Commentary Archive

Photo of Daniel Perez

Unified Agenda Released without FY 2019 Regulatory Reform Report

November 20, 2019

This morning, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) released its annual Regulatory Plan and semiannual Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. Notably absent is the Regulatory Reform Status Report, which tracks executive agency performance in complying with the deregulatory requirements of Executive Order (EO) 13771. With regards to actions listed as active in the Agenda, agencies plan to issue an average of approximately 2.5 significant deregulatory actions for every 1 regulatory action. However, our analysis of economically significant actions suggests a potential shift in agency rulemaking.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

Rail Regulators Ponder Benefit-Cost Analysis

November 18, 2019

11/18/19 -- Although regulatory impact analysis would certainly not automate STB regulatory decisions, it would provide a coherent and organized framework for discovering and presenting information about the likely consequences of regulatory alternatives.

Photo of Mark Febrizio

Tracking Regulatory Activity through Trends in Federal Budgets

November 12, 2019

11/12/19 -- The FY 2020 Regulators’ Budget requests an overall increase in spending. Details within that request point to a notable increase in spending for agencies focused on homeland security, with a decrease in agency spending for regulators focused on the environment and energy.

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Exhaustion can be Exhausting! EPA Proposes Reforms to Permit Appeals Process

November 06, 2019

11/6/19 -- The proposed Environmental Appeals Board reforms will provide a faster path to a final EPA decision, so that applicants can either live with it or challenge it in court, but in either case they will not be stuck in administrative limbo.

Daniel R Pérez

ED Settles on Less Ambitious Overhaul of Borrower Defense

October 16, 2019

10/16/2019 - The Department of Education recently published its long-awaited, final rule detailing how the agency will process borrower defense and other loan discharges related to its Federal Direct Loan Program. The final rule applies to all loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2020 and departs from the agency’s approach to adjudicating claims under the Obama administration.

Photo of Aryamala Prasad

Are Agencies Responsive To Mass Comment Campaigns?

October 07, 2019

10/7/19 -- New research finds that agencies perform a detailed review of mass comment campaigns on their proposed rules, but the affect of these campaigns on the outcome of final rules may be negligible.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

Bigger Stones for David: Tools to Give OIRA More Leverage in Regulatory Review

October 02, 2019

10/2/19 -- Regulatory review of agency rulemaking activity through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs should be linked to each agency’s strategic planning, and carry budgetary consequences. This will help agencies to more clearly define their goals, achieve their objectives, and reward positive results.

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An OIRA Rule on Rules

September 16, 2019

9/16/19 -- Judicial review of agency benefit-cost analysis is on the rise. Although courts are paying more attention to these analyses, they lack a robust toolkit to assess them. A cross-government rule, written by OIRA, could help by giving courts a set of standards against which they can assess agency rules.

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.

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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.