Trump Signs Executive Orders on Transparency in Federal Guidance and Enforcement

President Donald Trump on Oct. 9 signed two executive orders designed to improve transparency when government agencies enforce guidance on how best to comply with a particular law or regulation.

The White House says, the two executive orders, titled “Bringing Guidance out of Darkness” and “Transparency and Fairness”, are meant to protect Americans from government overreach.

President Donald Trump has long criticized the murky federal bureaucracy’s abuse of small businesses and American families, saying guidance documents are often a “back door for regulators to effectively change the law.”

“Today, we take bold new action to protect Americans from out-of-control bureaucracy and stop regulators from imposing secret rules and hidden penalties on the American people,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday.

Trump said his orders require agencies to seek public input on “the most important guidance and the whole process will be closely overseen by the White House.”

Trump’s orders say the public can ask agencies to withdraw guidance they believe is wrong. The White House said agencies must give the public “fair notice of any complaint against them and a chance to respond.”

Federal regulations can take years to enact, but guidance on how to follow a law can be released much sooner.

The “Transparency and Fairness” executive order requires federal agencies to proactively educate the public about new regulations. The order is meant to give families and businesses fair notice so they can comply with the rules and avoid lawsuits.

The “Bringing Guidance out of Darkness” requires federal agencies to seek public input on the most important regulations. Under previous administrations, federal agencies issued thousands of guidance documents in the form of brochures, blog posts, and letters. In one example provided by the White House, a 2015 blog post by the Department of Labor called on employers to classify some contractors as employees. The post caused confusion among small business who struggled to interpret it.

“Too many agencies have found it easier to impose costly and excessive mandates through informal interpretations buried on their websites instead of going through the regular public review process Congress requires for agency rules,” Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought wrote in an editorial on Oct. 9.

“Put simply, large government agencies often allow political agendas to improperly influence their interpretation of the law and how it applies to you. Worse still, they deny you a seat at the table when they do it.”

“Unaccountable bureaucrats must not be able to operate outside the Democratic system of government, imposing their own private agenda on our citizens,” Trump said.

“A permanent federal bureaucracy cannot become the fourth branch of government unanswerable to American voters. In America, the people must always reign.”

The Associated Press, Reuters, and Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.