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February 27, 2018

The U.S. GAO published a report reviewing policies and analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The report concludes that policies and analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Retrospective Reviews could be improved.

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires federal agencies to analyze the impact of their regulations on small entities. GAO found several weaknesses with the analyses of six financial regulators—CFPB, CFTC, FDIC, FED, OCC, and SEC—that could undermine the goal of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and limit transparency and public accountability. For example, some analyses lacked important information, such as data sources, methodologies, and consideration of broad economic impact. Evaluations of potential economic effects and alternative regulatory approaches also were limited. Additionally, regulators generally lacked comprehensive policies and procedures for implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. By not developing such policies and procedures, the ability of regulators to consistently and effectively meet the objectives of Regulatory Flexibility Act may be limited.

This report is based on findings from the GAO reports on implementation of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (published in January 30, 2018) and on regulatory burden on community banks and credit unions (published in February 13, 2018). In these two reports, GAO made 20 recommendations to the financial regulators to improve their policies, procedures, and analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act and in retrospective reviews. The regulators generally agreed with the recommendations. Federal financial regulators must comply with various rulemaking and review requirements, including those in the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (EGRPRA). These statutes require analyses relating to regulatory burden, small entities, or both analyses during rulemaking and retrospective reviews. As part of the retrospective reviews, EGRPRA directs FDIC, FED, and OCC to review regulations at least every 10 years and identify areas that are outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome. The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires agencies to review within 10 years of publication those rules assessed as having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Agencies are to determine if rules should be continued without change, amended, or rescinded to minimize such impact.

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Keywords: Americas, US, Banking, Regulatory Flexibility Act, Retrospective Reviews, EGRPRA, Proportionality, GAO

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