Books & Reports

Academic books and long-term research projects published by Center scholars that advance the overall knowledge of various aspects of regulatory processes and policies.

Brookings Institution report cover: Accounting for regulatory reform under EO 13771.

Accounting for regulatory reform under Executive Order 13771

Executive Order (EO) 13771, known as the “regulatory two-for-one” EO, imposed new constraints on executive branch regulatory agencies, directing them to: (1) to cut two existing rules for each new rule issued and (2) offset any costs imposed by new rules while operating under a regulatory cost cap. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is responsible for implementing this EO and reporting on its progress. OMB has issued Regulatory Reform Reports for fiscal year (FY) 2017 and FY 2018. The fiscal year for 2019 ended recently on September 30, 2019. While we await the latest report, this article explains OMB’s current accounting methodology, gleaned from OMB’s guidance and other public documents, and highlights challenges of reporting agency performance in implementing EO 13771. It also contains our recommendations to improve the accuracy and accountability of both OMB’s annual reporting and individual agency actions.

The FY 2017 report was met with some skepticism, in part because of how it calculated its finding that executive regulatory agencies under the Trump administration[1] finalized 22 deregulatory actions for every one regulatory action, saving an estimated $8.1 billion in regulatory costs. To compute ratios the FY 2017 report compared total deregulatory actions to total significant regulatory actions. As others have noted, more types of actions count as deregulatory than as regulatory and not all actions are of comparable magnitude. While OIRA’s guidance implementing EO 13771 was fairly transparent about these definitional choices, and there are some good reasons for them, these choices nevertheless undercut the meaningfulness of the ratio. We discuss this more below.

OIRA made some improvements in its FY 2018 report. It presented ratios in two ways. The first way captures all deregulatory actions and all significant regulatory actions; defining “deregulatory” and “regulatory” the same way as in the FY 2017 report. The second way narrows the counts to those deregulatory and regulatory actions that were “significant” under EO 12866. This narrower approach is closer to an apples-to-apples comparison, which is more useful when trying to weigh the deregulatory and regulatory actions against each other. OIRA also added information to show which specific actions were “significant” under EO 12866, making the inputs into the counts more transparent. Nevertheless, these changes have not immunized these counts from continued criticism.

Scholars also critique the administration’s approach to reporting cost savings from implementation of EO 13771—namely for the choice to estimate the cost savings produced by deregulatory actions without also assessing the foregone benefits. This reporting choice, however, flows from EO 13771 itself, which only requires agencies to eliminate regulatory costs to offset the costs of new regulations. Regulatory impact analyses of individual regulations continue to assess both benefits and costs, as EO 12866 requires. EO 12866 also directs agencies to base all actions on a determination that their benefits justify their costs.[2] For the purposes of this article, we limit ourselves to analysis and recommendations for implementing EO 13771 based on its current provisions.

Our article proceeds as follows. Part I details the OIRA guidance to agencies on what “counts” as an EO 13771 regulatory or deregulatory action. Part II describes OIRA’s accounting methodology for estimating agency cost savings. Part III elaborates on analytical concerns that flow from the administration’s current approach for estimating “counts” and “cost savings” and offers several recommendations for improving the content of agency actions and OIRA’s annual reporting on EO 13771.

Regulation: A Primer

Regulation: A Primer

 

This primer authored by Susan E. Dudley and Jerry Brito provides an overview of regulation, including theoretical frameworks for understanding regulation, constitutional underpinnings, the process of writing and enforcing different varieties of regulation, and analytical approaches to understanding regulatory effects.

Available for purchase on Amazon, or can be downloaded as a PDF.

This primer is also available in Korean as a PDF.

이 프라이머는 한국어로도 제공됩니다.


Structured to Fail? Regulatory Performance under Competing Mandates

Book cover of Christopher Carrigan's Structured to Fail? Regulatory Performance under Competing Mandates.

 

By: Christopher Carrigan, Ph.D.

In the search for explanations for three of the most pressing crises of the early twenty-first century (the housing meltdown and financial crisis, the Gulf oil spill, and the nuclear disaster at Fukushima), commentators pointed to the structure of the regulatory agencies charged with overseeing the associated industries, noting that the need to balance competing regulatory and non-regulatory missions undermined each agency's ability to be an effective regulator. Christopher Carrigan challenges this critique by employing a diverse set of research methods, including a statistical analysis, an in-depth case study of US regulatory oversight of offshore oil and gas development leading up to the Gulf oil spill, and a formal theoretical discussion, to systematically evaluate the benefits and concerns associated with either combining or separating regulatory and non-regulatory missions. His analysis demonstrates for policymakers and scholars why assigning competing non-regulatory missions to regulatory agencies can still be better than separating them in some cases.


Does Regulation Kill Jobs?

Book cover of Does Regulation Kill Jobs? which shows the food line statues at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in DC.

