Oversight Committee Approves Walker's GOOD Act to Force Government Agencies to Post Regulatory Guidance Documents Online
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) yesterday addressed the House Oversight and Government Reform on his legislation, H.R. 4809, the Guidance Out Of Darkness (GOOD) Act. Following Walker's remarks, the committee approved the GOOD Act, paving the way for a vote on the House floor.
This legislation would increase government accountability and transparency, while lessening the burden on small businesses by requiring federal agencies to post regulatory guidance documents online in an easy to find location. The bill is a House companion to S.2296, introduced by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
Watch Walker's remarks and see a full transcript below:
"To circumvent responsibility and the legal rule-making process, previous Administrations had federal agencies issue "guidance" to serve as de facto regulations. Regulatory guidance is widely used by agencies. The guidance affects industry and taxpayers alike. But the precise extent of its use is unknown.
"Professor Nicholas Parrillo, who testified before the Committee yesterday, explained, 'There is no comprehensive compilation of guidance, but everyone agrees its volume is oceanic.'
"While the regulations themselves are often erroneous and harmful, the guidance documents are sporadically posted on agency websites, and the websites of component agencies and various offices. Some are not posted at all. This inconsistency burdens regulated entities, and particularly small businesses, who may not have the resources to hire compliance staff to seek out this information.
"H.R. 4809 requires transparency and accountability in the regulatory process. The public deserves to have this information. They deserve to know how the agencies administering our laws interpret those laws and regulations. H.R. 4809, with the amendment in the nature of a substitute, requires agencies to post their guidance documents online, in one centralized location.
"Agencies create these documents and expect the guidance to be followed. The agencies should therefore have no problem gathering and posting the documents as the bill requires. In fact, we know that many agencies already have a list – because they have provided it to us. The Committee has been reviewing information about thousands of pieces of agency guidance for several months.
"At the Committee’s request, federal agencies provided information on more than 12,800 guidance documents issued over the past decade. And that is just a portion of federal guidance documents. That number is expected to increase as agencies continue to identify guidance and produce information to the Committee.
"There are a handful of agencies that have been unable to produce a list of guidance documents. That is a red flag and a clear indication that, at some agencies, guidance documents are not tracked.
"If an agency doesn’t bother to track the hundreds of guidance documents it issues, how can businesses and taxpayers possibly be expected to comply with them? The burden should be on the agencies to make guidance documents easy to find.
"That’s all this bill does—Require agencies to post information they should already have in a centralized location. This is a small step agencies can take that would have significant benefits. Posting these documents in a central location will alleviate burdens on regulated entities and members of the public. It will shine light on this lesser-understood, yet impactful, sector of federal regulatory activity.
"This legislation is common-sense reform that Members of both parties can support in the name of good governance and transparency. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and the amendment in the nature of a substitute.
"I yield back."