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
- Administrative Procedures
- Behavioral Economics & Regulation
- Costs and Benefits
- Energy & Environment
- Financial Markets
- Health & Safety
- International Regulatory Frameworks
- Regulatory Reform
- Retrospective Review
- Science in Rulemaking
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.
Public Comment on OMB’s Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order Titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Public Comment on NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety
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.
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.
Utilizing Behavioral Insights (without Romance): An Inquiry into the Choice Architecture of Public Decision-Making
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.
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.
Chapter by Sofie E. Miller and Brian F. Mannix
Federal regulations restrict the energy that everyday products can use, for everything from cars to microwaves. While these rules impose significant costs on consumers, the benefits are harder to identify. Agencies claim that restricting consumers’ choices provides consumers with large benefits, but this reasoning is hard to reconcile with the fact that consumers have many legitimate reasons to prefer the appliances they buy and the cars they drive. This chapter explores the reasoning behind energy efficiency regulations and why these reasons are insufficient to support the large costs they impose on consumers, especially low-income consumers.
By Marcus Peacock
Although spending on U.S. regulatory programs has doubled in the last 20 years, that trend is unlikely to last. How these programs manage budget cuts will determine whether downsizing harms or helps regulatory performance. Leaders of regulatory agencies must avoid satisfying tighter budgets with temporary “mindless austerity” measures that anger workers. Instead managers should use scarcity to find, with workers, “frugal innovations” that can significantly and permanently improve program value. In this working paper, Peacock examines how agencies can get budget cuts to help rather than harm.
By Marcus Peacock
What can regulatory reformers learn from past government-wide reform efforts? Two previous Regulatory Insights describe eight major U.S. government initiatives that failed to improve accountability. This Insight identifies a lack of leadership and unfaithful execution by agency personnel as barriers to success. These problems could be addressed by: (1) codification of reform; (2) adopting modest reform proposals (incrementalism); (3) creating third parties to implement/enforce reform; and (4) establishing competition between regulatory programs such as through a regulatory budget.
Evaluation at EPA: Determinants of the Environmental Protection Agency's Capacity to Supply Program Evaluation
By Nick Hart
Since EPA’s inception, it has emphasized the use of prospective policy analysis tools to inform environmental decisions, including cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment. However, EPA and others rarely evaluate these same environmental policies after implementation, to inform future policy development or to modify existing policies. Nicholas Hart, PhD recently completed his dissertation in GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration focusing on the processes and determinants that affect evaluation supply at EPA. Hart identifies ten key factors that constituted both barriers to and facilitators of evaluation. His policy brief summarizes these factors and his conclusions.
by Arthur G. Fraas and Randall Lutter in the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis
Government mandates to disclose information are a standard response to problems of asymmetric information. Fraas and Lutter examine recent major U.S. regulations issued between 2008 and 2013 to identify disclosure mandates and look for quantitative assessments of their effectiveness in improving comprehension. The authors find that although mandated disclosures underpin a number of major federal regulatory initiatives, agencies infrequently issue such mandates based on scientifically valid, controlled studies of the improvements in comprehension from such disclosure and recommend reforms to improve federally mandated information disclosure.