Principle 15

Principle 15: Regulatory enforcement and accountability for regulatory violations should be strengthened.

Recommendations for Short-term Action (First 100 Days)

  1. Bolster agency regulatory enforcement budgets: In its first budget, the new administration should bolster each agency’s regulatory enforcement budget by at least 50 percent and it should specify the dollar amount available for each agencies’ regulatory enforcement division. Then the administration should work with Congress to secure the budgetary increases needed to make up for government-wide degradation of enforcement capacity.
  2. Government must do a better job of encouraging compliance with existing regulations and fairly enforcing them. Agencies have too often been discouraged or prevented from using their compliance and enforcement tools to achieve effective compliance. A Presidential Memorandum should establish that regulatory enforcement is a priority, including to advance racial justice and equity considerations and to prevent climate catastrophe. In order to strengthen public protections and provide regulated communities with fair and predictable compliance approaches, agencies must be enabled to more effectively meet both current and new demands and work to improve regulatory compliance.
  3. Company disclosure of regulatory violations: The Securities and Exchange Commission should adopt a rule requiring corporations to disclose publicly, on their websites, and in investor filings regulatory violations and fines paid to resolve those violations over the previous 10 years. These violations are of material interest to investors and the public generally.
  4. Corporate crime and wrongdoing database: The Department of Justice should establish a publicly accessible and searchable database compiling crimes, regulatory violations and settlements entered into by corporations. This information is relevant for sentencing for future violations, procurement decisions, emerging trends in corporate wrongdoing that may require the attention of policy makers, and to enable the public to encourage corporate responsibility.

Recommendations for Legislative Action

  1. Criminalize corporate action that recklessly endangers the public: Congress should pass the Hide No Harm Act to criminalize actions by corporations and their executives that recklessly endanger the public or conceal product defects or workplace hazards that imminently threaten American lives or serious harm.
  1. Citizen enforcement of regulatory protections: Congress should adopt legislation that empowers individuals or organizations to bring enforcement actions, either as victims of wrongdoing or as private attorneys general, against corporations that are violating regulatory safeguards. Such private rights of action have proven workable and vital to environmental protection and disability rights, to name two important examples. Where such private rights do not exist, corporations may ignore regulatory standards with little consequence.