Recent Research

Susan Dudley

What’s Wrong with the Back of the Envelope? A Call for Simple (and Timely) Benefit-Cost Analysis, Christopher Carrigan & Stuart Shapiro, October 7, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on DOT’s Proposed Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains, Sofie E. Miller, September 29, 2014

Public Interest Comment on the Department of Transportation's Proposed Rule: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Fees and Other Consumer Protection Issues, Sofie E. Miller, September 17, 2014

Comment on OMB's Report to Congress on Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, Susan Dudley, Brian Mannix, and Sofie Miller

Valuation of PM 2.5 Reductions in OMB's Report to Congress on Benefits and Costs of Federal regulations, Tony Cox, September 2,2014 

Bank Disclosure and incentives, Korok Ray, August 15, 2014

Comment on the DOL's Proposed Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors, Connor Roth and Mark Bigley, July 28, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on FDA's Proposed Nutrition Fact Label Revisions, Ian Smith, July 28,2014

The Social Cost of Carbon, Susan Dudley and Brian Mannix, July 24, 2014

Recommendations to DOE on Reducing Regulatory Burden, Sofie E. Miller, July 17, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on the Department of Education’s Proposed Violence Against Women Act Rule, Julia Morriss, Summer Fellow, July 17, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on EPA's Proposed Agricultural Worker Protection Standards for Pesticides, Connor Roth, Summer Fellow, July 14, 2014

2015 Regulators' Budget: Economic Forms of Regulation on the Rise, Susan Dudley & Melinda Warren, July 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on FDA's Proposed e-Cigarette , Estelle Raimondo, July 7, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on the Federal Reserve Board's Proposed Concentration Limits on Large Financial Companies, Julia Morriss, July 2, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on SEC's Proposed Reporting Requirements for Swap Dealers, Participants, and Broker Dealers, Mark Bigley, July 1, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on DOE's Proposed Energy Efficiency Standards for Fluorescent and Incandescent Lamps, Sofie E. Miller, June 30, 2014

Retrospective Review Comment on FDA's Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, Philip J. Austin, June 16, 2014

About the 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.

What's Wrong with the Back of the Envelope? A Call for Simple (and Timely) Benefit-Cost Analysis

October 07, 2014
By Christopher Carrigan & Stuart Shapiro

Benefit-cost analysis has been criticized by observers across the ideological spectrum for as long as it has been part of the rulemaking process. Still, proponents and detractors agree that analysis has morphed into a mechanism often used by agencies to justify regulatory decisions already made. Carrigan & Shapiro argue that a simpler analysis of more alternatives conducted earlier in the process can resuscitate it as a tool to inform policy. The reform is based on the principles that benefit-cost analyses should: 1) be completed well before the proposed rule; 2) eschew the complex quantification that has made them largely inaccessible; and 3) consider realistic policy alternatives beyond simply the agency preference. Recognizing that requiring a procedure does not ensure regulators will follow it, the authors offer possible remedies, including intensifying or relaxing subsequent review of proposed rules, which raise the cost of circumventing the reform or lower the cost of following it.


Looking Back to Move Ahead

Sofie E. Miller
October 08, 2014
By Sofie E. Miller in Regulation Magazine

Retrospective review is meant to ensure that regulations achieve their intended outcomes and to improve agencies' use of ex ante analysis by comparing projected outcomes with actual results. To that end, the Department of Energy sought public input on how to best promote periodic retrospective reviews of its rules and how to select the rules to review. This article recommends that DOE should take three steps to further its retrospective review efforts. First, it should incorporate plans for retrospective review into its economically significant or major rules. Second, it should allow enough time between releases of new energy efficiency standards to allow for an effective review of each rule’s effects before issuing updated rules. Third, it should use the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) to measure whether its existing energy efficiency standards have had negative effects on competition in the regulated industries.


Australia’s Regulatory 'Bonfire'

October 08, 2014
By Susan E. Dudley & Jeff Bennet in Regulation Magazine

The World Economic Forum ranks Australia 128th in the world in terms of the burden of government regulation, noting "the business community cites labor regulations and bureaucratic red tape as being, respectively, the first and second most problematic factor for doing business in their country." Concerns over regulatory burden have resonated with the Australian coalition government elected last September, which committed to "building a stronger, more productive and diverse economy with lower taxes, more efficient government and more competitive businesses…by reducing the regulatory burden that is strangling Australia’s economic prosperity and development.” This article outlines the Australian government's plans for regulatory reform, and the effects of those reforms on competitiveness and regulatory burden.


Commentary: Interim Final Rules Over Time: A Brief Empirical Analysis

Interim Final Rules
September 25, 2014
Lindsay M. Scherber, Research Assistant

Although there are well known benefits associated with public participation during the pre-promulgation stage, interim final rulemaking represents an important mechanism through which agencies can respond to exigent circumstances, such as natural disasters or impending statutory or judicial deadlines, much more expediently than would otherwise be possible. To evaluate whether IFRs have become more common in recent years or otherwise exhibit clear trends of interest, we examined OIRA’s executive order review data on all significant final rules published by executive branch agencies between 1994 and 2013. While there is no clear directional trend over time, on average, IFRs represent 20.3% of all significant final rules published during the period in question.


The Political Transaction Costs and Uncertainties of Establishing Environmental Rights

September 24, 2014
by Kerry Krutilla

A key issue in the design of environmental polices is how environmental rights are distributed. Among the options, rights can be grandfathered to polluters or taxed or auctioned to generate public revenue. These alternatives have different political consequences, which impose different economic costs and political uncertainties. This research models political behavior around the rights establishment, and formally determines the associated welfare costs. The model includes parameters for the degree to which environmental rights are distributed between polluters and the government; the benefits of the environmental policy; the compliance costs of the policy; and the relative political power of polluters and environmentalists. The model shows that the economic costs of political behavior can significantly erode the expected value of environmental policymaking when the environmental rights are taxed or auctioned. These costs are not considered in the policy evaluations that recommend structuring environmental policy to raise revenue.


Opportunities for Stakeholder Participation in US Regulation

September 23, 2014
by Susan E. Dudley

Interested members of the public have several opportunities to get involved in the development of U.S. regulations. Generally, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, agencies must solicit and consider public comment on draft regulations before they are issued in final form. This “notice-and-comment” process is a fundamental step in the development of federal regulations, but opportunities for stakeholder engagement are available at other points in the process as well.


Comment on OMB's Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulation

OMB Figure 1-1
September 02, 2014
By Susan E. Dudley, Brian F. Mannix, & Sofie E. Miller

OMB’s Draft 2014 Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations (the Report) provides the Congress and the public with valuable information both on estimates of the effects of major executive branch regulations and also on OMB’s focus and priorities as it reviews agency regulations. This comment addresses several topics covered in the Report: 1) implementation of President Obama’s retrospective review initiative, 2) aggregate benefits and costs, and issues associated with their estimation, 3) effects of regulations issued by independent regulatory agencies, 4) presentation of trends in regulatory benefits and costs, 5) distributional impacts, and 6) employment effects.