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

Photo of Jerry Ellig and Richard Williams

David Versus Godzilla: Bigger Stones

September 12, 2019

By: Jerry Ellig & Richard Williams
For nearly four decades, U.S. presidents have issued executive orders requiring agencies to conduct comprehensive regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for significant regulations to ensure that regulatory decisions solve social problems in a cost-beneficial manner. Yet experience demonstrates that agency RIAs often fail to live up to the standards enunciated in executive orders and OMB guidance. We suggest four managerial changes that could increase OIRA’s leverage.

Photo of Brian Mannix and Bridget Dooling

Codifying the Cost-Benefit State

September 12, 2019

By: Brian F. Mannix & Bridget C.E. Dooling
In this article we focus on the executive’s authority to write a cross-government “rule-on-rules” to govern regulatory analysis, including benefit-cost analysis and the courts’ authority to enforce such a rule.

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OIRA Past & Future

September 12, 2019

By: Susan E. Dudley
While some of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affair’s functions are statutorily granted, others—notably those related to regulatory policy—derive from presidential executive orders. This paper reflects on OIRA's evolution over the almost 40 years since the Paperwork Reduction Act created it in 1980 to understand what has made it so durable.

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The Ambition of the Administrative State

August 29, 2019

8/30/19 -- America’s Founding Fathers strove for a government based on a separation of powers, wherein federal power would be limited, and divided among three branches. Counting on “ambition [to] counteract ambition,” they designed the Constitution to allow each branch to challenge the powers or decisions of another. Over the last century, the executive branch has grown dramatically, raising questions as to how relevant the Framers’ notion of checks and balances is today.

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OIRA Wants You…To Schedule Meetings Online

August 19, 2019

8/19/19 -- In an effort to modernize a critical part of the rulemaking process, the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs recently developed an online platform for individuals and groups interested in a particular proposal to request a formal meeting.

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Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing

August 12, 2019

8/12/19 -- Executive Order 13878 creates a council tasked with reducing regulations to make housing more affordable. The multi-agency council will work with all levels of government, and private sector stakeholders to collect information and propose reforms before its termination date of Jan. 21, 2021.

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Paradise by the DASHBOARD Act?

August 05, 2019

8/5/19 -- The DASHBOARD Act would impose several data-disclosure requirements on large companies that monetize online user data. The Act assumes a market failure of information asymmetry, where consumers undervalue their personal data. However, the evidence for this claim is indeterminate, and a lack of clarity on data property rights and liability could make corresponding rules difficult to enforce.

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Clean Power v. Clean Energy

July 31, 2019

By: Brian F. Mannix
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued three final regulatory actions governing greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants. These rules will face new legal challenges based on both the economic analysis and the statutory authority for EPA’s actions. Mannix briefly reviews some of the major issues likely to be in contention.

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Testimony: Agricultural Research and 2018 Farm Bill Implementation

July 31, 2019

By: Joseph J. Cordes
On June 13, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released what it describes as a “Cost-Benefit Analysis” of the proposed relocation of NIFA and ERS from Washington DC to Kansas City. Based on its analysis the USDA concludes that relocation of these two agencies would save $19 million per year which could be reinvested in other USDA programs. This written testimony accesses the agency's benefit cost analysis under Circular A-94 standards.

Image of Zhoudan Xie

Bounded Rationality in the Rulemaking Process

July 23, 2019

7/23/19 -- Regulators are humans, not robots. This simple truth reminds us that individual decision-makers responsible for developing and implementing regulations face the same cognitive limitations that consumers face in the marketplace. Institutional reforms to regulators’ choice architecture may help mitigate these biases.

Image of Susan Dudley and Zhoudan Xie

Nudging the Nudger: Toward a Choice Architecture for Regulators

July 16, 2019

By: Susan E. Dudley & Zhoudan Xie
Recognizing that “bounded rationality” also occurs in the regulatory process and building on public choice insights that focus on how institutional incentives affect behavior, this article explores the interaction between the institutions in which regulators operate and their cognitive biases. It attempts to understand the extent to which the “choice architecture” regulators face reinforces or counteracts predictable biases. Just as behavioral insights can help design a choice architecture that frames individual decisions in ways that encourage welfare-enhancing choices, designing the institutions that counter regulators’ cognitive errors could lead to more public-welfare-enhancing policies.

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A Two-Year Lookback on Trump’s Deregulatory Record

July 15, 2019

7/15/19 -- 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.

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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.

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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.