Agency: Department of Interior

Title: Eliminating Burdensome Regulations

Background Information

If any of these complaints sound familiar, you're probably a victim of burdensome regulations. Pesky, unnecessary, excessive regulations are one of the Commissioner of Reclamation's pet peeves, and he's serious about eliminating them. The best way to find out which regulations are burdensome is to ask employees, and that's exactly what Reclamation is doing.

In June 1994, a call letter was sent out to all 7000 Reclamation employees asking for their thoughts and suggestions on burdensome requirements, processes, unnecessary reports, and anything else that hindered their ability to get their jobs done. A special electronic mailbox was set up to receive employees' input. Those who wished to remain anonymous were encouraged to submit their concerns in hardcopy through the regular mail. The response to the BURDREG mailbox has been overwhelming. One employee responded, "Praise the Lord for [this] initiative!" In the first 2 weeks, over 50 burdensome items were identified. Examples of issues include: "Property regulations make it difficult to salvage PC parts -- what can be done to change this?" and "Why do we need to keep hard copies of time sheets when the time and attendance process has been automated?"

Since most burdensome issues deal with administrative activities which affect all employees, the Management Services Office (MSO), Reclamation's major administrative organization, is acting as a clearinghouse to process employee comments. The MSO checks the BURDREG mailbox, acknowledges receipt of each comment, and provides the employee information on how the comment will be handled. The comment is then forwarded to the appropriate functional group for research and response; for example, all issues involving small purchases are sent to the Acquisition Group. The functional group reviews the employee's comment and determines the source of the requirement.

If it's a Reclamation rule, the group will take a serious look at why the rule was put in place and whether it can be eliminated or changed to be less burdensome. If the requirement comes from a higher authority, e.g., the Department or OMB, the functional group will determine if changing or eliminating the regulation could be pursued. In cases where the employee needs clarification on the intent or implementation of a regulation, the functional group provides a full explanation to address the employee's concern. If not satisfied with the response, the employee can, of course, ask for additional information or chose to pursue the issue further.

All employee comments are tracked in the Burdensome Regulation Tracking System (BURTS) to ensure that they are answered in a timely manner. Changes being pursued with the Department or higher authorities will also be monitored through BURTS. The tracking system will alert us if several comments are received on the same issue to ensure that such issues are being adequately addressed. The action taken on each issue will be recorded in BURTS, which will allow us to determine how successful overall we are in eliminating those pesky regulations!

Main NPR Category: Cutting Red Tape

Related NPR Categories: Customer Service

Contact Person: Kathy Gordon or Jayme Nielson

Contact Phone: (303) 236-0638

Contact Address: P.O. Box 25007, Mail Code: D-7001 (BURDREG)

Denver, CO 80225

Return to Success Story Directory

Return to Table of Contents