Commentary Archive



Zhoudan Xie

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

October 10, 2017

10/10/17 - 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? To answer it, Carrigan challenges several popular theories about the connections between organizational design and regulatory failures through deeply thoughtful, widely researched analysis. This review assesses the book’s empirical, theoretical and practical contributions while describing its analytical approaches and key findings.

Sofie Miller

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

September 07, 2017

9/7/17 - The deadline closed last week for interested parties to file comments on EPA’s latest proposed Renewable Fuel Standard, which would require 19.24 billion total gallons of biofuel to be blended into transportation fuels in 2018 and 2019. EPA’s proposed standards fall short of statutorily required levels by 6.76 billion gallons, and if finalized would represent a 40 million gallon decrease from the standards that were finalized in December for 2017. This biofuel mandate is bad news for the environment and for American consumers.

Daniel R. Pérez

Federal Agency Rulemaking across Administrations

August 28, 2017

8/28/17 - We're expanding our Reg Stats to include data on the regulatory output of individual federal agencies during different presidents’ tenures in office. Government agencies issue thousands of regulations each year, and it is no small task to identify which among them likely have the most substantial impacts on society. 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.

Sofie E. Miller

A Glimpse of President Trump’s Deregulatory “Agenda”

July 21, 2017

7/21/17 - 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.

Jacob Yarborough

Increasing Immigration Spending, Decreasing Rates of Return

July 20, 2017

7/20/17 - 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.

Sofie Miller

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

July 19, 2017

7/19/17 - 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.

Rachael Behr

Private Sector Solutions for an Outdated Government Website

June 28, 2017

6/28/17 - Argive, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving public engagement in the regulatory process, recently released a report focused on modernizing Regulations.gov. 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.

Sydney E. Allen

Trump’s OIRA Nominee Receives Warm Reception from Senate Committee

June 12, 2017

6/12/17 - 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. Given that regulatory scholars say OIRA “may be the most important office you’ve never heard of,” it was refreshing to hear many senators recognize the significance of the position of the OIRA administrator and offer to help the small, but important, agency improve the effectiveness of the regulatory review process.

Brian Mannix

Regulating on the Technological Margin

June 07, 2017

6/7/17 - At their onset, and sometimes well beyond that, radical technological breakthroughs can present difficult public policy dilemmas. Emerging technologies are, by definition, full of surprises: there are developments that we cannot fully anticipate, and may include some bad outcomes as well as good ones. 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.

Daniel R. Pérez

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

May 10, 2017

5/10/17 - The 60 day window for Congress to use the CRA to repeal rules issued during the Obama midnight period is coming to a close. So far, the most visible results of President Trump’s deregulatory agenda have been signing these legislative actions but today's Senate vote on the methane rule resulted in the CRA's first failure under President Trump. In this commentary, Pérez explains how future regulatory reform efforts will require considerably less expeditious legislative and executive branch action.

Daniel R. Pérez

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

April 04, 2017

4/4/17 - Congress continues to make history by exercising its powers under the CRA to eliminate rules issued at the end of the Obama administration. To date, 13 resolutions of disapproval have passed both chambers of Congress; two additional bills have passed the House. President Trump has signed eight of these into law with three additional resolutions awaiting his signature. Finally, the Senate passed two more resolutions on March 30th which should be sent to the president soon. Prior to 2017, Congress had only successfully struck down a single rule using the CRA.

Sofie E. Miller

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

March 30, 2017

3/30/17 - A recent court settlement illustrates that consumers bear burdens—including indirect burdens—as a result of regulation gone awry. In this case, consumers bore costs in the form of higher prices, continued inconvenience, expense, time and bad odors from moldy washing machines. Although consumers in the class action suit didn’t realize it, their moldy washer problem began with DOE’s energy efficiency standards for clothes washers. Because regulations affect all Americans, it’s important to review their effects to make sure consumers aren’t left out to dry.

Susan Dudley

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

February 27, 2017

2/27/17 - President Trump signed his second executive order aimed at government-wide regulatory practice Friday afternoon. This one is not as dramatic as his January EO 13771, which required agencies to offset the costs of new regulations by removing existing burdens, but it sets up mechanisms for implementing that order, as well as other principles. Specifically, it creates a Regulatory Reform Task Force at each agency, to be headed by a Regulatory Reform Officer, responsible for overseeing implementation of the president’s regulatory reform initiatives and policies.

Daniel R. Pérez

President Trump Signs First Regulatory Disapproval in 16 Years

February 15, 2017

2/15/17 - The 115th Congress has wasted no time in exercising its powers under the Congressional Review Act to eliminate regulations issued by federal agencies during the Obama administration. Currently, eight joint resolutions of disapproval have passed the House—two of which were delivered to the president for his signature on February 6. President Trump signed one of these into law on February 14. This marks the first time in 16 years since Congress has successfully used the CRA to eliminate a regulation.

Dudley and Miller

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

February 01, 2017

2/1/17 - President Trump’s new executive order, which follows his promises to cut regulatory costs and eliminate two regulations for every new one issued, is certain to shake up the regulatory state. A regulatory offset policy, like those in the U.K and Canada, could provide agencies incentives to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of their accumulated regulations and determine which ones have outlived their usefulness. However, the devil is in the details, and the order doesn’t specify how the policy will be implemented, which could have a “huge” impact on its effectiveness.