By John Schneidawind, vice president of public affairs, ARTBA

U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Elaine Chao Dec. 5 signed a “rule on rules” to simplify and modernize agency regulations. The rule enhances transparency in how the agency issues rules and guidance documents, and strengthens due process in enforcement actions. The move is part of the Trump administration’s effort to reduce unnecessary federal regulatory burdens.

“When rules are outdated, duplicative, overly complex and contradictory, they harm the cause of safety and effectiveness,” Chao said in a statement. “This effort enhances the department’s regulatory process by providing greater transparency and strengthening due process in enforcement actions.” ARTBA supports the administration’s regulatory reform efforts.

The new rule’s major components include permanently incorporating the administration’s policies on regulatory budgeting, the “2-for-1” plan, and the Regulatory Reform Task Force. It will codify additional procedures for the issuance of the agency’s most costly rules, including enhanced opportunities for public participation. The rule also clarifies that USDOT guidance documents do not impose legal obligations and shall not be used as a basis for enforcement. It also ensures due process protections for potential subjects of enforcement actions, including open and fair investigations and proceedings.