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Small Business Assistance

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996

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The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act of 1996 (SBREFA) was signed by President Clinton on March 29, 1996. The legislation directs each Federal agency to comply with a number of requirements concerning small entities and with amendments to the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Equal Access to Justice Act.

Section 213 of SBREFA requires Federal agencies to establish programs to answer questions, provide information, and give advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within their jurisdictions. Section 223 of SBREFA requires agencies to establish a policy or program which provides for the reduction, and under appropriate circumstances for the waiver, of civil penalties for violations of a statutory or regulatory requirement by a small entity.

The key goals of SBREFA are to:

Encourage small businesses to participate in the Federal regulatory process; Simplify the language of Federal regulations affecting small businesses; Give small businesses easier access to information on regulatory and reporting and recordkeeping requirements; Create a more cooperative regulatory environment among agencies and small businesses that is less punitive and more solution-oriented; and Make Federal regulators more accountable for their enforcement actions by providing small entities with more opportunity to challenge an agency's final regulatory decision.

Small Business Non-Retaliation Policy

In March 2004 the Coast Guard adopted a "Small Business Non-Retaliation Policy" aimed at answering questions and comments that come from small entities about regulations published by the Coast Guard.

What is a Small Entity?

A small entity is typically defined as small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

How Can I Help Evaluate Coast Guard Enforcement with SBREFA?

The Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and 10 Regional Fairness Boards were established to receive comments from small businesses about Federal agency enforcement actions. The Ombudsman will annually evaluate the enforcement activities and rate each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on the enforcement actions of the United States Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247).


Relevant Laws and Executive Orders

Click on each underlined law to read its contents.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)  as amended 5/25/2007
The Regulatory Flexibility Act  as amended 1980
Executive Order 12866 Regulatory Planning and Review, 10/4/1993
Executive Order 13272 Proper Consideration of Small Entities in Agency Rulemaking, 8/13/2002
Executive Order 13563 Improving Regulations and Regulatory Review, 1/21/2011

Each proposed and final rule published by the Coast Guard in the Federal Register has a section titled "Assistance for Small Entities." Look in that section to find the name of the agency contact person and his or her phone number. The contact person can answer questions on the rulemaking. You can also ask questions about proposed or final rules by sending an e-mail to The Office of Standards Evaluation and Development. To ask about Coast Guard Prevention Regulations, use the e-mail address listed above. And, for questions relating to recreational boating safety, contact the Coast Guard Infoline or call 1-800-368-5647.

For more information contact:

Office of Standards Evaluation and Development (CG-REG)
US Coast Guard Stop 7418
2703 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE
Washington, DC 20593-7418
HQ: 1-866-664-6245
Fax:(202) 372-1928

Click here if you have a question about how to comply with SBREFA.

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Last Modified 1/12/2016