An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
The President left the White House on March 16, crossed the Potomac River, and entered a small print shop in Northern Virginia to announce the first in a series of governmentwide reforms to reduce the regulatory burden on American businesses, especially small businesses.
"The reforms we implement today will significantly reduce paperwork and treat honest business people as partners, not adversaries," the President said to an assembly of executives and representatives from companies , unions, and environmental organizations. He unveiled a landmark package of 25 reforms from the Environmental Protection Agency and announced a governmentwide policy that allows regulators to waive fines where small businesses have unwittingly violated rules. He also announced Food and Drug Administration reforms that will make high-quality drugs and medical devices available to consumers more quickly and cheaply.
Filing Just One Form, Not 20
Vice President Gore assured the President, "We can throw out tons of old regulations without sacrificing an ounce of real protection." The small business host- Stu McMichael, owner of Custom Print, Inc. in Arlington, Virginia-said, "The changes that are being announced today will help relieve the paperwork burden for me and other small businesses. Now I will be able to pick up the phone and find out exactly what I have to report to the Environmental Protection Agency. It will mean filing just one form instead of 20."
Reform Is Underway in Every Regulatory Agency
The reforms announced on March 16 are but the first in a series of governmentwide actions to reininvent the regulatory process. In the weeks ahead, the President will roll out reforms that will be proposed by every regulatory agency, about 65 agencies in all. Regulators are also busy planning community meetings all over the country by the end of April to form grass roots partnerships with the people they regulate. The National Performance Review holds weekly meetings with agencies in Washington, DC to assist them in regulatory reform.
What's Gone Before
On February 21, the President announced a fast-paced, four-phase regulatory reform initiative as part of REGO, Phase II. He asked agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules they implement and report back to him by June 1. He followed with a memo on March 4 outlining specifics of his mandate that agencies cut regulations, reward results, create grass roots partnerships, and negotiate rulemaking.
Let's Get Specific: No More "Gotcha"
"We will stop playing 'gotcha' with decent, honest business people who want to be good citizens-compliance, not punishment, should be our objective," the President said on March 16. Here are some of the reforms he announced.
Agencies will allow small businesses found to be first-time violators to avoid punitive actions by correcting the problem. Enforcers may waive up to 100 percent of punitive fines so that a business person who acts in good faith can fix the problem, not fight with a regulator.
Each agency, except IRS, will cut regularly-scheduled reports from businesses in half unless the agency head determines that it is not legally possible or the action would not properly protect public health and the environment. For example, quarterly reports would become twice-a-year reports.
Environmental Protection Agency Reforms
EPA will reduce the overall reporting and record keeping burden for its rules by 25%.
Businesses may use a single form to report air, water, and waste emissions.
Small businesses will have a 6-month grace period to correct pollution violations.
EPA will consolidate federal air pollution rules for each industry sector, a reform that will save multi-millions.
Through "Project XL," EPA will allow a limited number of companies to exhibit "excellence and leadership" to replace current regulatory requirements with an alternative system of the company's design if the company can do it cleaner and cheaper.
EPA will extend market incentives--an approach the utility industry is using successfully to combat acid rain problem--to a broader group for air and water pollution sources.
For the first time, state, tribal, and local recipients of grants will be able to combine air, water and waste funds to achieve local environmental goals.
Starting with pesticides, EPA will install a self-certification program so that businesses can avoid expensive delays in registering minor and low-risk changes to their products.
Food and Drug Administration Reforms
FDA will allow drug and biologics manufacturers to change the way they manufacture an approved drug without FDA pre-approval if the risk is negligible.
The drug industry will no longer be burdened with outdated, special requirements for insulin and antibiotic drugs.
FDA will exempt from environmental assessments virtually all applications for human drugs and biologics and animal drugs€analyses the agency finds it does not need.
The industry will no longer have to wait for pre-market review for up to 138 categories of low-risk medical devices such as finger exercises and oxygen masks.
For more information, contact Pat Wood, Communications Team, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. Phone: (202) 632-0150, ext. 102; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask federal editors and communicators to help spread the word about REGO II by using this information in your internal publications and email. You will want to customize the story to fit your agency. If you want examples from other federal agencies, please contact our team.