Unsafe Delays

An Empirical Analysis Shows That Federal Rulemakings To Protect the Public Are Taking Longer Than Ever

Our system of government requires agencies to create regulations to put laws into effect or update safeguards, such as those protecting air quality or workers’ safety. But the time to create regulations has grown to unprecedented lengths, according to a new report by Public Citizen. Economically significant regulations completed in 2015 took an average of 3.4 years, the longest yearly average in the data analyzed, which dates back to 1996. So far in 2016, completed economically significant regulations have taken an average of 3.8 years – almost an entire presidential term. The report demonstrates that added requirements in the rulemaking process – such as extensive analysis of a rule’s effect on small businesses or inclusion of an extra stage of public notice – are associated with longer rulemakings. Rulemaking lengths are particularly shocking at certain agencies, especially the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has taken an average of 12 years to complete a single economically significant rule.