$378 million saved through rule delays, less paperwork

WASHINGTON –The Trump administration’s efforts to reduce regulations have already resulted in annualized savings of $378 million, largely by cutting paperwork and delaying implementation, according to a report by the American Action Forum (AAF).

The report by Dan Bosch, director of regulatory policy for AAF, found that only a fraction of 1 percent of the savings came from substantive regulatory changes.

Bosch said, however, that there is greater potential for more savings next year from substantive changes and less from simple delays.

AAF analyzed 16 rules classified as deregulatory actions with net estimated cost savings published in the Federal Register from January 23 through November 27.

AAF identified five categories of savings:

  • Shifting of responsibilities (away from public sector to contractors)
  • Delays (such as extending compliance deadlines)
  • Paperwork (including information collection requests, applications and reporting)
  • Regulatory changes (modifications in how the regulation functions)
  • Withdrawal of rules

Of the 16 rules, only one clearly identified more than one cost-savings category: the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals rule, which accrued its savings primarily from paperwork reductions, with some from regulatory changes.

The annualized savings from these rules comes to $378 million, with nearly half of those savings derived from paperwork reductions ($179 million, or 47 percent).   Another significant portion came from delays ($136 million or 36 percent). Of the remaining 17 percent, just 0.29 percent (or $1.1 million) came from regulatory changes.

Of the 16 rules, seven derived all or most of their savings from reductions in paperwork. Six rules earned savings from delays. There was one rule apiece from each of the remaining categories – regulatory changes, shifting responsibility and withdrawal.

Writing about the report on AAF’s website, Bosch said “the findings show that regulators are more easily identifying assessable cost savings in paperwork requirement reductions and compliance delays than in substantive changes to regulations or simple withdrawals.”

“The likely reason is that these actions are less controversial and require less justification than major changes. They also require less time. Changes and withdrawals generally need to be proposed and available for public comment for longer periods of time than other types of changes.”

Bosch said there should be more savings in 2018 through more substantive changes in regulations rather than through paperwork reduction and delaying rules.

“Many of the delays were to rules finalized under the Obama administration,” he said. “The Trump administration could justify these delays politically by arguing that holding them would provide adequate time to assess impact and ensure regulated entities have a better chance to comply.

“The further we get from Obama-era rules, however, the fewer compliance deadlines there will be to delay, as more and more will have come into full effect.

In 2018 we should expect more notable deregulatory actions to be finalized.”

He said rules the administration will likely rescind or substantially revise are the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rules, and the Department of Labor’s overtime rule.

“There are potentially billions in savings from these rules alone,” Bosch said. “While the savings from additional delays may be drying up soon, expect more substantive regulatory actions – and savings – in the year ahead.”

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