Thompson Announces GAO Report Results: Unfunded Mandates Act Has Little Effect On Federal Rulemaking, Shows Need For Regulatory Improvement Act

Washington, DC-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today announced that in response to his study request, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has issued a report showing that the Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995 has had little effect on the way federal agencies make rules. Thompson is sponsoring legislation to make regulation more effective and efficient.

“When I became Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee last year, I asked the General Accounting Office to investigate whether the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 was improving regulations, which was one of its goals,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, the answer is no.”

“These findings show the need for reform legislation to shine some light on the rulemaking process, to improve the quality of agency decisions, and to make the federal government more accountable to the people it serves. The federal government should be more sensitive to how unfunded mandates and red tape can burden communities and interfere with state priorities.

“I view the Regulatory Improvement Act of 1998 as really phase two of the unfunded mandates reform effort, because it will make federal regulators-not just Congress-more sensitive to local needs.”

Thompson, along with Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), this week made public their bipartisan Regulatory Improvement Act of 1998, which they believe will result in smarter, more effective and more efficient regulations by improving the way agencies make regulatory decisions.

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 was designed to keep the federal government from imposing expensive mandates on states and local governments without paying for them. In part, it requires federal agencies to prepare a written analysis of any especially costly mandates handed down to State, local or tribal governments.

However, the recent GAO report entitled, Unfunded Mandates: Reform Act Has Had Little Effect on Agencies’ Rulemaking Actions, finds that the legislation has failed to improve the way federal agencies make rulemaking decisions.