Regulatory Watch


Government regulations and red tape can be a tremendous barrier to small business growth. Small businesses' regulatory compliance costs are 36 percent higher than large businesses so it is no surprise that regulations consistently rank as a top concern for small business owners. Roughly 3,300 regulations are in the pipeline this year and many of them will affect small businesses. 

Below are regulatory proposals that have been published in the Federal Register and are open for public comment. An agency publishes an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) with a proposed rule if it expects that the rule will have a significant economic impact on substantial number of small businesses. The IRFA provides information about the potential effects of the proposed rule on small businesses.  

Agencies' initial analyses of small business impacts are not always correct or complete, so the Committee on Small Business encourages small businesses to file comments through the government's online portal,, and tell federal agencies how the regulatory proposal will affect them. If you had trouble with an agency or regulation, please feel free to share your story with the Committee.

Regulations to Watch:

Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Prohibition of Children's Toys and Child Care Articles Containing Specific Phthalates

The CPSC has issued a proposed rule to determine that certain plastics used for children's toys and child care articles do not contain specified phthalates. Specifically, the proposed rule would determine that products that contain polyethylene, polypropylene, high impact polystyrene, or acrylonitrile butadiene do not contain any prohibited phthalates at concentrations above 1 percent. This rule could affect roughly 10,000 small businesses that either manufacture or import children's toys or child care articles. (PUBLISHED 8-17-2016)


COMMENTS DUE 10-31-2016

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations; Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation; Speed Limiting Devices
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

The NHTSA and the FMCSA have issued a proposed rule that would require vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device that prohibits the operation of the vehicle at a certain speed. The agency is considering setting the speed limiting device at 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. Companies who operate these vehicles could face delays in delivery times and increased labor costs due to slower a vehicle speed. This proposed rule would affect motorcoach companies and trucking companies, many of which are small businesses. (PUBLISHED 9-7-2016)


COMMENTS DUE 11-7-2016

Department of Defense
Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Amendment to Mentor- Protoge Program

The DoD has issued a proposed rule to amend its Mentor-Protégé program regulations.  Under the proposed rule, mentor firms would be required to report on the assistance provided to protégé firms, as well as subcontracts and values awarded to protégés, joint venture awards, payments and loans made to the protégé firm, and increases in scope of work.  The reporting requirements would apply retroactively to mentor-protégé agreements in effect on November 25, 2015.  New eligibility criteria, restrictions, and limitations are proposed for certain mentor-protégé agreements. Currently, there are 85 small businesses in the program participating as protégé firms, and six small businesses participating as mentors. (PUBLISHED 9-23-2016)


COMMENTS DUE 11-22-2016

Department of Defense
Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement: Temporary Extension of Test Program for Comprehensive Small Business Subcontracting Plans

The DoD has issued a proposed rule that would extend the Test Program for Comprehensive Small Business Subcontracting Plans (Test Program) through December 31, 2017. In addition, this rule would increase the threshold for participation in the program from $5,000,000 to $100,000,000; require an assessment of the Test Program participant’s good faith efforts to meet the terms of its comprehensive subcontracting plan as part of its past performance evaluation; and reinstate the use of liquidated damages as a penalty if found to have not made a good faith effort to meet the terms of its subcontracting plan. The proposed rule includes a process used to determine the need to assess liquidated damages, as well as the calculation and application thereof. While the DoD does not expect this rule to directly affect small businesses, it seeks comments from small businesses on the expected effects of the proposed rule and on the existing regulations affected by the proposed rule. (PUBLISHED 9-23-2016)  

IFRA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 11-22-2016

Small Business Administration
Small Business Timber Set-Aside Program

The SBA has issued a proposed rule that would amend regulations relating to the Forest Service timber set-aside program. To more accurately reflect hauling costs for small business and encourage small business competition, SBA is proposing to amend accounting of hauling costs from any size mill to only small mills. SBA is inviting comments on alternative methods or calculations to appraise haul costs. Between FY 2009 and 2014, there were 2,516 sales to small saw mills under the timber set-aside program. (PUBLISHED 9-27-2016)

IFRA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 11-28-2016

Department of Defense
Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS): Use of the Government Property Clause

The DoD is proposing to amend DFARS 245.107, which would require the use of Federal Acquisition Regulation clause 52.245-1 for all purchase orders regardless of the unit acquisition cost of the items to be repaired; this would include those purchase orders falling below the simplified acquisition threshold. Affected entities under the proposed rule would be required to prepare a property record and receiving report for the government furnished property provided, as well as acknowledging receipt of assets in DoD’s Wide Area Workflow system.  In FY 2015 there were 328 small businesses that were previously exempt from this clause but would face increased reporting and recordkeeping requirements through this proposed rule. (PUBLISHED 10-21-2016)

IFRA - Yes

COMMENTS DUE 12-20-2016

Regulatory Resources:

The Regulatory Flexibility Act
Regulatory Agenda
Tips for Submitting Effective Comments