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Overview

On March 29, 1996, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) was signed into law which required all federal agencies to perform a regulatory flexibility analysis, provide guidance, help small businesses comply with the agency’s statutes and regulations; and establish a program to respond to small business inquiries about such issues. As of today, DOE has issued and completed its review of the 900 rules and determined that no Guides were required based on those rules, bringing DOE into full compliance with this provision of SBREFA. DOE’s letter to Congress states the following:

"DOE determined that the rules published in Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities or that the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) did not apply. These determinations negated preparation of a final regulatory flexibility analysis under the RFA and the publication or distribution of any Compliance Guides for small businesses under SBREFA."

Central Contact Point

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) requires federal agencies to make currently existing pamphlets, handbooks, and other compliance materials available to small businesses through a central source. At the Department of Energy (DOE), your central contact point is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).

Compliance Guides for New Regulations

For new regulations issued after June 28, 1996, SBREFA requires agencies to write compliance guides that explain in plain language what the new regulations require. The guides are available through OSDBU, the Regional Offices, and the Small Business Administration's (SBA) Small Business Development Centers. For the one nearest you, call SBA at (800) 827-5722.

In accordance with the provisions of the SBREFA, the SBA requires that each Federal agency draft a policy that an agency will not retaliate against small businesses that question or complain about the business practices conducted by said agency. If a small business has any questions or lodges a complaint regarding a DOE policy or pursues action against this agency, the DOE will not retaliate against them. For additional information concerning the SBREFA and a list of agency contacts, please visit the SBA’s Office of the National Ombudsman’s (ONO). If a small business wishes to comment on the enforcement actions of DOE, it may call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247) or write to the Ombudsman at 409 3rd Street, SW, Suite 7125, Washington, DC 20416.

Recovering Legal Fees and Expenses

SBREFA expands the ability of small businesses to recover legal costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) by allowing small businesses to recoup legal expenses when the government seeks unreasonably high penalties in certain types of cases.

Obtaining Reductions/Waivers of Penalties

SBREFA requires enforcement agencies to have a program for reductions and waivers of penalties for small businesses under certain circumstances.

Influencing New Regulations

DOE is required to obtain and consider small business input and interests when writing a new regulation that will have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small businesses. Alternatives that would reduce the economic burden on small businesses must be considered.

OSHA must convene a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel to collect advice from small business representatives and consult with the SBA when it is developing such a rule. Once a new rule is completed, SBREFA requires that it be submitted to Congress; Congress then votes to disapprove of the new rule.