Federal agencies Regulation

Public Citizen: Rules to protect workers have experienced ‘historic’ delays

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Washington – OSHA takes an average of 12 years to publish an “economically significant” rule – a term used for rules expected to have an effect on the economy of $100 million or more in a single year – according to a report released June 23 by watchdog group Public Citizen.

Since 1996, OSHA has started and completed five economically significant rules, and taken an average of 15 years to finalize three economically significant rules that involved a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis to determine their effect on small businesses. The agency’s recent silica rule took more than 19 years to be finalized.

Of the economically significant rules finalized for all federal agencies in 2015, each required a record 3.4 years to be finalized. Rules finalized in 2016 took 3.8 years – almost 60 percent longer than the average of 2.4 years for similar regulations.

“If the current trends in rulemaking length continue, a president’s ability to pass an economically significant regulation in one term may be in jeopardy,” Michael Tanglis, senior researcher for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and lead report author, said in a press release.

Other findings from the report:

  • Economically significant rules that included an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking were completed in 4.4 years on average – twice as long as rules without an ANPRM.
  • If a rule included an ANPRM and a Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, it took 4.7 years to be finalized.

Causes for the lengthy delays include agency reviews, cost-benefit analyses, and advance notice and comment periods, the release claims, adding that proposed legislation – the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 – would add more steps to the regulatory process by tacking on up to 74 requirements for most rules.

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