All Publications

  

Congress Targets Six Trump Administration Regulations for Elimination Under the CRA

April 07, 2021
The Democrat-led Congress has targeted six regulations for elimination including actions issued by the EEOC, EPA, Treasury, HHS, SSA, and the SEC.

Mass, Computer-Generated, and Fraudulent Comments

April 02, 2021
This report examines the legal, practical, and technical issues associated with processing and responding to mass, fraudulent, and computer-generated comments.

Developing Regulatory Alternatives Through Early Input

April 01, 2021
The following seven recommendations are, in large part, designed to help mitigate the inconsistency between what agencies do and what they describe in the documents they publicly release:

A Project Worth Watching at OIRA

March 29, 2021
Building up effective benefit-cost analyses was difficult when President Clinton authored EO 12866 in 1993, so too will be building out better distributional analysis under President Biden’s “Modernizing Regulatory Review” Memorandum. It was worth the effort then, and it will be worth the effort now.

Beyond Republicans and the Disapproval of Regulations

March 23, 2021
This paper examines legislative action—introductions, cosponsorship, and votes—on resolutions of disapproval by committees, political parties, and congressional majorities under the Congressional Review Act.

Revamping Regulations.gov

March 09, 2021
GSA recently replaced the classic version of Regulations.gov—the primary website used for accepting public comments—with a new, sleek website. This commentary assesses the modernizing efforts and suggests further ways to improve the user experience.

Behind the Scenes of the Biden Transition Team at OMB

March 05, 2021
Bridget Dooling and Martha Coven from Princeton University join the GovActually podcast hosted by Dan Tangherlini and Danny Werfel.

Telemedicine & Initiating Buprenorphine Treatment

February 23, 2021
Federal regulators dramatically reduced the barriers to using telemedicine to treat opioid use disorder in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Public health experts have long argued that health care practitioners can provide high-quality treatment for opioid use disorder via telemedicine.

Regulatory Sentiment and Uncertainty under the Trump Administration

February 10, 2021
Using newspaper text, Zhoudan Xie tracks sentiment and uncertainty about regulation and discusses how they changed during administrations.

A Last-Minute Attempt to Partially X the X Waiver

February 03, 2021
The Biden administration changed course at HHS and decided not to publish guidelines for buprenorphine prescriptions to treat opioid use disorder due to “legal and clinical concerns.”

The Regulators' New Marching Orders

January 27, 2021
While Biden's Inauguration Day actions acknowledge longstanding regulatory review practices, they also foreshadow a move away from the bipartisan emphasis on evidence-based policy and signal a much more progressive, and less humble, approach to regulating.

The Regulatory Savvy of Biden’s Early Executive Actions

January 26, 2021
Just hours after his inauguration, President Joe Biden set in motion a series of executive actions that will shape his regulatory agenda.

Into the Void

January 21, 2021
This article examines how Congress has used the GAO’s legal opinion function to expand the application of the Congressional Review Act.

Bespoke Regulatory Review

January 13, 2021
Independent regulatory agencies are taking various steps to improve their regulatory analysis, but none have fully opted in to OIRA’s regulatory review, likely because they expect that OIRA review portends the end of their ability to make independent decisions. But what if it did not?

2020 Regulatory Year in Review:

January 13, 2021
This Regulatory Insight recaps ten notable themes related to federal regulations that occurred in 2020

Advice for the Biden-Harris Administration

January 06, 2021
Five recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration to embrace regulatory humility and secure better regulatory outcomes.

One Trump-Era Notion Biden May Want to Embrace

January 04, 2021
The last days of any administration will see “midnight” regulations and other last-ditch agency actions to try to cement the departing appointees’ priorities before the new guys take office. The incoming Biden team will surely do what every new administration does and cancel or overturn many of the executive orders and regulations the Trump administration has issued in recent weeks. But there’s one they should embrace: A Justice Department memorandum to the White House counsel that clears a path for improved decision-making by independent regulatory commissions.

Improved Economic Analysis Should Be Lasting Part of Pai's FCC Legacy

December 29, 2020
As the Biden administration and the Senate wrangle over the next nominee to chair the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), they will likely debate the nominee’s views on contentious policy issues such as net neutrality and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But a key element of current Chairman Ajit Pai’s legacy is a commitment to improved rulemaking processes and quality. That commitment is evident in changes to the structure and processes of the FCC made to ensure that quality economic analysis informs policy decisions. 

Congressional Review Act Update

December 23, 2020
The House calendar is set, we think, and based on procedures within the Congressional Review Act all regulations issued since August 11, 2020 may be undone by the new Congress when it convenes in January.

The Biden-Harris Team Needs Benefit-Cost Analysis

December 21, 2020
Changes in administration always bring out advocates for rethinking practices and policies, and that’s healthy. But calls for abandoning benefit-cost analysis are tired old ideas that failed to take hold in the Clinton and Obama administrations and should fail again.

President Trump’s Midnight Regulatory Agenda

December 14, 2020
The final Unified Agenda of the Trump Administration has been published, and there is a lot of hurried regulatory activity within it.

Trump Takes a Parting Swipe at the Executive Branch

December 10, 2020
We served as presidential appointees in the Office of Management and Budget under Republican and Democratic administrations, and we disagree on plenty. But we are in complete accord that OMB’s career professionals are essential for effective government. They bring deep knowledge—built up over years, sometimes decades—of how government works, which approaches to policy have succeeded or failed, and why.

The Midnight Regulation Phenomenon

December 02, 2020
There is a trend across administrations, regardless of party, to increase regulatory activity during the "midnight" time period. There is also, unfortunately, a decrease in the quality of corresponding regulatory impact analysis.

Regulation in the Biden Administration

November 18, 2020
Pierce discusses what to expect, and what not to expect, in regulatory policymaking in the Biden-Harris administration.

Milestones in the Evolution of the Administrative State

November 18, 2020
Susan E. Dudley lays out the key developments in regulatory policy, and offers where she thinks we will go from here.

Motor Carrier Rate Bureaus

November 10, 2020

Craig Keats participated in our Delivering the Goods event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act and Motor Carrier Act.

DHS's Affidavit of Support on Behalf of Immigrants

November 04, 2020
Mark Febrizio offers analysis of the Department of Homeland Security's proposed rule amending regulations governing the affidavit of support requirements under the Immigration and National Act.

Regulatory Impact Analysis in Brazil

November 04, 2020
Brazil's first regulatory agency was created only in 1997 and, since then, the regulatory agenda has been centered on and incoherently led by agencies.

Sophisticated Economics for Complex Regulatory Reform

October 28, 2020
Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson were selected for the 2020 Nobel prize in economic sciences in part because their work has been used “to design new auction formats for goods and services that are difficult to sell in a traditional way, such as radio frequencies.” Ronald Coase first proposed using a market rather than administrative allocation of frequencies in 1959. However, he did not propose any specific way to implement such a market and his suggestion did not change the existing process. In subsequent years, vast efforts have been devoted to creating ways to overcome the complex legal, engineering, and economic issues that prevent an efficient market for spectrum.

Effect of Deregulation on Labor Markets

October 27, 2020
James Peoples is a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. He participated in our recent webinar series, Delivering the Goods, that looked at how the Staggers Rail Act and Motor Carrier Act were passed, and what effect they had on the surface freight industry. Professor Peoples’ continues his reflections in this Commentary.

Effect of Deregulation on Labor Markets

October 27, 2020
James Peoples is a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and he participated in our recent webinar series, Delivering the Goods, that looked at how the Staggers Rail Act and Motor Carrier Act were passed, and what effect they had on the surface freight industry.

Effect of Deregulation on Labor Markets

October 27, 2020
James Peoples is a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and he participated in our recent webinar series, Delivering the Goods, that looked at how the Staggers Rail Act and Motor Carrier Act were passed, and what effect they had on the surface freight industry.

Biometrics and Immigration

October 14, 2020
A controversial DHS proposal affects the use and collection of biometrics for immigrants and citizens alike.

The Effects of GDPR on the Digital Economy

October 08, 2020
GDPR has strengthened individual rights to data protection, but it also introduced significant obligations for businesses.

A Model for Bipartisan Cooperation

October 07, 2020
The 40th anniversary of the Motor Carrier Act and the Staggers Rail Act gives us an opportunity to reflect on bipartisan regulatory reforms that positively reshaped freight transportation.

Reflections on the EPA at 50

October 01, 2020
Mannix reflects on a symposium from Case Western Reserve University, and suggests some of the ways that strident advocacy in the public arena can distort our thinking about how best to solve problems.

Regulations Teed Up at the DEA

September 23, 2020
The DEA is taking action on the opioid epidemic.

Dems Evaluating Challenge To Payroll Tax Deferral, Wyden Says

September 16, 2020
"Very few resolutions that are introduced make it all the way, That suggests that part of the way that legislators are using this tool is to do more than just disapprove — that there must be some other political value in using the tool."

The Misguided Antitrust Attack on Big Tech

September 15, 2020
Any action Congress wishes to take on Big Tech should come in the form of legislation rather than antitrust enforcement. -- Jerry Ellig and former Senator Phil Gramm in the Wall Street Journal.

Time to Give Bootleggers the Boot!

September 14, 2020
As EPA celebrates it's 50th birthday the agency needs to remember that, “Dilution is not the solution to pollution.” 

OPM's Paid Parental Leave

September 09, 2020
OPM’s analysis suggests that paid parental leave could create social benefits, but the only cost would be the associated administrative costs. Both claims cannot simultaneously be true.

New Regulations.gov API

September 09, 2020
GSA has released a beta version of Regulations.gov, how will these new features effect public commenting?

The NTIA and Section 230

September 02, 2020
The NTIA's proposal is likely to have economic effects that exceed $100 million.

Unintended Consequences of GDPR

September 02, 2020
What can the past two years tell us about the effects of GDPR?

Into the Void

August 25, 2020
Known mostly for its role as an auditor, the GAO’s activities have expanded over time. As part of this expansion, the GAO became a referee in an increasingly important part of the administrative state: determining which actions are “rules” under the Congressional Review Act.

Improvements in SEC Economic Analysis

August 19, 2020
Economic analysis of SEC regulations improved substantially following new staff guidance in 2012.

Mass, Computer-Generated, and Fraudulent Comments

August 19, 2020
A research team has assembled to produce a report for ACUS on the regulatory comment process.

Race and Regulation

August 12, 2020
It’s always hard for an agency to envision all of the potential consequences that a proposed rule might unleash. That’s part of why the public comment process is so critical: it gives the public an opportunity to shine a light on what an agency missed or omitted.

Analyzing Agency Budgets for Regulatory Spending

August 12, 2020
What can the last four Trump administration budget proposals tell us about congressional influence over agency spending?

The Discounting Dilemma

August 06, 2020
Brian Mannix recreates OMB's standard discount rate instructions, and explains how they help to resolve many misunderstandings about discounting.

EPA's Benefit-Cost Analysis

August 04, 2020
Research Professor Brian F. Mannix responds to the EPA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on benefit-cost analysis.

Benefit-Cost Analysis at the EPA

August 04, 2020
Professor Joseph J. Cordes comments on three issues raised in the proposed EPA rule.

Regulators' Budget: Overall Spending and Staffing Remain Stable

July 28, 2020
This report is a joint effort of the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis and the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center in Washington, DC.

Regulatory Impact Analysis for Financial Regulations

July 21, 2020
Financial regulatory agencies can produce useful economic analysis to inform regulatory decisions if they keep three principles in mind: (1) Focus on regulatory impact analysis (RIA), not just benefit-cost analysis (BCA); (2) The analysis is not the decision; and (3) Build institutional capacity to support objective analysis.

The Durability of Regulatory Oversight

July 20, 2020
OIRA's durability is a testament to the importance of regulatory oversight. This article, published in the Regulation & Governance journal, reflects on OIRA's evolution over the almost 40 years since the Paperwork Reduction Act created it in 1980 to understand what has made it so durable, and concludes with recommendations for allowing OIRA's roles and practices to evolve while retaining the core functions that have received bipartisan support.

Agency Compliance with the “Guidance Executive Order”

July 13, 2020
Executive Order 13891 requires agencies to take actions to promote transparency and public participation in the development of certain guidance documents. Last month, some federal agencies hit a tight deadline set out in the executive order, while other agencies lag behind.

What are People Saying About COVID-19-Related Regulations?

July 10, 2020
Zhoudan Xie utilizes ProQuest's special text and data mining project to produce a report analyzing popular news, regulations, and COVID-19.

Regulation during COVID-19

July 06, 2020
This analysis shows that the expression about regulation in the COVID-related news was negative in most days during the beginning of the virus outbreak, but it started to improve in mid-March. However, the level of uncertainty expressed in the news shows no signs of diminishing, indicating persistent uncertainty surrounding regulation in the time of COVID-19.

2020 Spring Agenda

July 01, 2020
OIRA released the final Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions before the upcoming presidential election this November.

Improving Economic Analysis by Reorganizing Agencies’ Economists

June 30, 2020
An Administrative Conference of the United States recommendation could help agencies better organize their economics staffs.

Parsing a Pair of Two-track Regulatory Actions: Part Two

June 22, 2020
EPA is simultaneously pursuing two related initiatives: a revision of its longstanding Guidelines for Economic Analysis, and an NPRM on the use of such analyses in rulemakings under the Clean Air Act. Meanwhile, CEQ has been making major revisions to its regulations governing NEPA for all federal agencies, but the president just signed an Executive Order telling agencies to try to work around NEPA. What’s going on? Part II of this two part commentary looks at NEPA.

Bespoke Regulatory Review

June 19, 2020
This working paper is forthcoming in The Ohio State Law Journal, and it proposes a new way forward for OIRA to perform benefit-cost analysis of draft regulations from independent agencies: bespoke regulatory review.

Parsing a Pair of Two-Track Regulatory Actions: Part One

June 17, 2020
EPA is simultaneously pursuing two related initiatives: a revision of its longstanding Guidelines for Economic Analysis, and an NPRM on the use of such analyses in rulemakings under the Clean Air Act.

Nudging the Nudger: Toward a Choice Architecture for Regulators

June 15, 2020
Behavioral research has shown that individuals do not always behave in ways that match textbook definitions of rationality but are subject to cognitive biases that may lead to systematic errors in judgments and decisions. Recognizing that regulators are not immune from these cognitive irrationalities, this article explores how the institutional framework or “choice architecture” in which they operate interacts with those biases.

The Social Media Executive Order and the FCC

June 08, 2020
This Commentary outlines the questions FCC analysts would have to address just to determine whether a problem exists that regulation might solve.

Consultation as Policymaking Innovation: Comparing Government Transparency and Public Participation in China and the United States

June 03, 2020
The findings suggest that differences in the Chinese and U.S. political systems, rather than issues of administrative capacity, are the primary limitations of consultation as a policymaking innovation in contemporary China.

Lost in the Flood?

May 26, 2020
Focusing on 1,049 mass comment campaigns that occurred during 22 EPA rulemakings between 2012 and 2017, the article's findings suggest that legal imperatives trump political considerations in conditioning agency responsiveness, given that mass comment campaigns – relative to other comments – generally contain little “relevant matter.”

Online Consultation and the Institutionalization of Transparency and Participation in Chinese Policymaking

May 26, 2020
This article examines the institutionalization of online consultation, a prominent instrument of governance reform in contemporary China in which government organizations make public draft laws and regulations and solicit input from interested parties prior to finalizing decisions.

Retail Electric Competition and Natural Monopoly: The Shocking Truth

May 20, 2020
Contrary to natural monopoly theory, no studies find that retail competition, per se, increased prices, although several studies find that flaws in market design have led to higher prices.

COVID-19 & CRA Jeopardy

May 18, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in fewer days in D.C. than usual for Congress. One consequence of this decision is that, due to a quirk in how it’s calculated, the Congressional Review Act window has likely expanded, placing more rules in jeopardy than expected.

Regulatory Policy Uncertainty under COVID-19

May 13, 2020
Uncertainties induced by COVID-19 are worsening the economic impact of the pandemic. Policy uncertainty reached a historical peak during the past two months, while uncertainty specifically around regulatory policy appears to be muted.

