oversight

Regulatory Reform: Agencies' Efforts to Eliminate and Revise Rules Yield Mixed Results

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-10-02.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            Report to the Chairman, Committee on
               Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate



October 1997
               REGULATORY
               REFORM
               Agencies’ Efforts to
               Eliminate and Revise
               Rules Yield Mixed
               Results




GAO/GGD-98-3
      United States
GAO   General Accounting Office
      Washington, D.C. 20548

      General Government Division

      B-276797

      October 2, 1997

      The Honorable Fred Thompson
      Chairman, Committee on Governmental Affairs
      United States Senate

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

      The federal regulatory system has long been the subject of controversy,
      with both the legislative and executive branches making numerous
      attempts to reform regulatory processes during the past 20 years. In
      June 1995, President Clinton said that, as part of his administration’s
      regulatory reform initiative, federal agencies would eliminate 16,000 pages
      of regulations from the 140,000-page Code of Federal Regulations (CFR),
      and that another 31,000 pages would be revised.1 Since that time, agencies
      have periodically reported to the Office of Management and Budget’s
      (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on their progress
      in eliminating and revising rules. OIRA, in turn, has reported on this
      progress to the President and to the public.2

      Last year we testified that, as of June 30, 1996, federal agencies said they
      had eliminated 11,569 pages of the CFR and revised another 13,216 pages.3
      However, we concluded that most of the agencies’ CFR page elimination
      efforts did not appear to reduce regulatory burden. As for the effort to
      revise the regulations, we said we could not determine whether burden
      was likely to be reduced as a result of most of the revisions. At the same
      hearing, the Administrator of OIRA testified that she had not expected that
      the page elimination effort would reduce burden. However, she said that
      “the real savings, the reduction of burden,” would come from the CFR
      pages that were being revised.

      This report responds to your request that we update and expand our
      previous review of the CFR page elimination and revision initiative. Our
      objectives were to determine whether (1) agencies’ reported page
      elimination totals took into account any pages added to the CFR during the
      same period, (2) agencies’ CFR revision efforts would reduce regulatory
      burden, and (3) the administration has any mechanism in place for

      1
       The CFR is a compilation of the current general and permanent regulations of federal agencies.
      2
      More Benefits Fewer Burdens: Creating A Regulatory System that Works for the American People,
      Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (Washington,
      D.C.: Dec. 1996).
      3
       Regulatory Reform: Implementation of the Regulatory Review Executive Order (GAO/T-GGD-96-185,
      Sept. 25, 1996).



      Page 1                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                   B-276797




                   measuring burden reductions as a result of its CFR page elimination and
                   revision initiatives. As you requested, we limited the scope of our work on
                   the first two objectives to four agencies: the Departments of Housing and
                   Urban Development (HUD) and Transportation (DOT), the Department of
                   Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the
                   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


                   Officials in each of the four agencies we reviewed said that the page
Results in Brief   elimination totals that their agencies reported to OIRA did not take into
                   account the pages that their agencies had added to the CFR while the
                   eliminations were taking place. EPA and DOT estimated that they added
                   more pages to the CFR than they removed during their page elimination
                   initiatives. HUD and OSHA, on the other hand, estimated that they deleted
                   more pages than they added. Overall, when estimated page additions were
                   counted, the 4 agencies’ CFR sections decreased in size by about 926
                   pages—about 3 percent of the CFR pages at the start of the initiative, or
                   about 17 percent of the amount reported to OIRA. The agencies pointed out
                   that pages are often added to the CFR because of statutory requirements or
                   to clarify requirements placed on regulated entities and that pages are
                   sometimes not eliminated at the request of those entities.

                   Our review indicated that about 40 percent of the 422 CFR revision actions
                   in the 4 agencies would substantively reduce the burden felt by regulated
                   entities as a result of such actions as eliminating paperwork requirements
                   and providing compliance flexibility. Another 15 percent of the actions
                   appeared to be minor burden reductions in that they seemed to make the
                   regulations easier to find or to understand but would not change the
                   underlying regulatory requirements or scope of applicability. We
                   concluded that about 27 percent of the CFR revision actions would have no
                   effect on the burden felt by regulated entities and that about 8 percent
                   could increase regulatory burden. We could not determine what effect
                   about 9 percent of the CFR revision actions would have on the regulated
                   entities, either because the actions had multiple parts that potentially
                   could offset each other or because the information available was unclear.

                   OIRA officials said that the administration has no mechanisms in place for
                   measuring burden reductions as a result of the CFR page elimination and
                   revision effort. However, they believe that the initiative is having a
                   beneficial effect and also pointed out that the CFR page elimination and
                   revision efforts are only part of a larger set of actions the administration is
                   taking to reform the nation’s regulatory system.



                   Page 2                                            GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
             B-276797




             Executive Order 12866, issued on September 30, 1993, is administered by
Background   OIRA and is intended to enhance regulatory planning and coordination with
             respect to both new and existing regulations. Section 5 of the executive
             order required agencies to submit to OIRA by December 31, 1993, a program
             for periodically reviewing their existing significant regulations to
             determine whether any should be modified or eliminated. According to the
             executive order, the purpose of the review was to make the agencies’
             regulatory programs more effective, less burdensome, or better aligned
             with the President’s priorities and the principles specified in the order.

             There have been several previous requirements that federal agencies
             review their existing regulations. For example, in 1979, President Carter
             issued Executive Order 12044, which required agencies to review their
             existing rules “periodically.” The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980
             required agencies to publish in the Federal Register a plan for the periodic
             review of rules that “have or will have a significant economic impact upon
             a substantial number of small entities.”4 In 1992, President Bush sent a
             memorandum to all federal departments and agencies calling for a 90-day
             moratorium on new proposed or final rules during which agencies were
             “to evaluate existing regulations and programs and to identify and
             accelerate action on initiatives that will eliminate any unnecessary
             regulatory burden or otherwise promote economic growth.”5

             In an October 1993 memorandum to the heads of federal departments and
             agencies, the Administrator of OIRA noted these previous efforts but said
             that some of them had been “so broad in scope that necessary analytic
             focus has been diffused, or needed followup has not occurred.” In its
             report on the first year’s implementation of Executive Order 12866, OIRA
             further clarified the intent of the Clinton administration’s rule review
             initiative:

             “It is important to emphasize what the lookback effort is and is not. It is not directed at a
             simple elimination or expunging of specific regulations from the Code of Federal
             Regulations. Nor does it envision tinkering with regulatory provisions to consolidate or
             update provisions. Most of this type of change has already been accomplished, and the
             additional dividends are unlikely to be significant. Rather, the lookback provided for in the
             Executive Order speaks to a fundamental reengineering of entire regulatory systems. . . .”




             4
              In Regulatory Flexibility Act: Status of Agencies’ Compliance (GAO/GGD-94-105, Apr. 27, 1994), we
             reported, among other things, on the results of a study by the Small Business Administration that
             indicated many agencies had not planned for or conducted a review of their rules.
             5
              This moratorium was ultimately extended for a full year.



