A Glimpse of President Trump’s Deregulatory "Agenda"

July 22, 2017

Sofie Miller

On Thursday, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget released its biannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The Unified Agenda, which law requires to be published once in the spring and once in the fall, provides the public with a first glimpse at upcoming regulations. This report marks President Trump’s first Agenda, outlining the regulatory and deregulatory actions that agencies are planning to undertake in the next year in the context of President Trump’s Executive Order 13771.

“Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”

Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” instructs agencies to identify two rules for removal for each new significant rule they issue after noon on January 20, 2017. Additionally, the EO instructs agencies to comply with a $0 regulatory cost cap for fiscal year 2017, meaning that the costs of new significant rules should be offset by the costs of the rules selected for removal or modification.

In February, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued an interim guidance to agencies on implementing the new one-in-two-out requirement. This guidance instructed agencies to include in the Unified Agenda “all of the regulatory actions slated for repeal but not yet finalized,” meaning that this Unified Agenda provides a window to the administration’s deregulatory priorities.

What’s in the 2017 Agenda?

The 2017 Agenda identifies 3,521 regulatory actions at different stages of development. Of these, 1,094 have recently been completed, and 696 are long-term. The Agenda classifies the remaining 1,731 as active regulatory actions, divided into three categories based on stage of rulemaking: final rule, proposed rule, and prerule stage.

In comparison to previous Agendas, the 2017 Agenda contains about 31% fewer active regulatory actions in all rulemaking stages combined. Although the number of regulatory actions in the prerule stage is very similar to previous agendas, the number of actions in the proposed and final rule stage has decreased by 33% and 26%, respectively.

Chart showing the changes in final rules, proposed rules, and prerules in the Unified Agenda from Spring 2011 through 2017.

Implementation of Executive Order 13771

Although OMB guidance directed agencies to use the Agenda to track regulatory and deregulatory actions pursuant to the offset requirements of E.O. 13771, the new Agenda does not clearly do that. In fact, only 4 of the main regulatory agencies (the departments and the Environmental Protection Agency) even mention President Trump’s executive order in their Agenda preambles. Nor does it distinguish which regulatory actions are “ins” and which are “outs” as required by the “one-in-two-out” requirements of E.O. 13771.  Nevertheless, initial review of individual agencies’ lists indicate that they do include deregulatory actions (including those that streamline reporting requirements or otherwise reduce burdens) as well as new regulatory actions.

Despite these drawbacks, a clearer picture of the administrations deregulatory agenda can be gleaned by perusing the 1,094 completed actions. For example, 35% of the 66 completed actions listed by the Environmental Protection Agency are rule withdrawals. An additional five actions include regulatory delays or other deregulatory content.