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Message to the Congress on the Regulatory Program of the United States Government

August 07, 1986

To the Congress of the United States:

The publication of the Regulatory Program of the United States Government is the second in an annual series begun last year as part of our effort to improve the management of regulatory activity within the Executive branch. A major goal of this publication is to provide the public and the Congress with a greater opportunity to learn about and evaluate our regulatory priorities and procedures.

The Regulatory Program describes the 523 most significant regulatory activities planned for the year ending March 31, 1987. Over the coming months and years, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget will report periodically on the agencies' progress in carrying out these initiatives.

Federal regulation is one of the most important and costly activities of government, yet it has been managed even less systematically than government spending. Last year, I established the Regulatory Program to complement the other programs I put in place during 1981 to improve the quality and responsiveness of our regulatory efforts.

We have too little information on the benefits provided by the regulations we promulgate each year and even less information on the benefits of those already in effect. By developing better information on benefits, we can improve the setting of priorities that truly meet the Nation's needs. The Program will help us do that.

Moreover, we have only rough estimates of the total costs of regulations—ranging between $50 billion and $150 billion each year. While the American people pay such regulatory costs, they tend to be hidden in the prices consumers pay for goods and services. These costs could grow even larger, as there will be a tendency to maintain government programs through regulatory means when funding is not available.

Today, more than ever, it is essential for us to coordinate regulatory activity among the agencies, to increase accountability for regulatory programs, and to ensure that the most significant regulatory activities are given priority and are properly managed. Only through a coordinated executive review can regulatory activities provide the greatest real benefits to society as a whole.

Of course, this Regulatory Program by itself cannot ensure that all regulation will be well-conceived and beneficial to society. It can, however, highlight important regulatory activities under consideration. Thus, this Regulatory Program is an important addition to our wide-ranging efforts of regulatory oversight and review—designed to make government regulation the servant, not the master, of the American people.


The White House,

August 7, 1986.

Ronald Reagan, Message to the Congress on the Regulatory Program of the United States Government Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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