Agency Learning Agendas and Regulatory Research

May 12, 2020
As federal agencies scramble to respond to COVID-19, there’s another initiative rolling forward that you probably haven’t heard of, one that was built by data wonks and will influence regulation in ways we’re just now beginning to understand. As part of a new legal requirement, agencies are writing learning agendas to organize the way they approach research, including regulatory research.

Agency Learning Agendas and Regulatory Research

May 12, 2020
Originally published as part of the Series on Regulatory Process and Perspective and was produced by the Brookings Center on Regulation and Markets. -- As federal agencies scramble to respond to COVID-19, there’s another initiative rolling forward that you probably haven’t heard of, one that was built by data wonks and will influence regulation in ways we’re just now beginning to understand. As part of a new legal requirement, agencies are writing learning agendas to organize the way they approach research, including regulatory research.

DEA Proposes to Lift Ban on Mobile Methadone Vans

April 29, 2020
In 2007, DEA placed a moratorium on approving new mobile narcotic treatment programs. Under a recently proposed rule, DEA would repeal the moratorium and establish requirements for mobile narcotic treatment programs.

DEA's Mobile Narcotic Treatment Program

April 28, 2020
This public interest comment assesses the Drug Enforcement Administration's proposed rule and offers four sets of recommendations: a) DEA should immediately begin approving mobile components in response to the coronavirus crisis, while the agency works towards finalizing the proposed rule, b) DEA should revise or remove conditions in the proposed rule that do not decrease the risk of diversion but do increase the burden of expanding mobile components, c) DEA should issue an updated economic analysis, and d) DEA should commit to conducting an evaluation of the mobile NTP program.

4/30: GSA’s Regulatory Data Public Meeting (& job openings)

April 22, 2020
The General Services Administration is considering how to modernize the eRulemaking program. The second of two public meetings is coming up on April 30 from 2pm-4pm ET. It will be held entirely online and it’s got a great lineup that packs a lot into 2 hours. Registration is easy and free.

Using Public Comments to Identify Regulations for Retrospective Review

April 22, 2020
A new report by the GW Regulatory Studies Center finds that analysis of public comments can help agencies pick which regulations to evaluate.

EPA Proposes to Accelerate Its Permit Appeal Process

April 14, 2020
A proposed rule to speed up administrative decision-making could have unintended consequences.

Using Comments as Data for Research

April 13, 2020
Public comments have been a valuable source of data in research studying public participation and bureaucratic behavior. Our recent report analyzes public comments from an unconventional perspective and reveals a new way for researchers to use comments as data.

DOT's Proposed Rule for Air Travel with Service Animals

April 07, 2020
This public interest comment summarizes the rulemaking, evaluates the proposal’s key provisions and analysis, and makes recommendations for improving DOT’s analysis of its proposed action.

FDA & USDA Food Identity Standards

April 02, 2020
FDA should include additional principles aimed at improving the efficacy of food identity standards, alter its proposed approach, alter its existing temporary permit program for food identity standards, and issue a revised economic analysis.

GAO’s Role in the Regulatory State

March 24, 2020
Known more for its role as an auditor, GAO has created a role for itself as a referee in an increasingly important part of the administrative state.

Reply Comment on Benefit-Cost Analysis at the STB

March 18, 2020
This reply comment is on the Surface Transportation Board's solicitation of information regarding the Association of American Railroads' petition for a rule on benefit-cost analysis, and it addresses several concerns about the suitability of benefit-cost analysis for STB proceedings that stakeholders raised in earlier comments.

Are Future Lives Worth More Than Our Own?

March 14, 2020
The EPA has asked its Environmental Economics Advisory Committee for advice on how the Agency should adjust the value of statistical lives (VSL) in the future. Incomes are expected to grow, and people with higher incomes tend to place a higher value on measures to reduce their own mortality risks. Does this mean that a benefit-cost analysis should place greater weight on lives saved in the future than it does on those saved today? In comments filed with the Committee and summarized here, Mannix argues that this is more than just a question of analytical technique.

When Pigs Fly? DOT Says Not for Free.

March 11, 2020
The Dept. of Transportation is seeking comments on regulations related to animals on planes. Commenters should help the agency improve its benefit-cost analysis, and further clarify all of the trade-offs facing consumers and industry.

CEQ's Proposed Update to NEPA

March 11, 2020
Febrizio comments on CEQ’s NPRM by focusing on aligning NEPA with regulatory best practices, encouraging systematic regulatory analysis of the proposed rule, and addressing specific topics where CEQ invites comment.

Is American Food having an Identity Crisis?

March 09, 2020
FDA and USDA proposed a rule in 2005 to establish general principles the agencies could rely on to evaluate food identity standards. The agencies did not finalize the rule, but FDA recently reopened the comment period on the proposal.

Statutory Delegation, Agency Authority, and the Asymmetry of Impact Analysis

February 26, 2020
This article documents the diverse degrees of discretionary authority Congress grants US executive branch agencies. It then presents a case study that systematically compares the quality of impact analysis that informed legislative and regulatory decisions on positive train control, a technology mandated by statute in 2008.

OMB's Request for Comment on Marginal Excess Tax Burden & EO 13771

February 20, 2020
This public interest comment begins by making some general observations about the use of Marginal Excess Tax Burden in the context of budgetary, tax, and regulatory policy. It then offers responses to the eight specific questions listed in the OMB notice.

Regulating Agencies

February 18, 2020
This working paper is part of a symposium hosted by the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

OMB's Request for Comment on Marginal Excess Tax Burden and EO 13771

February 18, 2020
First, the author focuses on the general implementation of EO 13771 accounting because it has significant implications for properly addressing the Marginal Excess Tas Burden issue. Second, the author offer comments on three of the topics specifically outlined by OMB.

GSA Moving to Deal with Mass and Fake Comments

February 11, 2020
GSA convened a public meeting, that raised several fundamental questions, on mass and fake comments as part of its initiative to modernize Electronic Rulemaking Management.

Fake It Till They Make It: How Bad Actors Use Astroturfing to Manipulate Regulators, Disenfranchise Consumers and Subvert the Rulemaking Process

February 06, 2020
The House Committee on Finacial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on the effect of mass and fake comment campaigns on the rulemaking process. Senior scholar Steven J. Balla presented the findings of his research into thousands of mass comment campaigns to the Subcommittee.

Epistemic Lessons from Economic Regulatory Reform

February 05, 2020
Jerry Ellig offers three lessons learned major regulatory reforms over the past forty years; 1. Intentions do not equal results, 2. Facts are stubborn things, and 3. We can make progress together on policy if we focus on evidence.

STB Petition to Consider Benefit-Cost Analysis

January 31, 2020
The STB is prudent to explore methods for improving its economic analysis of regulatory proposals—as several other independent agencies have done in recent years.

GSA's Mass and Fake Comments Meeting

January 30, 2020
The General Services Administration held a public meeting in their Auditorium at 1800 F Street NW to discuss the effect mass and fake comments in the rulemaking process.

FDIC's Framework for Analyzing the Effects of Regulatory Actions

January 29, 2020
The FDIC is wise to use Circular A-4 as a template for economic analysis. The analytical approaches in Circular A-4 are critical for determining whether a regulation under consideration is likely to produce more good than harm.

Muddling-Through and Deep Learning for Managing Large-Scale Uncertain Risks

January 26, 2020
Building on Charles Lindblom's research on the limits of rational-comprehensive decisionmaking, Tony Cox provides insights on how machine learning can help individuals and institutions make better informed decisions - improving society's experience of 'muddling through' policymaking under uncertainty.

2019: The Year in Review

January 25, 2020
Zhoudan Xie and Mark Febrizio recap the top ten regulatory developments in 2019.

Regulatory Oversight and Benefit-Cost Analysis: A Historical Perspective

January 24, 2020
This article examines the evolution of executive regulatory oversight and analysis from the 1970s to today, exploring the reasons for its durability and whether the current imposition of a regulatory budget challenges the bipartisan nature of regulatory practice.

Regulatory Impact Analysis and Litigation Risk

January 23, 2020
This paper explores the role that the regulatory impact analyses (RIAs) that agencies are required to prepare for important proposed rules play in decisions by courts about whether these rules should be upheld when they are challenged after promulgation.

STB's Railroad Revenue Adequacy

January 23, 2020
This comment addresses three of four recommendations from the STB’s Rate Reform Task Force that the STB asked hearing participants to address in its Notice of Public Hearing: (1) Define and calculate long-term revenue adequacy for individual railroads over a multi-year period, (2) Place a ceiling on rate increases for railroads that are long-term revenue adequate and have market dominance over the particular shipment at issue, and (3) Remove bottleneck protections for long-term revenue adequate carriers, so that a shipper could more easily get a regulated rate for the portion of a route on which a single railroad is market dominant and then negotiate with another railroad for a competitive rate on the remainder of the route.

Designing a Choice Architecture for Regulators

January 23, 2020
Recognizing that cognitive biases can also affect regulators themselves, this article attempts to understand how the institutional environment in which regulators operate interacts with their cognitive biases. This article offers suggestions for improving the regulatory choice architecture at federal agencies by having public managers and policy makers factor in predictable biases when regulating individual behaviors or market

Regulatory Oversight and Benefit-Cost Analysis: A Historical Perspective

January 15, 2020
This article examines the evolution of executive regulatory oversight and analysis from the 1970s to today, exploring the reasons for its durability and whether the current imposition of a regulatory budget challenges the bipartisan nature of regulatory practice.

STB's Rate Review and Market Dominance -- Reply Comment

January 13, 2020
This reply comment addresses issues raised during two recent proceedings where the Surface Transportation Board proposed a streamlined approach to assessing whether a railroad has market dominance and a final offer process for small rate disputes.

Pursuing Consilience

December 30, 2019
Behavioral public administration research aspires not only to draw on developments in behavioral science but also, importantly, to address central themes in public administration.

Better Economic Analysis Can Reduce Regulators’ Litigation Risks

December 19, 2019
Legal scholars such as Cass Sunstein, Jonathan Masur, and Eric Posner argue that federal regulatory agencies will face increasing pressure from courts in the coming years to produce high-quality economic analysis to inform decisions about regulations. While some are concerned about courts’ capability to review economic analysis, the fact is that courts are already doing it. Several recent research projects shed light on the relationship between the quality of an agency’s economic analysis and the risk that a regulation will be overturned in court.

OIRA’s Regulatory Reform Report for Fiscal Year 2019

December 18, 2019
The Regulatory Reform Results for Fiscal Year 2019 are out, and OIRA is touting that regulatory agencies produced $13.5 billion in present value cost savings. Beyond the glossy highlights, however, are a few important “firsts” in implementation, such as total agency cost savings falling short of the government-wide targets.

Coproduction of Regulations Under the Administrative Procedure Act

December 16, 2019
This paper assesses whether US regulators act in a manner consistent with the predictions of their theory.

The Gopher Frog and Justice Alito’s Unanswered Question

December 12, 2019
The Supreme Court says the Fish and Wildlife Service had overreached in designating “critical habitat” for the endangered Dusky Gopher Frog, but it also dodged an important question that Justice Alito had posed during oral argument: Who should pay for the preservation of this public good?

Upcoming CRA Deadline has Implications for Regulatory Oversight by Congress

December 11, 2019
According to the 2020 House calendar, any rules issued after May 19, 2020 may be subject to review by the 117th Congress. However, historical data suggest the lookback period is more likely to begin sometime in July or early August of 2020.

Unified Agenda Released without FY 2019 Regulatory Reform Report

November 20, 2019
This morning, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released its annual Regulatory Plan and semiannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. Notably absent is the Regulatory Reform Status Report, which tracks executive agency performance in complying with the deregulatory requirements of Executive Order (EO) 13771. With regards to actions listed as active in the Agenda, agencies plan to issue an average of approximately 2.5 significant deregulatory actions for every 1 regulatory action. However, our analysis of economically significant actions suggests a potential shift in agency rulemaking.

Comparing a Rebated Carbon Tax with a Compensated Carbon Tax, And Revisiting the Distinction Between Economic and Social Regulation

November 19, 2019
Part I of this paper compares and contrasts a simple carbon tax, a rebated carbon tax, and an output-compensated carbon tax, using the electric power industry to illustrate the differences.

Rail Regulators Ponder Benefit-Cost Analysis

November 18, 2019
Although regulatory impact analysis would certainly not automate STB regulatory decisions, it would provide a coherent and organized framework for discovering and presenting information about the likely consequences of regulatory alternatives.

Tracking Regulatory Activity through Trends in Federal Budgets

November 13, 2019
The FY 2020 Regulators’ Budget requests an overall increase in spending. Details within that request point to a notable increase in spending for agencies focused on homeland security, with a decrease in agency spending for regulators focused on the environment and energy.

Exhaustion can be Exhausting! EPA Proposes Reforms to Permit Appeals Process

November 06, 2019
The proposed Environmental Appeals Board reforms will provide a faster path to a final EPA decision, so that applicants can either live with it or challenge it in court, but in either case they will not be stuck in administrative limbo.

STB's Market Dominance and Final Offer Rate Review

November 06, 2019
This comment briefly explains the regulatory impact analysis framework and demonstrates how it could be used to answer key factual questions the STB must answer in order to accomplish its statutory goals.

Consultation as Policymaking Innovation

November 01, 2019
The findings suggest that differences in the Chinese and American political systems, rather than issues of administrative capacity, are the primary limitations of consultation as a policymaking innovation in contemporary China.

ED Settles on Less Ambitious Overhaul of Borrower Defense

October 16, 2019
The Department of Education recently published its long-awaited, final rule detailing how the agency will process borrower defense and other loan discharges related to its Federal Direct Loan Program. The final rule applies to all loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 and departs from the agency’s approach to adjudicating claims under the Obama administration.

Are Agencies Responsive To Mass Comment Campaigns?

October 07, 2019
New research finds that agencies perform a detailed review of mass comment campaigns on their proposed rules, but the affect of these campaigns on the outcome of final rules may be negligible.

Bigger Stones for David: Tools to Give OIRA More Leverage in Regulatory Review

October 02, 2019
Regulatory review of agency rulemaking activity through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs should be linked to each agency’s strategic planning, and carry budgetary consequences. This will help agencies to more clearly define their goals, achieve their objectives, and reward positive results.

Lost in the Flood?: The Efficacy of Mass Comment Campaigns in Agency Rulemaking

October 02, 2019
By assembling information about more than 1,000 mass comment campaigns that occurred during Environmental Protection Agency rulemakings between 2012 and 2016, the analysis addresses the manner in which the agency responds to campaigns and the association between campaigns and the substance of rules.

Where's the Spam?

September 27, 2019
A thorough analysis of more than one thousand mass comment campaigns submitted on Environmental Protection Agency rulemakings between 2012 and 2016.

Responsible Precautions for Uncertain Environmental Risks

September 17, 2019
Elaborating on best practices for decisionmakers facing low probability, high consequence hazards. Viscusi, Huber, and Bell point out that these uncertain risks create incentives to pursue suboptimal policy approaches that potentially over commit public resources to less consequential hazards.

Nuclear War as a Global Catastrophic Risk

September 17, 2019
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).

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

September 17, 2019
Reviewing risk assessment to scenarios of terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure including U.S. sporting venues and the international maritime transportation system. Fred Roberts notes that these assessments 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.

Dynamic Benefit-Cost Analysis for Uncertain Futures

September 17, 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."

An OIRA Rule on Rules

September 16, 2019
Judicial review of agency benefit-cost analysis is on the rise. Although courts are paying more attention to these analyses, they lack a robust toolkit to assess them. A cross-government rule, written by OIRA, could help by giving courts a set of standards against which they can assess agency rules.

Codifying the Cost-Benefit State

September 12, 2019
In this working paper we focus on the executive’s authority to write a cross-government “rule-on-rules” to govern regulatory analysis, including benefit-cost analysis and the courts’ authority to enforce such a rule.

OIRA Past & Future

September 12, 2019
While some of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affair’s functions are statutorily granted, others—notably those related to regulatory policy—derive from presidential executive orders. This paper reflects on OIRA's evolution over the almost 40 years since the Paperwork Reduction Act created it in 1980 to understand what has made it so durable.

