Comment Letter on HHS Plan for Retrospective Review of Regulatory Process

May 12, 2011

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 639G
Washington, D.C. 20201 

Re: HHS-ES-2011-001 – HHS Plan for Retrospective Review under Executive Order 13563

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback to the department regarding the review of its regulatory process. NCSL has some concerns about the current regulatory process and the affect of current regulations and guidance on state programs, services and budgets. We strongly support the periodic review of regulations that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient or excessively burdensome so that the department can determine whether the rules should be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed. We also think it appropriate to review and to compare and contrast those rules with those that are more state friendly.

NCSL urges the department to review the consultation process. A strong consultation process will improve the overall regulatory effort. Consultation with state legislatures is critically important and should be conducted prior to sending a regulation or guidance for review to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). NCSL can help department staff to become more familiar with state legislative budget and legislative processes, existing state laws and other important information that may prove extremely helpful in developing rules that will effectively implement federal law and that will not result in administratively or financially burdensome requirements on states. We encourage the department to also be mindful that four states, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas, have biennial legislative sessions and that it may be prudent to consult with them separately on some issues. NCSL also urges the department to strengthen the review of costs to state and local governments both when the rule is proposed and again when the rule is finalized. 

We look forward to working with you in the development of a preliminary plan to review regulations. To discuss this further, please contact for Human Services, Sheri Steisel (, or Emily Wengrovius (; and for Health, Rachel Morgan ( or Joy Johnson Wilson (


William T. Pound

Executive Director, NCSL