Regulatory Burden

Gao ID: GGD-97-26R December 11, 1996

Pursuant to congressional requests, GAO provided detailed information about regulatory concerns that were raised during the development of a GAO report on regulatory burden. GAO noted that: (1) 15 companies provided descriptions of 125 specific regulatory concerns and GAO obtained responses to each of those concerns from a total of 19 federal departments and agencies; (2) the company concerns most commonly focused on the regulations or actions of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and a number of concerns involved more than one agency; (3) the concerns touched on several common themes, including the high cost of regulatory compliance, the unreasonableness or inflexibility of certain regulations, excessive paperwork, the unclear nature of certain regulatory requirements, severe regulatory penalties, a "gotcha" enforcement approach, and poorly coordinated requirements among agencies and between governmental jurisdictions; (4) agency officials often agreed that corrective measures were needed to address the companies' concerns and said that they were taking or already had taken action to alleviate some of the problems that the companies cited; (5) in many cases, officials from the regulatory agencies responding to the concerns believed that the companies mischaracterized, misstated, or misinterpreted the regulations involved; and (6) agency officials said that some of the companies' concerns were caused by statutory requirements underlying the regulations rather than regulatory requirements or procedures within the agencies' discretion.

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