David Versus Godzilla: Bigger Stones

September 12, 2019
For nearly four decades, U.S. presidents have issued executive orders requiring agencies to conduct comprehensive regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for significant regulations to ensure that regulatory decisions solve social problems in a cost-beneficial manner. Yet experience demonstrates that agency RIAs often fail to live up to the standards enunciated in executive orders and OMB guidance. We suggest four managerial changes that could increase OIRA’s leverage.

The Ambition of the Administrative State

August 30, 2019
America’s Founding Fathers strove for a government based on a separation of powers, wherein federal power would be limited, and divided among three branches. Counting on “ambition [to] counteract ambition,” they designed the Constitution to allow each branch to challenge the powers or decisions of another. Over the last century, the executive branch has grown dramatically, raising questions as to how relevant the Framers’ notion of checks and balances is today.

10 Years of Going Back to School

August 27, 2019
Later this Fall, the GW Regulatory Studies Center will celebrate 10 years at the university. The Center’s first decade has been a fulfilling journey to improve regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach, and we look forward to the decade ahead.

OIRA Wants You…To Schedule Meetings Online

August 19, 2019
In an effort to modernize a critical part of the rulemaking process, the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs recently developed an online platform for individuals and groups interested in a particular proposal to request a formal meeting.

DOE's Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing

August 16, 2019
Due to anticipated price increases, the rule would have a regressive effect on low-income and elderly households, who are the primary occupants of manufactured homes.

Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing

August 12, 2019
Executive Order 13878 creates a council tasked with reducing regulations to make housing more affordable. The multi-agency council will work with all levels of government, and private sector stakeholders to collect information and propose reforms before its termination date of Jan. 21, 2021.

Paradise by the DASHBOARD Act?

August 05, 2019
The DASHBOARD Act would impose several data-disclosure requirements on large companies that monetize online user data. The Act assumes a market failure of information asymmetry, where consumers undervalue their personal data. However, the evidence for this claim is indeterminate, and a lack of clarity on data property rights and liability could make corresponding rules difficult to enforce.

Clean Power v. Clean Energy

July 31, 2019
These rules will face new legal challenges based on both the economic analysis and the statutory authority for EPA’s actions.

Bounded Rationality in the Rulemaking Process

July 23, 2019
Regulators are humans, not robots. This simple truth reminds us that individual decision-makers responsible for developing and implementing regulations face the same cognitive limitations that consumers face in the marketplace. Institutional reforms to regulators’ choice architecture may help mitigate these biases.

Nudging the Nudger: Toward a Choice Architecture for Regulators

July 16, 2019
Recognizing that “bounded rationality” also occurs in the regulatory process and building on public choice insights that focus on how institutional incentives affect behavior, this article explores the interaction between the institutions in which regulators operate and their cognitive biases. It attempts to understand the extent to which the “choice architecture” regulators face reinforces or counteracts predictable biases. Just as behavioral insights can help design a choice architecture that frames individual decisions in ways that encourage welfare-enhancing choices, designing the institutions that counter regulators’ cognitive errors could lead to more public-welfare-enhancing policies.

A Two-Year Lookback on Trump’s Deregulatory Record

July 15, 2019
Susan Dudley and her co-panelists discuss the effect of Trump’s Executive Order 13771, repeated losses for the administration in court, the administration’s view of benefit-cost analysis, and more at an ABA Regulatory Policy Committee meeting.

IRS's Safe Harbor Notice on State and Local Tax Credits

July 10, 2019
The IRS seeks comment on a guidance notice that allows taxpayers to count contributions for which they received a state or local tax credit as a payment of state or local taxes, subject to the $10,000 SALT cap.

Privacy Research: The Need for Evidence in the Design of U.S. Privacy Policy

July 03, 2019
This regulatory policy insight details the importance of using evidence to inform the development of U.S. privacy policy and identifies the kinds of evidence that would be particularly useful for policymakers to consider.

Francisco Franco Still Dead, Naked Alcohol Protectionism Still Unconstitutional

July 03, 2019
The Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas confirms that the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to engage in naked economic protectionism just because the product is alcohol.

FDA's Proposed Rule on Mammography Standards

June 23, 2019
The FDA has a unique role in mammography and should be commended for proposing to update its rules, however, the proposed rule’s breast density notification raises issues of state preemption; lessons that can be learned from testing, evaluation, and assessment of prior state action; and analysis of distributional and equity effects.

IRS Rule on Charitable Deductions: A Worthy Goal, a Skillful Fix, but Surprisingly Thin Evidence

June 17, 2019
The IRS prohibits individual taxpayers from deducting charitable contributions on their federal taxes if they received a state or local tax credit in exchange for the contribution, but allows them to count such donations as state or local tax payments subject to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

Research Brief: Why Should We Focus on the Form of Regulation?

June 12, 2019
As part of a cooperative agreement with the USDA, a new GW Regulatory Studies Center report finds that growth in total regulation has a negative relationship with land productivity growth, and the relationship differs according to the form of regulation.

Restoring Internet Freedom as an example of How to Regulate

June 03, 2019
Thomas Lambert’s How to Regulate contains some simple but critical pieces of advice for regulators, and the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order presents an example of how to apply those principles in practice.

Expanding OIRA Review to IRS

May 28, 2019
Executive Order 12866 describes U.S. policy on regulatory planning and review.

2019 Spring Unified Agenda

May 22, 2019
The Spring 2019 Unified Agenda includes a total of 3,791 actions, 295 of which are classified as regulatory, 721 as deregulatory, with the remainder exempt or classified as “other.” Of the total number of actions, 177 are economically significant. The agencies with the most deregulatory actions planned are the Department of Transportation (DOT) with 129 actions and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with 65; these same two agencies have had the most deregulatory actions planned since the Fall 2017 Agenda.

Proposed Revisions to DOE’s Process Rule Include Beneficial Changes and Areas for Improvement

May 21, 2019
On February 13, 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that updates its internal rulemaking procedures for energy conservation standards, called the Process Rule. Policy analyst Mark Febrizio submitted a public comment on DOE’s proposed revisions to the Process Rule that focused on eight areas of interest in the revised Process Rule, highlighting both beneficial changes and additional areas for improvement. This commentary builds on the public comment by examining how the Process Rule connects with two broader concepts in regulatory policy—formalizing internal procedures and retrospective review.

Organizational Process, Rulemaking Pace, and the Shadow of Judicial Review

May 17, 2019
This article in the Public Administration Review journal examines the relationship between how agencies organize their rulemaking routines and the resulting rules.

From Beginning to End: An Examination of Agencies' Early Public Engagement and Retrospective Review

May 07, 2019
Susan Dudley testified before the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Regulatory Affairs and Financial Management Subcommittee on May 7, 2019, commending the Subcommittee’s bipartisan regulatory reform legislation.

DOE's Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards

May 07, 2019
The Department of Energy is proposing to update and modernize its current rulemaking methodology for establishing new or revised energy conservation standards and test procedures, called the “Process Rule.” While the agency has adhered to internal procedures for years, the notice of proposed rulemaking seeks to make those procedures binding on the agency. The proposed rule includes many important provisions and is largely a step in the right direction. This public comment focuses on eight areas of interest in the revised Process Rule, highlighting both beneficial changes and additional areas for improvement.

Early but Not Often: A Look into the Use of ANPRMs in Rulemaking

May 03, 2019
Prior to the proposal of a new rule, agencies may decide to seek public comment through an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on whether a new rule is necessary and what should be included if the rule progresses. Despite the importance of public participation in rulemaking, only 5% of all significant rules are preceded by an ANPRM. This commentary takes a closer look at trends in the use of ANPRMs and suggests questions for further research.

Statutory Clarity and Judicial Review of Regulatory Impact Analysis

April 29, 2019
Precise statutory language corresponds to better benefit-cost analysis and more consistent judicial review. Originally posted in The Regulatory Review.

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

April 17, 2019
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.

Revising Waters of the United States

April 16, 2019
The proposed revision to the definition of the “waters of the United States” is a significant improvement over prior definitions, including that adopted in 2015. If the definition contained in the final rule is similar to that which has been proposed, it is likely to provide greater legal certainty for the regulated community and is likely to be less vulnerable to legal challenge than were prior definitions.

Revising WOTUS

April 15, 2019
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.

IRS's Qualified Business Income Deduction

April 08, 2019
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.

Is GDPR the Right Model for the U.S.?

April 03, 2019
Recent discussions on online privacy regulation refer to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. It is often seen as a good model to follow for protecting personal data in the digital age. We apply a benefit-cost framework to understand its implications on this side of the Atlantic. Given the existing regulations, an evidence-based approach to identify net-benefits might offer a balanced approach to personal data protection.

The Eagle and the Dragon: Comparing Government Consultation and Public Participation between the US and China

March 27, 2019
This commentary demonstrates an interesting comparison in government consultation and public participation between the US and China. It shows that the US and China appear to have little variation in consultation procedures and participation levels, but major divergence in the level of transparency and the type of stakeholders who participate.

Regulatory Sludge: Reducing Paperwork Burdens to Preserve Our Time

March 20, 2019
Cass Sunstein spoke at the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis Annual Conference & Meeting on March 15th, graduate assistant Julie Balla summarizes his remarks which included a call to action to tackle both the stock and flow of paperwork burdens.

Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

March 13, 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.

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

March 07, 2019
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.

The Shutdown's Rulemaking Ramifications

March 05, 2019
Bridget C.E. Dooling explains how the longest government shutdown in history exposed aspects of the rulemaking process that usually go unseen. She also signals that long shutdowns imperil deregulatory initiatives, which need Federal workers to implement them.

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

March 04, 2019
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.

The Government Shutdown's Effect on Regulatory Output

February 06, 2019
Interestingly, despite the end of the shutdown on January 25, the regulatory pace has not yet returned to prior levels. This stall in regulatory output has substantial implications for President Trump’s deregulatory agenda.

Measuring Costs and Benefits of Privacy Controls

January 30, 2019
This 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.

Electric Utility Competition — In South Carolina?

January 28, 2019
Jerry Ellig participated in an educational forum hosted by the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce to discuss his research on electric utility market competition. This commentary provides a summary of Ellig's presentation, and an overview of the reform ideas presented by his co-panelists.

Improving Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

January 22, 2019
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.

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on State Alcohol Protectionism This Month

January 09, 2019
Next week the US Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of a Tennessee law that requires individuals to live in the state for two years before they can obtain a permit to sell alcohol.

Measuring Energy Efficiency: Accounting for the Hidden Costs of Product Failure

January 01, 2019
DOE sets energy efficiency standards for a wide variety of consumer appliances to achieve a “significant conservation of energy.” Advocates for these standards claim that households have realized substantial cost savings with the existing standards. There is a substantial literature—although no consensus—on the effects of energy efficiency regulation, however.

Fall Unified Agenda outlines Progress of "Two-for-One" Reforms

December 15, 2018
The biannual Unified Agenda provides the public with a look at agency priorities and regulations for the next year. The newest Agenda, released Thursday, includes both regulatory and deregulatory actions that agencies are planning to comply with Executive Order 13771, which requires agencies to offset the costs of new rules by eliminating existing rules. The administration expects that regulatory reforms in the next year will reduce regulatory burdens by $9.8 billion.

Transparency and Public Commenting Under EO 13771

December 08, 2018
In response to President Trump’s Executive Orders 13771 and 13777, two House of Representatives committees have taken interest in assessing the progress of each agency task force and best practices for regulatory reform.

#GivingTuesday: Why You Should Support the GW Regulatory Studies Center

November 27, 2018
The GW Regulatory Studies Center is the hub for rigorous, applied academic research in regulatory policy. Our scholars are the leading experts in their field of study. We regularly interact with key bipartisan leaders across the federal government, thought leaders in academia, popular news outlets, and the apex of industry. And we have big plans for the future.

Enduring Principles of Sound Regulatory Analysis

November 27, 2018
The economic foundations of Executive Order 12,866 underscore its continued importance in regulatory review. This was originally published in The Regulatory Review, a publication of the Penn Program on Regulation.

Bootleggers & Baptists: The Experience of Another Regulatory Economist

November 27, 2018
Bruce Yandle conceived the theory of Bootleggers and Baptists after working in government as a young economist in the late 1970s and 1980s. Forty years later, his insights regarding the forces that converge to support government intervention continue to explain many regulatory observations. Applying the theory to her own experience, Dudley finds that while the B&B phenomenon is universal, the nature of winning Baptist arguments can vary depending on administration, and that regulatory institutions can reinforce or counteract B&B pressures.

Spotlight: HHS Entries in OIRA’s Latest Regulatory Reform Report

November 26, 2018
This Regulatory Insight takes a deep dive into the HHS figures and finds significant Medicare paperwork savings, but that the other deregulatory initiatives fall short of providing the kind of regulatory relief that President Trump has promised.

FCC Clears Last Hurdles to Creation of Economics Office

November 19, 2018
The Federal Communications Commission has just announced approval for it to organize an Office of Economics and Analytics. Jerry Ellig - former FCC chief economist and current Regulatory Studies Center research professor - discusses what that means for the independent agency's rulemaking process.

Now Available: A Concise Explanation of the FCC’s Economic Analysis on Net Neutrality

November 19, 2018
Understanding the FCC's economic thinking behind its Restoring Internet Freedom order, which repealed and replaced Net Neutrality, has not been easy to decipher for anyone interested in the subject. In this commentary, and a brand new journal entry, research professor and former FCC chief economist Jerry Ellig provides a concise explanation of the agency's rationale behind the order, and points out its previous disregard for economic analysis.

Proposed SAFE Rule Could Improve Net Benefits of CAFE Standards

November 12, 2018
Mark Febrizio summarizes a comment on the proposed rule which argued that the proposal will save billions of dollars in economic costs, potentially decrease traffic fatalities, and is unlikely to have a significant negative effect on the environment.

NTIA's Approach to Consumer Privacy

November 09, 2018
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration issued a request for public comments on developing the administration's approach to consumer privacy. This public interest comment provides an overview of the agency's proposed approach to guide federal policymaking, and provides three core recommendations (1) Privacy regulation should be based on consumers' value, (2) the benefits of regulation should exceed social costs, and (3) future research should be focused on improving benefit-cost analysis of privacy regulations.

EPA's Proposed “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) Rule

October 31, 2018
The proposed “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule rests on a stronger legal foundation and a sounder economic analysis than the stayed Clean Power Plan (CPP).

SAFE Vehicles Rule

October 25, 2018
Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics and a Senior Fellow at the Reason Foundation - provides insights on the effects of the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Rule and the preliminary regulatory impact analysis thoroughly completed by the EPA and NHTSA. This public interest comment discusses the likely effects of the rule on vehicle fuel economy, fuel consumption, the cost of new and used vehicles, safety, and the environment. The author's findings suggest that the new rule will save billions of dollars in economic costs, potentially decrease traffic fatalities, and is unlikely to have a significant negative effect on the environment.

The Bright Future of Executive Order 12866

October 22, 2018
Former OMB Deputy General Counsel John Cooney moderated the, 'Looking to the Future' panel, and in this commentary he explains how this executive order struck a balance among competing ideas at the time and argues that its core principles will continue to govern the regulatory review process.

The Bright Future of Executive Order 12866

October 22, 2018
John Cooney - former OMB Deputy General Counsel - moderated the, 'Looking to the Future' panel of our 'Celebrating 25 Years of E.O. 12866' event, and in this commentary he explains how this executive order struck a balance among competing ideas at the time and argues that its core principles will continue to govern the regulatory review process.

Fiscal Year 2018 Report on Regulatory Reform under Trump

October 17, 2018
Senior Policy Analyst Daniel R. Pérez provides an overview of the Trump administration's release of the 2018 Fall Agenda and status update on the implementation of Executive Order 13771.

2018 Fall Unified Agenda

October 17, 2018
In her introduction to the Fall 2018 Regulatory Plan, OIRA Administrator Neomi Rao states that the administration’s regulatory reform efforts will continue to prioritize reforms that target economic growth and foster technological innovation and consumer choice.

IRS Tax Credit Regulation: Too Much SALT?

