Small Business Regulatory Watch

Small Business Regulatory Watch

What do these numbers represent:  211, 218, 164, 233?  Those are recent daily totals of how many regulations, proposed rules, notices, and other administrative actions the Federal government published in the Federal Register.  Do you need to worry about all of that?  No, not all of it.  Will some of it impact your business?  Probably (that’s a lot of regulatory activity).

For many small businesses, regulatory compliance can consume a significant amount of time and resources.  The cost of regulation for a small business is about $10,585 per employee, which is 36% higher than for large businesses.  Having insight into what new regulations might be imposed on an industry can be important to business planning.

Twice a year the Federal government is required to let the public know what is in store in terms of new rules and regulations.   Those who are paying attention have the opportunity to weigh in on whether new proposals are good, bad, or need some tweaking.    And, if they don’t have time for that, at least if they are following the activity, they may be better prepared for the coming changes.

Recently, right before the Memorial Day weekend, the Obama Administration published its Spring 2015 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Action (Agenda).  Sixty-three Federal agencies included their regulatory plans in the Agenda which includes 3,260 regulations that are at some stage in the pipeline – actively being worked on, recently completed, or part of the agency’s long-term thinking.

So, what can you do?

Track It:  Trade associations often do the yeoman’s work to protect their industries from onerous new government requirements (if the industry is on the same page), but for the interested citizen, you can see what your Federal government is up to by visiting  You can search the Agenda alphabetically by a subject that might be relevant to your company, such as “advertising,” “accounting,” and “lawyers,” or broader terms like “labor,” or “taxes.”    The Agenda also can be searched by agency, so you can see what OSHA (Labor), the EPA, or the IRS (Treasury) has in mind.

Provide Feedback to Regulators:  When an agency publishes a new rule, they are required to seek public input.  Rules published in the Federal Register include instructions on how to file a comment via mail or electronically at

Share Your Opinion with Legislators:  Congress oversees Federal agencies, and when representatives and senators hear from their constituents that a new rule is problematic, they may interact with the agency and seek changes before a rule is finalized.  Congress may also try to override agencies legislatively, although that is tricky when the Congress is run by Republicans and the Executive branch agencies are led by a Democrat president.   More generally, Congress is usually working on broader regulatory reform to make sure agencies are engaging in meaningful cost-benefit analysis before regulating, and the real-world perspective of businesses is important to that debate.   You can find your representative at or your Senator at by entering your zip code or state in the top right corner of the page.