Public Papers

Message to the Congress Transmitting the ``Regulatory Program of the United States Government''


To the Congress of the United States:

The annual Regulatory Program of the United States Government sets forth the Administration's regulatory priorities for the coming year. This is my Administration's first Regulatory Program published pursuant to Executive Order No. 12498. it represents my long-standing commitment to prudent and cost-effective Federal regulation.

The decade of the nineties will demand governmental action to meet a broad range of challenges and opportunities. Cleaning up the environment, encouraging the use of new technologies, maintaining America's global competitiveness -- these are just a few of the issues that will vitally affect the quality of life of all Americans.

My Administration is committed to using necessary Federal regulation, reasonably applied, as an effective tool for positive change. At the same time, imprudent and unnecessary regulation can create greater cost than benefit. Further, many regulations burden the economy by staying on the books long after their useful life is over.

Federal regulations impose estimated direct costs on the economy as high as 5 billion annually -- more than ,700 for every taxpayer in the United States. These costs are in effect indirect ``taxes'' on the American public -- taxes that should only be levied when the benefits clearly exceed the costs.

I strongly believe in the commonsense regulatory principles that I helped develop and implement when as Vice President I chaired the Task Force on Regulatory Relief. These principles provide that regulations should be issued only when they are necessary, economically sensible, responsive to public comments and concerns, and understandable. Except where prevented by law, agencies should not take regulatory actions unless the benefits outweigh the costs. Regulations should also improve the quality of life for all Americans, rather than benefit a narrow special interest.

Agencies need to consider the effect of new regulations in the context of existing ones. The overall regulatory structure should be coherent, and obsolete regulations should be eliminated or revised. After considering all of these factors, agencies should select the best regulatory options from among the available alternatives. In doing so, they should select alternatives that minimize paperwork burdens on the public. Agencies should, where appropriate, establish performance standards that allow American businesses (and the marketplace) to choose the most cost-effective way to reach those standards; they should avoid command-and-control regulations that dictate specific solutions. I count on our Cabinet Secretaries and agency heads to use these principles of prudence and cost-effectiveness in developing regulations consistent with law.

To ensure that this Administration continues to remove unnecessary regulatory burdens from the American people, I have asked the Council on Competitiveness, chaired by Vice President Quayle, in conjunction with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, to oversee the regulatory review process established by Executive Orders Nos. 12291 and 12498. Such review should bolster our Nation's competitiveness and strengthen the economy.

Regulatory reform is a continual, dynamic process. In the coming months, agencies within the executive branch will propose, under the guidance of the Council on Competitiveness, new and revised regulatory reforms to reflect the priorities and policies of this Administration. I expect our agency heads to report to me on their progress in these areas. I also expect our regulatory review process will continue to lead to important improvements in the regulatory program of the United States.

George Bush

The White House,

August 3, 1990.