Compliance Assistance for Small Businesses
Senator Olympia Snowe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business, has introduced a bill, S. 769, that would compel federal agencies to produce compliance assistance materials to help small businesses satisfy the requirements of agency regulations.
In comparison, regulatory compliance costs for small businesses with less than 20 employees are almost $7,000 per employee, compared to $4,500 for companies with more than 500 employees. If an agency cannot describe how to comply with its regulations, how can small businesses be expected to figure them out? That was the original intent of one of the provisions of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA). Unfortunately, agencies have failed to comply with the requirement to produce publications.
Sen. Snowe's legislation will clarify the designation of the compliance assistance materials, require agencies to make them available on their websites and, more importantly, require agencies to make the publications available simultaneously with the publication of the final rule or no later than the effective date of the rule's compliance requirements.
While this legislation enacted may seem somewhat insignificant, I believe these changes will force federal agencies to put more thought into making regulations more understandable for the business community that must comply with them.
Although no hearings have been scheduled on the bill (it has only 12 cosponsors), numerous groups, including the U.S. Chamber, are pushing to move the bill forward.
About the Author
Marian J. Marshall was the Director of Government Affairs for the Mason Contractors Association of America.