October 15, 2018
This comment explains why the proposed regulation is much broader than necessary to address the real problem the IRS seeks to solve: state tax credit programs designed explicitly to aid taxpayers in avoiding the cap on deductibility of state and local taxes.

E.O. 12866 - A View from the House

October 12, 2018
Daniel Flores - Majority Staff member of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law - lays out how Congress has been highlighting the need to codify the principles of Executive Order 12866.

E.O. 12866 - A View from the House

October 12, 2018
Daniel Flores is a Majority Staff member of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, and in this commentary he explains why Congress has long been considering ways to assure legislative activity is animated and guided by the 'Statement of Regulatory Philosophy and Principles' within Executive Order 12866.

IRS's Proposed Rule on SALT Credits

October 11, 2018
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed a regulation that would prevent all individual taxpayers from claiming a federal charitable deduction if the taxpayer received a state tax credit equivalent to more than 15 percent of the donation. This comment explains why the proposed regulation is much broader than necessary to address the real problem the IRS seeks to solve: state tax credit programs designed explicitly to aid taxpayers in avoiding the cap on deductibility of state and local taxes.

The Life and Times of Executive Order 12866

October 09, 2018
Neil Eisner, former Assistant General Counsel for Regulation and Enforcement, Dept. of Transportation, comments on the initial implementation and adoption of E.O. 12866, highlights four significant accomplishments it has had within the rulemaking process, and offers a few lessons learned.

OMB's Reform Plan and the Tradeoffs of Government Reorganization

October 09, 2018
Although the plan’s goal to make government operations more efficient is a noble one, research and experience demonstrates that designing agency operations involves sometimes unavoidable tradeoffs.

E.O. 12866 - 25th Anniversary Remarks

October 09, 2018
NYU Law Professor Richard Revesz, although supportive of the bipartisan consensus of benefit-cost analysis, is concerned for the future of the principles behind E.O. 12866. This commentary provides his opening remarks and ten examples of what he sees as concerning actions from the current administration.

The Future of E.O. 12866: Embracing Regulatory Humility

October 05, 2018
Susan Dudley on the importance of Executive Order 12866's principles for regulatory policy.

Praising the Principles in Executive Order 12866

October 03, 2018
Clark Nardinelli, Chief Economist at FDA and Vice President of the Society for Benefit Cost Analysis, comments on the philosophy underlying E.O. 12866 and the 12 principles of good regulation.

Congressional Views on the Bipartisan Principles of E.O. 12866

October 02, 2018
ACUS General Counsel Shawne McGibbon moderated the "Q&A with Congressional Staff" panel, and in this commentary she provides an overview of the bipartisan & bicameral support for E.O. 12866 and the ongoing efforts to codify its effects.

Reflections on the E.O. 12866 Anniversary Event from a Bureaucrat Turned Academic

October 02, 2018
Bridget Dooling moderated the "Looking Back on 25 Years" panel, and in this commentary she shares her key takeaways as well as her overall impressions of the event, informed by her tenure in OIRA.

Tracing Executive Order 12866’s Longevity to its Roots

October 01, 2018
Sally Katzen was the OIRA Administrator when E.O. 12866 was signed by President Clinton, and in this commentary she reflects on how it came into existence and lays down the foundation for why it has thrived over the past 25 years of bipartisan administrations.

Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Principles Survive and Thrive for 25 Years

September 26, 2018
OIRA Administrators who led this review under presidents Clinton, Bush 43, Obama, and Trump gathered Monday at GW along with government experts and scholars to discuss why these principles and processes have withstood the test of time across changes in administrations and political parties.

Future of Regulation: Challenges and Opportunities from Emerging Technology

September 19, 2018
This commentary highlights key themes from a recent event, including the importance of regulatory humility, the alternative regulatory tools available to agencies, opportunities for regulators to improve outcomes and compliance, and the challenges associated with regulating emerging technologies.

ED's Student Assistance & Loan Programs

September 07, 2018
This comment argues that the Dept. of Education's proposal to rescind its 2016 change to the definition of misrepresentation and to change its 2016 approach making a priori assumptions about the quality of non-profit and for-profit schools better complies with existing regulatory requirements. The Department should retain borrowers’ ability to file affirmative claims, collect additional data to inform future rulemaking, and more thoroughly consider the net impact of its proposed rules on processing borrower claims on a case-by-case basis.

“Behavioural Government:” Implications for Regulator Behavior

September 05, 2018
Building on a new report published by the Behavioural Insights Team in the UK, this commentary discusses behavioral biases of regulators. Although we usually talk about “nudging” to correct irrational choices of individual citizens, recent research demonstrates a willingness to challenge the assumption that policymakers have a better grasp on individuals’ optimal choices than the individuals themselves. This commentary explores this idea in the U.S. context, focusing on regulators’ behavior. It compares private and public decision makers, and illustrates the importance of applying behavioral insights to public decision making.

EPA's Repeal of Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units

August 27, 2018
This comment, often drawing on earlier comments, will focus on the Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) that supported EPA’s 2015 CPP final rule, and outlines those areas where the agency made major errors in the 2015 RIA, and where it could go further to improve the analysis.

EPA Proposes Replacement for Obama’s Signature Climate Initiative

August 22, 2018
The new “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule is dramatically different from the Obama-era Clean Power Plan; it focuses on increasing efficiency and providing states more flexibility, rather than shifting power generation away from coal and fossil fuels.

Increasing Transparency in Considering Costs and Benefits in the Rulemaking Process -- Update

August 20, 2018
In this comment, Mannix explores the reasons why the Council on Environmental Quality might choose to conduct a rulemaking on the general topic of how it considers benefits and costs, reviews some of the legal considerations that should be brought to bear on that effort, and recommends that the administration consider encouraging this type of activity in other agencies.

Council on Environmental Quality - Implementing NEPA

August 20, 2018
This comment makes recommendations for how the Council on Environmental Quality could improve its data collection methods, how to use those data to enhance retrospective review of National Environmental Policy Act regulations.

EPA's ANPRM on Increasing Transparency in Benefit-Cost Analysis

August 13, 2018
This comment will begin by exploring the reasons why EPA might choose to conduct a rulemaking on the general topic of how it considers benefits and costs, and then will discuss some of the legal considerations that should be brought to bear on the effort.

Benefit-Cost Analysis as a Check on Administrative Discretion

August 06, 2018
This paper argues that benefit-cost analysis is properly viewed, not simply as a technocratic planning tool, but as a solution to a principal-agent problem. Specifically, it is intended to test whether an agency can demonstrate that it is acting in the public interest.

Improving Regulatory Science: A Case Study of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards

August 02, 2018
This paper explores the motivations and institutional incentives of participants involved in the development of regulation aimed at reducing health risks, with a goal of understanding and identifying solutions to what the Bipartisan Policy Center has characterized as “a tendency to frame regulatory issues as debates solely about science, regardless of the actual subject in dispute, [that] is at the root of the stalemate and acrimony all too present in the regulatory system today.”

Trump Administration Picks up the Regulatory Pace in its Second Year

August 01, 2018
With the first 18 months of the Trump Administration complete, we can check in on his regulatory activity to date. This new analysis shows that Trump's regulatory activity is 70% lower than it was at the same point in the Obama Administration; a striking result for an administration that has made regulatory reform a signature issue.

Regulatory Sandboxes: The future of regulation?

August 01, 2018
The article offers five principles for regulating emerging technologies: adaptive regulation, outcome-based regulation, risk-weighted regulation, collaborative regulation, and regulatory sandboxes. This commentary explores regulatory sandboxes, a concept borrowed from the tech sector and first implemented in the United Kingdom.

FCC Process Reform Underscores Need for Economic Review at Independent Regulatory Agencies

July 24, 2018
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael O'Rielly recently made the case for the agency to provide more detailed benefit-cost analyses, and to establish better internal processes aimed at improving regulatory outcomes - other independent agencies should take note.

Agricultural Research and 2018 Farm Bill Implementation

July 18, 2018
Based on its analysis the USDA concludes that relocation of these two agencies would save $19 million per year which could be reinvested in other USDA programs. This written testimony accesses the agency's benefit cost analysis under Circular A-94 standards.

Increasing Consistency and Transparency in EPA's Benefit Cost Analysis

July 17, 2018
In this comment, Dudley supports EPA’s efforts to improve the transparency and consistency of the analysis supporting its significant regulations and, referring to the Consumer’s Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis, reviews ten tips for achieving this objective.

DHS Proposes Raising Barriers to Foreign Entrepreneurship in the U.S.

July 16, 2018
The Department of Homeland Security is proposing to eliminate its international entrepreneur program, which was created in 2017, despite the agency's previous findings that the program will increase economic growth, job creation, and U.S. based innovation.

Regulators’ Budget: OIRA’s Growth and the Future of Regulatory Reform

July 09, 2018
A look at this year's Regulators' Budget shows a larger OIRA staff than years past, a signal that growing responsibilities might require more resources in the future.

DHS's Proposed Rule: Removal of International Entrepreneur Parole Program

June 29, 2018
The Dept. of Homeland Security is proposing to eliminate its international entrepreneur program, which was created in 2017, despite the agency's previous findings that the program will increase economic growth, job creation, and U.S. based innovation.

FDA's Proposal to Regulate Nicotine Levels

June 25, 2018
The plan is creative because, rather than attempting to regulate the hazards out of a product that some consumers demand, the policy would reduce the appeal of a product that is laden with hazards. However, the plan is speculative and unproven, and some tests of its underlying hypothesis cast some doubt on its likelihood of success.

FSIS's Egg Products Inspection Regulations

June 12, 2018
The comment reviews the justifications for the rulemaking change, and provides answers to how it would affect previous rules, industry growth, and foodborne illness rates.

FDA’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Tobacco Product Standard for Nicotine Level of Combusted Cigarettes

June 12, 2018
Zorn examines some drawbacks of the FDA's plan, including the speculative and unproven nature of the underlying hypothesis, as well as the limitations of removing access to only combustible sources of nicotine.

U.S. and Canada Sign Agreement on Regulatory Cooperation

June 06, 2018
The Treasury Board of Canada and the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week to continue collaborating on the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council. With the goal of reducing unnecessary differences between the two countries' regulatory framework, the MOU promotes a joint effort to create mutually beneficial economic outcomes, despite recent trade tariffs imposed on Canada by the U.S.

A Taxonomy of Regulatory Forms

May 30, 2018
This Regulatory Insight addresses the information gap in how regulations are measured when determining their effect on economic growth and other macroeconomic measures by developing a taxonomy of regulatory forms.

EPA’s Proposed Rule Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science

May 18, 2018
This public interest comment examines the merits of the proposed rule and how it relates to existing practices.

Spring Unified Agenda Sustains Deregulatory Focus

May 10, 2018
The Spring 2018 Unified Agenda includes a total of 3,352 regulatory actions, 234 of which are classified as regulatory, 611 as deregulatory, with the remainder exempt or classified as “other.” Of the total number of actions, 139 are economically significant.

GDPR: Does it matter on this side of the Atlantic?

May 07, 2018
Europe's implementation of GDPR will compel companies and organizations to abide by new data collection requirements, and require certain firms to staff a Data Protection Officer tasked with monitoring data security and producing impact assessments.

Better Data Collection Would Improve Analysis of NEPA Regulations

April 29, 2018
The Council on Environmental Quality is considering revisions to its implementing rules for the National Environmental Policy Act. This offers an opportunity for CEQ to align its NEPA regulations with regulatory best practices and improve data collection for conducting retrospective review. Better data collection would improve evaluation of the effectiveness of NEPA implementation. Data should be comparable across time and agencies and made publicly available. Agencies like DOE have already demonstrated that it is possible to collect and report such data, even if the methods of conveying the information to the public could be improved.

Regulating Within a Budget

April 23, 2018
Despite his rhetoric on regulation, President Trump continues to require agencies to make decisions based on an understanding of regulatory benefits and costs. Although he has overlaid a budget constraint on these existing requirements, and his executive orders signal less emphasis on estimating regulatory benefits, this may not be all bad.

Reviewers and Revenooers Reach Compromise

April 16, 2018
After weeks of negotiations, the Treasury Department and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) agreed last week that IRS regulations would be subject to the same analytical requirements and interagency review as other agencies’ rules.

Embracing Ossification: Trump and the Shifting Politics of Procedural Controls

April 10, 2018
Reform initiatives under the current administration to delay implementation of new rules or repeal current rules are now facing these same barriers that have lead toward a rigid, fastened regulatory state.

OMB's 2017 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations

April 09, 2018
This comment on the Office of Management and Budget’s 2017 Draft Report to Congress offers suggestions for improving the information value of the Report, as well as the evidence on which regulatory policies depend, and does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest.

A Brief History of Regulation and Deregulation

March 12, 2018
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.

Organizing Agencies to Promulgate Rules

March 09, 2018
A recent working paper by Christopher Carrigan and Russell Mills demonstrates, agencies can employ very different decision-making configurations to administer their internal rulemaking processes, which can have important effects on the character and timing of the resulting rules.

DOE's "Process Rule" for Energy Efficiency Standards

March 02, 2018
Sofie E. Miller filed recommendations on the Dept. of Energy's "Process Rule" regarding improvements to direct final rulemaking, retrospective review, and the analysis that supports the agency's rules.

OMB Report on Regulatory Costs & Benefits Leaves Room for Regulatory Reform

February 28, 2018
On Friday, OMB released its Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations, which provides a window into the benefits and costs of 137 regulations issued between fiscal year 2007 and FY 2016. According to agency estimates, these 137 rules add up to $930.3 billion in annual benefits and $128.4 billion in annual costs. The rules included in this report are those issued by previous administrations, and as a result these totals don’t include the regulatory reforms implemented during the first year of the Trump administration.

EPA's State Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Electric Utility Generating Units

February 27, 2018
This comment recommends four features that the agency should incorporate into a possible replacement for the agency’s Clean Power Plan. First, the agency should set standards for CO2 intensity, rather than a mass-based cap on CO2 emissions. Second, the standards should be tiered by technology. Third, the agency should allow trading of CO2 credits, both within and across technology categories. Fourth, the agency should incorporate a safety valve mechanism that keeps the price of CO2 credits commensurate with the domestic social cost of carbon. Such a rule could function as a “last-ton tax,” with many of the economic efficiencies of a carbon tax, but without exceeding the boundaries of EPA’s regulatory authority.

A Proposed Framework for Evidence-Based Regulation

February 22, 2018
Policymakers and scholars have given serious thought to how evidence-based approaches can improve policymaking, but using evidence to improve regulatory outcomes requires a separate framework than the one currently in use. This paper details how the regulatory process differs from other federal policymaking and establishes a framework for evidence-based regulation (EBR) to improve regulatory outcomes by planning for, collecting, and using evidence throughout the life a regulation. The authors discuss the main barriers that regulatory agencies face in implementing an EBR approach and advance concrete proposals for overcoming these barriers.

Unpacking the Effects of Competing Mandates on Agency Performance

February 21, 2018
This study of a broad set of U.S. federal agencies finds support for the conventional wisdom that saddling agencies with multiple mandates breeds dysfunction and impedes performance by showing that agencies balancing greater numbers of programs perform worse.

Quality, not Quantity, is Key to Effective Commenting

February 20, 2018
Fake comments are presumed to threaten the democratic process and unfairly impact the outcomes. But a closer look at the regulatory process shows that the quality of comments is far more important than the quantity.

Book Review of Andrew W. Lo's "Review of Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought"

February 08, 2018
What drives our responses to risk and uncertainty, and how can we improve them? In his 2017 book, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought, MIT Sloan finance professor Andrew Lo answers that question using evolutionary concepts and insights, including competition, innovation, reproduction, and adaptation.

President Trump's State of the Union claim on Regulation: The 2017 Data are In

February 01, 2018
In his State of the Union speech last night, President Trump claimed “we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.” Assuming he is referring to previous presidents’ first years in office, comparisons of numbers of regulations repealed support his claim. Still, the historic data reveal some valuable nuance that informs evaluation of the administration’s efforts to reduce the burden of regulation. The data for 2017 are in and our RegStats page contains updated graphs and figures presenting several interesting insights into the administration’s regulatory agenda.

