Reg Stats Terminology

Economically Significant Rules

Economically significant rules are regulations issued by executive branch agencies that meet the following definition in Executive Order 12866: “Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.”

Full-time Equivalent

Full-time equivalents (FTE) refer to employment levels and staffing. According to OMB's "Budget Concepts" documentation, "Agency FTEs are the measure of total hours worked by an agency’s Federal employees divided by the total number of one person’s compensable work hours in a fiscal year."

Major Rules

The Congressional Review Act defines a major rule as “one that has resulted in or is likely to result in (1) an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; (2) a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or (3) significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, or innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets.”


Outlays refer to actual spending by the government during a fiscal year. They are expenditures made by the government to pay obligations, which are recorded in the fiscal year the payment is made. According to 2 U.S. Code § 622, "The terms “budget outlays” and “outlays” mean, with respect to any fiscal year, expenditures and net lending of funds under budget authority during such year." The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities differentiates the two ways to define government budgets: "Budget authority is how much money Congress allows a federal agency to commit to spend; outlays are how much money actually flows out of the federal Treasury in a given year." In other words, outlays may liquidate obligations that are incurred in previous years and/or may be authorized by previous years' budget authority. For a fuller explanation, see the "Budget Concepts" chapter in OMB's Analytical Perspectives, which is released annually as a component of the President's Budget.

Presidential Year

A presidential year begins on February 1st and concludes on January 31st. Various scholars have empirically verified that the final months of presidential administrations (including January) are accompanied by a substantial increase in regulatory output by executive branch agencies. A presidential year starting in February avoids attributing an outgoing president’s regulatory output in January to the president's successor—allowing for a better understanding of priorities and activities of agencies under different administrations. Additionally, the lengthy procedural requirements necessary to finalize regulatory actions make it unlikely that regulatory output from January 20th (Inauguration day) through the end of the month is related to the incoming administration. 

Significant Rules

Significant rules (which include economically significant rules) are those regulations that meet one or more of the following definitions in Executive Order 12866: “create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President’s priorities, or the principles set forth in [Executive Order 12866].”