Commentary Archive



Susan Dudley

Reviewers and Revenooers Reach Compromise

April 16, 2018

4/16/18 - 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. Susan Dudley thinks the memorandum of agreement strikes the right balance between ensuring regulations are well-reasoned and cost-effective, while not inhibiting the issuance of timely guidance for taxpayers.

Image of Stuart Shapiro - Commentary Author

Embracing Ossification: Trump and the Shifting Politics of Procedural Controls

April 10, 2018

4/10/2018 - This article examines the effects of procedural requirements for both the implementation and repeal of agency rules. Cost-benefit analyses, judicial reviews, and other requirements in the rule-making process formalized by the Administrative Procedure Act and Information Quality Act have long been championed by opponents of regulatory accumulation as a means to slow the growth of regulations. 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.

Carrigan & Xie

Organizing Agencies to Promulgate Rules

March 09, 2018

3/9/18 - Although federal law specifies procedures and requirements for agencies to consider public feedback in how they design their rules, the ways in which they plan for and develop these rules internally is largely a “black box” which is far less understood by this same public, or even scholars for that matter. Yet, as a recent GW Regulatory Studies Center 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.

Sofie Miller

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

February 26, 2018

2/26/2018 - 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.

Aryamala Prasad

Quality, not Quantity, is Key to Effective Commenting

February 20, 2018

2/20/18 - The deluge of comments on the recent Net Neutrality rule has raised concerns regarding public participation in rulemaking. 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.

Daniel R. Pérez

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

February 01, 2018

2/1/18 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.

Sofie Miller

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

December 15, 2017

12/15/2017 – 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.

Julie Balla

Transparency and Public Commenting Under EO 13771

December 08, 2017

12/8/17 – In response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” and EO 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” two House of Representatives committees have taken interest in assessing the progress of each agency task force and best practices for regulatory reform. On November 29, witnesses from DOI, EPA, and DOE reported on their reform activities and also addressed subcommittee members’ concerns regarding transparency, public participation, and maintaining environmental standards.

Sofie Miller

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

November 14, 2017

11/14/17 - Although DOT estimates that its proposed vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) mandate would facilitate advances in automotive safety, nixing the regulation may be the right call for the progress of technology and safety-driving innovation. There are two reasons why this may be the case: the government has not historically chosen wisely when mandating technical standards, and doing so now could forestall crucial innovations in vehicle communication and safety.

Susan Dudley

New Implications of the Congressional Review Act

November 08, 2017

11/8/17 - The CRA has been getting much attention recently. 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. Congress is also taking steps to apply the CRA to guidance documents and other non-APA agency regulatory actions. These recent actions suggest the CRA is likely to continue to influence the development, implementation, and enforcement of regulation.

Zoey Xie

President Trump’s Regulatory Budget Evaluated By Brookings

November 01, 2017

11/1/17 - Brookings recently released a report examining President Trump’s “one-in-two-out” executive order and regulatory budget requirements. The report offers an objective and scholarly analysis of its possible motivations, as well as expected challenges and possible scenarios for its implementation. 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.

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.