President Donald Trump announced two new executive orders Wednesday seeking to reform bureaucratic guidelines to make federal agencies more transparent and accountable.
“We are reforming the bureaucracy to make it lean, responsive, and accountable,” Trump said announcing the new directives. “And we are ensuring our laws are enforced fairly.”
The “Improved Agency Guidance Documents” order requires agencies of the federal government to publish guidance documents on easily searchable websites allowing lay Americans to better access and understand federal rules and regulations and provide input. The order will also allow Americans to request that agencies revoke rules that they believe are unfair.
The president also announced the “Transparency and Fairness” order, prohibiting agencies from enforcing rules unannounced to the public before passage. The order requires regulators to send opinion letters to individuals and businesses seeking to comply with the laws. Agencies will also be required to give people “fair notice” of any violations charged against them and allow them to respond.
The Obama administration was notorious for its unelected bureaucrats bypassing the legislative process to pass new regulations with the force of law vaguely defined to allow for broad interpretation and steep consequences. The Trump White House cited two examples of Americans unfairly punished by the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency cracking down on citizens with its arbitrary rules.
In one case, a 77-year-old Navy veteran was sent to prison and fined $130,000 after the EPA found on his land several small ponds created to combat wildfires in violation of the Clean Water Act as protected federal waters. In another, a family was threatened with a maximum of $20 million in fines after constructing a pond for livestock without requesting permission from the EPA despite the fact that Congress had exempted the pond from the EPA’s jurisdiction.
Regulatory rollback has been a top priority for the Trump administration. It has repealed scores of regulations passed by unelected officials running the nation’s federal bureaucracy.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the president of the center-right American Action Forum, a D.C.-based think tank, called the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback efforts “one of the least appreciated accomplishments” of the Trump presidency. According to the White House, the Trump administration has cut 14 regulations for each new rule put in place.