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.

Latest Research

Image of ABA event panelists

A Two-Year Lookback on Trump’s Deregulatory Record

July 15, 2019

Susan Dudley and her co-panelists discuss the effect of Trump’s Executive Order 13771, repeated losses for the administration in court, the administration’s view of benefit-cost analysis, and more at an ABA Regulatory Policy Committee meeting.

Photo of Daniel Perez

Privacy Research: The Need for Evidence in the Design of U.S. Privacy Policy

July 03, 2019

By: Daniel R. Pérez
This regulatory policy insight details the importance of using evidence to inform the development of U.S. privacy policy and identifies the kinds of evidence that would be particularly useful for policymakers to consider.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

Francisco Franco Still Dead, Naked Alcohol Protectionism Still Unconstitutional

July 03, 2019

7/3/19 -- The Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas confirms that the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to engage in naked economic protectionism just because the product is alcohol.

Image of Food and Drug Administration logo

Public Interest Comment: FDA's Proposed Rule on Mammography Standards

June 24, 2019

By: Bridget C.E. Dooling
Early detection of breast cancer can save lives, and mammography is one of the screening tools that has contributed to reductions in breast cancer mortality. The FDA has a unique role in mammography and should be commended for proposing to update its rules, however, the proposed rule’s breast density notification raises issues of state preemption; lessons that can be learned from testing, evaluation, and assessment of prior state action; and analysis of distributional and equity effects.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

IRS Rule on Charitable Deductions: A Worthy Goal, a Skillful Fix, but Surprisingly Thin Evidence

June 17, 2019

6/17/19 - The IRS prohibits individual taxpayers from deducting charitable contributions on their federal taxes if they received a state or local tax credit in exchange for the contribution, but allows them to count such donations as state or local tax payments subject to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

Photo of Zhoudan Xie

Research Brief: Why Should We Focus on the Form of Regulation?

June 12, 2019

6/12/19 - As part of a cooperative agreement with the USDA, a new GW Regulatory Studies Center report finds that growth in total regulation has a negative relationship with land productivity growth, and the relationship differs according to the form of regulation.

USDA cover

The Relationship Between Regulatory Form & Productivity: An Empirical Application to Agriculture

June 12, 2019

Under a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center produced this four-chapter report detailing the findings of its research on the relationship between regulation and agricultural productivity. This report does not represent an official position of the GW Regulatory Studies Center, the George Washington University, or the United States Department of Agriculture.

Public Administration Review logo

Organizational Process, Rulemaking Pace, and the Shadow of Judicial Review

June 04, 2019

By: Christopher Carrigan & Russell W. Mills (Published by the Public Administration Review)
Scholars have long understood that structuring internal work processes into more hierarchical or team‐based arrangements has consequences for organizational outputs. Building on this insight, this research examines the relationship between how agencies organize their rulemaking routines and the resulting rules. Tracking the job functions of rule contacts for economically significant rules proposed over a four‐year period, the analysis demonstrates that expanding the breadth of personnel types closely involved in a rulemaking is associated with a reduction in the time it takes to promulgate the rule. However, increasing the pace at which rules are finalized is not without cost, as those completed faster appear more likely to be overturned when challenged in court. The article not only adds another dimension to empirical scholarship studying rulemaking, which has largely focused on how forces originating outside the agency affect rules, but also suggests the importance of considering competing priorities in designing rulemaking processes.

Photo of Jerry Ellig

Restoring Internet Freedom as an example of How to Regulate

June 03, 2019

By: Jerry Ellig
Thomas Lambert’s How to Regulate contains some simple but critical pieces of advice for regulators: (1) Diagnose the problem before settling on a solution, (2) Compare the merits (benefits and costs) of alternatives, and (3) Recognize that regulators, like the rest of us, respond to the incentives created by the organization in which they are embedded. The FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order presents an example of how to apply those principles in practice. The 2017 order’s decisions on blocking and throttling, paid prioritization, and the general conduct rule are informed by an extensive diagnosis of the problems the regulations are intended to solve and an assessment of the merits of alternative solutions. The decision to reclassify broadband from Title II to Title I takes into account the public choice incentives that could lead regulators to behave in a less-than-optimal way.

Photo of Bridget Dooling

Expanding OIRA Review to IRS

May 28, 2019

By Bridget C. E. Dooling
Executive Order 12866 describes U.S. policy on regulatory planning and review. It directs agencies to identify the nature and significance of the problem they are trying to solve with regulation, to identify alternative solutions, to assess the quantifiable and non-quantifiable costs and benefits of each alternative, and then to choose the option that maximizes net benefits to society, taking into account distributional effects and other considerations. That policy, which has governed U.S. regulation for several decades, is managed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). It is also subject to several exemptions. In April 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget signed a historic memorandum of agreement (MOA) narrowing one of those exemptions. The MOA expands the number of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulatory actions for which IRS must comply with EO 12866. This action moved tax rules out of the “presidential tax-policy blind spot” as described by Professor Clint Wallace. This working paper offers a close study of the MOA and reveals six striking features that not only affect tax regulation, but also offer intriguing possibilities for (1) scholarly understanding of OIRA as an institution and (2) the future of regulatory review of independent agencies, which is the largest remaining exemption from OIRA review.

Photo of Daniel Pérez

2019 Spring Unified Agenda

May 22, 2019

5/22/19 - The Spring 2019 Unified Agenda includes a total of 3,791 actions, 295 of which are classified as regulatory, 721 as deregulatory, with the remainder exempt or classified as “other.” Of the total number of actions, 177 are economically significant. The agencies with the most deregulatory actions planned are the Department of Transportation (DOT) with 129 actions and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with 65; these same two agencies have had the most deregulatory actions planned since the Fall 2017 Agenda.

Mark Febrizio

Proposed Revisions to DOE’s Process Rule Include Beneficial Changes and Areas for Improvement

May 21, 2019

On February 13, 2019, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that updates its internal rulemaking procedures for energy conservation standards, called the Process Rule. Policy analyst Mark Febrizio submitted a public comment on DOE’s proposed revisions to the Process Rule that focused on eight areas of interest in the revised Process Rule, highlighting both beneficial changes and additional areas for improvement. This commentary builds on the public comment by examining how the Process Rule connects with two broader concepts in regulatory policy—formalizing internal procedures and retrospective review.

DOE logo

Public Interest Comment: DOE's Energy Conservation Program for Appliance Standards

May 07, 2019

By: Mark Febrizio
The Department of Energy is proposing to update and modernize its current rulemaking methodology for establishing new or revised energy conservation standards and test procedures, called the “Process Rule.” While the agency has adhered to internal procedures for years, the notice of proposed rulemaking seeks to make those procedures binding on the agency. The proposed rule includes many important provisions and is largely a step in the right direction. This public comment focuses on eight areas of interest in the revised Process Rule, highlighting both beneficial changes and additional areas for improvement.

Julie Balla

Early but Not Often: A Look into the Use of ANPRMs in Rulemaking

May 03, 2019

5/3/18 -- Prior to the proposal of a new rule, agencies may decide to seek public comment through an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on whether a new rule is necessary and what should be included if the rule progresses. Despite the importance of public participation in rulemaking, only 5% of all significant rules are preceded by an ANPRM. This commentary takes a closer look at trends in the use of ANPRMs and suggests questions for further research.

Image of US Capitol

Statutory Clarity and Judicial Review of Regulatory Impact Analysis

April 29, 2019

4/29/19 -- Precise statutory language corresponds to better benefit-cost analysis and more consistent judicial review. Originally posted in The Regulatory Review.