What's New from the GW Regulatory Studies Center
4/14/17 - Spero News, Can the Republicans really drain the swamp?, citing Susan Dudley
4/13/17 - Media webinar, Regulating in the Trump Era, with Susan Dudley and Marcus Peacock
4/9/17 - Wall Street Journal, A Trump Nomination Shows He’s Serious About Deregulation, by Susan E. Dudley
4/7/17 - Updated: CRA Tracker
4/7/17 - The Hill, Trump nominates regulatory chief, quoting Susan Dudley
4/7/17 - Bloomberg BNA, New Guidance, OMB Official Explain Trump Regulatory Order, mentioning Marcus Peacock
4/5/17 - Regulation Digest, Vol. 6, No. 14
4/5/17 - EVENT, Resources for the Future: A Conversation with Marcus Peacock
4/4/17 - Bloomberg BNA, Keeping Track of Overturned Rules is So Hard to Do, citing the GW Regulatory Studies Center
4/4/17 - Regulatory Insight, Shining a Light on Regulatory Costs, by Brian Mannix
New Commentaries from the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center
More Historic “Firsts” for Regulatory Disapprovals under the Congressional Review Act
Spinning Out of Control: The Hidden Costs of Appliance Efficiency Standards
Latest Trump Executive Order Provides Guidance on “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda”
President Trump Signs First Regulatory Disapproval in 16 Years
The Devil is in the Details of President Trump’s Regulatory Executive Order
A Tumultuous Inaugural Week in Washington
A Useful Measure of Regulatory Output
As a Parting Gift, Obama Administration Releases Final Report on Regulation
Regulatory Reset: How easy is it to undo regulation?
4/4/17 - Congress continues to make history by exercising its powers under the CRA to eliminate rules issued at the end of the Obama administration. To date, 13 resolutions of disapproval have passed both chambers of Congress; two additional bills have passed the House. President Trump has signed eight of these into law with three additional resolutions awaiting his signature. Finally, the Senate passed two more resolutions on March 30th which should be sent to the president soon. Prior to 2017, Congress had only successfully struck down a single rule using the CRA.
3/30/17 - A recent court settlement illustrates that consumers bear burdens—including indirect burdens—as a result of regulation gone awry. In this case, consumers bore costs in the form of higher prices, continued inconvenience, expense, time and bad odors from moldy washing machines. Although consumers in the class action suit didn’t realize it, their moldy washer problem began with DOE’s energy efficiency standards for clothes washers. Because regulations affect all Americans, it’s important to review their effects to make sure consumers aren’t left out to dry.
2/27/17 - President Trump signed his second executive order aimed at government-wide regulatory practice Friday afternoon. This one is not as dramatic as his January EO 13771, which required agencies to offset the costs of new regulations by removing existing burdens, but it sets up mechanisms for implementing that order, as well as other principles. Specifically, it creates a Regulatory Reform Task Force at each agency, to be headed by a Regulatory Reform Officer, responsible for overseeing implementation of the president’s regulatory reform initiatives and policies.
2/15/17 - The 115th Congress has wasted no time in exercising its powers under the Congressional Review Act to eliminate regulations issued by federal agencies during the Obama administration. Currently, eight joint resolutions of disapproval have passed the House—two of which were delivered to the president for his signature on February 6. President Trump signed one of these into law on February 14. This marks the first time in 16 years since Congress has successfully used the CRA to eliminate a regulation.
2/1/17 - President Trump’s new executive order, which follows his promises to cut regulatory costs and eliminate two regulations for every new one issued, is certain to shake up the regulatory state. A regulatory offset policy, like those in the U.K and Canada, could provide agencies incentives to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of their accumulated regulations and determine which ones have outlived their usefulness. However, the devil is in the details, and the order doesn’t specify how the policy will be implemented, which could have a “huge” impact on its effectiveness.
1/18/17 - The U.S. prides itself on smooth transitions of power, but that doesn’t mean this inaugural week isn’t a tumultuous one. President Obama has until noon on Friday to cement his final legacy; then at 12:01 pm it will be President Trump’s turn to flex his muscle. This commentary provides a quick rundown of the policy changes the lead-up to January 20th has brought, and what to expect on Friday afternoon.
