OMB Invites Public to Identify Regulatory Enforcement Reforms
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Executive Office of the President, has published a notice in the Federal Register (FR) titled, "Request for information: Improving and/or reforming regulatory enforcement and adjudication." OMB is inviting the public to "identify additional reforms that will ensure adequate due process in regulatory enforcement and adjudication."
Among the topics of interest, OMB invites feedback on the following queries:
- Prior to the initiation of an adjudication, what would ensure a speedy and/or fair investigation? What reform(s) would avoid a prolonged investigation? Should investigated parties have an opportunity to require an agency to “show cause” to continue an investigation?
- When do multiple agencies investigate the same (or related) conduct and then force Americans to contest liability in different proceedings across multiple agencies? What reforms would encourage agencies to adjudicate related conduct in a single proceeding before a single adjudicator?
- Would applying the principle of res judicata in the regulatory context reduce duplicative proceedings? How would agencies effectively apply res judicata?
- In the regulatory/civil context, when does an American have to prove an absence of legal liability? Put differently, need an American prove innocence in regulatory proceeding(s)? What reform(s) would ensure an American never has to prove the absence of liability? To the extent permissible, should the Administration address burdens of persuasion and/or production in regulatory proceedings? Or should the scope of this reform focus strictly on an initial presumption of innocence?
- What evidentiary rules apply in regulatory proceedings to guard against hearsay and/or weigh reliability and relevance? Would the application of some of the Federal Rules of Evidence create a fairer evidentiary framework, and if so, which Rules?
- Should agencies be required to produce all evidence favorable to the respondent? What rules and/or procedures would ensure the expedient production of all exculpatory evidence?
- Do adjudicators sometimes lack independence from the enforcement arm of the agency? What reform(s) would adequately separate functions and guarantee an adjudicator's independence?
- Do agencies provide enough transparency regarding penalties and fines? Are penalties generally fair and proportionate to the infractions for which they are assessed? What reform(s) would ensure consistency and transparency regarding regulatory penalties for a particular agency or the federal government as a whole?
- When do regulatory investigations and/or adjudications coerce Americans into resolutions/settlements? What safeguards would systemically prevent unfair and/or coercive resolutions?
- Are agencies and agency staff accountable to the public in the context of enforcement and adjudications? If not, how can agencies create greater accountability?
OMB is looking for specific, concrete examples of current due process shortfalls and concrete reform proposals to improve due process.
Comments are due on or before March 16, 2020.