November 17, 2020
HHS Launches First-of-its-Kind Regulatory Clean-Up Initiative Utilizing AI
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a final rule as part of a new department-wide regulatory clean-up initiative, the first of its kind utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) technologies, which will provide a foundation for future innovation across federal agencies.
Under this initiative, HHS was able to run an automated process that identified specific locations in the CFR that warrant corrections, such as those with incorrect citations and outdated regulations that have gone unnoticed. The rule provides for the correction of nearly 100 citations, the removal of erroneous language, and correction of misspellings and typographical errors among HHS regulations within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which currently stands at approximately 185,000 pages. This novel approach to regulatory reform will not only accelerate and augment subject matter expert (SME) review of federal regulations, but save federal employees valuable time and provide a pathway for future innovation.
Regulatory reform is a top priority of the Trump Administration. Both EO 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, and EO 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, as well as the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) emphasize the importance of retrospective regulatory review among federal agencies. Earlier this month, HHS released a proposed rule requiring the Department to assess its regulations every ten years to determine whether they are subject to review under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which requires regular review of certain significant regulations.
As part of its commitment to strong regulatory stewardship, HHS last year launched a pilot project utilizing the same AI and NLP technologies to identify outdated or incorrect citations in the CFR. The success of the NLP analysis in the pilot yielded promising results towards reforming and modernizing regulations at HHS, and also demonstrated that federal agencies are capable of executing a cost-effective enterprise-wide approach to regulatory reform that could improve accountability and transparency. The revisions outlined in the rule represent a portion of the results from this effort, and are focused on administrative, non-substantive changes to clean up HHS’s regulations.
“Over the last three years, HHS has made remarkable strides in advancing American health and wellbeing while reducing the burden of regulation and modernizing department management. HHS has proudly been the deregulatory leader among cabinet agencies, accounting for over half of all deregulatory savings from FY17 to FY19,” said Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan. “As part of our commitment to reforming regulations and modernizing government, this new effort will make HHS the first cabinet agency to utilize artificial intelligence and natural language processing to carry out a ‘regulatory cleanup,’ covering thousands of pages of regulations and eliminating archaic, obsolete, and inconsistent rules. Thanks to the pioneering work of our staff in collaboration with OMB, the Trump Administration is advancing the science of regulation to ensure that federal rulemaking remains up-to-date and responsive to the American people.”
Read the rule here