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Increasing Public Participation in HHS Regulatory Activities

After Congress passes a law and it’s signed by the President, the executive branch has to turn the law into regulations—rules that spell out things like which specific activities a law covers, who a benefit may apply to, and what the exceptions are. 

HHS’s many regulations include rules that allow us to provide health coverage for millions of Americans and implement a 21st century food safety system.

The public plays an important role in creating federal regulations by commenting on proposed rules. Those comments help shape the final regulations we publish.

For the last several years, we’ve been working to improve our regulations process by using modern tools and understandable language. Our updated process will make the commenting process clearer, easier, and more open—all key tenets of the Digital Government Strategy.

Improving the Process

On January 18, 2011, President Obama issued Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review. In response to the Executive Order, HHS established the Public Participation Task Force. This Task Force has representatives from several divisions of the Department. The Task Force aims to increase public participation and encourage an open exchange of ideas about HHS’s federal regulations. 

Some of the Task Force’s recent accomplishments include:

  • Updating  the HHS webpage dedicated to federal regulations to include more interactive features
  • Partnering with HHS’s Innovations Team to explore new technological advances to engage the public and meet with external experts to identify areas of improvement
  • Conducting an HHS-wide assessment and working with agencies to better promote public participation in regulatory activities

Reviewing existing regulations

As part of the Department’s review activities, we are looking for feedback on existing regulations. We’re asking for the public’s help to identify those that are obsolete, unnecessary, burdensome, or counterproductive. We’re also looking for suggestions on how to modify other regulations to increase their effectiveness, efficiency, and flexibility. 

Visit our Retrospective Review webpage to learn more.

Future actions

Soon the Task Force will explore some new initiatives: using social media to increase awareness of the Department’s rules and increase meaningful public comment on proposed rules. We also plan to develop interactive graphics for our website to help explain HHS’s regulatory activities.

For more information, please contact RetrospectiveReview@hhs.gov.

Call to Action: How else do you think we can improve the Department’s regulatory activities?

How else do you think we can improve the Department’s regulatory activities?

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