieved in more efficient, less intrusive ways?
  • Are there better private sector alternatives, such as market mechanisms, that can better achieve the public good envisioned by the regulation?
  • Could private business, setting its own standards and being subject to public accountability, do the job as well?
  • Could the States or local governments do the job, making Federal regulation unnecessary?

This review should build on the work already being done by your agencies under section 5 of Executive Order No. 12866.

Your regulatory review task force should be headed by one of your appointees who should be given your full support and should, to the extent practicable, be freed of other duties.

I further direct you to deliver to me by June 1 a list of regulations that you plan to eliminate or modify with a copy of the report sent to Sally Katzen, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The list should distinguish between the regulations that can be modified or eliminated administratively and those that require legislative authority for modification or elimination.

Second: Reward Results, Not Red Tape

I direct you to change the way you measure the performance of both your agency and your frontline regulators so as to focus on results, not process and punishment. For example, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors should not be evaluated by the number of citations they write, nor should officials of the Consumer Product Safety Commission be judged by the number of boxes of consumer goods that are detained in shipment. This change in measurements should involve a two-step process.

First, you should identify appropriate performance measures and prepare a draft in clear, understandable terms, of the results you are seeking to achieve through your regulatory program. The draft should be circulated to frontline regulators for review and comment. This is the same work needed to meet the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.

Second, you should evaluate and reward employees based on the realization of those measures/goals.

By no later than June 1, I direct you to (a) eliminate all internal personnel performance measures based on process (number of visits made, etc.) and punishment (number of violations found, amount of fines levied, etc.), and (b) provide to the National Performance Review (NPR) staff a catalogue of the changes that you are making in existing internal performance evaluations to reward employees. You should also provide material describing shifts in resource allocation from enforcement to compliance.

Third: Get Out of Washington and Create Grassroots Partnerships

I direct you to promptly convene groups consisting of frontline regulators and the people affected by their regulations. These conversations should take place around the country— at our cleanup sites, our factories, our ports.

I further direct you to submit a schedule of your planned meetings to the NPR staff by March 30 and work with NPR in following through on those meetings.

Fourth: Negotiate, Don't Dictate

It is time to move from a process where lawyers and bureaucrats write volumes of regulations to one where people work in partnership to issue sensible regulations that impose the least burden without sacrificing rational and necessary protections. In September 1993, I asked each of you to identify at least one rule that could be conducted through negotiated rulemaking (or to explain why such could not be done) in order to promote consensual rulemaking as opposed to the more traditional rulemaking that has dominated the regulatory arena.

I now direct you to expand substantially your efforts to promote consensual rulemaking. To this end, you should submit to OIRA, no later than March 30, a list of upcoming rulemakings that can be converted into negotiated rulemakings. I have directed Sally Katzen to review your lists with a view toward making clear to the regulated community that we want to work together productively on even the most difficult subjects.

To facilitate our ability to learn from those affected by regulation, I will amend Executive Order No. 12838 (which requires agencies to reduce the number of advisory committees that they use and to limit the future use of such committees) to allow for advisory committees established for negotiated rulemakings.

I also intend to take additional steps to increase our ability to learn from those affected by regulation. While many laws and rules that limit the ability to regulators to talk with those being regulated were imposed to curb abuse, they now often serve as a barrier to meaningful communication between the regulators and the regulated. To address this problem, and to promote consensus building and a less adversarial environment, I direct you to review all of your administrative ex parte rules and eliminate any that restrict communication prior to the publication of a proposed rule—other than rules requiring the simple disclosure of the time, place, purpose, and participants of meetings (as in Executive Order No. 12866). We will also begin drafting legislation that will carve out exemptions to the Federal Advisory Committee Act to promote a better understanding of the issues, such as exemptions for meetings with State/local/ tribal governments and with scientific or technical advisors.

I also ask you to think about other ways to promote better communication, consensus building, and a less adversarial environment. Please send your ideas to the Office of the Vice President.

As I said on Tuesday, February 21, 1995, you are to make regulatory reform a top priority. Good government demands it and your full cooperation is crucial.


NOTE: This memorandum was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on March 6.

William J. Clinton, Memorandum on Regulatory Reform Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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