             Page 3                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
              B-276797




              On March 4, 1995, President Clinton sent a memorandum to the heads of
              departments and agencies describing plans for changing the federal
              regulatory system because “not all agencies have taken the steps
              necessary to implement regulatory reform.” Among other things, the
              President directed each agency to conduct a page-by-page review of all its
              regulations in force and eliminate or revise those that were outdated or in
              need of reform. In June 1995, 28 agencies provided reports to the President
              describing the status of their regulatory reform efforts, often noting the
              number of pages of federal regulations that would be eliminated or
              revised. On June 12, 1995, the President announced that the page-by-page
              review effort had resulted in commitments to eliminate 16,000 pages from
              the 140,000-page CFR and modify another 31,000 pages either through
              administrative or legislative means.

              In a December 1996 report to the President, the OMB Director and the OIRA
              Administrator said that agencies had made “significant progress toward
              fulfilling these commitments” but recognized that more work remained to
              be done.6 They said that despite the addition of new regulations while
              regulations were being eliminated, the CFR was about 5,000 pages smaller
              at the end of the first three quarters of 1996 than it had been a year earlier.
              The report went on to say that agencies had revised or proposed to revise
              nearly 20,000 pages of the CFR.


              A detailed explanation of our scope and methodology is in appendix I. To
Scope and     address our first objective of determining whether agencies’ page
Methodology   elimination totals accounted for pages added, we obtained CFR page
              elimination and revision totals as of April 30, 1997, from OIRA and
              interviewed agency officials at HUD, DOT, OSHA, and EPA. The officials said
              that the elimination totals did not include pages added while the
              eliminations occurred.7 They also said that their agencies had not been
              required to count the number of pages added during this period and that it
              would be extremely difficult for them to identify and provide an accurate
              count of those additions as part of this review because some of the
              regulatory actions had taken place early in the initiative.




              6
               More Benefits Fewer Burdens, December 1996.
              7
               The dates the agencies used to track page eliminations varied. DOT started tracking page eliminations
              from the beginning of the Clinton administration in January 1993. HUD began tracking its eliminations
              from March 1994. OSHA and EPA began tracking their eliminations from the date of the
              administration’s March 1995 call to eliminate and revise pages in the CFR.



              Page 4                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
B-276797




As discussed with your office, in order to gauge the effect of CFR page
additions without imposing a major burden on the agencies, we asked the
agencies to count the number of pages added for those actions that they
believed had increased their sections of the CFR by five or more pages and
that occurred during the same periods that they said they had eliminated
CFR pages. Three of the four agencies also compared editions of their
sections of the CFR near the beginning and end of their page elimination
initiatives to determine net page changes and page additions. Using both
these estimated page additions and reported eliminations, we calculated
the net increase or decrease in each agency’s CFR page totals. (See
appendix I for more detail on how the agencies estimated the number of
CFR pages added.)


To address our second objective of determining whether agencies’ CFR
revision actions would reduce regulatory burden, we reviewed
descriptions of all 422 such actions in the 4 agencies that appeared in at
least 1 edition of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and
Deregulatory Actions between October 1995 and April 1997.8 We initially
reviewed descriptive abstracts for these actions that were included in the
Unified Agenda.9 However, many of the abstracts did not clearly indicate
what actions were being proposed. In those cases, we attempted to obtain
additional information about the actions from any related proposed or
final rules printed in the Federal Register. If more information was still
needed, we contacted agency officials.

We used all of the information available to assess what effect the
initiatives were likely to have on regulated entities (e.g., individuals,
private companies, state or local governments, or federal agencies other
than the issuing agency). We coded each action into one of the following
five categories: (1) substantive burden reduction (e.g., eliminating
paperwork and other requirements, giving regulated entities more
flexibility in how they can comply with or implement the rule, or lowering
compliance costs); (2) minor burden reduction (e.g., clarifying the
language in the CFR to make it easier to read or understand or combining

8
 This document, which is issued twice a year since 1983 by the Regulatory Information Service Center,
is a compendium of each executive and independent agency’s regulatory activities that are being
developed, planned for the future, or completed. It provides such information as the status of the
regulation, a timetable for further action, any statutory or judicial deadlines, and the name and
telephone number of an agency contact. We used the October 1995 Unified Agenda as the starting
point of our review because it was the first edition published after the President’s June 1995
announcement of page revisions.
9
 Thirty-one of these entries had no abstract describing the initiative in the Unified Agenda, so we
obtained abstracts or proposed or final rule preambles directly from the agencies for each of these
actions.



Page 5                                                           GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
B-276797




existing sections of the CFR to make the requirements easier to find);
(3) burden increase (e.g., adding reporting requirements, requiring
additional training or testing procedures, or expanding the scope of a
regulation to new entities); (4) no burden change (e.g., eliminating
obsolete or duplicative regulations, establishing a committee to study an
issue, or changing requirements that will primarily affect the agency
promulgating the regulation); or (5) cannot tell (e.g., actions that had
multiple parts that could potentially offset each other or were unclear as
to their effect on the regulated entities). Each of the 422 actions was
reviewed by several different members of our staff, including those with
extensive subject matter expertise, to help ensure validity and consistency
of judgment in assessing the impact of the actions on regulatory entities.
Agency officials were given an opportunity to review and comment on our
assessment of all the actions during the assignment, and their comments
were taken into consideration in making our final determinations about
the actions’ effect on regulatory burden.

To address our third objective of determining whether the administration
had any mechanisms in place to measure burden reductions as a result of
the CFR page elimination and revision initiatives, we interviewed officials
at OIRA.

We did not verify the agencies’ CFR page elimination totals or their page
addition estimates.10 The agencies’ estimates of the pages added to the CFR
may not include all added pages because, in response to agency concerns
about the effort it would take to count all pages, we agreed that the
agencies could exclude any action that added less than five pages. Also,
although we validated our judgments about the possible effect of the
proposed changes by using multiple judges and consulting with
knowledgeable members of our staff and agency officials, some of our
assessments were based on relatively little information. We did not
differentiate between actions in terms of scope of the effort involved (e.g.,
whether the action would affect many or only a few regulated entities).
Finally, we did not render a judgment regarding the wisdom of any of the
CFR revision actions, only whether they would affect the burden felt by
regulated entities.

We conducted our work at OMB, HUD, DOT, OSHA, and EPA headquarters in
Washington, D.C., between February 1997 and September 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We

10
  However, we did analyze EPA’s and DOT’s page elimination totals as part of last year’s testimony on
this issue (GAO/T-GGD-96-185, Sept. 25, 1996). We concluded that the agencies’ page elimination
claims were generally valid.



Page 6                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                       B-276797




                       made a draft of this report available to the Director of OMB, the Secretaries
                       of HUD, Labor, and DOT, and the Administrator of EPA for their review and
                       comment. Their comments are discussed at the end of this letter.