International Regulatory Indexes at a Glance

January 29, 2018
This Regulatory Insight provides an overview of how regulation is measured and compared across countries, compares the available measures, and examines where the U.S. stands relative to other countries.

2018 Year in Review: Top Ten Regulatory Developments

January 14, 2018
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.

2017 Regulatory Year in Review

December 18, 2017
This Regulatory Insight highlights ten important regulatory and deregulatory themes that garnered attention—and changed the regulatory landscape—in 2017. Regulatory policy was a focal point of 2017, and notable executive orders, rulemaking, and legislation all contributed to this theme--including the Congressional Review Act, net neutrality, the President's deregulatory agenda, and more.

Clarity or collaboration: Balancing competing aims in bureaucratic design

November 26, 2017
Following the Gulf oil spill and US housing meltdown, policy-makers revamped the associated administrative infrastructure in an effort to sharpen each agency’s focus, based on the perspective that asking an organization to fulfill competing missions undermines performance.

Leave Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication to Innovators, Not Regulators

November 14, 2017
There are two reasons why nixing the regulation may be the right call for the progress of technology and safety-driving innovation: the government has not historically chosen wisely when mandating technical standards, and doing so now could forestall crucial innovations in vehicle communication and safety.

New Implications of the Congressional Review Act

November 08, 2017
Not only did President Trump sign his fifteenth resolution disapproving a CFPB regulation last week, but this action marked the first time a president had disapproved a regulation issued during his own tenure.

President Trump’s Regulatory Budget Evaluated By Brookings

November 01, 2017
This Commentary illustrates several of its key themes including the rationale for a regulatory budget, President Trump’s regulatory budget compared to similar plans in other countries, and key challenges for the implementation of the regulatory budget.

Policy Shock: Recalibrating Risk and Regulation after Oil Spills, Nuclear Accidents and Financial Crises

November 01, 2017
Policy Shock examines how policy-makers in industrialized democracies respond to major crises.

A Review of "Structured to Fail? Regulatory Performance under Competing Mandates"

October 10, 2017
In his new book, "Structured to Fail? Regulatory Performance under Competing Mandates," Professor Christopher Carrigan tackles a critical question: how does organizational design matter for regulatory agency behavior and performance?

The Time is Right for the EPA to Cut Back the Renewable Fuel Mandate

September 07, 2017
This biofuel mandate is bad news for the environment and for American consumers.

Federal Agency Rulemaking across Administrations

August 28, 2017
Understanding the volume of economically significant rules issued by regulatory agencies is useful in analyzing regulatory priorities of different administrations and observing significant shifts in regulatory approaches over time.

CPSC Hearing on Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws

August 09, 2017
Miller and Yarborough discuss three components of the Commission's proposed performance standard for table saws: 1) there is not a clear market failure to justify the rulemaking, 2) the rule will have negative effects on competition by creating a legal monopoly, and 3) the benefits that the Commission expects to result from its standard are uncertain.

CPSC’s Proposed Rule: Safety Standard Addressing Blade-Contact Injuries on Table Saws

July 26, 2017
Miller and Yarborough argue that this rule would lead to a monopoly of the table saw market. This monopoly would reduce consumer choice, dramatically raise costs, and stifle innovation.

A Glimpse of President Trump’s Deregulatory "Agenda"

July 21, 2017
On Thursday, OMB released its biannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, which outlines the regulatory activity that agencies are planning to undertake in the next year. In comparison to previous Agendas, the 2017 Agenda contains about 31% fewer active regulatory actions in all rulemaking stages combined. Although the new Agenda does not clearly track which regulatory activities are meant to offset new rules per Executive Order 13771, it indicates that agencies are withdrawing a large number of rules.

Increasing Immigration Spending, Decreasing Rates of Return

July 20, 2017
President Trump made immigration reform a key pillar of his campaign. This policy direction is reflected in the 2018 Regulators’ Budget which shows increases both to ICE and CBP. Though we are in a period of dwindling apprehensions causing the cost per apprehension to skyrocket, this year’s proposed expansion would continue a trend that has been growing since 2000. Polices of continual immigration enforcement budgetary expansion should take into account immigration data and trends to allow for a more cost efficient, evidence-based appropriations process.

Missing Offsets: EPA and DOE Rules May not Comply with One-in-Two-out Executive Order

July 19, 2017
Executive Order 13771 requires agencies to identify two rules for removal for each new significant rule they issue. While some scholars have hypothesized that the requirements of EO 13771 will halt rulemaking entirely, agencies have managed to finalize or publish two significant rules in recent weeks without mentioning the requirements of EO 13771. Going forward, all eyes will be on the Unified Agenda, which lists ongoing and future regulatory actions, to identify the associated regulatory offsets.

FCC’s Proposed Rule: Restoring Internet Freedom

July 11, 2017
In this comment on the FCC’s “net neutrality” rule, Brock argues that it is desirable to conduct RIA voluntarily because they have become the standard method of ensuring careful analysis of proposed regulations in the U.S. and other major countries.

DOE’s Request for Information on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

July 07, 2017
Miller recommends that DOE establish consistent internal standards for determining whether a rule is "economically justified," including using a threshold to limit the proportion of consumers who bear net costs.

U.S. Health Care Reform: Universal Insurance or Affordable Care?

July 03, 2017
This paper recommends a healthcare reform approach that emphasizes the importance of each individual owning the funds used for his or her health care and choosing both insurance and care from many available options.

Private Sector Solutions for an Outdated Government Website

June 28, 2017
Argive suggests that by employing private sector advances in consumer technology, Regulations.gov can overhaul their archaic regulatory website into an ergonomic, streamlined process where agencies can sort and integrate comments more efficiently, and where private parties can have a larger role shaping regulations, fostering a more transparent system.

Reforming the Energy Policy and Conservation Act: Learning from Experience on Energy Efficiency

June 27, 2017
The Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) grants the Department of Energy the authority to regulate the energy efficiency of everyday consumer appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators. Because these standards affect almost all households and incur such large potential benefits and costs, the underlying statute merits close inspection. This working paper provides seven recommendations for reforming EPCA to ensure that consumers do not bear disproportionate burdens as a result of energy efficiency rules.

How to Regulate Genome-Edited Animals? A Comment on FDA’s Proposed Guidance

June 19, 2017
In this public comment, Lutter and Lewis argue that FDA’s draft guidance for genome edited animals lacks a cogent scientific basis, is inconsistent with FDA’s policies regarding genome edited plants, and is unlikely to advance FDA’s mission to protect and promote public health.

Putting a Cap on Regulation

June 13, 2017
President Donald Trump is moving quickly to make good on his campaign promise to reduce regulation, which he called “one of the greatest job-killers of them all.”

Trump’s OIRA Nominee Receives Warm Reception from Senate Committee

June 12, 2017
President Trump’s nominee to lead OIRA, Professor Neomi Rao, testified before the U.S. Senate HSGAC last Wednesday for her confirmation hearing as administrator of the agency responsible for overseeing federal regulatory activity.

Regulating on the Technological Margin

June 07, 2017
In this commentary, Mannix weighs in on the challenges of regulating in a technologically innovative society and provides helpful insight as to how agencies can regulate effectively without impeding innovation.

The Window on Low-Hanging Fruit in Regulatory Reform is Closing

May 10, 2017
In this commentary, Pérez explains how future regulatory reform efforts will require considerably less expeditious legislative and executive branch action.

Structure and Process: Examining the Interaction between Bureaucratic Organization and Analytical Requirements

April 29, 2017
This article examines the interaction between bureaucratic structure and one procedural control, the requirement that agencies conduct an analysis of their decisions prior to their issuance.

DOE's Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

April 25, 2017
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.

More Historic “Firsts” for Regulatory Disapprovals under the Congressional Review Act

April 04, 2017
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.

Shining a Light on Regulatory Costs

April 04, 2017
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.

Consumer’s Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis

April 02, 2017
Regulatory impact analyses (RIAs) weigh the benefits of regulations against the burdens they impose and are invaluable tools for informing decision makers. We offer 10 tips for nonspecialist policymakers and interested stakeholders who will be reading RIAs as consumers.

Spinning Out of Control: The Hidden Costs of Appliance Efficiency Standards

March 30, 2017
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.

Examining How Small Businesses Confront and Shape Regulations

March 29, 2017
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.

Is Consultation the New Normal?: Online Policymaking and Governance Reform in China

March 29, 2017
This article examines the operation of notice-and-comment-style policymaking in China. What kinds of government organizations have embraced consultation? What kind of information is disclosed during consultation? The article assembles original data on online consultation from more than one hundred central government ministries and provincial governments. The analysis shows that consultation is more commonly used by organizations that are well-resourced and that do not make policy in areas characterized by fundamental political sensitivities. Consultation holds promise as a Party-led, incremental administrative response to the governance challenges faced by contemporary China.

Retrospective Evaluation of Chemical Regulations

March 20, 2017
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.

Agency Use of Science in the Rulemaking Process: Proposals for Improving Transparency and Accountability

March 09, 2017
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.

Latest Trump Executive Order Provides Guidance on “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda”

February 27, 2017
President Trump signed his second executive order aimed at government-wide regulatory practice, it creates a Regulatory Reform Task Force at each agency responsible for overseeing implementation of the president’s regulatory reform initiatives and policies.

President Trump Signs First Regulatory Disapproval in 16 Years

February 15, 2017
Currently, eight joint resolutions of disapproval have passed the House, and 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.

OMB's Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order Titled "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs"

February 13, 2017
The comment reinforces OIRA’s draft questions and answers, and offers some suggestions for clarification and improvement.

The Devil is in the Details of President Trump’s Regulatory Executive Order

February 01, 2017
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.

The Risks of Regulating in the Dark

January 18, 2017
“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.

A Tumultuous Inaugural Week in Washington

January 18, 2017
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.

A Useful Measure of Regulatory Output

January 11, 2017
This commentary describes why measuring regulatory output by comparing economically significant rules is a metric that better characterizes an administration's regulatory priorities.

As a Parting Gift, Obama Administration Releases Final Report on Regulation

January 03, 2017
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.

Implementing a Two-for-One Regulatory Requirement in the U.S.

December 07, 2016
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.

Regulatory Reset: How easy is it to undo regulation?

November 30, 2016
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.

President Obama’s Midnight Regulatory Agenda

November 18, 2016
OIRA released its biannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, providing the public with a first glimpse at upcoming regulations in the final days of the Obama administration. The final months of an outgoing presidential administration typically generate a significant amount of regulatory activity, termed “midnight” regulation. With a presidential transition on the horizon, many of the midnight regulations on the Obama administration’s agenda could be subject to disapproval by Congress using the Congressional Review Act.

EPA's Proposed Rule: Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Utility Generating Units

November 15, 2016
This Public Interest Comment, filed last year in response to EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, addresses the relative merits of a “mass-based” or “rate-based” emissions trading program in state plans required by EPA’s rule.

NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

November 15, 2016
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.

Remembering Charlie Schultze

November 08, 2016
George Eads remembers Brookings economist Charles Schultze, author of The Public Use of Private Interest. As Chair of President Carter’s Council of Economic Advisers, Schultze helped to establish the practice of presidential supervision over executive branch regulatory agencies, along with economically informed thinking about regulatory reform.

Public Comment to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

November 08, 2016
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.

The Midnight Uptick: Hasty Turnaround for Costly Student Loan Rule

November 02, 2016
The final rule could cost taxpayers up to $3.5 billion per year. Notably, the Department published its final rule without making any substantive changes as a result of the public input it received.

Regulatory Review in the Land of Lincoln

October 25, 2016
Governor Bruce Rauner recently created the Illinois Competitiveness Council, which is charged with reviewing existing rules to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burdens that stifle competition and burden consumers. Illinois isn’t the first to recognize how outdated rules can negatively affect citizens and businesses, and this initiative builds off of efforts in other states and in the federal government. Retrospective review of existing rules is necessary for a well-functioning regulatory process, and Illinois’s new Competitiveness Council is a step in the right direction.

Taiwan: Taking Public Participation a Step Further

October 20, 2016
Recently, the Executive Yuan of Taiwan issued a directive to extend the duration of the comment period in administrative rulemaking from 14 days to 60 days. This was a welcome move as the longer comment period provides greater opportunity for public participation. In this commentary, Prasad examines the challenges of operationalizing the notice and comment process and possible areas of improvement.

Utilizing Behavioral Insights (without Romance): An Inquiry into the Choice Architecture of Public Decision-Making

October 19, 2016
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.

DHS’s Proposed International Entrepreneur Rule

October 17, 2016
This comment proposes several changes that DHS could make to its proposed rule to maximize its potential benefits.

The Renewable Fuel Standard’s Contribution to National Security is Misconstrued by its Advocates

September 29, 2016
Providing security is a first-order priority of government, but the contribution of the RFS to national security is widely misrepresented. Understanding this component of the program is necessary in order to conduct a fair assessment of whether its benefits outweigh its costs.

Reaching Across Borders: U.S. – EU Regulatory Cooperation in Practice

September 20, 2016
The U.S. and EU continue to improve outcomes for their citizens through successful regulatory cooperation despite the continued political rhetoric against international trade.

How Declining Budgets at U.S. Regulatory Agencies Could Improve Performance

September 19, 2016
Although spending on U.S. regulatory programs has doubled in the last 20 years, that trend is unlikely to last. How these programs manage budget cuts will determine whether downsizing harms or helps regulatory performance.

Evaluation at EPA: Determinants of the Environmental Protection Agency's Capacity to Supply Program Evaluation

August 31, 2016
Nicholas Hart, PhD recently completed his dissertation in GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration focusing on the processes and determinants that affect evaluation supply at EPA. Hart identifies ten key factors that constituted both barriers to and facilitators of evaluation. His policy brief summarizes these factors and his conclusions.

Improving Evaluation of Chemical Regulations

August 31, 2016
In essence, ex-ante analyses are hypotheses of the effects of regulatory actions. More consistent and robust evaluation of regulatory outcomes would allow agencies to test those hypotheses.

How Effective Are Federally Mandated Information Disclosures?

August 30, 2016
The authors find that although mandated disclosures underpin a number of major federal regulatory initiatives, agencies infrequently issue such mandates based on scientifically valid, controlled studies of the improvements in comprehension from such disclosure and recommend reforms to improve federally mandated information disclosure.

Mobile Home Regulations Threaten Access to Affordable Housing

August 22, 2016
Manufactured homes—formerly known as mobile homes—are an affordable source of housing for many elderly and low-income households throughout the U.S. Recently, DOE proposed new energy efficiency standards for manufactured homes that would increase prices in exchange for reduced long-term operating costs. However, this tradeoff may not make sense for many manufactured home owners who live in climates where the cost savings don’t add up. DOE’s proposal doesn’t pass the benefit-cost test, and increased efficiency will price many consumers—particularly low-income consumers—out of the market for homes entirely.

The Big Squeeze on Regulatory Agencies

August 09, 2016
The latest tally of the amount of money it will take to run federal regulatory programs this fiscal year is $63 billion, a 0.7 percent increase over last year. With the government’s debt held by the public now 75 percent of GDP any increase in spending may seem generous but, for regulatory program managers, it is a reminder that they are living under increasingly tighter budget constraints than in the past. In this commentary, Peacock examines this significant challenge for regulatory agencies and for the next president.

Reforms to Student Loans Create More Problems Than They Fix

August 03, 2016
The Department of Education’s proposed new regulation regarding student loans is getting a lot of attention. It received almost 7,000 public comments on proposed changes to how it administers its Federal Direct Loan Program and its requirements for post-secondary schools whose students pay for tuition using federally funded student loans. Unfortunately, ED has not done its homework. Our comment on the proposed rule finds that is likely to create more problems than it solves. This rule could end up hurting the poor and costing taxpayers up to $4.23 billion per year.

ED’s Proposed Rule on Student Assistance General Provisions, Federal Student Loans Programs and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Program

August 02, 2016
The rule proposed by The Department of Education would make several amendments to regulations governing its Federal Direct Loan Program.

