Recent Research

Susan Dudley
Notice & Comment: How Agencies Use Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, By Sofie E. Miller & Saayee Arumugam, June 23, 2015
The CPSC's Off-Road Adventure, Joseph Cordes & Blake Taylor, March 23, 2015

The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center

Susan Dudley with Kathryn Newcomer

The GW Regulatory Studies Center's mission is to improve regulatory policy by raising awareness of regulations’ effects through research, education, and outreach.

The Center is a leading source for applied scholarship in regulatory issues, and a training ground for anyone who wants to understand the effects of regulation and ensure that regulatory policies are designed in the public interest.

Senate Explores a Regulatory Budget to Increase Transparency, Oversight

Federal agency building
July 06, 2015
By Saayee Arumugam, Summer Fellow

Spending programs in the fiscal budget come with salient costs: the taxes (or debt) used to finance them. Regulations can accomplish similar policy objectives, but with less transparent costs and muted oversight. Both on-budget programs and regulations are designed to achieve policy goals, but without budgetary constraints, the American regulatory regime continues to be additive in nature and lacks incentives for retrospective evaluation of effectiveness.


Escaping the "Smoke and Mirrors" in Benefit Cost Analysis

Smoke and mirrors
July 01, 2015
by Ana Maria Zarate Moreno

On June 18, five experts shared their views on the proper scope of BCA, how to improve this tool, and the role Congress and the Courts should play in the rulemaking process. This commentary presents the proposals and challenges identified in the “Costs and Benefits vs. Smoke and Mirrors” panel of the Federalist Society’s Third Annual Executive Branch Review Conference,


Supreme Court's EPA Mercury Ruling is a Victory for Common Sense Regulation

Scales of justice
June 30, 2015
Susan E. Dudley, Director

On June 29, SCOTUS ruled that "EPA interpreted [the Clean Air Act] unreasonably when it deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants." In this commentary, Dudley examines the opinion of the Court, and explains how this ruling is a victory for common-sense regulations and American consumers.


Notice & Comment: How Agencies Use Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking

Pie chart: ANPRMs by type of rulemaking
June 23, 2015
By Sofie E. Miller & Saayee Arumugam

Agencies already use ANPRMs to gather public input, and have for many years. However, our analysis sought to answer these questions: How frequently do agencies use ANPRMs? Which agencies use ANPRMs most frequently? Do agencies use ANPRMs to solicit public input on minor regulatory issues, or for bigger policy questions? This analysis provides answers to each of these questions for use by policymakers, agencies, and the public alike as we contemplate practical solutions for improving the regulatory process.


Dudley: Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation: Exploring the Possibility of a Regulatory Budget

Susan Dudley testimony
June 23, 2015
by Susan E. Dudley, Director

On June 23, RSC scholars Susan Dudley and Richard Pierce and President of the Canadian Treasury Board, Tony Clement, testified during a joint hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget and Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Dudley testified in support of a regulatory budget and cited the potential for constructive debate on the real impacts of regulations, greater transparency, more efficient allocation of resources, and ultimately the potential for more cost-effective achievement of public priorities.


Pierce: Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation: Exploring the Possibility of a Regulatory Budget

Professor Richard Pierce
June 23, 2015
Richard J. Pierce, Jr., GW Lyle T. Alverson Professor of Law

On June 23, RSC scholar and GW Professor of Law Richard Pierce, RSC Director Susan Dudley, and President of the Canadian Treasury Board, Tony Clement, testified during a joint hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget and Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Pierce testified in strong support of a regulatory budget but urged the dire importance of using benefit-cost analysis when considering any recommendations. He explains that there are two versions of a regulatory budget that would harm the nation.


Misbehavioral Economics?

Exchange of ideas
June 17, 2015
Brian Mannix, Research Professor

The spirited Point-Counterpoint debate between Cass Sunstein & Hunt Allcott and Mannix & Dudley argued the question of using “internalities” (aka “private benefits”) to justify government regulation of energy efficiency in appliances. In this commentary, Mannix argues that the model espoused by Sunstein and Allcott only works because it assumes there are no rational consumers, giving the government a monopoly on rationality.


Point/Counterpoint: Valuing Internalities in Regulatory Impact Analysis

JPAM journal cover
June 11, 2015
By Brian Mannix & Susan Dudley

In this Point/Counterpoint article series with Cass Sunstein & Hunt Allcott, Mannix & Dudley argue that allowing regulators to control consumers 'for their own good' – based on some deficiency in the consumers themselves rather than any failure in the marketplace – is to abandon any serious attempt to keep regulatory policy grounded in any objective notion of the public good.