                       Any analysis of the effect of reductions in the number of pages of
CFR Page Elimination   regulatory text must initially recognize that one sentence of a regulation
Reports Do Not         can impose more burden than 100 pages of regulations that are
Reflect Page           administrative in nature. Therefore, the number of pages eliminated from
                       the CFR is, at best, an indirect measure of burden reduction. Nevertheless,
Additions              the number of CFR pages eliminated is one of the measures that the
                       administration is using to gauge its own efforts.

                       As of April 30, 1997, 15 agencies reported to OMB that they had eliminated
                       79 percent, or more than 13,000, of the 16,627 pages they had targeted for
                       elimination.11 The 4 agencies that we examined reported that they had
                       eliminated a total of 5,532 (85 percent) of the 6,529 pages they had
                       targeted. However, officials at each of those four agencies told us that
                       these page elimination totals did not include the pages that they had added
                       to their parts of the CFR at the same time that pages were being removed.

                       As table 1 shows, after taking into account the 4 agencies’ estimates of the
                       major CFR page additions that were made during the same period that
                       pages were eliminated, the agencies’ CFR sections decreased in size by
                       about 926 pages—about 3 percent of their total CFR pages at the start of
                       their initiatives and about 17 percent of the 5,532-page elimination total
                       that had been reported to OIRA by these agencies. The effect of accounting
                       for pages added to the CFR varied across the four agencies. EPA and DOT
                       estimated they added more pages to the CFR than they removed during
                       their page elimination initiatives. As a result, the size of their CFR sections
                       increased by an estimated 966 and 283 pages, respectively. HUD and OSHA,
                       on the other hand, estimated they deleted more pages than they added
                       during their initiatives, so the size of their CFR sections decreased.




                       11
                        The 15 agencies were the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and
                       Human Services, the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, HUD, and DOT,
                       as well as EPA and the Small Business Administration.



                       Page 7                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                                            B-276797




Table 1: Agencies’ CFR Page Totals, Targets, Eliminations, Additions, and Net Change
                                                                       Pages eliminated/added as of April
                              Total CFR pages                                      30, 1997
                               at start of agency       Pages targeted             Gross pages              Pages added           Net page change
Agency                                   initiative     for elimination              eliminated              (estimated)               (estimated)
HUD                                         4,023                   2,802                  –1,992                     +651                 –1,341
DOT                                        10,663                   1,221                  –1,282                  +1,565                    +283
OSHA                                        3,495                   1,049                    –920                      +86                   –834
EPA                                        14,312                   1,457                  –1,338                  +2,304                    +966
Total                                      32,493                   6,529                  –5,532                   +4,606                   –926
                                            Sources: OIRA, HUD, DOT, OSHA, and EPA.

                                            Note: The agencies’ page elimination initiatives began at different points in time.



                                            Figure 1 depicts the result of the CFR page elimination effort in each
                                            agency both before (gross) and after (net) accounting for estimated CFR
                                            page additions.




                                            Page 8                                                            GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                                      B-276797




Figure 1: EPA’s and DOT’s CFR Pages
Increased During Their Page
Elimination Initiative                 Number of pages

                                       1,000                                                                                     966



                                         500
                                                                                                          283

                                            0


                                        (500)


                                      (1,000)                                     (834)
                                                                          (920)


                                                             (1,341)                           (1,282)               (1,338)
                                      (1,500)


                                      (2,000)
                                                   (1,992)


                                      (2,500)
                                                        HUD                  OSHA                   DOT                    EPA


                                                              Gross page elimination
                                                              Net page change




                                      Note 1: Gross page eliminations are the totals reported by the agencies to OMB.

                                      Note 2: Net page changes equal the difference between gross pages eliminated and total
                                      estimated pages added to the CFR between the beginning of the agencies’ initiatives and
                                      April 30, 1997.

                                      Note 3: The agencies began the page elimination initiatives at different points in time.

                                      Sources: OMB, HUD, OSHA, DOT, and EPA.




Agencies Said CFR Pages               Agency officials said there are a number of reasons why pages are added
Are Added or Retained for             to or kept in the CFR, many of which are beyond the agencies’ control or
Many Reasons                          are beneficial to regulated entities. The officials frequently said that
                                      statutory requirements imposed by Congress often drive CFR page




                                      Page 9                                                             GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
B-276797




additions. For example, an EPA official said that the growth in the number
of their CFR pages was primarily driven by statutory requirements to
develop new Clean Air Act regulations. A HUD official estimated that the
agency added about 18 pages to the CFR in 1996 with the regulations
implementing the Community Development Block Grants for Indian Tribes
and Alaska Native Villages. According to HUD, the “principal impetus for
this rulemaking process was the need to implement various statutory
mandates included in Section 105 of the Department of Housing and Urban
Development Reform Act (P.L. 101-235) as amended by the National
Affordable Housing Act of 1990.” The official also said HUD added more
than eight pages to the CFR in 1995 as a result of a rule implementing the
Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act of
1994 (P.L. 103-421). DOT officials said that all of the CFR page increases in
the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit
Administration and the bulk of the increases in other parts of DOT were
statutorily mandated. For example, they said that the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) added 68 pages in response to
congressional mandates contained in the Intermodal Surface
Transportation Efficiency Act and the American Automobile Labeling Act.
They said that DOT’s Office of the Secretary added 18 pages of rules to set
out procedures for statutorily mandated alcohol testing of
“safety-sensitive” employees.

Agency officials also said that pages are sometimes added to the CFR in
order to clarify regulatory requirements. For example, DOT officials said
that they have added charts and examples to clearly illustrate how
regulated entities can comply with their rules. Also, they said that in future
regulations, they plan to incorporate question-and-answer formats and
checklists to assist regulated entities. Therefore, they said the additional
pages actually decrease the burden imposed on those entities.

EPA officials pointed out that pages are often added to the CFR that permit,
not restrict, actions by other entities. For example, they said that pages are
added to allow farmers to use new pesticides and expand the use of
existing pesticides on food crops. Without those regulations, which
establish the allowable levels of pesticide residues in food crops, use of
the pesticides would be prohibited.

Finally, agency officials said that pages are sometimes not eliminated from
the CFR as a result of requests from regulated entities. For example, DOT
officials said they had proposed streamlining the procedures regarding
marine industry manufacturers’ use of independent laboratories instead of



Page 10                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                    B-276797




                    the Coast Guard to inspect lights and fog signal emitters. However,
                    according to the officials, the “project was withdrawn due to substantial
                    issues raised by public comments. . . .”

                    Overall, DOT officials said that CFR page counts are not always an accurate
                    proxy for regulatory burden. For example, they noted that the size of CFR
                    typeface or the format used periodically changes, each of which can have
                    a big impact on the number of CFR pages. They also said that after a rule is
                    published there is usually a period before it goes into effect in which both
                    the old and the new rules are published. Finally, they said that editorial
                    notes are added by the Office of the Federal Register when publishing the
                    CFR, which increases the number of pages.



