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Obama orders major review of regs

Tuesday 18 January 2011 - by Will Henley

US President Barack Obama has announced an overhaul of government rule-making, ordering executive departments and agencies to ensure that new regulations are "flexible".

Issuing a decree to regulators, Obama called for greater transparency and accountability in compliance and enforcement.

He also demanded that officials consider the impact on economic growth and small businesses of new rules, saying they must identify the "least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends".

"Each agency shall identify and consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public," Obama said in the executive order.

"These approaches include warnings, appropriate default rules, and disclosure requirements as well as provision of information to the public in a form that is clear and intelligible."

The decree tells agencies that they must ensure regulations are "cost-effective and cost-justified".

It also orders agency staff to ensure that regulations are simplified and harmonised to promote certainty for businesses. Existing rules that may be "outmoded, ineffective, insufficient or excessively burdensome" should be analysed, and where necessary should be repealed, it adds.

Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, immediately praised Obama on the move, which he indicated came after a period of "anti-business" rulemaking.

"I applaud President Obama for joining what must be an effort that stretches beyond ideological entrenchments to identify the regulatory impediments that have prevented real and sustained job growth in the private sector," Issa said.

"The anti-business policies of the past have hurt job creators, small and large. It's in the interest of every American that we create a modern, regulatory environment that fosters economic growth and makes US companies globally competitive."

Under the order, agencies and departments are expected to submit within four months a preliminary plan for reviewing or repealing regulations.

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