Bloomberg News

White House Orders Agencies to Find New Ways of Cutting Red Tape

June 24, 2012

Federal agencies face a Sept. 10 deadline to find new ways to trim paperwork burdens on business, according to a memo from Cass Sunstein, the top White House regulatory overseer.

“All agencies should attempt to identify at least one initiative, or combination or initiatives, that would eliminate at least 50,000 hours in annual burden,” Sunstein said in a June 22 notice to the heads of agencies and executive departments.

Agencies with the highest paperwork burdens, which include the Securities and Exchange Commission and the departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury and Transportation, should try to take steps “that would eliminate two million hours or more in annual burden,” Sunstein said in the memo.

The memo amplifies an executive order issued by Obama on May 10 that requires agencies to weed out unnecessary or outmoded rules. Agency proposals for paperwork reduction are to be included with other reporting due Sept. 10 in connection with the president’s order.

In a blog post accompanying the memo, Sunstein wrote that the executive order “specifically directs agencies to prioritize ‘initiatives that will produce significant quantifiable monetary savings or significant quantifiable reductions in paperwork burdens.’za

Suggested targets for reducing red tape include eliminating redundant collections of information and shortening forms, according to the notice from Sunstein, who is administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has attacked Obama for excessive regulation, which the former Massachusetts governor says hampers economic recovery.

Romney devotes a section of his campaign website to his contention that Obama has mishandled regulatory policy.

The White House has said that the anticipated benefits of rules issued under Obama in the first three years of his administration far outweigh their expense.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Zajac in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at

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