                    As figure 2 shows, about 40 percent of the 422 CFR revision actions in the 4
Some CFR Revision   agencies appeared to substantively reduce the burden felt by regulated
Efforts Will Not    entities through such actions as eliminating paperwork requirements and
Reduce Regulatory   providing compliance flexibility. Another 15 percent were minor burden
                    reductions in that they made regulatory requirements easier to find or to
Burden              understand but did not change the rules’ underlying requirements or scope
                    of applicability. Therefore, taking these two categories together, about
                    55 percent of the CFR revision actions appeared to reduce the level of
                    regulatory burden to at least some extent. However, about 8 percent of the
                    actions seemed to increase regulatory burden, and another 27 percent did
                    not appear to affect regulated entities’ burden. We were unable to
                    determine what, if any, impact about 9 percent of the actions would have
                    on regulatory burden. (The numbers do not add to 100 percent due to
                    rounding.)




                    Page 11                                         GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                                   B-276797




Figure 2: CFR Revision Actions
Appear to Have Varying Effect on
Regulatory Burden                                                                            Substantive burden reduction

                                                                                             Minor burden reduction




                                                            40%


                                             15%


                                                                     27%                     No burden change
                                              9%
                                                   8%




                                                                                             Burden increase

                                                                                             Cannot tell


                                   Note: The numbers do not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

                                   Source: GAO analysis of effect of CFR revision actions on regulatory burden.




                                   As table 2 shows, there were some differences across the agencies in the
                                   degree to which their CFR revision actions appeared to affect regulatory
                                   burden. For example, our analysis indicated that about 11 percent of the
                                   OSHA actions could be substantive reductions in regulatory burden but that
                                   more than 50 percent of the EPA actions appeared to be so. Conversely,
                                   nearly 37 percent of the DOT actions did not appear to change regulated
                                   entities’ burden compared with about 11 percent at OSHA.




                                   Page 12                                                        GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                                         B-276797




Table 2: Effect of Revision Actions on
Burden Varied by Agency                                                               Percent of actions that resulted in:
                                                                         Substantive          Minor             No
                                                          Number             burden          burden         burden       Burden         Cannot
                                         Agency         of actions         reduction       reduction        change      increase           tell
                                         HUD                    107                  37%            30%           25%            5%            3%
                                         DOT                    183                  38               7           37             9             9
                                         OSHA                    19                  11             21            11            16            42
                                         EPA                    113                  52             14            15             9            10
                                         Note: Some of the numbers do not add to 100 percent due to rounding.

                                         Source: GAO analysis of agencies’ CFR revision actions on regulatory burden.




Substantive Burden                       The 170 CFR revision actions that appeared to substantively reduce
Reduction Actions                        regulatory burden took a number of different forms, including reducing
Included Less Paperwork                  paperwork or other requirements, giving the regulated entities flexibility in
                                         how to comply with or implement the regulations, lowering compliance
and More Flexibility                     costs, and/or allowing the regulated entities to file or transmit reports
                                         electronically.12 About half (90) of these actions appeared to reduce
                                         burden by eliminating paperwork and/or other requirements. For example,
                                         one EPA action proposed changing the frequency with which states must
                                         submit information related to state water quality standards under section
                                         303(d) of the Clean Water Act from every 2 years to every 5 years.
                                         Lessening the frequency with which this information must be submitted
                                         should reduce the paperwork burden imposed on the states. One HUD
                                         action proposed to reorganize six separate grant programs into a single
                                         formula-based program, eliminating the need for both annual notices of
                                         funding availability and annual submission of applications. Also, by
                                         consolidating these programs into one program, HUD expected that the
                                         reporting and recordkeeping requirements would be dramatically reduced
                                         as grantees would only be required to maintain records on one program.
                                         Another HUD action would allow the use of classes of innovative products
                                         without having each manufacturer apply for a material release for a
                                         specific product. HUD said these changes would save suppliers and
                                         manufacturers thousands of dollars in application fees and materials
                                         preparation.

                                         About half (86) of the 170 CFR actions appeared to reduce regulated
                                         entities’ burden by giving them more flexibility in how they comply with or

                                         12
                                           A single regulatory action could contain more than one of these elements. For example, one action
                                         could both eliminate certain recordkeeping requirements and give regulated entities greater flexibility
                                         in how they comply with regulatory requirements.



                                         Page 13                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
    B-276797




    implement the regulations. For example, the Federal Aviation
    Administration (FAA) proposed revising “the Federal Aviation Regulations
    to provide for the granting of relief from the literal compliance with
    certain rules,” provided the applicant justified this relief and FAA
    concluded that the provisions not complied with had no adverse impact on
    safety or were compensated for by other factors. FAA also revised its
    regulations governing portable protective breathing equipment that is
    required for crew members’ use in combatting in-flight fires, eliminating
    the requirement that airlines have portable equipment in each
    compartment and giving the airlines flexibility in the number and
    placement of this equipment in the aircraft. In another example, EPA said it
    revised its regulations for municipal solid waste landfills to allow local
    governments greater flexibility to demonstrate compliance with financial
    assurance requirements.

    Other examples of agencies’ actions that appeared to result in substantive
    burden reduction for the regulated entities included the following:

•   OSHA  proposed revising the shipyard employment safety standards
    regarding safety systems and work practices for entering and exiting the
    workplace, eliminating many provisions that limit employer innovation.
    According to the notice of proposed rulemaking, OSHA expected that
    regulated entities’ costs would decrease if employers could use alternative
    safety systems and work practices that were not allowed by the existing
    requirements.
•   HUD revised its rules concerning the Board of Contract Appeals to make
    the Board’s actions less costly and time-consuming to appellants,
    including allowing appellants to use expedited small claims procedures,
    raising the threshold for using accelerated procedures in claims from
    $10,000 to $50,000, and advising claimants of the availability of alternative
    dispute resolution techniques. This action made revisions required by the
    Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994, which amended the Contract
    Disputes Act of 1978.
•   DOT proposed allowing airlines to electronically file tariff rules governing
    the availability of passenger fares and their conditions, which they said
    would save the airline industry over a million dollars in tariff submissions,
    printing, and distribution costs.
•   EPA said it would propose modifying its pesticide experimental use permit
    regulations to permit expanded testing without a permit, reducing burden
    on pesticide producers.




    Page 14                                         GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                                B-276797




                                According to agency officials, some of these actions to reduce regulatory
                                burden were statutorily mandated. For example, DOT said two of its
                                actions giving states additional flexibility implements “a statutory
                                requirement that directs the Secretary of Transportation to issue
                                regulations. . . .” HUD said that it revised certain regulations in part “to
                                incorporate the statutory amendments in the Housing and Community
                                Development Act of 1992.”



