September 15, 1988
To the Congress of the United States:
When I took office I set in motion a plan to improve and rationalize the regulatory activity of Federal agencies. The program was designed to ensure full analysis of possible regulatory impacts, to bring about greater coordination within the government, and to increase public information about and participation in the process. To enhance presidential oversight, I issued Executive orders directing regulatory agencies to justify their exercise of regulatory discretion, demonstrate the likely benefits and costs of individual regulations, and better inform the public of their plans and activities. To provide leadership for these efforts to improve the regulatory process, I established the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief, chaired by Vice President George Bush. I believe these steps have served the American people well and assured greater constitutional accountability.
Experience over the past 2 decades suggests the need for the President to establish publicly the overall direction for regulatory agencies by announcing the general, government-wide principles, both economic and social, to which regulatory agencies should adhere as they implement their statutory responsibilities. Our Administration has established a process in which the Office of Management and Budget issues an annual Regulatory Program of the United States Government setting forth the regulatory proposals of my Administration for the coming year. The Regulatory Program improves agency regulatory management by requiring agencies to observe the President's regulatory priorities and coordinate with OMB and one another. In addition, these reports provide the Congress and the American people -- before the publication of any proposed regulation -- with a comprehensive outline of how the Administration intends to exercise the discretion the Congress has provided.
The President must also provide for day-to-day oversight of agency regulatory developments. This oversight process, carried out through the Executive Office of the President, includes monitoring agency activity, coordinating government-wide issues, identifying issues of concern, and, with appropriate interagency discussion, ensuring that any remaining issues are resolved.
This Administration understands that American life is burdened by too much regulation and that true regulatory reform must involve regulatory reduction. Today, more than 100 Federal agencies maintain thousands of regulations that have an enormous impact on how we live and what we do. Regulations tell us what is safe and what we can buy. Government regulates how we make, price, sell, transport, use, and discard the products of everyday American life.
This pervasive government power can be used for good or ill. And as regulation grew over the past 5 decades, government "red tape'' became a great burden on our free enterprise system. Over the last 7 1/2 years, we have substantially reduced that burden, cutting red tape and slowing the pace of new regulation.
When I became President in 1981, I directed that Federal agencies, within the scope afforded by law, should reduce the excess burden of government regulation that is borne by every worker, consumer, business, and State and local government in this Nation. Under the guidance of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief, Federal agencies have eliminated unnecessary regulatory costs ranging in the tens of billions of dollars. Federal reporting requirements have been eased wherever possible, and we have worked hard to ensure that the paperwork burden imposed on the American people does not get out of control. As we have weeded out and eliminated wasteful, unnecessary, and intrusive regulatory standards, we have also encouraged the development of useful regulations that will increase benefits to society as a whole.
The steady but enormous progress the Vice President and I have made over the past 7 1/2 years to improve the way government regulates has been one of our Administration's proudest achievements. However, much more remains to be done. Managing the Federal regulatory machinery will continue of necessity to be a high priority for Presidents in the years ahead. For this reason, I am certain the new Chief Executive will want to continue this endeavor to serve the public interest by insisting that regulatory activity be productive.
The White House,
September 15, 1988.