1/11/17 - The Office of Management and Budget recently published its Exit Memo highlighting several aspects of the agency’s work under President Obama. The memo includes quantitative metrics of the administration’s regulatory output to draw comparisons with regulations issued by agencies under Presidents Clinton and Bush. This commentary describes why measuring regulatory output by comparing economically significant rules is a metric that better characterizes an administration's regulatory priorities.
1/3/17 - On the day before Christmas Eve, OMB released its annual Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, which provides a window into regulatory activity conducted by federal agencies in Fiscal Year 2015. According to the Report, new regulations issued between October 2014 and September 2015 have both higher costs and higher benefits than those issued in FY 2014, and that the Environmental Protection Agency remains by far the largest contributor to both regulatory costs and benefits in this Report.
11/20/16 - President-elect Trump has promised big cuts in regulation, including through a requirement that for “for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.” How easy would this be to accomplish? It depends on the circumstances. While regulations cannot be repealed with the stroke of pen (unlike executive orders, which presidents can unilaterally issue and unilaterally revoke), there are procedures for modifying or removing them. In this commentary, Susan Dudley weighs in.
Latest Research from the GW Regulatory Studies Center
Public Comment on DOE’s Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps
By Sofie E. Miller
The Department of Energy’s direct final rule amends the energy efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners and split-system heat pumps. However, DOE’s own analysis suggests that up to 45% of households in some regions will bear net costs as a result of these standards, and that consumers would experience greater savings under less stringent energy efficiency standards. Due to the lack of consumer input in the negotiated rulemaking process—and the significant burdens that consumers are likely to bear from this standard—DOE should not pursue this standard via direct final rule.
By Brian Mannix
President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs," has caused some confusion among the analysts, inside and outside federal agencies, who forecast the economic effects of regulations. Which effects should count as costs and which as benefits? It sounds like it should be an easy question, but it is not. In this Regulatory Insight, Brian Mannix examines some of the obstacles.
By Sofie E. Miller & Daniel R. Pérez
On March 29th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship met to consider legislative reforms that would affect how small businesses confront and shape regulations. This prepared statement for the record focuses on S. 584: Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. The analysis suggests that the Committee should: be careful to avoid the problem of double-counting indirect costs, use an evidence-based regulation framework to strengthen retrospective review, and safeguard against unintentionally reducing the efficacy of the existing Small Business Advocacy Review process.
By Susan E. Dudley
Governments generally conduct rigorous analysis of regulations aimed at reducing chemical risk before they are issued; however, due to both methodological challenges and poor incentives, these regulations are often not evaluated with the same care once they are in place. In this paper prepared for the OECD, Dudley explores practices for more consistent and robust evaluation of regulatory outcomes and concludes that a systems approach to understanding regulatory efficacy would be valuable not only for understanding the effect of past actions, but for improving future decisions and outcomes.
By Susan E. Dudley
As President Trump prepares to announce his nominee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), this Regulatory Insight provides an inside look at the functions of this small but powerful office, its origins and procedures, and why, when it comes to government policy, the job of OIRA administrator is the most important job in Washington you may never have heard of.
Agency Use of Science in the Rulemaking Process: Proposals for Improving Transparency and Accountability
By Susan E. Dudley
As the Senate subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management considers proposals for improving transparency and accountability in agencies’ use of science in the rulemaking process, it should recognize two problems. “Hidden policy judgments” occur when scientists, intentionally or unintentionally, insert, but do not disclose, their own policy preferences in the scientific advice they provide government decision-makers. The “science charade” occurs when scientists and/or policymakers conflate scientific information and nonscientific judgments to make a policy choice, but then present that decision as being solely based on science.