Minor Burden Reductions         Our analysis indicated that about 15 percent of the 4 agencies’ CFR revision
Made Rules Easier to Find       actions (65 of the 422 actions) would result in minor reductions in
or to Understand                regulated entities’ burden. These minor burden reductions included
                                actions that made rules easier to understand (e.g., writing rules with less
                                technical jargon) or easier to find (e.g., consolidating related sections of
                                the CFR into one section) but did not change the regulations’ underlying
                                requirements. CFR revision actions that we considered minor burden
                                reduction actions included the following:

                            •   HUD consolidated its fair housing and equal opportunity requirements for
                                its programs. In addition to eliminating redundancy from title 24 of the
                                CFR, HUD said that this action makes its nondiscrimination regulations more
                                concise and simpler to understand.
                            •   OSHA proposed consolidating its general industry standards (29 C.F.R.
                                1910) with its shipyard employment standards (29 C.F.R. 1915) into one
                                comprehensive CFR part that would apply to all activities and areas in
                                shipyards. The implementation of this action should make it easier for
                                regulated entities to find and comply with all relevant OSHA standards for
                                shipyards. In another action, OSHA proposed to “eliminate the complexity,
                                duplicative nature, and obsolescence” of certain standards and “write
                                them in plain language.” OSHA said that this change would improve
                                comprehension and compliance with those standards.
                            •   EPA proposed reorganizing and reformatting its national primary drinking
                                water regulations to make them easier for public water system officials to
                                understand and comply with and easier for state, local, and tribal
                                governments to implement.
                            •   DOT’s Office of the Secretary proposed reorganizing the regulations
                                governing the conduct of all aviation economic proceedings, streamlining
                                the regulations to remove redundancies, grouping procedures relating only
                                to oral evidentiary hearings together and separating them from procedures
                                pertaining to only nonhearing cases, and updating terminology in the
                                regulations.



                                Page 15                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                          B-276797




Some CFR Revision         Our review also identified 34 CFR revision actions (about 8 percent of the
Actions Appeared to       422 actions) that appeared to increase regulatory burden by expanding the
Increase Regulatory       scope of existing regulations, establishing new programs and/or new
                          requirements, creating more paperwork, or increasing costs for regulated
Burden                    entities.13 Actions that our analysis indicated would increase regulatory
                          burden included the following:

                      •   NHTSA proposed updating its lists of passenger motor vehicle insurers that
                          are required to annually file reports on their motor vehicle theft loss
                          experiences. As a result of this rule, NHTSA indicated that the number of
                          insurers who must file these annual reports would increase, resulting in a
                          cost increase to insurers of “less than $100,000.” In another action, DOT’s
                          Research and Special Programs Administration proposed extending the
                          application of its interstate hazardous materials regulations to intrastate
                          transportation of those materials in commerce.
                      •   OSHA proposed revising its general industry safety standard for training
                          powered industrial truck operators and to add equivalent training
                          requirements for the maritime industries. The new standards require
                          periodic evaluation of each operator’s performance and periodic refresher
                          or remedial training. OSHA estimated that the annualized cost would be
                          $19.4 million.
                      •   EPA proposed establishing “new source performance standards and
                          emission guidelines for new and existing solid waste incineration units.”
                          The new standards were to “specify numerical emission limitations” for 11
                          substances and were to include “requirements for emissions and
                          parameter monitoring and provisions for operator training and
                          certification.”
                      •   HUD proposed to extend the applicability of its standards for approval of
                          sites based on avoidance of minority/racial concentration for HUD-assisted
                          rental housing to the Community Development Block Grant Program and
                          to broaden the standards to include reviews of poverty concentration.

                          For many of the actions that appeared to increase regulatory burden, we
                          found that the burden increase was the result of agencies’ implementation
                          of legislative requirements. For example, EPA officials noted that although
                          the previously cited new source requirements may increase regulatory
                          burden, the new rules were required by section 129 of the Clean Air Act, as
                          amended in 1990. One HUD action proposed establishing new regulations
                          implementing the Secretary of HUD’s authority to regulate Government

                          13
                           In some cases, the rules indicated that the actions would increase costs for regulated entities (e.g.,
                          companies) but provide more than offsetting benefits to other entities (e.g., workers). However, we
                          coded these actions as burden increases unless the offsetting benefits were provided to the same
                          entity that bore the costs.



                          Page 16                                                            GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                                B-276797




                                Sponsored Enterprises (GSE) (e.g., the Federal National Mortgage
                                Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) under the
                                Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992.
                                According to the final rule in the December 1, 1995, Federal Register, this
                                act “substantially overhauled the regulatory authorities and structure for
                                GSE regulation and required the issuance of this rule.”



Many CFR Revision               Our analysis indicated that about 27 percent of the 4 agencies’ CFR revision
Actions Did Not Appear to       actions (114 of 422) would have little or no effect on the amount of burden
Affect Regulatory Burden        felt by regulated entities. More than half of these actions involved the
                                elimination of CFR “deadwood,” such as regulations that the agencies said
                                were obsolete or were duplicative of other text. Other such actions were
                                minor technical corrections, such as changes to agency organization
                                charts, telephone listings, or addresses. The following examples illustrate
                                agencies’ actions that appeared to have little to no effect on regulated
                                entities’ burden:

                            •   DOT proposed amending the Transportation Acquisition Regulations to
                                change organizational names (e.g., “OST—Office of the Secretary” was
                                replaced by “TASC-Transportation Administrative Service Center”) and
                                renumber or rename certain sections of the CFR.
                            •   HUD proposed removing the detail in its program regulations regarding the
                                application and grant award processes, noting that a full description of the
                                application and grant award process would instead be published in the
                                Federal Register in a notice of funding availability.

                                In several instances, the agencies’ actions appeared more likely to affect
                                the promulgating agencies than the amount of burden felt by the regulated
                                entities. For example, HUD proposed amending its rule on rules to make
                                possible the “more timely implementation of new and changed policies of
                                the Department in circumstances where notice and comment rulemaking
                                is not required by law.” According to HUD, one of the purposes of this
                                action was to provide greater flexibility to the Department in
                                implementing statutory and other changes to its program authorities. In
                                another such action, HUD issued revised ethics standards for its employees
                                in accordance with the revised standards issued by the Office of
                                Government Ethics.

                                Several of the actions did not appear to affect the level of burden felt by
                                regulated entities because the agency was only proposing to study an
                                issue, and no specific proposal had been put forward at the time the action



                                Page 17                                         GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                             B-276797




                             was described. For example, one HUD action was a joint proposal with the
                             Federal Reserve Board “to initiate fact-finding to assist the agencies in
                             revising disclosures to consumers under the Real Estate Settlement
                             Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act.” According to HUD, the
                             agencies were soliciting comments on what regulatory and legislative
                             changes might be made to achieve consumer protection goals and
                             minimally affect compliance burdens. OSHA said in one of its CFR revision
                             abstracts that it intended to issue a proposal to prevent accidents during
                             equipment repair and maintenance for the construction industry.
                             However, an OSHA official told us that no specific proposal would be issued
                             until 1999. EPA said in one action that it was initiating a technical review of
                             the possible risks associated with management of silver-bearing wastes.
                             However, no specific proposal was presented.

