Publications

Regulatory Studies Center scholars conduct applied research to understand regulatory policy and practice from a public interest perspective. Many of our publications fall into the following categories:

Recent Publications

Kitchen appliances

Reforming the Energy Policy and Conservation Act: Learning from Experience on Energy Efficiency

June 27, 2017

By Sofie E. Miller
The Energy Policy Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) grants the Department of Energy the authority to regulate the energy efficiency of everyday consumer appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators. Because these standards affect almost all households and incur such large potential benefits and costs, the underlying statute merits close inspection. This working paper provides seven recommendations for reforming EPCA to ensure that consumers do not bear disproportionate burdens as a result of energy efficiency rules.

Baby goats

How to Regulate Genome-Edited Animals? A Comment on FDA’s Proposed Guidance

June 19, 2017

By Randall Lutter, Ph.D, Visiting Scholar, and Lena Lewis
The FDA is considering an approach to oversight of genome-edited animals that closely follows its current policy regarding genetically engineered animals. Unfortunately, the proposed approach is unwise because the existing policy regarding genetically engineered animals, which it mimics, has itself simply failed. In this public comment, Lutter and Lewis argue that FDA’s draft guidance for genome edited animals lacks a cogent scientific basis, is inconsistent with FDA’s policies regarding genome edited plants, and is unlikely to advance FDA’s mission to protect and promote public health.

Congress

Structure and Process: Examining the Interaction between Bureaucratic Organization and Analytical Requirements

May 11, 2017

By Stuart Shapiro, Ph.D, Visiting Scholar, in the Review of Policy Research
Attempts by politicians to control bureaucratic decisions include both structural and procedural approaches. But how do these two modes of influence interact? This article examines the interaction between bureaucratic structure and one procedural control, the requirement that agencies conduct an analysis of their decisions prior to their issuance. Shapiro looks at this interaction in the context of two types of analysis, cost-benefit analysis and environmental impact assessment and finds that the conduct of analysis is affected by where analysts are placed in agencies. In particular, independence of analysts has a trade-off.

air conditioners

Public Comment on DOE’s Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

April 25, 2017

By Sofie E. Miller
The Department of Energy’s direct final rule amends the energy efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners and split-system heat pumps. However, DOE’s own analysis suggests that up to 45% of households in some regions will bear net costs as a result of these standards, and that consumers would experience greater savings under less stringent energy efficiency standards. Due to the lack of consumer input in the negotiated rulemaking process—and the significant burdens that consumers are likely to bear from this standard—DOE should not pursue this standard via direct final rule.

Trump EO

Shining a Light on Regulatory Costs

April 04, 2017

By Brian Mannix
President Trump’s Executive Order 13771, "Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs," has caused some confusion among the analysts, inside and outside federal agencies, who forecast the economic effects of regulations. Which effects should count as costs and which as benefits? It sounds like it should be an easy question, but it is not. In this Regulatory Insight, Brian Mannix examines some of the obstacles.

Journal of Chinese Political Science

Is Consultation the New Normal?: Online Policymaking and Governance Reform in China

March 29, 2017

By Steven J. Balla, Ph.D, Senior Scholar, in the Journal of Chinese Political Science, Vol. 21, No. 4
This article examines the operation of notice-and-comment-style policymaking in China. What kinds of government organizations have embraced consultation? What kind of information is disclosed during consultation? The article assembles original data on online consultation from more than one hundred central government ministries and provincial governments. The analysis shows that consultation is more commonly used by organizations that are well-resourced and that do not make policy in areas characterized by fundamental political sensitivities. Consultation holds promise as a Party-led, incremental administrative response to the governance challenges faced by contemporary China.

U.S. Capitol

Examining How Small Businesses Confront and Shape Regulations

March 29, 2017

By Sofie E. Miller & Daniel R. Pérez
On March 29th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship met to consider legislative reforms that would affect how small businesses confront and shape regulations. This prepared statement for the record focuses on S. 584: Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. The analysis suggests that the Committee should: be careful to avoid the problem of double-counting indirect costs, use an evidence-based regulation framework to strengthen retrospective review, and safeguard against unintentionally reducing the efficacy of the existing Small Business Advocacy Review process.

OECD WP

Retrospective Evaluation of Chemical Regulations

March 20, 2017

By Susan E. Dudley
Governments generally conduct rigorous analysis of regulations aimed at reducing chemical risk before they are issued; however, due to both methodological challenges and poor incentives, these regulations are often not evaluated with the same care once they are in place. In this paper prepared for the OECD, Dudley explores practices for more consistent and robust evaluation of regulatory outcomes and concludes that a systems approach to understanding regulatory efficacy would be valuable not only for understanding the effect of past actions, but for improving future decisions and outcomes.

EOP

The Next Regulatory Czar

March 14, 2017

By Susan E. Dudley
As President Trump prepares to announce his nominee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), this Regulatory Insight provides an inside look at the functions of this small but powerful office, its origins and procedures, and why, when it comes to government policy, the job of OIRA administrator is the most important job in Washington you may never have heard of.

Susan Dudley

Agency Use of Science in the Rulemaking Process: Proposals for Improving Transparency and Accountability

March 14, 2017

By Susan E. Dudley
As the Senate subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management considers proposals for improving transparency and accountability in agencies’ use of science in the rulemaking process, it should recognize two problems. “Hidden policy judgments” occur when scientists, intentionally or unintentionally, insert, but do not disclose, their own policy preferences in the scientific advice they provide government decision-makers. The “science charade” occurs when scientists and/or policymakers conflate scientific information and nonscientific judgments to make a policy choice, but then present that decision as being solely based on science.