Ongoing retrospective regulatory review efforts will be more effective if they are accompanied by efforts to make more information available to all interested parties, introduce clarity into the regulatory system, and provide the foundation for regulatory decisions. Executive Order 13563 places a strong emphasis on an “open exchange” of information among government officials, experts, stakeholders, and the public. In particular, the President refers to a process in which the exchange of information and perspectives among state, local, and tribal officials, experts in relevant disciplines, affected stakeholders in the private sector, and the public as a whole will inform a proposed regulatory scheme before an agency actually makes decisions about how to proceed with its regulatory activity. The President also directs agencies to give the public timely online access to the rulemaking docket on www.regulations.gov, including access to the relevant scientific and technical findings on which a proposed regulatory scheme rests.
HHS will increase transparency in its regulatory process by making available, to the extent feasible and permitted by law, information that is essential for businesses, state, local and tribal governments, and the public to understand the basis of a proposed regulatory activity, especially that information on the scientific or evidence-based data underpinning the regulation. Among the initiatives HHS will consider to achieve this goal are:
- HHS RegRoom.gov – Explore the option of posting on the HHS.gov home page a new button for the HHS RegRoom, a robust, interactive, easy-to-navigate single entry portal from which individuals can readily link to specific regulations, find regulations published as proposed and provide comment, provide input on the review of any existing regulation, read supporting data and other background material, and otherwise participate in the regulatory process. HHS would also post links to its Unified Agenda, as well as information relating to regulatory compliance and enforcement actions, as part of the Department’s response to the President’s January 18, 2011, Memorandum on Regulatory Compliance. The following schematic illustrates how such a button might work.
- Increasing meaningful use of regulations.gov – HHS will work with agencies to increase and improve their use of and links to regulations.gov for the purpose of encouraging public comment on proposed rules and rules subject to retrospective review and for posting more complete supporting and background material on regulations subject to comment. Some agencies already post relevant background information on the regulatory docket; others do not. HHS will work to achieve consistency in the types of documents routinely included in the regulatory docket so that a person has immediate access to that information to inform any comments he or she might consider making. Providing a plain language summary of each regulation listed in regulations.gov is also of major importance. Hyper-technical descriptions of what a regulation does and how it will affect those subject to the regulation and those who are affected by the regulated industry will not increase transparency or public access to the regulatory review process. HHS will provide plain language summaries in order to foster greater transparency about its regulatory activities.
- Maintaining a single docket for regulatory action – To avoid confusion with multiple docket entries, agencies will be encouraged, to the extent feasible, to use a single Regulation Identification Number to track regulations and one docket to manage the regulatory action. The same docket will include relevant supplemental and background material on quality, science, and other data or information that will help the public become better informed and more readily understand the basis for the review of a regulation or why an agency proposed to change, modify, or propose a regulation.