 

Edited by: Cary Coglianese, Adam M. Finkel, and Christopher Carrigan

As millions of Americans struggle to find work in the wake of the Great Recession, politicians from both parties look to regulation in search of an economic cure. Some claim that burdensome regulations undermine private sector competitiveness and job growth, while others argue that tough new regulations actually create jobs at the same time that they provide other benefits. Does Regulation Kill Jobs? reveals the complex reality of regulation that supports neither partisan view. Leading legal scholars, economists, political scientists, and policy analysts show that individual regulations can at times induce employment shifts across firms, sectors, and regions—but regulation overall is neither a prime job killer nor a key job creator. The challenge for policymakers is to look carefully at individual regulatory proposals to discern any job shifting they may cause and then to make regulatory decisions sensitive to anticipated employment effects. Drawing on their analyses, contributors recommend methods for obtaining better estimates of job impacts when evaluating regulatory costs and benefits. They also assess possible ways of reforming regulatory institutions and processes to take better account of employment effects in policy decision-making.

Does Regulation Kills Jobs? tackles what has become a heated partisan issue with exactly the kind of careful analysis policymakers need in order to make better policy decisions, providing insights that will benefit both politicians and citizens who seek economic growth as well as the protection of public health and safety, financial security, environmental sustainability, and other civic goals.


 

The Oxford Handbook of Classics in Public Policy and Administration

 

 

Co-edited by Steven J. Balla

This Handbook brings together a collection of leading international authors to reflect on the influence of central contributions, or classics, that have shaped the development of the field of public policy and administration.

The Handbook reflects on a wide range of key contributions to the field, selected on the basis of their international and wider disciplinary impact. Focusing on classics that contributed significantly to the field over the second half of the 20th century, it offers insights into works that have explored aspects of the policy process, of particular features of bureaucracy, and of administrative and policy reforms.

Each classic is discussed by a leading international scholars. They offer unique insights into the ways in which individual classics have been received in scholarly debates and disciplines, how classics have shaped evolving research agendas, and how the individual classics continue to shape contemporary scholarly debates. In doing so, this volume offers a novel approach towards considering the various central contributions to the field.

The Handbook offers students of public policy and administration state-of-the-art insights into the enduring impact of key contributions to the field.


 

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

Book cover of Policy Shock which shows a graphic depicting an explosion.

 

Co-edited by Christopher Carrigan

Policy Shock examines how policy-makers in industrialized democracies respond to major crises. After the immediate challenges of disaster management, crises often reveal new evidence or frame new normative perspectives that drive reforms designed to prevent future events of a similar magnitude. Such responses vary widely - from cosmetically masking inaction, to creating stronger incentive systems, requiring greater transparency, reorganizing government institutions and tightening regulatory standards. This book situates post-crisis regulatory policy-making through a set of conceptual essays written by leading scholars from economics, psychology and political science, which probe the latest thinking about risk analysis, risk perceptions, focusing events and narrative politics. It then presents ten historically-rich case studies that engage with crisis events in three policy domains: offshore oil, nuclear power and finance. It considers how governments can prepare to learn from crisis events - by creating standing expert investigative agencies to identify crisis causes and frame policy recommendations.


 

A photo of a field of wheat with a text box in the foreground that reads The Relationship Between Regulatory Form and Productivity: An Empirical Application to Agriculture

USDA Reports

The GW Regulatory Studies Center's cooperative agreement with the US Department of Agriculture to analyze agricultural regulations.

 


 

Image of a person writing Cost Benefit Analysis with a blue marker on a clear window.

Benefit-Cost Analysis & Emerging Technologies

The Hastings Center has published “Benefit-Cost Analysis and Emerging Technologies,” by RSC’s Brian Mannix, as part of a special report funded by the National Science Foundation. The full report explores the governance of newly developed techniques in bioengineering – such as the ability to modify a species in the wild, or render it (a mosquito, for example) extinct. Mannix argues that, properly understood, benefit-cost analysis is an appropriate technique for determining which actions are in the public interest. He also cautions against a “precautionary” approach that would shift the burden onto new technologies to demonstrate safety before they can be used.

Image of the US and EU flags flying next to one another.

Reports on US-EU Regulatory Cooperation

By D. Pérez, S. Dudley, N. Eisner, R. Lutter, D. Zorn, N. Nord, and K. Wegrich

The GW Regulatory Studies Center prepared this report as part of a grant from the European Union to analyze regulatory cooperation between the EU and U.S. The report includes three case studies examining how cooperation has worked in practice between U.S. regulatory agencies and their EU counterparts and an analysis of U.S. regulations likely to have significant effects on international trade and investment. These analyses identify opportunities to reduce incompatible approaches while indicating areas where differences could persist due to issues of national sovereignty and structural differences between countries.

Graphic of a green house next to a scale that has stripes labeled A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, colored green to red.

One Standard to Rule Them All: The Disparate Impact of Energy Efficiency Regulations

Chapter by Sofie E. Miller and Brian F. Mannix
Federal regulations restrict the energy that everyday products can use, for everything from cars to microwaves. While these rules impose significant costs on consumers, the benefits are harder to identify. Agencies claim that restricting consumers’ choices provides consumers with large benefits, but this reasoning is hard to reconcile with the fact that consumers have many legitimate reasons to prefer the appliances they buy and the cars they drive. This chapter explores the reasoning behind energy efficiency regulations and why these reasons are insufficient to support the large costs they impose on consumers, especially low-income consumers.