The Regulatory Budget Debate

June 20, 2016

Richard J. Pierce, Jr.

Download this Article (NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy)


For thirty-five years the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”) in the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) has used benefit-cost-analysis (“BCA”) to review major rules issued by executive branch agencies. Generally, OIRA reviews major proposed agency rules to determine whether their expected benefits to society exceed their expected costs to society. If the estimated costs of a proposed rule exceed its estimated benefits, OIRA urges the agency to change the rule in ways that will increase its benefits and reduce its costs. For almost as long as OIRA has been applying BCA, some of the smartest and most productive progressive scholars have criticized the role of OIRA generally and OIRA’s use of BCA in particular. It is time for those scholars to stop wasting their energy tilting at windmills and put their extraordinary talents to use in more promising endeavors.