                             A few of the actions that the agencies characterized as CFR revisions will
                             have no effect on the burden felt by regulated entities because the
                             agencies withdrew the proposal after receiving public comments. For
                             example, in one action, FAA said it withdrew a proposal to clarify or change
                             the number of flight attendants required when passengers are on an
                             airplane “in view of the opposition and alternative proposals presented by
                             a number of commenters.”


Effect of Some CFR           As noted previously, we attempted to obtain additional information from
Revision Actions Was         the Federal Register and/or the agencies about each of the 422 CFR revision
Difficult to Determine       abstracts that seemed unclear. Although we were able to resolve many of
                             the cases with this additional information, we were still unable to
                             determine the effect that 39 of the 422 actions (about 9 percent) would
                             have on regulated entities.

                             In 23 of the 39 cases, the abstract and/or any supplementary information
                             indicated that the CFR revision action had some elements that would
                             increase burden and other elements that would reduce burden, making it
                             difficult to determine the net effect. Those potentially offsetting cases
                             included the following:

                         •   One OSHA abstract stated that the agency was writing the final rule on
                             standards for walking and working surfaces and personal fall protection
                             systems “in plain language” and making it “flexible in the means of
                             compliance permitted.” These elements appeared likely to reduce
                             regulatory burden. However, in another part of the same abstract, OSHA
                             indicated that criteria for personal fall protection systems would be added



                             Page 18                                           GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                       B-276797




                       to the regulations because the existing standards did not contain those
                       criteria—an action that could increase burden.
                   •   In one DOT abstract, DOT proposed revising and updating the aviation
                       insurance requirements “to recapture administrative expenses incurred,”
                       which could represent a burden increase on the regulated entities.
                       However, the abstract also said that the action “will clarify the language
                       and make it conform with the current legislative language and intent,”
                       which could reduce regulatory burden.

                       For 17 of the 39 actions, we were unable to obtain enough information to
                       make a determination.14 Examples of those actions include the following:

                   •   One abstract stated that EPA would “make over 50 modifications, additions,
                       and deletions to the existing PCB [Polychlorinated Biphenyls]
                       management program under the Toxic Substances Control Act. . . .”
                       However, no details on those changes were available from either the
                       Federal Register or EPA.
                   •   One OSHA abstract indicated that a negotiated rulemaking process led to a
                       draft revision of its regulation that contained “innovative provisions” that
                       would help “minimize the major causes of steel erection injuries and
                       fatalities .” However, OSHA could provide no additional information about
                       the draft revisions.
                   •   One DOT abstract proposed amending the “procedural regulations for the
                       certification of changes to type certificated products.” The abstract stated
                       that the “amendments are needed to accommodate the trend toward fewer
                       products that are of completely new design and more products with
                       repeated changes of previously approved designs.” Although this action
                       appeared to propose reducing the regulatory requirements for
                       manufacturing products of previously approved designs, it was unclear
                       from this abstract exactly what the new procedures would be or their
                       impact on the regulated entities, and DOT did not provide additional
                       clarification.


                       Section 5 of Executive Order 12866 required agencies to submit to OIRA a
No Mechanism in        program to review their existing regulations. The first listed purpose for
Place to Measure       this review in the executive order is “to reduce the regulatory burden on
Burden Changes         the American people.” However, OIRA officials told us that the
                       administration does not have any mechanism in place to measure changes
                       in regulatory burden as a result of agencies’ CFR page elimination and CFR

                       14
                        The 17 include 2 of the 23 actions mentioned earlier that also had multiple and potentially offsetting
                       parts.



                       Page 19                                                           GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
B-276797




revision initiatives. They said that the agencies’ accomplishments in these
areas “result from a wide variety of actions” and that there is “no single
common measure that can be used to summarize the beneficial impact of
this initiative given the breadth of activities it has encompassed.”

OIRA officials went on to note that some of the actions in the initiative were
significant rulemakings for which agencies conducted benefit-cost
analyses; some were actions to make current regulations more
user-friendly, and others were described as modest “housekeeping”
actions designed to consolidate or eliminate certain provisions. Overall,
they said that these efforts “have contributed to a more efficient and
effective regulatory system.” They also noted that the elimination and
revision actions are part of a larger set of initiatives designed to reform the
nation’s regulatory system.

Measuring regulatory burden and changes in that burden are extremely
difficult. Some commenters (including the President) have used relatively
simple indicators, such as the number of pages in the CFR or the total
weight of the rules. Other observers have characterized federal regulatory
burden in terms of federal spending on regulatory programs or the number
of federal employees assigned to regulatory activities. Others have used
the number of hours required to fill out federal paperwork. Still others
have tried to measure the cost borne by entities responsible for complying
with federal regulations. All of these measures have certain advantages
and disadvantages, and all require careful interpretation.15

In a previous report, we concluded that it was extremely difficult to
determine direct, incremental regulatory costs, even for an individual
business.16 Indirect effects of regulation, such as their effect on
productivity or competitiveness, and effects on all regulated entities are
even more difficult to measure. Trying to gauge other types of regulatory
burden (e.g., complexity, reasonableness) and then merge them with the
other burden measures further complicates the task. Therefore, in some
ways it is not surprising that the administration does not have a
mechanism in place to measure burden reductions as a result of its CFR
page elimination and revision initiative. However, in the absence of an
agreed upon and demonstrably valid measure of regulatory burden,


15
 For example, in Paperwork Reduction: Governmentwide Goals Unlikely To Be Met
(GAO/T-GGD-97-114, June 4, 1997), we noted that agencies have found it difficult to measure
paperwork burden.
16
 Regulatory Burden: Measurement Challenges and Concerns Raised by Selected Companies
(GAO/GGD-97-2, Nov. 18, 1996).



Page 20                                                         GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
                  B-276797




                  disagreements are likely to continue regarding the effectiveness of the
                  page elimination and revision effort as well as other initiatives designed to
                  lessen the impact of federal regulations.


                  We sent a draft of this report to the Director of OMB; the Secretaries of HUD,
Agency Comments   Labor, and DOT; and the Administrator of EPA. Officials from OMB said they
                  had no comments on the report. Officials from the other four agencies said
                  that they generally agreed with our characterization of their page
                  elimination efforts. Officials from DOT, HUD, and EPA also said that they
                  generally agreed with the information presented about their CFR page
                  revision efforts. However, for a few of the actions, they provided
                  additional information regarding the effect of the actions on regulatory
                  burden. Using this information, we reevaluated our conclusions regarding
                  these actions and in some cases changed our burden determinations.

