How a New President Can Roll Back Bureaucracy, Part 6: Enhance Disclosure in ‘Unified Agenda’

This is the sixth entry in a series on how the next president can reduce the scope of bureaucracy. Earlier installments have addressed a freeze on rulemaking, the role of law and economics staff in policymaking, rule review and repeal, stricter cost analysis and dissecting regulatory dark matter.

Part 6: Enhance Rule Disclosure in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations

There are rules, and then there are rules. Agencies are supposed to alert the public to their priorities in the semi-annual “Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” (the Agenda).

The Agenda normally appears in the Federal Register each fall and, minus the Regulatory Plan, each spring. The Agenda is intended to give regulated parties and observers a sense of the flow in the regulatory pipeline as it details rules recently completed, plus those anticipated within the upcoming 12 months by federal departments, agencies, and commissions.

But there is a whopper of a disclaimer, as the Federal Register has noted

The Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda do not create a legal obligation on agencies to adhere to schedules in this publication or to confine their regulatory activities to those regulations that appear within it.

An executive order (or better, legislation), could direct that agencies do confine their regulatory activities to those appearing in the Agenda. Guidance documents should be considered for coverage as Also, the Unified Agenda has been late most times over the past several years, and once (in Spring 2012) did not even appear at all. As part of broader, more extensive regulatory flow and cost disclosures, rules completed that are either economically significant, or that affect small businesses, could be compiled and compared to historical levels.

There’s plenty to say on boosting such disclosures so that will come up in a future installment.   


Also in this Series:

How A New President Can Roll Back Bureaucracy, Part 1: Freeze Regulations Temporarily

How A New President Can Roll Back Bureaucracy, Part 2: Boost Regulatory Review Resources and Free Market Law and Economics Staff at Agencies

How A New President Can Roll Back Bureaucracy, Part 3: Professionalize Review, Revision, Repeal and Sunsetting of Regulations

How A New President Can Roll Back Bureaucracy, Part 4: Expand Number of Rules Receiving Cost Analysis

How A New President Can Roll Back Bureaucracy, Part 5: Scrutinize All Agency Decrees That Affect the Public, Not Just Formal “Rules”

This series builds upon recommendations in One Nation Ungovernable? Confronting the Modern Regulatory State,” in Donald J. Boudreaux, ed., What America’s Decline In Economic Freedom Means for Entrepreneurship and Prosperity, Fraser Institute and Mercatus Center at George Mason University (2015), pp. 117-181.