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

Reg Budget report cover

By Susan E. Dudley, Director, & Melinda Warren

May 19, 2015

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2016 Regulators' Budget

Regulators' Budget Increases Consistent with Growth in Fiscal Budget

An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016

Executive Summary

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 (Budget).  This “regulators’ budget” reflects the on-budget costs of regulation, and does not provide information on regulations’ benefits nor the full costs of regulations to society.  Nevertheless, the time-series data presented here offer insights into the growth and changing composition of regulation over the last five-and-a-half decades.
The regulators’ budget is growing at approximately the same pace as the overall Budget, 5.3 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) 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.  
In general, agencies that are at least partially funded by fees on the entities they regulate continue to grow at a faster rate than those that depend on appropriations from general funding.  For example, agencies that receive these fees include several within the Departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and all are estimated to have significant increases in their outlays in the two-year 2015-2016 period.  
The President’s continued “support [of] Wall Street Reform implementation across agencies,” (Budget, p. 33) is evident in the budget increases for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The President’s emphasis on immigration reform is reflected in the increasing budgets of agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration. However, the President’s statement in his Budget Message that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change” (Budget Message of the President, p. 4) is less evident in the modest increases in the regulators’ budgets of the environment and energy agencies in 2015 and 2016.


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