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By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham

On March 6, 2017, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), via the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), issued Memorandum:  Spring 2017 Data Call for the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, a memorandum for regulatory policy officers at executive departments and agencies and managing and executive directors of certain agencies and commissions, with the subject:  Spring 2017 Data Call for the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.  Per EO 12866 (Oct. 4, 1993), federal agencies are directed to prepare a “Regulatory Plan (Plan) of the most important significant regulatory actions that the agency reasonably expects to issue in proposed or final form in that fiscal year or thereafter,” which they usually do semi-annually, in the spring and the fall.  This memo reiterates the directives of past executive orders on the regulatory agendas, but also includes new directives and focus, referring largely to the directives in the January 30, 2017, Executive Order (EO), Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

The memorandum states that the Unified Agendas should “describe all regulations under development or review during the 12 months following publication.  Agencies should include, at a minimum, any plans to publish or otherwise implement an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”), a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), or a Final Rule,” but also requests them to reflect attention to the following:

  • The total incremental costs of any new significant regulatory actions issued between noon on January 20, 2017, and September 30, 2017, shall, to the extent permitted by law, be fully offset as of September 30, 2017; and
  • Agencies should, for each new significant regulatory action that imposes costs and that an agency plans to issue on or before September 30, 2017, identify two existing regulatory actions the agency plans to eliminate or propose for elimination on or before September 30, 2017.

In an effort to “facilitate the fiscal year 2018 regulatory budget planning process,” the memorandum requests that spring 2017 submissions also include “a preliminary estimate of the total costs or savings associated with each of your planned fiscal year 2018 significant regulatory actions and offsetting deregulatory actions.”  The memorandum also lists suggested steps that it states will improve an agency’s Unified Agenda, including:

  • Considering whether the listing of “long-term” entries benefits readers, especially for those for which no substantial activity was expected within the coming year;
  • Removing entries that agencies do not realistically intend to take action on over the next 12 months, especially ones that the agency does not have the resources to take action on; and
  • Other more administrative suggestions, such as categorization; consistency of agency data; accuracy of timetable information; and abstract information for the entries that informs readers of the reason the rulemaking is under development and what the agency intends to accomplish.

Agencies must submit all of their Unified Agenda materials by March 31, 2017