Regulatory Reform: Collective Soul-Searching

Every election cycle, politicians from both sides of the aisle demonize administrative agencies as the cause of so many of the nation’s woes. Politicians decry the red tape manufactured by Washington bureaucrats. They promise to scale back job-crushing regulations and make U.S. companies more competitive.

New administrations belch out executive orders calling for reviews, hiring freezes, reorganizations and new directions. Most of these reform attempts fail; they are just the aspirational talking points of a candidate-turned-incumbent.

Now we have President Donald Trump making good on candidate Trump’s “2-for-1” promise, mandating that agencies repeal two regulations for every new one promulgated. Through sheer numbers, the White House aims to control regulatory costs by reducing the size of the rulebook. The FAA already is grappling with how to comply, and the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee is working with industry to chronicle the rules ripe for repeal, modification or replacement.

Considering the FAA’s safety-focused mission, is it practical to meet a forced promulgation/repeal ratio? There are numerous reasons why a rule might be ripe for replacement or modification. It is great to have discretion to consider the impact of rules based on their legitimate impact on certificate holders and service to aviation safety.

For certificate holders, this exercise is about more than lightening the regulatory load (the Aeronautical Repair Station Association [ARSA] and Airlines for American submitted an extensive list for its members). It is a chance to force the FAA into soul-searching: From now on, the premise of every rule will be subject to greater scrutiny, and industry will have better footing to push back on rulemaking. Unlike past administrations, Trump’s appears to view regulatory reform as more than an empty goal. This is a chance to hold regulators accountable for imprudent or lazy rulemaking and  to make good on calls for “reform.”

Ryan M. Poteet is regulatory affairs director of ARSA.

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