The world has moved on from the Y2K bug, but the federal government still hasn’t, even though it has been seventeen years since the pop culture paranoia disappeared. Despite the bug that was supposed to end civilization forever not doing any harm, the U.S. government has still been preparing for it. That has finally come to an end thanks to a new order from the Trump administration.
It’s the year 1999: Pete Sampras is Wimbledon champion, Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov is playing The World, Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” is blaring on radio stations everywhere and the media are freaking out over the Millennium Bug. Many people feared that computer systems would crash, widespread financial panic would ensue and societal meltdown would commence. Nothing happened.
Fortunately, 1999 transitioned into 2000 without any chaos. But don’t tell that to Washington.
The White House announced on Thursday that it would be eliminating dozens of paperwork requirements which imbibe tens of thousands of man-hours every year in the federal government.
One of these rules includes the Y2K bug rule. This is a little-known rule that mandates federal agencies to offer updates on how they are preparing for a virus that infiltrated computers in 2000 and how they are ready to handle a potential IT disruption. It is unclear how much personnel have spent working on this rule, but Linda Springer, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) senior advisor, says staff often avoid the rule in practice.
Another rule that is being wiped away is requiring the Pentagon to file a report every time a small business vendor is paid. This imbibes about 1,200 man-hours per year. Other edicts are being temporarily paused or modified to suit present conditions.
Overall, many of the policies that are being eradicated were established in the late-1990s and early-2000s. As the OMB said in a memo, these rules are archaic:
These policies are now obsolete and outdated, as the Federal government was successfully unaffected by any service interruptions. As a result, OMB is rescinding these memoranda because the deadlines for implementation have passed.
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House last week that he hopes by publicly announcing the end of various antiquated and time-wasting rules that other departments and agencies will begin to conduct internal reviews of their policies and procedures. He also assured civil servants that these efforts are not designed to slash workforce numbers but to ensure federal workers are more productive and can focus on high-priority tasks.
We’re looking for stuff everyone agrees is a complete waste of time. Many agencies have forgotten how to deregulate. It’s been so long since somebody asked them to look backwards.
The administration official added that a second review of federal requirements will take place.
Mulvaney noted that President Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promise of reducing bureaucracy and red tape.
According to Bloomberg News, President Trump has signed more laws reversing his predecessor’s regulations than the combined total of the three previous administrations. Shortly after becoming president, Trump signed an executive order that demands two regulations to be eliminated for every new regulation added – otherwise known as the “One-In, Two-Out” rule. As part of his executive order, federal agencies must determine which regulations are to be removed based on the approximations of their cost.
Since 1913, 74,000 federal regulations have been added, costing the national economy $4 trillion. How did this happen? Christopher Casey wrote at the Mises Institute last month:
Three primary reasons exist. First, unlike fiscal or even monetary policy, the burden imposed by regulations is more difficult to quantify and assign causality. Second, regulations exist and have increased in number by benefiting two primary constituents: entrenched businesses using regulations as a barrier to entry, and their politically connected lobbyists. Third, and of most significance, mainstream economists agree that without regulation, planes would crash in the sky, the food supply would be contaminated, and working conditions would degenerate to Neolithic-period levels. The acceptance of regulations is as widespread as the supposed underlying rationales are numerous.
To say that regulations have been a burden on private industry would be an understatement. Regulatory reform is badly needed, and this is why many conservatives and libertarians celebrated the president’s executive action.
Getting rid of a useless piece of seventeen-year-old red tape was a step in the right direction. Let’s hope it doesn’t cease, either by the incumbent president or his successors
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