Research

The GW Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. The Center's scholars conduct applied research to understand regulatory policy and practice from a public interest perspective.

To read more about our different publications, visit the Publications page.

Current Research Areas

 

Latest Research

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.

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.

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.

Eisenhower Building

Public Comment on OMB’s Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order Titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”

February 13, 2017

By Susan E. Dudley, Brian F. Mannix, Sofie E. Miller, & Daniel R. Pérez
In this comment on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs’ (OIRA) interim guidance on Executive Order 13771, GW Regulatory Studies Center scholars acknowledge that the Order represents a significant departure from past practice, however, they emphasize that the additional budgeting constraints it imposes need not supplant longstanding requirements to examine regulatory benefits as well as costs and to achieve regulatory objectives as cost-effectively as possible. The comment reinforces OIRA’s draft questions and answers, and offers some suggestions for clarification and improvement.

RIA

Consumer’s Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis

February 02, 2017

By Susan Dudley, Richard Belzer, Glenn Blomquist, Timothy Brennan, Christopher Carrigan, Joseph Cordes, Louis A. Cox, Arthur Fraas, John Graham, George Gray, James Hammitt, Kerry Krutilla, Peter Linquiti, Randall Lutter, Brian Mannix, Stuart Shapiro, Anne Smith, W. Kip Viscusi & Richard Zerbe
This guide is designed for policymakers and others who want to be intelligent consumers of regulatory impact analysis, help them interpret what they read and ask appropriate questions.

midnight

The Risks of Regulating in the Dark

January 18, 2017

By Sofie E. Miller in the Federalist Society Review, Volume 18
“Midnight” regulations are those issued after the November presidential election but before Inauguration Day as the outgoing administration attempts to finalize its regulatory policy priorities with a surge of rulemaking activity. Scholars have theorized that midnight rules are problematic because they short-circuit important procedural safeguards that ensure high-quality regulatory outcomes, like rigorous analysis, internal and external review, and public input in the rulemaking process. Stepping beyond theory, recent examples—such as the Department of Energy’s energy efficiency standards for clothes washers—illustrate that midnight rules impose real burdens.

Trump and Pence

Ten Regulatory Process Reforms President-Elect Trump Could Undertake

December 08, 2016

President-elect Trump has promised to “reform the entire regulatory code to ensure that we keep jobs and wealth in America.” To that end, scholars at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center offer a list of 10 reforms to regulatory processes that could be accomplished through executive action. While other potential reforms could be achieved through the courts or by working with congress, these reforms focus on actions that are within the purview of the executive branch.

Trump

Implementing a Two-for-One Regulatory Requirement in the U.S.

December 06, 2016

By Marcus Peacock
President-elect Trump endorsed “a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations need to be eliminated” or what could be called a “two-for-one” requirement. This working paper addresses how such a process might work including its scope; what to measure; additional workload; and whether it outlasts a Trump administration.

Google car

Public Comment on NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

November 16, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller, Howard Beales and Daniel R. Pérez
This comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) recent Federal Automated Vehicles Policy considers the impact of regulating driverless car technology on innovation and social welfare. NHTSA is correct to be cautious of the effects that a federal policy could have on innovation, particularly because the safety gains from highly automated vehicles (HAV) could be significant. As a result, the agency should avoid any type of premarket approval authority for HAV technology, which could potentially delay the adoption of life-saving innovations and result in thousands of traffic fatalities.

Evidence

Public Comment to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking

November 08, 2016

By Marcus Peacock, Sofie E. Miller and Daniel R. Pérez
Scholars at the GW Regulatory Studies Center show how the U.S. could make regulations more evidence-based in a comment to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking. Evidence-based regulations plan for, collect, and use evidence to predict, evaluate and improve societal outcomes throughout the rule’s life. This comment lays out a process for producing such rules and provides over a dozen specific recommendations on how the U.S. could better adopt and implement such a system.

pedestrians

Utilizing Behavioral Insights (without Romance): An Inquiry into the Choice Architecture of Public Decision-Making

October 19, 2016

By Adam C. Smith
To justify regulations that reduce consumer choice, policymakers are increasingly relying on observations from behavioral economics suggesting that people don’t always make rational decisions. However, behavioral economists generally neglect a complementary examination of public decision-makers. Through a public choice lens, Smith compares two public agencies influenced by behavioral economics, the U.S. CFPB and U.K Behavioral Insights Team, and finds that their different institutional structures lead to divergent policy outcomes. He concludes that for policies to be welfare-improving, they must be based on an understanding of public choice architecture as well as private choice architecture.

USCIS

Public Comment on The Department of Homeland Security’s Proposed International Entrepreneur Rule

October 18, 2016

By Daniel R. Pérez
The Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule would expand the use of its discretionary authority to parole individuals into the United States for reasons of “significant public benefit” to include foreign entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the U.S. DHS recognizes that “the full potential of foreign entrepreneurs to benefit the U.S. economy is presently limited since many…do not qualify under existing nonimmigrant and immigrant classifications.” The rule proposes several criteria for approving applicants on a case-by-case basis. This comment proposes several changes that DHS could make to its proposed rule to maximize its potential benefits.