President Signs Executive Orders Limiting Agency Guidance
President Trump signed two executive orders earlier this week that seek to provide transparency in the ways in which federal regulators utilize guidance.
The president stated that federal agencies were habitually issuing regulations and rules via agency guidance in order to forgo the sometimes onerous public input process. “For many decades, federal agencies have been issuing thousands of pages of so-called guidance documents—a pernicious kind of regulation imposed by unaccountable bureaucrats in the form of commentary on how rules should be interpreted,” said President Trump. “All too often guidance documents are a back door for regulators to effectively change the laws and vastly expand their scope and reach.”
The president’s first executive order, “Improved Agency Guidance Documents,” requires federal regulators issuing guidance to ensure that those documents are on easily searchable websites. It also requires federal agencies to seek public input before issuing certain guidance documents, and it allows individuals to request agencies to withdraw guidance if desired.
The second executive order, “Transparency and Fairness,” prohibits federal regulators from “enforcing rules they have not made publicly known in advance.” It also instructs federal agencies to respond to individuals or businesses that request opinion letters.
The executive orders are likely to garner praise from industry and condemnation from consumer groups, especially given that it was announced alongside the executive orders that the Administration had “cut 14 regulations for every new significant regulation implemented.”