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Executive Order Puts ‘Dumb’ Regulations on the Chopping Block

OIRA Administrator Cass Sunstein will likely take the lead implementing the review of agency regulations. Photo: Matthew W. Hutchins, Harvard Law Record

In an Executive Order signed yesterday, President Barack Obama came out swinging against burdensome and redundant regulations.

The order states by May, federal agencies will have to submit a plan to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, describing their process for reviewing regulations, and whether they should be modified or streamlined, according to a report on Federal News Radio.

“It’s a review that will help bring order to regulations that have become a patchwork of overlapping rules, the result of tinkering by administrations and legislators of both parties and the influence of special interests in Washington over decades,” Obama wrote in the order. “We are also making it our mission to root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost or that are just plain dumb.”

Administrator of the OIRA Cass Sunstein will likely take the lead in implementing the order’s provisions, the website reported.

The executive order follows from recent OIRA moves, such as a checklist for agencies to consider before issuing new regulations as well as the Plain Writing Act, which aims to cut back on verbose and overly complex technical language in federal regulations and writing, according to Federal News Radio.

Obama also laid out his vision for a “21st-century regulatory system” in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

The president said a “balance” must be struck between regulating for the public good and overregulating, which hampers the free market.

“Sometimes, those rules have gotten out of balance, placing unreasonable burdens on business — burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs,” he wrote in the editorial. “At other times, we have failed to meet our basic responsibility to protect the public interest, leading to disastrous consequences.”

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