                  On September 12, 1997, we received written comments on the draft report
                  from the Department of Labor’s Acting Assistant Secretary for
                  Occupational Safety and Health. (See app. II for a copy of those
                  comments.) He said that he had serious concerns about the methodology
                  we used to determine whether OSHA’s page revisions had resulted in
                  reductions in regulatory burden. First, he said that simply counting the
                  number of actions in each burden category does not accurately reflect
                  OSHA’s efforts because the agency combined many separate deregulatory
                  actions into several large packages. Because each package affected many
                  different regulations, he said it was not appropriate to treat them as a
                  single action. The Acting Assistant Secretary also said that the
                  methodology used in the report does not take into account the complex
                  interrelationships between factors within a single action that will both
                  increase and decrease regulatory burden. Finally, he said that by
                  describing their efforts to remove CFR pages and make rules easier to
                  understand as “minor burden reductions,” the report does not give OSHA
                  adequate credit and understates both the degree of improvement and their
                  importance in the overall regulatory program.

                  The Acting Assistant Secretary’s observations regarding aggregated
                  deregulatory actions are grounded in a different view from ours about how
                  to conduct this study. We gave each of the agencies’ proposals equal
                  weight because we believed it was the most objective method to quantify
                  our results. Any other method would have required us to make subjective
                  judgments concerning both the identification of discrete proposals and the
                  weight each proposal should be given. Criteria for such judgments are not



                  Page 21                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
B-276797




readily available. Also, it is important to recognize that OSHA determined
how its CFR revision actions would be presented in the Unified Agenda.
OSHA sometimes chose to consolidate multiple proposals into several large
packages. In other cases OSHA appeared to present a single initiative in
several different packages. We used whatever groupings OSHA and the
other agencies used to present their revision efforts as our unit of analysis.

As the Acting Assistant Secretary noted, some of the agencies’ actions with
multiple proposals appeared to both increase and decrease the burden felt
by regulated entities. In a few cases, the bulk of the proposals appeared to
be either a burden increase or a burden reduction, so we could make a
burden change determination for the actions as a whole. However, in 23 of
the actions we could not reach an overall conclusion about the net effect
of multiple and potentially offsetting proposals on regulatory burden, so
we coded each of the actions as “cannot tell.” Therefore, we believe that
the report does recognize the complex interrelationships between factors
within a single action.

Finally, the Acting Assistant Secretary is incorrect in saying that we
described OSHA’s efforts to eliminate pages from the CFR as “minor burden
reductions.” We used that description for agencies’ CFR revision efforts
that clarified the language in the CFR to make it easier to read or
understand, or that combined sections in the CFR to make the requirements
easier to find but did not change the underlying requirements placed on
regulated entities. Although such clarifications and consolidations are
clearly desirable, we coded them as “minor burden reductions” because
we wanted to differentiate them from other agency actions that appeared
to change underlying regulatory requirements and result in substantive
reductions in burden.


We are sending copies of this report to the Ranking Minority Member of
the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee; the Director of OMB; the
Secretaries of HUD, Labor, and DOT; and the Administrator of EPA. We will
also make copies available to others on request.




Page 22                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
B-276797




Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix III. Please contact
me on (202) 512-8676 if you or your staff have any questions concerning
this report.

Sincerely yours,




L. Nye Stevens
Director, Federal Management
   and Workforce Issues




Page 23                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix I

Objectives, Scope, and Methodology


              The objectives of this review were to determine whether (1) agencies’
              reported Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) page elimination totals take
              into account the pages added to the CFR during the same period,
              (2) agencies’ CFR revision efforts will reduce regulatory burden, and (3) the
              administration has any mechanism in place for measuring burden
              reductions as a result of its CFR page elimination and revision initiatives.
              As the requester specified, we limited the scope of our work on the first
              two objectives to four major regulatory agencies: the Departments of
              Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Transportation (DOT), the
              Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration
              (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

              To address the first objective, we interviewed agency officials responsible
              for the administration’s CFR page elimination initiative at HUD, DOT, OSHA,
              and EPA. All of these officials said that their agencies did not track CFR page
              additions during the initiative. They also said that it would be extremely
              difficult and time-consuming to count the number of pages that had been
              added in the years since their initiatives had begun.

              Working with the agencies and with the requester, we developed a
              methodology that each agency could use to estimate the number of pages
              that had been added to the CFR while pages were being eliminated. We
              obtained the agencies’ page elimination totals as of April 30, 1997, from the
              Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and
              Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Then we asked the four agencies to identify their
              major regulatory actions (those that had added five pages or more to the
              CFR) and to estimate the number of pages that each of those actions had
              added to their parts of the CFR between the start of their page elimination
              initiatives and April 30, 1997.17 In three of the four agencies, the number of
              pages added was also calculated by comparing the agencies’ CFR page
              totals near the beginning and end of their page elimination initiatives,
              calculating the net difference in pages, and using the number of pages
              deleted to solve for pages added. For example, if an agency had 5,000
              pages in the CFR as of July 1, 1995, and 5,100 pages as of July 1, 1996, the
              net change during that 1-year period was an increase of 100 CFR pages. If
              the agency said that it had eliminated 200 pages from the CFR during that
              1-year period, the number of pages added during the period was 300 pages.
              Similarly, using both the agencies’ estimates of their page additions and
              their elimination figures as reported to OIRA for the entire period of the

              17
                The dates the agencies started tracking their page eliminations varied. DOT started tracking page
              eliminations from the beginning of the Clinton administration in January 1993. HUD began tracking its
              eliminations from March 1994. OSHA and EPA began tracking their eliminations from the date of the
              administration’s March 1995 call to eliminate and revise pages in the CFR.



              Page 24                                                         GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




initiative, we calculated the net increase or decrease in each agency’s CFR
page totals.

To address the second objective, we reviewed descriptions of the four
agencies’ actions as part of the administration’s CFR revision initiative and
determined whether the actions would reduce the burden imposed on
regulated entities. Specifically, we reviewed the actions that were
described in the October 1995, April 1996, October 1996, and April 1997
editions of the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory
Actions18 as part of the administration’s “reinventing government”
initiative and that involved “revision of text in the CFR to reduce burden or
duplication or to streamline requirements.” We obtained a computerized
data file of each of these actions in the Unified Agenda from the
Regulatory Information Service Center and combined the information into
one database, eliminating duplicate actions and retaining the most recent
abstract available for each action. We identified 422 such entries in the 4
agencies included in this review—107 for HUD, 183 for DOT, 19 for OSHA, and
113 for EPA.19 Thirty-one of these entries had no abstract describing the
initiative in the Unified Agenda, so we obtained abstracts or proposed or
final rule preambles directly from the agencies for each of these actions.

We defined “regulated entities” as the organizations that must comply with
the regulations’ provisions, including individuals, businesses, state or local
governments, or federal agencies (other than the agency that enforced or
promulgated the regulation). We defined “regulatory burden” as the impact
of a rule on regulated entities, including the direct and indirect cost of
compliance; paperwork requirements; negative effects on competitiveness
or productivity; penalties for noncompliance; and confusion as a result of
unreasonable, inconsistent, hard-to-find, or hard-to-understand
regulations.

