DOT’s Chao Wants Public to Help Cut Infrastructure Red Tape

June 9, 2017

By David Cullen

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President Trump making remarks at U.S. DOT headquarters on June 9, 2017, as Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao looks on. Photo: U.S. DOT
President Trump making remarks at U.S. DOT headquarters on June 9, 2017, as Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao looks on. Photo: U.S. DOT

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has announced via a blog post that she was marking the end of the White House-proclaimed “Infrastructure Week” on June 9 by asking the public to comment “on ways to identify and reduce unnecessary regulatory obstacles that too often stand in the way of completing important infrastructure projects across the nation.”

Chao said the request for public comment, published in the Federal Register, was made “because public and private project sponsors, engineering and construction professionals, related industry organizations, and other transportation stakeholders are likely to have valuable direct experience with the Department’s requirements.

"That experience," she added, "supplements the Department’s employees’ expertise and may help identify when a requirement has become an unnecessary obstacle.”

DOT will accept public comments through July 24 on the red-tape notice, on what it terms “non-statutory requirements that the department imposes and that should be removed or revised."

The department stated in the notice that its “primary focus is on administrative items that it has the authority to change, but if there are critical changes that are achievable only through legislative action, please submit proposed legislative changes. Commenters should make legislative suggestions only if all non-statutory options have been exhausted."

Chao noted that even though DOT’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, chaired by Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen, “has already acted on what we’ve been hearing and identified dozens of ways to streamline the process, we know you [the public] can help us identify more [rules to cut].

According to Rosen, DOT’s streamlining effort reflects how the Trump administration remains “responsive to the needs of the public and industry, rather than pushing a ‘top down, government knows best’ approach to regulation. We expect this process will help us uncover ways to assist in better deploying infrastructure – ways we hadn’t even thought of.”

Also on June 9, President Donald Trump visited DOT headquarters. His remarks there also touched on streamlining infrastructure projects.

Trump said his administration was “setting up a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze,” which would improve transparency by “creating a new online dashboard, allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process."

Related: DOT Formalizes Regulatory Reform Effort

Related:  Trump Sticks to Vague Infrastructure Script

Related: "Welcome to Washington"

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