House subcommittee meets to consider the effectiveness of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.
The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) seeks to “curb the practice of imposing unfunded Federal mandates on States and local governments” by, among other things, requiring agencies to assess and disclose the financial impact of their regulations on state and local governments.
On February 15, 2011, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform met to consider the effectiveness of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA). Committee Chair Rep. James Lankford (R-OK.) opened the hearing by stressing the financial impact of federal regulations on state and local governments.
Susan Dudley, the former Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs testified, as did Denise Fantone, the Director of the Strategic Issues Team in the Government Accountability Office. Both Dudley and Fantone argued that UMRA’s scope is too narrow to ease the federally imposed financial burden on local governments. Its provisions do not apply to rules issued by independent agencies, rules necessary for promoting national security, or to a variety of other excluded categories of regulations.
In addition to limited coverage, Dudley argued that UMRA’s effectiveness was limited by a lack of enforcement mechanism. While agencies are required to disclose the costs their regulations impose, failure to do so is not a legal basis for courts to remand the regulations. Dudley recommended giving the Office of Management and Budget, which already reviews cost-benefit analyses of agency regulations under Executive Order 12,866, authority to hold agencies accountable for failing to comply with the act.
The subcommittee hearing also included testimony by Patrice Douglas, the mayor of Edmond, Oklahoma, and Anthony Griffin, the executive of Fairfax County, Virginia.
The photograph of Edmond, Oklahoma is used unaltered under a Creative Commons license.