You are here

A Simpler, Smarter and More Cost Effective Approach to Regulation

May 26, 2011 - 9:17am


No one likes the burden of paperwork or the headache of navigating a 20-step process just to get an application completed.

Earlier this year, President Obama outlined the creation of a 21st-century regulatory system to reduce burdens for American businesses and consumers and create a more effective and cost-efficient regulatory framework. To help facilitate this, he called for a government-wide review of all regulations to remove anything out-of-date and unnecessary or excessively burdensome, and to resolve conflicts between rules.

The Department of Energy seized this opportunity to make our regulations simpler, smarter and more effective in a way that continues to protect the health and safety of Americans.

Earlier this year, we began reaching out to the public for their concerns and recommendations as we moved forward with this process. Here are just a couple of our proposed changes:

  • Paperwork—Based on the Department’s projections, these changes are expected to result in a more than 90% reduction in the paperwork burden imposed on recipients of the Department of Energy's financial assistance. The changes include:
    • Reducing the data-collection burden imposed by the one-time evaluation of benefits for the weatherization assistance portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
    • Reducing the reporting burden on the more than 2,350 states, localities, and tribes participating in the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG).
    • Completely revising the information collection requirements imposed on future grant recipients. Specifically, DOE will remove EECBG reporting from this collection and will revise the current retrospective report to be forward-looking only.
  • Testing Burdens—The Department of Energy recently issued a final test procedure for fluorescent lamp ballasts adopting a new test metric that should reduce testing burdens. After soliciting comment on the test procedure, the Department reconsidered its proposed approach. The final test procedure adopted the public’s suggested method and is anticipated to reduce testing time, and therefore laboratory testing costs, by 50 percent.

These are only a few of the changes we’re proposing at the Department. We also recognize that feedback from the public about what works and what doesn’t is crucial to this process. To that end, going forward, every 6 months we will seek public comments on the effectiveness and burden of the Department’s regulations, with the next request planned for November 2011. Additionally, the Department has established an e-mail in-box at that interested parties may use to identify to the Department - on a continuing basis - regulations that may be in need of review. We look forward to receiving more input from the public on these matters.

These adjustments go a long way toward balancing federal regulatory obligations while still maintaining the Administration’s commitment to promoting economic growth, encouraging job creation, and driving innovation. The Department of Energy is committed, however, to continuing to review its regulations in order to avoid unnecessary and burdensome requirements.

You can see our full plan and the plans from agencies across the Administration at

Learn more about the President's plan for a simpler, smarter and more cost cost effective approach to regulation by reading this op-ed from Cass Sunstein, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. 

Sean Lev serves as the Acting General Counsel for the Department of Energy.