Regulators' Budget Report: OIRA Shrinks as Responsibilities Grow

July 19, 2016
With the recent release of our FY2017 Regulator’s Budget, there are increasing concerns surrounding the rate of growth for OIRA staff and budget relative those of other regulatory agencies.

DOE’s Regulatory Burden Request for Information "Reducing Regulatory Burden"

July 11, 2016
To improve its ongoing retrospective review efforts, this public comment recommends that the Department of Energy incorporate plans for retrospective review into its economically significant or major rules, and provide enough time between energy efficiency standards to allow for an effective review of each rule before increasing the stringency of its standards.

EPA’s Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2017 and Biomass-Based Diesel Volume for 2018

July 11, 2016
Although it was intended to improve the environment, availability of new scientific, technical, and economic information shows that the RFS program is likely causing significant environmental harm through increased greenhouse gas emissions and damage to waterbodies and ecosystems.

An Introduction to a Regulatory Budget

July 07, 2016
When you combine the effects of the Executive Orders that forbid an agency from issuing a rule with costs that exceed its benefits to society with the effects of the Executive Orders that require agencies to identify and to rescind or amend any existing rule with costs that exceed its social benefits, you get a regulatory budget that maximizes the net social benefits created by rules issued by federal agencies by ensuring that the aggregate social benefits of those rules exceed the aggregate costs of those rules. That is a sensible version of a regulatory budget. Any version of a regulatory budget that considers only the cost of rules and ignores the benefits of rules will reduce social welfare by costing society hundreds of billions of dollars in the forms of loss of lives, increased injuries and illnesses, and damage to property.

Beyond the Speed Bump: The New IEX Stock Exchange, and What Happens Next?

June 22, 2016
While the internal logic of the IEX exchange is straightforward, the interactions among 13 stock exchanges, each with a different microstructure and timing, will inevitably be complex. The SEC will need to bring additional expertise to bear on the problem of market microstructure.

The Regulatory Budget Debate

June 20, 2016
For almost as long as OIRA has been applying BCA, some of the smartest and most productive progressive scholars have criticized the role of OIRA generally and OIRA’s use of BCA in particular. It is time for those scholars to stop wasting their energy tilting at windmills and put their extraordinary talents to use in more promising endeavors.

Evolution and Innovation

June 14, 2016
Regulatory approaches at the national level that reduce competition, choice and feedback disrupt evolutionary processes, protect favored interests from challenge and make the economic ecosystem as a whole less able to adapt and innovate.

Can Fiscal Budget Concepts Improve Regulation?

June 13, 2016
This essay in the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy examines the advantages and challenges of applying regulatory budgeting practices and draws some preliminary conclusions based on successful experiences in other countries.

Home Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards under the Department of Energy – Stakeholder Perspectives

June 10, 2016
In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Senior Policy Analyst Sofie E. Miller explains that one-size-fits-all energy efficiency standards can deprive consumers of the ability purchase the appliances that best suit their unique circumstances and constraints.

BIAS at the FCC

June 06, 2016
This commentary examines the impacts of the proposed rules on consumers and the economy and explains how privacy protection should put consumers first.

FCC's Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services

May 27, 2016
If it feels it must regulate, the FCC should adopt a functionality based approach to privacy regulation to maximize consumer welfare.

The Federal Government on Autopilot: Delegation of Regulatory Authority to an Unaccountable Bureaucracy

May 24, 2016
Miller argues that writing rules at the outset to facilitate this measurement can improve outcomes and enable policymakers to learn from what has worked and what hasn’t.

FDA’s Public Availability of: Draft Environmental Assessment and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact Concerning Investigational Use of Oxitec OX513A Mosquitoes

May 13, 2016
Genetically-modified mosquitoes hold great promise for addressing mosquito-borne diseases that threaten South Florida. Yet, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has been waiting since 2011 for approval from FDA to allow the biotechnology company Oxitec to conduct field trials for this promising technology.

Public Interest Comment to the National Economic Council on The President's Executive Order 13725: Steps to Increase Competition and Better Inform Consumers and Workers to Support Continued Growth of the American Economy

May 12, 2016
This public interest comment suggests several areas of regulatory policy where federal regulations have hindered, rather than helped, competition, and recommends that agencies take this opportunity to reduce these regulatory barriers to competition.

A Causal Analytics Toolkit (CAT) for Assessing Potential Causal Relations in Data

May 10, 2016
How would changing what we choose to do change the consequences that we care about? In a world of realistically incomplete knowledge and imperfect information, the answer is seldom certain.

Protectionist Rhetoric Continues as U.S. and EU Wrap-Up 13th Round of Trade Talks

May 04, 2016
A recently published report by the GW Regulatory Studies Center, as part of a two-year grant from the EU to conduct policy research and engage public debate, examines regulatory challenges and opportunities to transatlantic trade.

Identifying Regulations Affecting International Trade and Investment

April 26, 2016
This paper quantifies how many of the thousands of rules published every year by U.S. agencies are likely to have a significant effect on international trade and investment and analyzes how well agencies are performing at flagging these rules.

What’s wrong with the back of the envelope? A call for simple (and timely) benefit–cost analysis

April 26, 2016
Observers across the ideological spectrum have criticized benefit–cost analysis for as long as it has been part of the rulemaking process.

President Obama’s Competition Executive Order Could Benefit from a History Lesson

April 19, 2016
President Obama’s new executive order, aimed at promoting competitive markets, is a welcome announcement. Competition among firms is often the best regulator of undesirable behavior. However, the order and accompanying issue brief fail to recognize that regulation itself, rather than offering a cure for “natural monopoly,” can contribute to some unnatural monopolies. The deregulation of the 1970s and 1980s and competitive markets have generated real gains for consumers and for society as a whole, while markets have evolved in beneficial, previously unanticipated, ways.

The Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act: An Opportunity for Improved Regulatory Assessment?

April 06, 2016
The Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016, a model of bipartisan cooperation, was signed into law on March 30. It establishes a 15-member commission to examine the feasibility of creating a federal data clearinghouse “to facilitate program evaluation, continuous improvement, policy-relevant research, and cost-benefit analyses by qualified researchers and institutions.” The commission’s report is July-August 2017. This commentary explains that while the law’s emphasis is on program assessment, its scope can be expanded to include regulatory assessments.

OSHA's Shortsighted Solution to Crystalline Silica Exposure

March 30, 2016
OSHA issued its long awaited regulation restricting workplace exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) on Friday. Unfortunately, the final rule is unlikely to have the beneficial effects the agency predicts because it doesn’t tackle the core problem. The rule mandates various technologies and practices, but the greatest challenge to reducing risks is not that employers or employees are not motivated to take protective measures, but rather a lack of information, particularly information on the relative toxicity of different forms of silica.

The Intersection of Politics and Analysis

March 29, 2016
Benefit-cost analysis, like all forms of policy analysis operates in a political environment. The politics surrounding a particular issue can go a long way to determining whether analysis can play a role in shaping policy around that issue. As we construct requirements for analysis, advocates for analytical thinking should keep in mind the interaction between analysis and politics. This may mean advocating for the simpler presentation of complex analysis and taking advantage of the synergy between analysis and outside participation.

Senators: Put Politics Aside in Reforming America’s Regulatory System

March 22, 2016
Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Senator James Lankford and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, respectively, joined the more than 300 attendees of the 8th annual SBCA conference on March 17 to discuss their bipartisan legislation aimed at updating the current federal regulatory system. Their conversation, moderated by Susan Dudley, addressed the discourse they engage in as leaders of the subcommittee and stressed the importance of making the rulemaking process more evidence based and finding common ground in an ever-divisive political atmosphere.

Pitching Retrospective Review as a Cure for Regulatory Accumulation

March 08, 2016
In a recent Administrative Law Review article, Reeve Bull argues that retrospective review may be the best way to address regulatory buildup. However, the path to effective ex post review of regulations has many obstacles. One of the biggest hurdles is the simple fact that rules are difficult to review—and especially so because they are not written to facilitate measurement ex post. Institutionalizing a requirement for agencies to evaluate whether a regulation’s predicted effects actually materialize would provide a powerful incentive to improve regulatory outcomes.

Are Future Lives Worth More, Today, Than Our Own – Simply Because of Income Growth?

March 07, 2016
The EPA has presented its Environmental Economics Advisory Committee a series of questions that relate to an analytical procedure for estimating the value of statistical lives saved in the future – possibly the distant future – as a result of regulations imposed today.

Regulatory Accretion: Causes and Possible Remedies

March 04, 2016
Miller and Dudley conclude that, while public participation is beneficial in retrospective review, agencies themselves could better this process by writing plans for review at the outset and improving regulatory outcomes.

Regulator-to-Regulator Communication and Collaboration at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

February 26, 2016
This case study examines the development of the CPSC’s program to communicate and collaborate with safety regulators from foreign jurisdictions over the past 12 years.

Improving Regulatory Cooperation Between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the EU

February 26, 2016
We analyze available information about FDA’s international cooperation and find that there is very little publicly available information to evaluate the accomplishments and outcomes.

Facilitating Earlier Information Sharing and Cooperation Between the U.S. Department of Transportation and the EU

February 26, 2016
The study describes current procedures, identifies successes and challenges to effective regulator-to-regulator cooperation, and offers suggestions for improving regulatory outcomes through cooperation. These observations may be useful for informing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and providing support for policy recommendations.

Experiences in International Regulatory Cooperation: Benefits, Limitations, and Best Practices

February 26, 2016
Unnecessary regulatory differences between countries persist as lingering barriers to trade even as traditional barriers are declining.

Oversight of the Renewable Fuel Standard

February 24, 2016
This invited testimony for the record examines evidence from the existing literature, which finds that biofuel production produces criteria pollutants, damages water systems from crop fertilizer runoff, and may not reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to gasoline.

Regulatory Reboot: Options for Revisiting Midnight Regulations

February 23, 2016
A government planning document lists 95 economically significant final regulations as priorities for President Obama’s final year in office. But according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, any rule published after May 16 runs the risk of being summarily overturned in 2017.

The Role of FDA Regulation in the Fight Against the Zika Virus

February 17, 2016
Given the escalating concern over the spread of the Zika virus—transmitted mainly by mosquitoes—it is interesting to note that the FDA has sat on a promising remedy for over 4 years. The agency has still not released for public comment its assessment of an application it received back in November of 2011 from the biotech company for a field trial to employ a genetically modified (GM) mosquito with the potential to dramatically reduce the population of these disease-carrying insects.

Space-Time Trading: Special Relativity and Financial Market Microstructure

February 10, 2016
Economic concepts like the Efficient Markets Hypothesis – in an efficient market prices will “instantaneously” incorporate all available information – must be tempered by an understanding of the nature of space and time.

Should Federal Regulatory Agencies Report Benefits to Americans from Mandated Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

February 08, 2016
In a letter to the National Academy of Sciences on its project, "Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon," a group of prominent regulatory economists argues that federal regulatory analysis should compare domestic regulatory benefits to domestic costs.

Senate Shows Continuing Interest in Regulatory Reform

February 03, 2016
Regulation is one of the primary vehicles by which federal policy is made, and it affects every household, employee, and business in the U.S. Recognizing this fact, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recently released a report featuring practical regulatory reforms submitted by the GW Regulatory Studies Center and others. This commentary includes our recommendations for improving regulatory analysis, retrospective review, congressional oversight, and judicial review. With the benefit of public input from stakeholders, the Committee is well-equipped to address ineffective regulations and inadequate oversight by reforming the rulemaking process.

Looking Ahead to Regulation in 2016

January 20, 2016
Although Congress will not likely enact new legislation in President Obama’s final year in office, regulatory agencies are a different matter. Federal agencies like DOE, EPA, FDA, and OSHA plan to issue several important final rules in 2016, including new energy efficiency standards, e-cigarette rules, and exposure levels for crystalline silica. This commentary examines some of the most noteworthy regulatory actions to expect from federal agencies in 2016.

President Obama’s Regulatory Output: Looking Back at 2015 and Ahead to 2016

January 12, 2016
This commentary looks back at the number of regulations published in 2015 and ahead to 2016, evaluating the President’s activity in the context of regulatory output of previous administrations.

EPA's Proposed Supplemental Finding that it is Appropriate and Necessary to Regulate Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal- and Oil-Fired EGUs

January 11, 2016
EPA fails to show that its MATS is appropriate and necessary to address risks to public health and the environment from hazardous air pollutants. EPA also ignores the fact that the $9.6 billion cost will have large detrimental effects on public health.

Are Chemical Risk Assessment and Benefit-Cost Analysis Compatible?

January 06, 2016
Benefit-cost analysis and chemical risk assessment have not had a happy history together. The problem can be traced to some specific practices that historically have characterized chemical risk assessments, and that are widely accepted within that community.

Insights on South Korea’s Public-Private Partnership for Regulatory Reform

December 21, 2015
Representatives from Korea’s Public-Private Joint Regulation Advancement Initiative (PPJRAI) recently concluded their visit to the United States, where they met with regulatory experts from both the public and private sectors in Washington, D.C. This public-private initiative constitutes an important part of Korea’s efforts to build on its successful history of regulatory reform and improve the market-oriented features of its regulatory system. The GW Regulatory Studies Center met with representatives from PPJRAI to discuss regulatory reform, including its mandate to improve conditions for small and medium enterprises (SME) operating in the Korean economy.

Herding Genetically Engineered Animals to Market

December 17, 2015
The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) recent decision to approve a genetically engineered salmon for human consumption bodes well for people interested in cheaper fish that are rich in omega three fatty acids. This commentary explores what could either be a new era of innovative animal biotechnology or continuing stagnation.

Missed Opportunity for EPA to Cut Back Renewable Fuel Standard

December 16, 2015
EPA’s newest renewable fuel standard rule mandates the production of over 18 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2016. Unfortunately, this biofuel mandate is bad news for the environment and for American consumers: the past decade has provided evidence that mandated ethanol production could be creating more carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline and polluting waterbodies via nitrogen fertilizer runoff. The latest final RFS rule was a missed opportunity for EPA to slow the growth of biofuel mandates that increase pollution without accomplishing important environmental goals.

OMB's 2015 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations

December 15, 2015
The Report provides the public valuable information both on estimates of the effects of major executive branch regulations, and also on OMB’s focus and priorities.

Midnight Rules: A Comparison of Regulatory Output Across Administrations

December 01, 2015
To get a better sense of what the next Midnight period might mean for the quality of regulatory oversight, we compare President Obama’s current level of regulatory output relative to his predecessors’—Presidents Clinton and Bush.

One (un)remarkable problem?

November 23, 2015
The U.S. Congress and the Executive have implemented different initiatives to evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations, but despite all these developments, some challenges still exist to systematically conduct retrospective review. There is an ongoing debate on the most effective institutional oversight, procedural requirements and methods needed for a well-functioning retrospective review system. This commentary addresses some of the challenges and argues that inviting program evaluation experts to the regulatory reform debate will be beneficial for the implementation of “retrospective reviews."

Political Discourse Includes Regulatory Reform

November 18, 2015
This commentary provides a review of the 2016 presidential candidates’ positions on regulatory reform related to recent debates, speeches and public comments.

Early Notice from U.S. Agencies Could Help Avoid Creating Barriers to Trade

November 11, 2015
This commentary addresses an important mechanism in successful international regulatory cooperation involving efforts by trade partners to provide advanced notice of upcoming regulations that are likely to affect international trade and investment.

Identifying Regulations Affecting International Trade and Investment

November 10, 2015
We compared the number of rules that agencies flagged as likely to have an international impact from 2008 through 2014 with the number of rules we identified, based on our criteria, that were likely to have such an impact. Agencies are currently identifying less than 30% of these rules.

Evaluating Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014

November 04, 2015
Learning from experience is an important part of a healthy regulatory process, so multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to incorporate retrospective review plans into their proposals during the rulemaking process. This commentary reviews our latest research, which finds that agencies are not planning prospectively for ex post analysis of their rules. We provide three recommendations to agencies for building their rules to enable better measurement ex post.

Learning from Experience: Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014

November 03, 2015
Through a series of Executive Orders, President Obama has encouraged federal regulatory agencies to review existing regulations and to “modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned.” Learning from experience is an important part of a healthy regulatory process, so multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to incorporate retrospective review plans into their proposals during the rulemaking process. Our latest research finds that, despite these guidelines, agencies are not planning prospectively for ex post analysis of their rules.

