Commentary Archive



Photo of Zhoudan Xie

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

June 12, 2019

6/12/19 - 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.

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2019 Spring Unified Agenda

May 22, 2019

5/22/19 - 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.

Mark Febrizio

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.

Julie Balla

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

May 03, 2019

5/3/18 -- 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.

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Statutory Clarity and Judicial Review of Regulatory Impact Analysis

April 29, 2019

4/29/19 -- Precise statutory language corresponds to better benefit-cost analysis and more consistent judicial review. Originally posted in The Regulatory Review.

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Revising WOTUS

April 16, 2019

4/16/19 -- 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.

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

April 03, 2019

4/3/19 -- 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.

Photo of Steve Balla & Zhoudan Xie

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.

Julie Balla

Regulatory Sludge: Reducing Paperwork Burdens to Preserve Our Time

March 20, 2019

3/20/19 - 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.

Susan Dudley & Daniel Pérez

Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

March 13, 2019

3/13/19 -- 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.”

More flexible and dynamic decision-analysis approaches that anticipate the need to learn from experience (and that encourage learning) are essential. Developing a body of research that cuts across disciplines to introduce better tools for anticipating and examining uncertain future risks can lead to policies that lower the probabilities and mitigate the consequences of these uncertain futures while encouraging economic growth and increasing resilience. To this end, the GW Regulatory Studies Center commissioned four papers from leading experts in different fields.

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The Shutdown's Rulemaking Ramifications

March 05, 2019

3/5/19 -- 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.

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The Government Shutdown's Effect on Regulatory Output

February 06, 2019

2/6/19 -- This commentary presents data illustrating a substantial reduction in regulatory activity during the government shutdown. 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. Since regulations take months to years to move through the notice-and-comment process, the administration may be running short on time to get through the items on the president’s agenda.

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Electric Utility Competition — In South Carolina?

January 28, 2019

1/28/19 - Research professor 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.

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Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on State Alcohol Protectionism This Month

January 09, 2019

1/9/19 - 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. I signed onto an amicus brief by law and economics scholars that explains why this law is a paradigmatic example of protectionist legislation that provides concentrated benefits to well-organized groups while dispersing the costs among a much larger group -- consumers.

Photo of Mark Febrizio

Canada's Fall Economic Statement Highlights Regulatory Reform

December 21, 2018

12/21/18 - In November 2018, Canada released its Fall Economic Statement 2018, which addresses a number of regulatory reform initiatives. The document is a broad review of the progress Canada has made on government commitments, an evaluation of the country’s recent economic record, and a discussion of forward-looking initiatives focused on economic growth and innovation. As we look ahead to 2019, Canada’s report includes regulatory modernization efforts that may translate to the U.S. context.