Public Comment on OMB’s Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order Titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”
By Susan E. Dudley, Brian F. Mannix, Sofie E. Miller, & Daniel R. Pérez
In this comment on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) interim guidance on Executive Order 13771, GW Regulatory Studies Center scholars acknowledge that the Order represents a significant departure from past practice, however, they emphasize that the additional budgeting constraints it imposes need not supplant longstanding requirements to examine regulatory benefits as well as costs and to achieve regulatory objectives as cost-effectively as possible. The comment reinforces OIRA’s draft questions and answers, and offers some suggestions for clarification and improvement.
By Susan Dudley, Richard Belzer, Glenn Blomquist, Timothy Brennan, Christopher Carrigan, Joseph Cordes, Louis A. Cox, Arthur Fraas, John Graham, George Gray, James Hammitt, Kerry Krutilla, Peter Linquiti, Randall Lutter, Brian Mannix, Stuart Shapiro, Anne Smith, W. Kip Viscusi & Richard Zerbe
This guide is designed for policymakers and others who want to be intelligent consumers of regulatory impact analysis, help them interpret what they read and ask appropriate questions.
By Sofie E. Miller in the Federalist Society Review, Volume 18
“Midnight” regulations are those issued after the November presidential election but before Inauguration Day as the outgoing administration attempts to finalize its regulatory policy priorities with a surge of rulemaking activity. Scholars have theorized that midnight rules are problematic because they short-circuit important procedural safeguards that ensure high-quality regulatory outcomes, like rigorous analysis, internal and external review, and public input in the rulemaking process. Stepping beyond theory, recent examples—such as the Department of Energy’s energy efficiency standards for clothes washers—illustrate that midnight rules impose real burdens.
President-elect Trump has promised to “reform the entire regulatory code to ensure that we keep jobs and wealth in America.” To that end, scholars at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center offer a list of 10 reforms to regulatory processes that could be accomplished through executive action. While other potential reforms could be achieved through the courts or by working with congress, these reforms focus on actions that are within the purview of the executive branch.
By Marcus Peacock
President-elect Trump endorsed “a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations need to be eliminated” or what could be called a “two-for-one” requirement. This working paper addresses how such a process might work including its scope; what to measure; additional workload; and whether it outlasts a Trump administration.
Public Comment on NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety
By Sofie E. Miller, Howard Beales and Daniel R. Pérez
This comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recent Federal Automated Vehicles Policy considers the impact of regulating driverless car technology on innovation and social welfare. NHTSA is correct to be cautious of the effects that a federal policy could have on innovation, particularly because the safety gains from highly automated vehicles (HAV) could be significant. As a result, the agency should avoid any type of premarket approval authority for HAV technology, which could potentially delay the adoption of life-saving innovations and result in thousands of traffic fatalities.
By Marcus Peacock, Sofie E. Miller and Daniel R. Pérez
Scholars at the GW Regulatory Studies Center show how the U.S. could make regulations more evidence-based in a comment to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. Evidence-based regulations plan for, collect, and use evidence to predict, evaluate and improve societal outcomes throughout the rule’s life. This comment lays out a process for producing such rules and provides over a dozen specific recommendations on how the U.S. could better adopt and implement such a system.
Utilizing Behavioral Insights (without Romance): An Inquiry into the Choice Architecture of Public Decision-Making
By Adam C. Smith
To justify regulations that reduce consumer choice, policymakers are increasingly relying on observations from behavioral economics suggesting that people don’t always make rational decisions. However, behavioral economists generally neglect a complementary examination of public decision-makers. Through a public choice lens, Smith compares two public agencies influenced by behavioral economics, the U.S. CFPB and U.K Behavioral Insights Team, and finds that their different institutional structures lead to divergent policy outcomes. He concludes that for policies to be welfare-improving, they must be based on an understanding of public choice architecture as well as private choice architecture.
By Daniel R. Pérez
The Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule would expand the use of its discretionary authority to parole individuals into the United States for reasons of “significant public benefit” to include foreign entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the U.S. DHS recognizes that “the full potential of foreign entrepreneurs to benefit the U.S. economy is presently limited since many…do not qualify under existing nonimmigrant and immigrant classifications.” The rule proposes several criteria for approving applicants on a case-by-case basis. This comment proposes several changes that DHS could make to its proposed rule to maximize its potential benefits.