Personal reflections on a consummate professor: Wallace Oates, 1937 - 2015

November 03, 2015
I decided to take Wally’s course. The rest, as they say, is history. I never looked back.

Salience, Complexity, and State Resistance to Federal Mandates

October 28, 2015
Although state resistance to federal mandates is a prevalent characteristic of contemporary American federalism, little is known about the factors that separate resisting states from states that do not oppose federal policy.

The Ozone Charade

October 28, 2015
This commentary examines how, if EPA is required to base the standard on health considerations only, without considering economic factors, can it reconcile setting a standard that leaves so many lives unprotected?

OMB Reports Higher Costs and Lower Benefits in 2015 Draft Report

October 21, 2015
The Report estimates that the new regulations issued last fiscal year have both higher costs and lower benefits than those issued in FY 2013, and that the Environmental Protection Agency remains by far the largest contributor to both regulatory costs and benefits.

The Tension between Optimization and Competition in Rulemaking: The Case of Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Standards for Trucks

October 08, 2015
Choosing regulatory options that maximize net benefits is a sound principle, but it needs to be applied with an appropriate measure of humility. Regulators may be tempted to think that they can use benefit-cost analysis to determine what is “best” for the economy, and then simply mandate it. The collateral damage to competition and innovation can easily turn an otherwise well-intentioned rule into an economic disaster. Regulatory specification of a particular technology can be especially damaging when the technology is proprietary, because then the law may simultaneously lock out competitors and lock in customers.

EPA’s Ozone Rule and the Scientization of Policy

October 07, 2015
This commentary questions EPA’s claim that its new ozone standard is based purely on science, untainted by economic or political considerations. When science is the only factor that can legally be considered in setting a standard, no one is immune to the temptation to put a spin on science to advance policy goals. Current procedures are not transparent and lead to distortions and false precision in the presentation of scientific information, blurring the line between science and policy and contributing to what Dudley calls the “scientization of policy.”

EPA and NHTSA's Proposed Rule: Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2

October 01, 2015
The agencies’ RIA forecasts large benefits, mostly in the form of private fuel savings but, fails to recognize that competitive markets are far better informed, and far better motivated, to pursue these fuel savings efficiently.

With Data, Will Regulators Show Humility or Hubris?

September 23, 2015
Rapid technological change, big data, and greater interconnectivity are poised to transform the way we live and work. In the hands of entrepreneurs subject to competitive pressures and a light regulatory hand, they can yield innovations beyond our imagination. For this to occur, however, government regulators must resist the temptation to think that more data should be used to design more detailed interventions in private activities. Rather, guided by the principle of “epistemic humility,” regulation should be designed to encourage competition and experimentation.

A Review of Regulatory Reform Proposals

September 16, 2015
Susan E. Dudley's testimony before the United States Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee.

The Questionable Benefits of Energy Efficiency Standards

September 15, 2015
American consumers may not be aware that, over the past decade, government agencies have issued a spate of new regulations establishing costly energy efficiency standards for appliances that most households rely on for everyday tasks, including dishwashers, microwaves, clothes washers, furnaces, and air conditioners. Our latest working paper finds that, while the costs of the standards are very real, the benefits that the Department of Energy relies on to justify its rules don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Whose Benefits Are They, Anyway? Examining the Benefits of Energy Efficiency Rules 2007 - 2014

September 02, 2015
This paper examines the composition of benefits resulting from DOE’s energy efficiency rules 2007 – 2014, and finds that these rules don’t pass a traditional cost-benefit test when relying on traditional analytical assumptions.

Consistent Inconsistencies: Misclassification of Rules Could Hamper International Regulatory Cooperation

August 26, 2015
International regulatory cooperation is a central component of current U.S. efforts to negotiate international trade agreements. As traditional barriers to trade decline, understanding regulatory impacts on trade and investment is of particular importance for economic growth, given that these agreements include trade partners that accounted for almost $3 trillion in goods and services traded in 2013. Executive Order 13609 tasked executive regulatory agencies with identifying regulations that were likely to have a significant impact on international trade and investment. We examined the performance of agencies in identifying such regulations and our research suggests there is significant room for improvement.

The Role of Transparency in Regulatory Governance

August 11, 2015
This review of regulatory procedures in the EU and US suggests that each values good regulatory practices, such as transparency, public consultation, and regulatory impact analysis, but emphasizes them to different degrees at different stages in the regulatory process.

Considering the Cumulative Effects of Regulation

August 10, 2015
Longstanding executive and legislative directives require agencies to analyze the expected impact of new regulatory requirements before they are issued. While important, this ex-ante regulation-by-regulation analysis may not account for the cumulative effect of regulations on society or specific sectors of the economy. Dudley's reflections were triggered by insightful questions for the record posed by Senator Joni Ernst after a joint hearing of the Senate Budget and Homeland Security and Government Affairs on June 23 Senate.

NRC's Financial Qualifications for Reactor Licensing

July 30, 2015
While the proposed new financial qualification standard is better than the current financial qualification standard, simply abolishing the financial qualifications requirement for licensing would be an improvement over the proposed new standard.

Learning from the Past: It's Time to Reevaluate the Renewable Fuel Standards

July 28, 2015
Unfortunately, as we explain in a comment filed on EPA’s proposal, this biofuel mandate is bad news for the environment and for American consumers. Given the availability of new information on the impacts of the program, Congress should reevaluate whether the Renewable Fuel Standard is accomplishing what Congress intended.

EPA's Proposed Renewable Fuel Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016

July 24, 2015
Given the environmental damage and the large economic impact of the standards, EPA should update its benefits analysis and consider using its waiver authority to further reduce the standards.

Improving Regulatory Accountability: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future

July 15, 2015
This article examines efforts by the three branches of federal government to oversee regulatory policy and procedures.

Regulatory Pay as you Go: Lessons from Other Countries

July 15, 2015
The adoption of the “one in, one out” rule is becoming a popular approach to control the regulatory burden borne by businesses and citizens all over the world. This commentary presents lessons from other countries in implementing this approach. It also highlights the necessity of having established systems for controlling the flow of regulation, sound institutional quality and strong oversight in order to effectively control the regulatory

Hogan’s Had It with Burdensome Regulations

July 13, 2015
On July 9, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan established the state's Regulatory Reform Commission with a focus on 10 key issue areas. The 13 + member commission aims to analyze and review Maryland regulations with public input. In 2014, Maryland ranked lower than 35 states in terms of business friendly regulations - can this Commission improve the state's regulatory woes? The conversation has begun but the regulatory hurdles don't end at the Maryland state line.

Senate Explores a Regulatory Budget to Increase Transparency, Oversight

July 07, 2015
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

July 01, 2015
Experts share 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.

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

June 30, 2015
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.

Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation

June 23, 2015
Richard J. Pierce, Jr.'s testimony before the United States Senate Committee on the Budget and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs' hearing on "Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation: Exploring the Possibility of a Regulatory Budget."

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

June 23, 2015
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.

Making Regulation More Accountable

June 19, 2015
On June 18, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act which would require independent Federal regulatory agencies (such as the FCC, SEC, & CPSC) to be held to the same analytical and oversight standards as executive agencies. In this commentary, Dudley explains how this piece of legislation is a positive step towards good governance.

Misbehavioral Economics?

June 17, 2015
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.

Examining Practical Solutions to Improve the Federal Regulatory Process

June 04, 2015
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."

Structuring Regulators

June 01, 2015
Regulatory organizations can be structured in different ways, and choices about their organizational structure can impact regulators’ behavior and performance, both overall as well as at the level of individual employees.

Choices in Regulatory Program Design and Enforcement

June 01, 2015
This paper considers the substantial diversity that exists both in the regulatory instruments that can be used to achieve regulatory goals and the various ways that regulators might choose to ensure regulatory entities respond to regulatory demands once they are in place.

Will the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Proposed Standards for Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica Reduce Workplace Risk?

May 26, 2015
This article finds that OSHA's proposed rule would contribute little in the way of new information, particularly since it is largely based on information that is at least a decade old—a significant deficiency, given the rapidly changing conditions observed over the last 45 years.

Regulatory Action Holding Steady in Spring 2015 Unified Agenda

May 22, 2015
On the Thursday before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released its semiannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, which provides the public with a first glimpse at upcoming regulations. The Spring 2015 Agenda lists 1,054 final rules and 1,171 proposed rules on which agencies will take action within the coming year. Of these active regulatory actions, 140 are "economically significant."

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

May 20, 2015
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.

Regulators' Budget Increases Consistent with Growth in Fiscal Budget

May 19, 2015
Every year, Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren examine the on-budget costs of regulation by examining the portion of the Budget of the United States devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations. In this year's report, Dudley and Warren find that 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. Some of the largest increases reflect Presidential priorities, such as financial market reform and immigration reform.

Point/Counterpoint: Valuing Internalities in Regulatory Impact Analysis

May 13, 2015
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.

Recommendations for Improving the Regulatory Process

May 01, 2015
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.

Why the Federal Government Struggles to Hire and Fire

April 29, 2015
In a series of investigative articles published earlier this year, Government Executive correspondents Kellie Lunney and Eric Katz explore the often discussed, but little understood, topic of federal human resources policy. Focusing on the federal government’s perplexing hiring and firing procedures, the authors shed light on the opaque web of barriers confronting government managers as they seek to recruit qualified candidates for job vacancies and fire underperforming employees who engage in misconduct or fail to meet their job requirements.

FAA's Proposed Rule: Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

April 24, 2015
The FAA suggests that this rule will be the first step in a long, complex path of integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System. However, it will be a challenge for the Administration 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. In order for UAS to be truly integrated into the NAS, the FAA must commit now to ensure the rulemaking process going forward is more dynamic, and respectful of the societal gains innovation can bring.

Vague Net Neutrality Rule Impedes Innovation

April 21, 2015
The Federal Communication Commission's (FCC's) recent order imposing common carrier and net neutrality obligations on broadband Internet access providers creates a complex new regulatory structure. The rule creates a vague property right in the existing arrangements and creates an incentive to continue with the existing arrangements rather than to experiment with new ideas. Trying something new creates regulatory risk in addition to the normal market risk associated with innovation. In this way, net neutrality could reduce the incentive to innovate in favor of continuing approved practices from the past.

DOL's Proposed Rule: Discrimination on the Basis of Sex

April 14, 2015
The OFCCP understated the total costs of the proposed rule, limiting the regulatory analysis to rule familiarization and new costs associated with providing pregnancy accommodations to a limited number of contractor employees.

Does Reducing Ozone Really Improve Human Health?

April 08, 2015
Remarkably, this key conclusion is not supported by any reliable, objective statistical tests for potential causality. It rests solely on the subjective judgments of selected experts, applied to associational data that show that both ozone levels and adverse health effects are higher in some times and places than in others.

CFPB Should Consider a More Dynamic Approach to Prepaid Debit Card Regulation

April 01, 2015
Last December, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau proposed rules intending to improve consumers’ understanding of their choices in the prepaid debit card market and to protect them from unreasonable fees. There is little to no evidence that the proposal will have desirable consequences related to either consumer or seller behavior. What is likely is that the rule will increased compliance burdens for sellers and limit consumer choice.

Justices debate benefits and costs of EPA mercury power plant rule

March 31, 2015
The Supreme Court last week heard oral arguments in Michigan v EPA regarding “whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities.”

The Oxford Handbook of Classics in Public Policy and Administration

March 26, 2015

Edited by Steven J. Balla, Martin Lodge, and Edward C. Page

CFPB's Prepaid Accounts Under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (Regulation E) and the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z)

March 23, 2015
Before proceeding, CFPB should gather more updated information on the prepaid debit card market about sellers and buyers of prepaid cards, as required by statute. As this proposal stands, it is likely to increase costs and may reduce access with little or no discernible benefits for card users.

EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone

March 17, 2015
EPA’s quantitative risk estimate (QRA) provides no legitimate reason to believe that the proposed action is “requisite to protect public health” or that reducing the ozone standard further will cause any public health benefits.

Achieving Regulatory Policy Objectives: An Overview and Comparison of U.S. and EU Procedures

March 10, 2015
This paper aims to provide a descriptive analysis of procedural differences in regulatory development between the United States and the European Union to serve as a factual basis for understanding the regulatory challenges and opportunities for transatlantic trade.

Improving Regulatory Accountability: Lessons from the Past, Prospects for the Future

February 17, 2015
There are now more than 70 federal agencies, employing almost 300,000 people, that write and implement regulations. Every year, they issue tens of thousands of new regulations, which now occupy over 175,000 pages of code. Concerns over the accountability of what some have called the "fourth branch" of government have led all three branches of government to take steps to exercise checks and balances. Like the bipartisan regulatory reform efforts of the 1970s and 1980s, reforms today could spur economic growth and improve the welfare of American families, workers and entrepreneurs.

One-Size-Fits-All Regulations are a Bad Deal for Low-Income Americans

February 03, 2015
Our research has identified at least three ways in which regulations disparately impact the poor: through upfront costs that may not be offset by long-term savings, by increasing commodity prices, and by over-regulating risks.

2014: The Regulatory Year in Review

December 30, 2014
This commentary highlights ten important final rules U.S. federal agencies issued in 2014, from the Volcker Rule to Tier 3 and everything in between.

Improving Weight of Evidence Approaches to Chemical Evaluations

December 16, 2014
We review uses of weight of evidence approaches in key articles in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and find significant variations.

The Utility of Humility

December 09, 2014
What effect do regulations have on economic growth and well-being? In the United States, there is growing concern that our regulatory system has gone beyond the rules needed for an efficient, competitive market. Because of this concern, fundamental change is needed, the foundation of which must be greater humility. Without a counterfactual, it is impossible to know what a more restrained regulatory environment would have meant for economic growth and well-being, but available evidence suggests that the benefits of a simpler regulatory system that is targeted at problems that cannot be solved by other means could have enormous benefits for us and future generations.

Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Transatlantic Trade

December 01, 2014
The success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) thus depends on strengthening EU-U.S. regulatory coherence, and reducing regulatory barriers to transatlantic trade and investment.

DOE's Proposed Efficiency Standards for Commercial Heating and Cooling Equipment

December 01, 2014
The standards will increase appliance prices for commercial customers such as grocery stores, restaurants, universities, and hospitals by between $2,167 and $5,043 per unit.

EPA's CO2 Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources – Electric Utility Generating Units

December 01, 2014
RSC Visiting Scholar Brian Mannix argues that this would be a mistake; emissions trading can work well under an intensity constraint, and would be far more resistant to rent-seeking than would a cap-and-trade program.

What's New in the Fall 2014 Regulatory Agenda?

November 24, 2014
Interestingly, of the 599 regulatory actions listed in the Agenda for the very first time, over 40 percent are listed as Final or Completed rules, of which 11 were economically significant. This means the public didn't get notice of the rules in the Unified Agenda until it was too late to participate in the rulemaking process, even for rules that would incur more than $100 million annually in costs or benefits.

Are Internships the New 'Pathway' Into the Federal Government?

November 24, 2014
In today's competitive economy, internships have become an increasingly integral—and even necessary—part of most students' efforts to prepare for the workforce. For those of us looking to pursue a career in public service, however, one critical employer has been noticeably absent from the intern-hiring trend: the federal government. But thanks to the government's relatively new Pathways Programs, current students and recent graduates may now find it a little easier to land a full-time job in the federal government. Pathways is designed to "promote employment opportunities for students and recent graduates in the Federal workforce," through three individual programs, each of which provides for the possibility of full-time employment upon successful completion.

Stakeholder Participation and Regulatory Policymaking in the United States

November 07, 2014
This report was prepared for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

NHTSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards: Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communications

October 21, 2014
While NHTSA argues that a mandate is necessary to induce collective action because "no single manufacturer will have the incentive to build vehicles able to 'talk' to other vehicles if there are no other vehicles to talk to," we argue that the agency has not clearly demonstrated a market failure that requires regulation.

Interim Final Rules Over Time: A Brief Empirical Analysis

September 25, 2014
While there is no clear directional trend over time, on average, IFRs represent 20.3% of all significant final rules published between 1994 and 2013.

