The Regulatory Flexibility Act helped save the nation's small businesses $2.6 billion in compliance costs in 2007, according to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

The act, which was created in 1980 and amended in 1996, requires federal agencies to assess the economic impact of proposed and existing regulations on small businesses. Rules found to be too burdensome must be replaced with alternatives.

Last year, the Office of Advocacy reviewed some 470 regulations, convened 29 roundtable discussions with small-business stakeholders, and submitted 30 letters to federal agencies identifying questionable rules.

"Small firms are better equipped to do what they do best -- grow the economy -- when they are freed from coping with overly burdensome or duplicative regulations," Thomas Sullivan, the agency's chief counsel, said in a statement.