A U.S. Department of Justice review of potentially unnecessary regulations has identified four possibilities and potentially $60,000 in annual savings, an amount that's far below what other federal agencies have come up with.
The final results of the review became public today as part of a White House effort. The Obama administration released reviews conducted by about 30 departments and agencies, including the Justice Department. Cass Sunstein, the former Harvard Law School professor who coordinated the government-wide effort, said the reviews identified a potential $10 billion in savings.
Some of the biggest potential savings are in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor, according to the reviews. Labor officials estimated, for example, that “establishing a harmonized system for the classification and labeling of chemicals” would save the department and industry at least $585 million a year.
The search for savings at the Justice Department was less fruitful. In the only example that DOJ officials were able to put a dollar figure on, they said they would examine doubling the length of time that a firearm-importation permit is good for. By making permits good for two years rather than one year, they said they could cut by half the number of annual permit applications submitted to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Approximate annual savings in the salary of a compliance officer: $59,625.
The review adds that industry could also see savings. “ATF believes that extending the term of import permits would result in substantial cost and time savings for both ATF and the industry, which includes many small businesses,” the review says.
Two DOJ spokeswomen did not respond to requests for comment on the report. An earlier version of the department’s review, without the dollar figure, came out in June.
In a 20-page document (PDF) outlining the review, department officials said they are setting up a “working group” to reexamine regulations continually. Aside from the import permitting process, they have three areas on their initial list: modernizing the paper-based application process to manufacturer certain controlled substances; eliminating duplicative rules left over from the transfer of what was the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 2002; and overhauling immigration court proceedings.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole and Assistant Attorney General Christopher Schroeder are responsible for the regulatory review, the document says. Officials may examine “one to three rules per year,” it adds, though they may examine “more or fewer rules in any given year” based on factors such as how complex the rules are.