Regulatory Fairness Program, or RegFair, is a new Small Business
Administration program designed to give small businesses a greater
voice in the federal regulatory enforcement and compliance process.
Through RegFair, small businesses can help change the federal regulatory
environment by contacting the SBA National Ombudsman or the Regulatory
Fairness Board member in their area.
are 10 regional Regulatory Fairness Boards around the country. Each
board has five members who are small business owners themselves,
so they understand what your small business faces when dealing with
federal regulations. The boards advise the National Ombudsman, who
communicates weekly with federal agencies, and reports on small
business comments directly to Congress every year. In that report,
the National Ombudsman rates agency efforts to be small business-friendly,
and includes recommendations by small businesses for improvement.
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA)
requires that before an agency issues a regulation, it must make
a determination as to whether the regulation will have a significant
economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses. If
a regulation will have such an impact, the agency must conduct a
more indepth economic analysis of the impact and submit and review
alternative implementation strategies which could mitigate the impact.
a Final Rule is published which does have an economic impact on
small business, it must be accompanied by a “Compliance Guide” which
is intended to provide a “plain English” explanation of the regulation
with instructions on who to contact if a small business has additional
SBREFA also requires that in taking any enforcement action, such
as an audit, inspection or compliance review a small business must
be informed of its right to comment to the National Small Business
Ombudsman if it believes the action is unfair. 1-800-REG-FAIR.
addition, the SBREFA requires that agencies take into account the
size of a business, its ability to pay and any mitigating circumstances
in assessing penalties.
you have a compliment, complaint or recommendation for a federal
agency, there are three ways you can comment on it: 1) contact a
Fairness Board Member; 2) file a one-page agency appraisal, and/or
3) testify at a RegFair hearing. To do any or all, call 1-888-REG-FAIR
or visit the World Wide Web site at www.sba.gov/regfair
asks agencies to respond to small business comments and inquiries
about their regulatory enforcement actions. If you would like to
comment on a federal regulatory issue, fill out a short, one-page
agency appraisal form and send it in. Your comment, or a summary
if you choose to keep confidential the identity of your business,
will be sent to the federal agency involved for a review and response
by a high-level agency representative. The National Ombudsman and
Fairness Board ask the agency to explain the enforcement action.
You will be advised of the agency’s response and of any further
action by the Board or Ombudsman on your comment.
also holds public hearings to hear testimony from small businesses
and federal agencies on regulatory enforcement issues. In the first
two years, more than 250 small businesses have testified before
the Fairness Boards on regulations in areas such as taxes, the environment,
health and safety, and agriculture.
can testify by attending the RegFair hearing in your area. For more
information on testifying, the hearings, or to read transcripts
of completed hearings, check the Web site at www.sba.gov/regfair.
reports your comments to high-level, independent officials at the
federal agencies involved. RegFair cannot overturn or cancel fines,
penalties or other enforcement action for individual small businesses.
However, upon review, agencies at times do cancel a fine or penalty
for a small business.
more important, agencies sometimes change regulations or enforcement
policies as a result of a small business comment. The National Ombudsman
and Fairness Boards urge small businesses to pursue all of their
legal rights and option, and to exercise their new rights under
the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
HUD Program for Implementing the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement
Fairness Act can be found at http://www.hud.gov/offices/osdbu/policy/sbrefa.cfm.
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