Commentary Archive



Photo of Brian Mannix and Bridget Dooling

Codifying the Cost-Benefit State

September 12, 2019

By: Brian F. Mannix & Bridget C.E. Dooling
In this article 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.

Photo of Susan Dudley

The Ambition of the Administrative State

August 29, 2019

8/30/19 -- 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.

Photo of Bryce Chinault

10 Years of Going Back to School

August 26, 2019

8/26/19 -- 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.

Photo of Jessica Payton

OIRA Wants You…To Schedule Meetings Online

August 19, 2019

8/19/19 -- 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.

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Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing

August 12, 2019

8/12/19 -- 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.

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Paradise by the DASHBOARD Act?

August 05, 2019

8/5/19 -- 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.

Image of Zhoudan Xie

Bounded Rationality in the Rulemaking Process

July 23, 2019

7/23/19 -- 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.

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A Two-Year Lookback on Trump’s Deregulatory Record

July 15, 2019

7/15/19 -- 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.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

Francisco Franco Still Dead, Naked Alcohol Protectionism Still Unconstitutional

July 03, 2019

7/3/19 -- 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.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

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

June 17, 2019

6/17/19 - 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.

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.

Photo of Daniel Pérez

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.