Washington, D.C. — Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) announced that Congress today has again extended his reporting requirement for the federal government to disclose the costs and benefits of its regulations. His provision is included in the Fiscal Year 2000 Treasury, Postal Appropriations Conference Report.
The Thompson provision was first passed by Congress as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill last year. Senator Thompson has introduced legislation, S. 59, to make this requirement permanent. With the cost of federal regulatory programs estimated at $700 billion a year, the goal of this legislation is to help assess and improve the performance of those programs.
“The public has a right to know the benefits and costs of government regulations,” Thompson said. “That?s why I sponsored this regulatory accounting legislation last year, and I?m pleased that the requirement was retained this year. It will shed light on the benefits and burdens of federal regulations, and it will hold federal regulators more accountable to make smarter, cost-effective decisions that get real results. I will continue to press to make this a permanent requirement.”
According to Thompson, the federal government has largely ignored the “off-budget” costs of government — the economic burdens that federal regulations place on families, businesses, schools, farms, as well as state and local governments. Thompson said he was pleased that last year his regulatory accounting amendment received broad bipartisan support and passed the Senate unanimously. This year, the Thompson provision again passed without objection.
The Thompson language builds on and strengthens the regulatory accounting provision passed by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) in 1996. It requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide Congress with an accounting statement of the total annual benefits and costs of federal regulatory programs in February 2001, along with a summary of public comments and suggestions for doing things better. It requires the OMB to analyze the impacts of federal rules on state and local government, as well as small business. The language also requires OMB to issue guidelines to the agencies and requires independent peer review of the report to improve the quality of these reports.
“This legislation will help hold federal regulators accountable and reduce needless waste and red tape,” Thompson said. “It will improve efforts to protect public health, safety and the environment, and to promote the economic security and well-being of our families and communities.”
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