What's New from the GW Regulatory Studies Center

4/18/19 - Review: How Do Cross-Country Regulatory Systems Affect Poverty?, Reg Insight by Mark Febrizio

4/14/19 - The Post and Courier, Selling Santee Cooper: Competition should be part of the plan, by Jerry Ellig

4/13/19 - The HillHow independent are government agencies? OMB's move on 'major' rules may tell us, by Bridget C.E. Dooling

4/11/19 - Notice & Comment, Improving Regulatory Impact Analysis: The Role of Congress and Courts, Part 3, by Reeve Bull & Jerry Ellig
(Click here for Part 1 & Part 2)

4/5/19 - FCC's New Office Of Economics And Analytics Releases First Working Paper, by Jerry Ellig and Catherine Konieczny

4/5/19 - Real Clear Policy, Ill-Considered Tax Credit Regulation May Put the Squeeze on Charities, Taxpayers, by Jerry Ellig

4/3/19 - Regulation Digest, Vol. 8, No. 13

4/3/19 - Planning for Everything (Besides Death and Taxes), by Susan E. Dudley, Daniel R. Pérez, Brian Mannix, & Christopher Carrigan

4/3/19 - Is GDPR the Right Model for the U.S.? by Aryamala Prasad

3/27/19 - The Eagle and the Dragon: Comparing Government Consultation and Public Participation between the US and China, by Steven J. Balla & Zhoudan Xie

@RegStudies

New Commentaries from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center

Research

Recent working papers and published articles from Center scholars
Mark Febrizio

Review: How Do Cross-Country Regulatory Systems Affect Poverty?

April 17, 2019

By Mark Febrizio
A March 2019 Policy Research Working Paper for the World Bank Group examines how “business-friendly” regulations and their enforcement affect poverty at the country level. This review analyzes the paper’s main claims, examines its methodology, and recommends ways to make improvements. In its current form, the paper makes strong claims that are not fully supported by the results or methodology. Modifying the analysis could enhance the findings and expand the paper’s contribution to the literature on country-level determinants of poverty. Rather than offering a clear path forward to addressing poverty, the paper is better seen as a starting point for further research.

EPA Logo

Public Interest Comment: Revising WOTUS

April 16, 2019

By: Jonathan H. Adler
In this public interest comment, Jonathan Adler finds that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed revision of the definition of “waters of the United States” is a substantial improvement over prior definitions, not least because it acknowledges the statutory and constitutional limits on federal regulatory jurisdiction under the CWA and takes seriously the need for greater clarity and certainty about the scope of federal regulatory jurisdiction.

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

Working Paper Series: Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

April 10, 2019

Policymakers face demands to act today to protect against a wide range of future risks, and to do so without impeding economic growth. Yet traditional analytical tools may not be adequate to frame the relevant uncertainties and tradeoffs. Challenges such as climate change, nuclear war, and widespread natural disasters don’t lend themselves to decision rules designed for discrete policy questions and marginal analyses. We refer to such issues as “uncertain futures.”

IRS logo

Public Interest Comment: IRS Qualified Business Income Deduction

April 08, 2019

By Jerry Ellig & Jeffery Kaufman
The 2017 tax reform allowed investors in real estate investment trusts (REITS) and publicly-traded partnerships (PTPs) to take a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of qualifying distributions from REITs and PTPs. The Internal Revenue Service seeks comment on whether investors should also be allowed to take this deduction if they own REITs or PTPs through a regulated investment company, such as a mutual fund. Unfortunately, the IRS did not conduct an economic analysis sufficient to determine which choice is economically efficient. A complete analysis would first assess whether the deduction is economically efficient; building on that analysis, the IRS could then determine whether extending the deduction is efficient. We provide some illustrative calculations that point the way toward a more complete analysis.

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

Planning for Everything (Besides Death and Taxes)

April 03, 2019

By Susan Dudley, Daniel R. Pérez, Brian Mannix, & Christopher Carrigan
As part of a GW Regulatory Studies Center series of working papers on “Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures,” this paper notes that policymakers face demands to act today to protect against a wide range of future risks, and to do so without impeding economic growth. Yet traditional analytical tools may not be adequate to frame the relevant uncertainties and tradeoffs. Challenges such as climate change, nuclear war, and widespread natural disasters don’t lend themselves to decision rules designed for discrete policy questions and marginal analyses. We refer to such issues as “uncertain futures.”

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

From Football to Oil Rigs: Risk Assessment for Combined Cyber and Physical Attacks

March 20, 2019

By: Fred S. Roberts
As part of a GW Regulatory Studies Center series of working papers on “Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures,” Fred Roberts applies risk assessment to scenarios of terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure including U.S. sporting venues and the international maritime transportation system. He notes that risk assessments of terrorist attacks traditionally treat physical and cyber attacks separately and are inappropriate for considering the risk of combined attacks that include both a physical and cyber component. He proposes a framework informed by expert judgement to determine whether an attacker would likely prefer executing a combined or traditional physical attack on a given target.