The Political Transaction Costs and Uncertainties of Establishing Environmental Rights

September 24, 2014
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.

New study finds federal regulation costs over $2 trillion per year and disproportionately affects small businesses

September 10, 2014
The costs of regulation, both individually and in the aggregate, are notoriously hard to measure. Unlike the direct costs of government programs, which are tracked through the fiscal budget, there is no mechanism for keeping track of the off-budget costs imposed by regulation. Thus, to get a clearer picture of the impact of regulations, it is important to examine those impacts through different lenses using different measurement tools, even though none of those approaches is perfect.

A Retrospective Review of Regulatory Review Itself

August 26, 2014
An interesting new paper from the Mercatus Center, “The Legacy of the Council on Wage and Price Stability”, takes an instructive look back at the origins of centralized review of federal regulations.

Disclosure as a Form of Market-based Regulation

August 18, 2014
Since the recent global financial crisis, there has been a tectonic shift in the policy world towards more onerous regulation of the banking sector, primarily, though not exclusively, through the Dodd-Frank Act. Bank regulators not only have more power given to them through Congress, but also from the increase in power of the Federal Reserve and the other major banking regulators in the U.S (OCC, FDIC, etc.). At the same time, there has been widespread acknowledgement that incentives were at the core of the problem leading up to the financial crisis, but little actual research on what those underlying incentive problems were and how they may be resolved.

Bank Disclosure and Incentives

August 15, 2014
In this working paper, Korok Ray proposes a microeconomic model of a bank that acts as a financial intermediary engaging in maturity transformation, borrowing short-term debt from a market of investors to fund a long term loan to a firm.

How to Improve Retrospective Review and Reduce Regulatory Burdens

July 18, 2014
DOE is seeking comment from the public on how to effectively review its existing regulations, pursuant to Executive Order 13563. In response, we filed a comment offering three recommendations to DOE to further its retrospective review efforts.

Tight Budgets Constrain Some Regulatory Agencies, but Not All

July 15, 2014
This year’s analysis documents interesting long-term shifts in regulatory spending patterns, including a trend in which overall outlays devoted to economic regulatory activities, including price, quality, and entry regulation, are increasing at a faster rate than those aimed at social regulatory activities, such as environmental, safety and health issues.

Thank You for Not Smoking (e-Cigarettes)

July 08, 2014
The Food and Drug Administration's proposed a rule would deem e-cigarettes (and possibly cigars) to be subject to tobacco product requirements such as ingredient listing, pre-market clearance, free sampling prohibition, minimum age requirement, and limit on sales by vending machines, as well as required health and addiction warning statements. The rule is intended to improve health outcomes by reducing the number of youths and young adults who are exposed to e-cigarettes and cigars. However, there are limited data on the actual impact of e-cigarettes and cigars on health outcomes and addiction patterns. Naturally, there are many unknowns in the proposal, in particular, a lack of evidence specifically about differentiated public health impacts of various tobacco products and of baseline usage patterns and risks. Given the uncertainty and inherent complexity of a regulation such as this one, it is paramount to ensure that the rule is written in a way that allows ex post feedback on whether intended goals have been reached.

Review Necessary to Ensure FDA’s Food Transport Rule Actually Drives Results

June 18, 2014
FDA's proposed Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule is intended to ensure that food will not become contaminated during the transportation process. Although the rule will cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars, FDA could not identify any tangible benefits that will result from the regulation. Given the uncertainty of the underlying data used to formulate the provisions of the rule, it is far from clear that the rule will have its intended effect. FDA should commit to using the data it collects during the implementation of the rule to annually review whether the standards are having their desired effect. If the rule is creating unnecessary costs without producing any tangible benefits, some or all of the regulations implemented by FDA could be rescinded.

FDA's Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

June 16, 2014
The proposed regulation would establish criteria for sanitary transportation practices, such as properly refrigerating food, adequately cleaning vehicles between loads, properly protecting food during transportation, and strengthening record-keeping standards. This rule would build upon current requirements for shippers, carriers by motor vehicle and rail vehicle, and receivers engaged in the transportation of food, including food for animals, to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure the safety of the food they transport.

Going Global- Should benefits assessments include effects on other nations?

June 11, 2014
Recent assessments of climate change policies have shifted from a domestic to a worldwide benefits approach, leading to a substantial increase in the estimated benefits. Examination of the justification of benefits assessments for GHG emission reductions suggests that government officials have gone outside the typical practice for defining the scope of benefits assessment. The justifications offered by the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Carbon offer weak justification for this approach. Our review suggests more convincing justification in which explicit reciprocity would justify giving economic standing to citizens of other countries and demonstrable feelings of altruism would justify partial economic standing to citizens of other countries.

Determining the Proper Scope of Climate Change Benefits

June 03, 2014
This working paper reviews the norms for the scope of benefit assessment based on executive orders and the laws governing risk and environmental regulations.

OMB: Both Costs and Benefits of New Regulations Down in FY 2013

June 03, 2014
Over the weekend, the Office Management and Budget (OMB) released its annual Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations (“the Report”), which provides a window into regulatory activity conducted by federal agencies in Fiscal Year 2013. The Report indicates that the new regulations issued last fiscal year involve lower annual costs and benefits than in FY 2012, and that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is by far the largest contributor to both regulatory costs and benefits in this Report.

Spring 2014 Unified Agenda

May 29, 2014
While there was a very slight decrease in active regulatory actions between Fall 2013 and Spring 2014, the count of total regulatory actions increased from 3,305 to 3,348, and the number of economically significant actions and regulatory actions published for the first time also increased.

Revisions to Rule could Earn the Department of Education a Passing Grade on Retrospective Review

May 28, 2014
In its proposed rule, the Department of Education creates standards and conditions by which Gainful Employment (GE) Programs can be eligible for title IV, HEA funding to address to market failures: asymmetric information and a negative externality. First, many GE programs are not transparent about the outcomes of students who attend these programs, which leads students to make irrational decisions about their educational investment. Second, this lack of available information for students creates a negative externality by imposing an unwanted financial burden on society from students defaulting on their Federal loans. By committing to retrospectively review the metrics stated by the Department in its proposal, and by incorporating the suggestions for improving retrospective review in its final rule, the Department of Education will earn a passing grade on their retrospective review plan.

DOT Should Incorporate Lookback Plans into Proposed Hours of Service Rule

May 21, 2014
Consistent with Executive Order 13563, in the preamble of its final rule, FMCSA should commit to measuring the actual results of this regulation, and specify the data and measurement tools it plans to use.

FMCSA Hours of Service for Trucking Industry

May 15, 2014
FMCSA has established federal hours of service (HOS) regulations that limit on-duty driving time of drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in order to ensure they have adequate time for rest. This proposal would supplement and reinforce those requirements in several ways.

EPA’s Unmeasurable Rule: Inadequate Analysis Obstructs Public Accountability

May 12, 2014
Multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to ensure that future regulations are “designed and written in ways that facilitate evaluation of their consequences and thus promote retrospective analyses and measurement of ‘actual results.’” But there is a major flaw in EPA’s proposal: the outcomes and assumptions are both self-contradictory and unmeasurable, making it difficult for the agency and the public to assess whether this policy will have the intended effect.

EPA's GHG Emissions from Electric Utility Generating Units

May 09, 2014
The proposed rule would establish new standards of performance for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal- and natural gas-fired power plants, or electric generating units (EGUs). Pursuant to Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, EPA must establish federal standards of performance for new sources which, in the judgment of the Administrator, “cause, or contribute significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” The standards should “reflect the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction which (taking into account the cost of achieving such reduction and any nonair quality health and environmental impact and energy requirements) the Administrator determines has been adequately demonstrated.” EPA refers to this as the best system of emission reduction (BSER).

EPA's Standards of Performance for Heaters

May 05, 2014
This comment suggests ways to improve EPA’s ex ante analysis, and also recommends steps EPA should commit to now so that it can evaluate whether the rule achieves the projected outcomes once implemented.

EPA’s Wood Stove Analysis is Smoke & Mirrors

May 05, 2014
EPA projects that the benefits of its proposal to regulate emissions from residential wood stoves would outweigh the costs by a factor of more than 100. However, EPA’s analysis is flawed in ways that not only make these net benefit estimates suspect but violate Presidential requirements, and may undermine EPA’s determination of what reflects the “best system of emissions reduction.”

NHTSA's Safety Standards for Child Restraint Systems-Side Impact Protection

April 23, 2014
This public interest comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s proposed rule setting side-impact requirements for child restraint systems is part of a new project to evaluate how well agencies are preparing for retrospective review and analysis of regulations, pursuant to Executive Order 13563.

Retrospective Review: Do Agencies’ Proposals Measure Up?

April 21, 2014
To evaluate whether proposed rules are “designed and written in ways that facilitate evaluation of their consequences,” we plan to measure them against five criteria.

A Flash Judgment

April 14, 2014
In this commentary, Brian Mannix concludes that randomizing buffers, and other technical improvements that mitigate high-frequency trading, will emerge and compete successfully such that regulation is unnecessary.

Measuring the Impact of Public Comments

April 07, 2014
For decades, a central question in rulemaking has been the extent to which public comments on proposed rules affect the substance of agency regulations. Do public comments really matter?

NLRB's Representation Case Procedures

April 07, 2014
The proposed regulations govern how notice of an election may be served to an employer, when to determine which employees constitute a “unit” for purposes of representation, how union organizers obtain employee data, the types of issues that can be raised during a pre-election hearing, and in which cases it may be appropriate to appeal election results.

Timeliness of OIRA Reviews: A Snapshot in Time

April 01, 2014
While the length of a regulation’s review varies depending on its complexity, novelty, and level of interest, the reviews coordinated by OIRA have averaged 51 days from 1994 to 2011. Since 2011, however, average OIRA review times have trended significantly upward.

Australia's Regulatory "Bonfire"

March 24, 2014
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.” 

Rulemaking Ossification Is Real: A Response to Testing the Ossification Thesis

March 19, 2014
Jason & Susan Yackee engage in an empirical study and claim to find relatively weak evidence that ossification is neither a serious or widespread problem.

Informing the Debate over Regulation’s Impact on Jobs

March 10, 2014
This past Friday’s jobs report contained mixed news.

New Fuel Economy Standards Leave Poor Americans in the Dust

March 04, 2014
In remarks on February 18, President Obama announced fuel efficiency standards for new vehicles, referred to as Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFE standards). The standards, which will be proposed in March, 2015, would require new medium- and heavy-duty trucks to meet “ambitious” (but as-of-yet unspecified) new goals for fuel economy.

Public Interest Comment on The Interagency Technical Support Document: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis under Executive Order No. 12866

February 26, 2014
This public interest comment endorses the administration’s effort to arrive at a uniform SCC, to help ensure internal consistency across a portfolio of policies directed at reducing carbon emissions.

Why do politicians pursue regulatory reforms?

February 24, 2014
The 113th Congress is currently considering 33 bills to change the way that federal agencies develop, analyze, and review federal regulations. The changes at issue would force agencies to go through more steps each time they write a regulation – including getting Congressional approval, doing more economic analysis, and soliciting additional public input.

IRS and SBA Office of Advocacy Spar over Affordable Care Act Implementation

February 18, 2014
Last week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a final rule setting up a tax penalty—termed an “assessable payment”—for businesses whose employees purchase health insurance through an Exchange using a federal subsidy.

Regulatory Reform: What’s New in 2014?

February 11, 2014
The 113th Congress is considering various bills that would reform the way regulations are developed, analyzed, and reviewed. The GW Regulatory Studies Center has tracked and classified these bills since the beginning of the 113th Congress and will continue tracking and updating the information regularly throughout its duration.

Comment on Löfstedt’s ‘The substitution principle in chemical regulation: a constructive critique’

January 02, 2014
This commentary on Ragnar Löfstedt’s constructive critique of the substitution principle observes that while the principle is intuitively appealing, it begins to unravel on closer examination.

Advances in eRulemaking Open Avenues for Public Participation

August 13, 2013
The advent of the Internet offered potential for significant improvements in transparency and public participation across the Federal government, and for over a decade, the federal government has been working to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities.

FDA’s Proposed Rule: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption

August 12, 2013
This comment recommends exempting farms with less than $100,000 in annual sales, removing expensive and relatively ineffective standards from the rule, using more realistic statistical representation to calculate the benefits, and explicitly providing for biannual retrospective review to facilitate future improvements to the rule.

EPA’s Retrospective Review of Regulations: Will it Reduce Manufacturing Burdens?

May 17, 2013
Through a series of Executive Orders, President Obama has encouraged federal regulatory agencies to review existing regulations “that may be outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome, and to modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned.”

Races, Rushes, and Runs: Taming the Turbulence in Financial Trading

January 03, 2013
Many participants, regulators, and observers of commodity and security markets have a sense that something in recent years has gone awry: that the explosive growth of high-frequency digital trading is somehow excessive, costly, unfair, and/or destabilizing.

Uncertain Benefits Estimates for Reductions in Fine Particle Concentrations

August 29, 2012
EPA develops such estimates, however, using an approach little changed since a 2002 report by the National Research Council (NRC), which was critical of EPA's methods and recommended a more comprehensive uncertainty analysis incorporating probability distributions for major sources of uncertainty.

Improving Causal Inferences in Risk Analysis

August 24, 2012
Recent headlines and scientific articles projecting significant human health benefits from changes in exposures too often depend on unvalidated subjective expert judgments and modeling assumptions, especially about the causal interpretation of statistical associations.

Perpetuating Puffery: An Analysis of the Composition of OMB's Reported Benefits of Regulation

August 14, 2012
The Office of Management and Budget reports that the benefits of regulations issued over the last decade exceed the costs by an order of magnitude. But how accurate are those estimates?

Regulatory Subsidies: A Primer

March 12, 2012
Subsidies are a commonplace feature of government programs, and can be found in regulatory programs as well as in budget expenditures and in the tax code. An accurate accounting of regulatory subsidies, accessible to the general public, could improve government regulation by helping to ensure that such subsidies are used only when, and to the degree that, they serve a sound public purpose. This is easier said than done, however. This paper explores the concept of a regulatory subsidy and review some examples. A more technical Appendix examines some of the obstacles to creating a clear accounting of regulatory subsidies, and suggest areas where useful studies might be pursued.

Regulation, Jobs, and Economic Growth: An Empirical Analysis

March 12, 2012
This analysis finds that the macroeconomic effects of regulatory agency budgets as a whole as well as of subcategories of regulatory spending are indistinguishable from no effect based on the data and statistical methods available.

(Mis)Applications of Behavioral Economics to Regulation

August 01, 2011
Adam C. Smith argues that the central dilemma of the field of behavioral law and economics is that it lacks analysis of the public choice architecture within which the improvement of private choice architecture would take place.

Public Commenting on Federal Agency Regulations

March 15, 2011
This report, commissioned by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), investigates agency practices in soliciting, circulating, and responding to public comments during the federal rulemaking process.

Regulatory Consultation in the United States

November 01, 2010
U.S. procedures for developing regulations derive from the U.S. Constitution and the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA). While more recent laws and executive orders provide for additional analytical requirements, review, and consultation, the APA has guided the regulatory process and the role for the public for almost 65 years.

eRulemaking Challenges in the United States

November 01, 2010
While some eRulemaking improvements have been made, substantial opportunities remain. Many federal agencies employ complex, time consuming, and manual work processes. Public understanding, access, and engagement remains limited. Transparency continues to be circumscribed. Related activities (such as developing laws and regulations) remain distinct processes. Congressional interest is limited. Little effort seems to be dedicated to developing an overall vision for eRulemaking and putting in place the steps necessary to address these and other challenges.

Regulators and Redskins

November 01, 2010
We examine the correlation between federal government activity and the performance of the D.C. area's National Football League team, the Washington Redskins. We find a significantly positive, non-spurious, and robust correlation between the Redskins' winning percentage and the amount of federal government bureaucratic activity as measured by the number of pages in the Federal Register. Because the Redskins' performance is prototypically exogenous, we give this surprising result a causal interpretation.
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