18
  This document, issued twice a year since 1983, is a compendium of each agency’s regulatory
activities, describing regulations that executive and independent agencies are currently developing,
planning for in the future, or have completed. It provides such information as the status of the
regulation, a timetable for further action, any statutory or judicial deadlines, and the name and
telephone number of an agency contact. We used the October 1995 Unified Agenda as the starting
point of our review because it was the first edition published after the President’s June 1995
announcement of page revisions.
19
  In addition to the 422 actions reviewed, there were 13 actions for these agencies that were not
included in the review. Three actions (one for HUD and two for EPA) were excluded because agency
officials told us the actions were listed in the Unified Agenda in error. The remaining actions were
related to DOT’s Surface Transportation Board and the former Interstate Commerce Commission.
Although the Board is listed in the Unified Agenda as part of DOT, a DOT official told us DOT does not
include this organization in its CFR revision initiative because the Board acts as an organization
independent of DOT and should not be included in our review as DOT actions. Similarly, this official
said the former Interstate Commerce Commission actions are not included in DOT’s counts and should
not be included in our review.



Page 25                                                          GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




We initially reviewed the abstracts or rule preambles for each action to
determine what effect the action would have on the burden felt by
regulated entities. However, many of the abstracts did not contain enough
information to allow us to assess the effect of the action on regulated
entities’ burden. For each such action, we obtained additional information
from the agencies and/or related proposed or final rules published in the
Federal Register. We matched the Unified Agenda entries with the
proposed or final rules by regulation identification number to ensure that
only relevant information was included.

After reading all of the available information, we coded each of the actions
into one of the following five categories:

(1) substantive burden reduction—actions that appeared to decrease the
burden on regulated entities, such as eliminating paperwork requirements,
allowing flexibility in how entities can comply with or implement the rule,
lowering compliance costs, or exempting certain organizations from the
regulations;

(2) minor burden reduction—actions that seemed to make regulatory
requirements easier to read or understand or to make them easier to find
(e.g., combining similar or related sections of the CFR into one section);

(3) burden increase—actions that appeared to increase the burden on
regulated entities, such as adding reporting requirements, requiring
additional training, requiring certain testing procedures, or expanding the
scope of a regulation to new entities;

(4) no burden change—actions that did not seem to change the burden on
the regulated entity or that primarily affected the promulgating agency,
such as eliminating obsolete or duplicative regulations, establishing a
committee to study an issue (with no specific proposal identified),
updating agency organizational charts and/or telephone numbers, and
establishing ethics regulations for employees of the promulgating agency;
and

(5) cannot tell—actions that had multiple parts which potentially could
offset each other or were unclear as to their effect on the regulated
entities.

To help ensure validity and consistency in our assessments of the potential
impact of the 422 actions on regulatory entities, we reviewed each of the



Page 26                                         GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




actions at least 3 times. First, the abstracts were simultaneously and
independently reviewed and coded by two of our staff members who were
familiar with crosscutting regulatory issues. The staff members then
discussed their independent codes for each of the actions, obtained
additional information about the actions if necessary, and ultimately
agreed on a single code for each action. These codes and their associated
abstracts were then reviewed by members of our staff with expertise in
the relevant subject areas: transportation, housing, environmental
programs, and occupational safety. Their input was considered in reaching
a preliminary conclusion about each action.

We gave agency officials an opportunity to review and comment on our
assessment of the CFR revision actions. In many cases, the agencies
provided additional information in support of a different assessment than
the one we had made. When we took this additional information into
account, we changed our assessments of several actions. However, the
majority of our assessments were not affected by the agencies’ review.

To determine whether the administration had any mechanisms in place to
measure burden reductions as a result of its regulatory reform initiative,
we interviewed OIRA officials.

We did not verify the agencies’ CFR page elimination totals or their page
addition estimates. However, last year we evaluated EPA’s and DOT’s page
elimination claims and concluded that they were generally valid.20 The
agencies’ estimates of the pages added to the CFR do not include all added
pages because, in response to agency concerns about the effort it would
take to count all pages, we agreed that the agencies could exclude any
action that added less than five pages. Also, although we validated our
judgments about the possible effect of the proposed changes by using
multiple judges and consulting with knowledgeable members of our staff
and agency officials, some of our assessments were based on relatively
little information. Finally, we did not render a judgment regarding the
wisdom of any of the CFR revision actions, only whether they would affect
the burden felt by regulated entities.

We conducted our work at OMB, HUD, DOT, OSHA, and EPA headquarters in
Washington, D.C., between February 1997 and September 1997 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. We
made available a draft of this report for comment to the Director of OMB;

20
 Regulatory Reform: Implementation of the Regulatory Review Executive Order (GAO/T-GGD-96-185,
Sept. 25, 1996).



Page 27                                                     GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix I
Objectives, Scope, and Methodology




the Secretaries of HUD, Labor, and DOT; and the Administrator of EPA.
Designees of these agency heads provided comments on the report as a
whole and, in some cases, provided additional information. Their
comments were incorporated into the report accordingly.




Page 28                                      GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix II

Comments From OSHA




              Page 29   GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix II
Comments From OSHA




Page 30              GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Appendix III

Major Contributors to This Report


                        Curtis Copeland, Assistant Director, Federal Management
General Government        and Workforce Issues
Division, Washington,   Ellen Wineholt, Evaluator-in-Charge
D.C.                    Thomas Beall, Technical Analyst
                        Kevin Dooley, Technical Analyst
                        Kiki Theodoropoulos, Communications Analyst




(410120)                Page 31                                      GAO/GGD-98-3 Regulatory Reform
Ordering Information

The first copy of each GAO report and testimony is free.
Additional copies are $2 each. Orders should be sent to the
following address, accompanied by a check or money order
made out to the Superintendent of Documents, when
necessary. VISA and MasterCard credit cards are accepted, also.
Orders for 100 or more copies to be mailed to a single address
are discounted 25 percent.

Orders by mail:

U.S. General Accounting Office
P.O. Box 37050
Washington, DC 20013

or visit:

Room 1100
700 4th St. NW (corner of 4th and G Sts. NW)
U.S. General Accounting Office
Washington, DC

Orders may also be placed by calling (202) 512-6000
or by using fax number (202) 512-6061, or TDD (202) 512-2537.

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly available reports and
testimony. To receive facsimile copies of the daily list or any
list from the past 30 days, please call (202) 512-6000 using a
touchtone phone. A recorded menu will provide information on
how to obtain these lists.

For information on how to access GAO reports on the INTERNET,
send an e-mail message with "info" in the body to:

info@www.gao.gov

or visit GAO’s World Wide Web Home Page at:

http://www.gao.gov




PRINTED ON    RECYCLED PAPER
United States                       Bulk Rate
General Accounting Office      Postage & Fees Paid
Washington, D.C. 20548-0001           GAO
                                 Permit No. G100
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

Address Correction Requested