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

Nuclear War as a Global Catastrophic Risk

March 20, 2019

By: James Scouras
As part of a GW Regulatory Studies Center series of working papers on “Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures,” James Scouras identifies nuclear war as a global catastrophic risk and suggests that multidisciplinary studies that combine insights from “historical case studies, expert elicitation, probabilistic risk assessment, complex systems theory, and other disciplines” can address many of the shortcomings of single analytic approaches. He suggests that experts can address current gaps in their assessments of the consequences of nuclear weapons by further investigating understudied phenomena (e.g., the effects of electromagnetic pulses, nuclear winter, the prolonged effects of radiation).

Photo of the US Capitol

A Brief History of Regulation and Deregulation

March 12, 2019

By: Susan Dudley
The history of regulatory policy in the United States is rich, but its future remains unclear. Susan Dudley provides four key milestones in the development of the current regulatory policy landscape, and posits that we may be in the midst of a fifth milestone being laid, in this article for The Regulatory Review at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

Decision Analysis, Muddling-Through, and Machine Learning for Managing Large-Scale Uncertain Risks

March 08, 2019

By Louis Anthony Cox, Jr.
As part of a GW Regulatory Studies Center series of working papers on “Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures,” Tony Cox, builds on Charles Lindblom’s research on the limits of rational-comprehensive decisionmaking, to provide insights on how machine learning can help individuals and institutions make better informed decisions — improving society’s experience of ‘muddling through’ policymaking under uncertainty.

Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

Responsible Precautions for Uncertain Environmental Risks

March 08, 2019

By W. Kip Viscusi
As part of a GW Regulatory Studies Center series of working papers on “Adapting Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures,” W. Kip Viscusi elaborates on best practices for decisionmakers facing low probability, high consequence hazards. Viscusi points out that these uncertain risks often create incentives to pursue suboptimal policy approaches that potentially over commit public resources to less consequential hazards.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Logo

Written Statement — Wasted Energy: DOE’s Inaction on Efficiency Standards and Its Impact on Consumers and the Climate

March 07, 2019

By: Brian Mannix
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing titled, "Wasted Energy: DOE's Inaction on Efficiency Standards and Its Impact on Consumers and the Climate." Research Professor Brian Mannix submitted a written statement on the 40 year history of appliance efficiency standards, and why analysis dating back to the Carter administration is still relevant today.

Hands on computer with Chinese flag

Consultation, Participation, and the Institutionalization of Governance Reform in China

March 04, 2019

By Steven J. Balla & Zhoudan Xie
This article examines the institutionalization of online consultation, a prominent instrument of governance reform in China in which government officials provide interested parties with opportunities to comment on draft laws and regulations over the Internet. The analysis demonstrates that government consultation practices have institutionalized to a greater degree than the citizen feedback that occurs in response to draft laws and regulations. These results point to the conclusion that online consultation is a governance reform that has advanced transparency and (to a lesser degree) public participation, but has not eroded the Chinese Communist Party’s dominance over policymaking.

Photo of Joe Cordes and Daniel Perez

Measuring Costs and Benefits of Privacy Controls: Conceptual Issues and Empirical Estimates

January 30, 2019

By Joseph J. Cordes & Daniel R. Pérez
Co-director Joe Cordes and senior policy analyst Daniel Pérez's article published in The Journal of Law, Economics & Policy draws on the economics of privacy literature to summarize why the costs and benefits of privacy controls should be measured in principle, discusses previous attempts to do so, and generates useful estimates of consumers' valuation of privacy.

The Journal of Law and Politics logo

Improving Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

January 22, 2019

By Susan E. Dudley and Brian F. Mannix
Across developed countries, benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is the principal public policy tool for laying out available information in a way that allows policy makers to make balanced, efficient regulatory decisions in the face of limited resources. However, BCA has limitations. This article examines the institutional and technical factors limiting the use of BCA as a tool for improving regulatory policy and offers some recommendations for reducing those barriers.

Photo of Mark Febrizio and Zhoudan Xie

2018 Year in Review: Top Ten Regulatory Developments

January 14, 2019

By Mark Febrizio and Zhoudan Xie
Just as in 2017, regulatory policy continued to be a focal point of 2018 with key actions ranging from proposed rules to one agency’s establishment of a new economics office to inform regulatory decisions. While not comprehensive, this Regulatory Insight highlights ten important developments related to regulation that occurred in 2018.