Regulatory Reform for the 21st Century: Small and Mid-Size Businesses Matter

On January 18, 2011, President Barack Obama penned an editorial, Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System, for the Wall Street Journal in which he discussed the need for regulatory reform across the federal government.  The President addressed the importance “common sense rules” have had to protect the American people “without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.”

However, acknowledging that the the regulatory landscape had become unruly he announced that he had issued an Executive Order mandating an overhaul of federal regulations.  Among the issues he highlighted in the editorial was the toll regulations take on small businesses in America:

We’re also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.  We’re looking at the system as a whole to make sure we avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation.  And finally, today I am directing federal agencies to do more for- and reduce- the burdens regulations may place on small businesses.

The Executive Order – “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review” – sets out the basis for the regulatory reform:

Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. It must be based on the best available science.  It must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas.  It must promote predictability and reduce uncertainty.  It must identify and use the best, most innovative and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends.  It must take into account benefits and costs, both quantitative and qualitative.  It must ensure that regulations are accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand.  It must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements.

To reach the goals President Obama has to reform the regulatory system in the Federal government, the Executive Order provides that each agency (e.g. the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the Environmental Protection Agency) develop and submit a plan to the White House within 120 days of the date of the order that addresses how its regulations “should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency’s regulatory program more effective and less burdensome in achieving the regulatory objectives.”

The Executive Order also provides significant reform to the process Federal agencies currently follow to adopt and implement regulations.  The current process is fairly tedious and difficult to participate in unless you have regulatory counsel or lobbyists on retainer who spend significant time with the regulators and reviewing the Federal Register.  Moving forward Federal agencies will have to make the process more accessible to the general public to allow for an “open exchange of information” and a variety of perspectives.  To accomplish the goal, agencies will have to use the internet as a platform to communicate with the public on proposed regulations, and offer the public at least 60 days to comment through the website http://www.regulations.gov.

Finally, the Executive Order recognizes that the jurisdiction of agencies often overlap resulting in “redundant, inconsistent and overlapping” regulations.  Therefore, the Executive Order provides that agencies coordinate with one another to simplify and harmonize the regulations.  In his editorial in the Wall Street Journal, President Obama highlights the different treatment saccharine receives from regulators (the FDA has deemed it safe while the EPA treats it as a toxic material).

A more robust and accessible regulatory landscape will allow for more voices to be heard during the rulemaking process.  Additionally, trimming the unruly regulatory landscape that has developed over the past 75 years will allow small and mid-size businesses to innovate without concern that dormant regulations may have a negative impact.  Finally, the government will have the benefit of hearing from a variety of experts and not just big companies and special interests.

So small and mid-size companies, and individual experts too, keep an eye out for regulations that directly impact your businesses or issues.  There should be many opportunities for you to participate in the regulatory reform process.   Your voice is key to creating the 21st Century Regulatory System President Obama has announced.

About Nancy Prager

Nancy Prager is an attorney based in Washington, D.C. She represents a wide range of clients on matters from intellectual property to estate planning. Before starting her own practice, she practiced with firms in Memphis and Atlanta, as well as providing business development services to technology companies. She launched her practice to offer strategic legal services to clients at an affordable rate. Additionally, Nancy is a sought after speaker and writer on issues related to the convergence of intellectual property, technology and media. Nancy was asked to write a series of commentaries for News.com on the emerging legal issues related to the transmission of content on the internet. She has spoken to organizations and conferences around the country on issues related to the convergence of technology, content and intellectual property, as well as strategic legal issues for companies, individuals and artists. Journalists often rely on Nancy as a resource for emerging legal issues. Nancy has a strong commitment to social justice. She has founded, or co-founded, a number of organizations and programs that provide tangible services to their constituencies. For example, while a student in law school she developed the Domestic Violence Advocacy Center that provides legal services to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, she has been involved with a number of organizations that provide services to children and their families, including serving on the boards of the Harwood Center and Porter Leath Children’s Services. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the State Bar of Georgia and the State Bar of Tennessee. She has been a member of a variety of legal organizations including the Copyright Society of the USA and the American Bar Association.
This entry was posted in lobbyists, Mid-Size Business, President Obama, regulations.gov, Regulatory Reform, Small Business and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Regulatory Reform for the 21st Century: Small and Mid-Size Businesses Matter

  1. willie gluck says:

    Nice article, but I’ll attribute the following to a minor brain-fart, there is no “Federal Drug Administration,” it’s Food and Drug Admin, this is a common mistake

    BTW, grat article on the supposed Picasso borrow/steal quote. I won’t misstate this again.

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