Examining Practical Solutions to Improve the Federal Regulatory Process

Image of Susan Dudley testifying
June 03, 2015
Susan E. Dudley, Director

Though regulation affects every aspect of our lives, as a policy tool it rarely reaches the attention of voters (and consequently of elected officials) because, unlike the federal budget, its effects are often not visible. This testimony offers recommendations in four areas that may meet the Subcommittee's request for "common sense ideas that could garner bipartisan support and provide immediate improvement to the federal regulatory process." These are 1) codifying regulatory impact analysis requirements, 2) providing for earlier analysis and public input on new regulations, 3) increasing resources for regulatory oversight, and 4) being mindful of regulatory consequences when passing new legislation.


One Discount Rate Fits All? The Regressive Effects of DOE's Energy Efficiency Rule

Cover of Policy Perspectives magazine
May 20, 2015
Sofie E. Miller (in Policy Perspectives Vol. 22)

This paper examines the Department of Energy's (DOE) reliance on low discount rates to estimate the benefits of its energy efficiency standards and uses existing literature on implicit consumer discount rates to calculate a range of benefits for DOE’s furnace fan rule. While DOE calculates large net benefits from its energy efficiency rule, using discount rates that better represent average consumer time preferences shows that this standard results in net costs. Furthermore, given the variation in consumer discount rates by income, this standard is effectively a transfer payment from low- and median-income households to high-income households.


2016 Regulators' Budget: Increases Consistent with Growth in Fiscal Budget

Reg Budget report cover
May 19, 2015
By Susan E. Dudley & Melinda Warren

This report tracks the portion of the Budget of the United States devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations from 1960 to 2016. It presents the President’s requested budget outlays in fiscal year (FY) 2016, as well as estimated outlays for FY 2015 as reported in the Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2016. This “regulators’ budget” reflects the on-budget costs of regulation. This report finds that the regulators’ budget is growing at approximately the same pace as the overall Budget, 5.3 percent in real terms in FY 2016 and 4.3 percent in FY 2015. The President’s proposed budget for the regulatory activities tracked here is $66.8 billion in FY 2016; estimated outlays in FY 2015 are $62.4 billion. The Budget also requests increases in federal regulatory agency personnel of 1.2 percent in FY 2016 and 0.2 percent in FY 2015. Staffing at regulatory agencies is expected to exceed 280,500 people in 2016.


Uncertainty in the Cost-Effectiveness of Federal Air Quality Regulations

Smoke stack
May 08, 2015
By Kerry Krutilla, David H. Good and John D. Graham (Published in The Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, Spring 2015)

Estimates of lifesavings from reducing airborne concentrations of fine particles, a common pollutant, often account for more than 90% of the benefits of air regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A new study by IU researchers at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs adds to a literature on uncertainties about the mortality risks posed by fine particle exposures, finding a wide range of possible regulatory effects from reducing fine particle pollution. The study, “Uncertainty in the Cost Effectiveness of Nine Air Quality Regulations,” was conducted by a research team including Kerry Krutilla, David Good, and John Graham. The study has been published by Cambridge University Press in The Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis Volume 6, Issue 1 (Spring 2015).


Recommendations for Improving the Regulatory Process

Susan Dudley with Senator Lieberman
May 04, 2015
Response to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Letter Requesting Input on its Regulatory Improvement Effort

Regulation is one of the primary vehicles by which federal policy is formulated, and it affects every household, employee, and business in the United States. This document summarizes the key regulatory reform insights from some of our research on regulatory impact analysis, judicial review, congressional oversight, retrospective review, public input, and risk assessment. This research will provide the members of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee with relevant context for their ongoing Regulatory Improvement Effort.


Public Interest Comment on the Federal Aviation Administration's Proposed Rule: Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

April 24, 2015
by Blake Taylor, Policy Analyst

The FAA suggests that this rule will be the first step in a long, complex path of UAS integration into the National Airspace System. The Administration will be challenged to ensure that this incremental approach occurs at a pace that closely mirrors market and technological changes. Because UAS are nascent technologies, the FAA has very little information on the potential benefits and risks. Retrospective review involving ambitious data collection is essential to structuring the future steps in the integration framework.