On January 18, 2011 President Barack Obama issued an executive order requiring government agencies to periodically examine rules and regulations and to make changes to existing rules that are “ineffective or excessively burdensome.”  The President’s executive order intends to ensure a regulatory system that “protects public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth.” 

President Obama called attention to this effort to improve regulations in an op-ed (opposite the editorial page) published in the Wall Street Journal (the “Journal”) on Tuesday, January 18th.  The President stated in the article that the goal of his administration has been to, “strike the right balance” and that this executive order, “makes clear that this is the operating principle of our government.”

In addition to the government- wide review of regulations, President Obama stated that regulatory compliance information must be shared throughout the government and with the public to identify inconsistencies or problems in enforcement of “federal health, safety, and environmental laws.”   Additionally, Mr. Obama wrote in his Journal article that it is about “more than which rules to add and which rules to subtract,” but means writing rules, “with more input from experts, businesses and ordinary citizens.”  The executive order also seeks to ensure more affordable and less intrusive means of regulation as well as an elimination of “unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.”  While not targeting any specific “burdensome” or “stifling” regulations Obama did refer to his administration’s execution of a recent deal with the automotive industry that requires improved fuel efficiency.

The executive order requires, that within 120 days of January 18, 2011 each agency develop and submit to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs a preliminary plan, under which the agency will periodically review its existing significant regulations to determine whether any such regulations should be “modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives.”   In his final statement on the executive orders the President wrote that we need to, “strike the right balance,” between the cost of necessary regulations and the desire to “make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.” 

The Executive order is available here.