Retrospective Review Comment Project

As a part of its ongoing Retrospective Review Comment Project, throughout 2014 the Regulatory Studies Center examined noteworthy proposed regulations to assess whether they included plans for retrospective review, pursuant to federal guidelines. Following this analysis, we submitted comments to provide suggestions on how best to incorporate plans for retrospective review into agency proposals and fulfil the goals of Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13610. To facilitate meaningful retrospective review after the promulgation of a final rule, multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to incorporate retrospective review plans into their proposals during the rulemaking process. This ex-post review makes it possible for members of the public—and for the agencies that regulate them—to measure both whether a particular rule has had its intended effect, and whether the agencies' ex ante analysis was approximately correct. 

Retrospective Review

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Public Interest Comment: Council on Environmental Quality - Implementing NEPA

August 20, 2018

By: Mark Febrizio
This comment makes recommendations for how the Council on Environmental Quality could improve its data collection methods, how to use those data to enhance retrospective review of National Environmental Policy Act regulations and their effect on industry and the environment, and where to increase transparency in its decision-making process.

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Public Comment on OMB's 2017 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations

April 09, 2018

By: Brian F. Mannix, Sofie E. Miller, & Susan E. Dudley
The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. As part of its mission, the GW Regulatory Studies Center conducts careful and independent analyses to assess rulemaking proposals from the perspective of the public interest. This comment on the Office of Management and Budget’s 2017 Draft Report to Congress offers suggestions for improving the information value of the Report, as well as the evidence on which regulatory policies depend, and does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest.

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A Proposed Framework for Evidence-Based Regulation

February 22, 2018

By Marcus Peacock, Sofie E. Miller, & Daniel R. Pérez
Policymakers and scholars have given serious thought to how evidence-based approaches can improve policymaking, but using evidence to improve regulatory outcomes requires a separate framework than the one currently in use. This paper details how the regulatory process differs from other federal policymaking and establishes a framework for evidence-based regulation (EBR) to improve regulatory outcomes by planning for, collecting, and using evidence throughout the life a regulation. The authors discuss the main barriers that regulatory agencies face in implementing an EBR approach and advance concrete proposals for overcoming these barriers.

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Public Comment on DOE’s Request for Information on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

July 07, 2017

By Sofie E. Miller
This comment provides the Department of Energy with recommendations on how to reduce regulatory burdens pursuant to Executive Orders 13771 and 13777. Miller recommends that DOE establish consistent internal standards for determining whether a rule is "economically justified," including using a threshold to limit the proportion of consumers who bear net costs. DOE should also review each rule before increasing the stringency of its standards, and consider surveys or other measures of actual consumer behavior to ensure that its assumptions about household appliance energy use are accurate.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

EPA

Evaluation at EPA: Determinants of the Environmental Protection Agency's Capacity to Supply Program Evaluation

August 31, 2016

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.

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How Effective Are Federally Mandated Information Disclosures?

August 30, 2016

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.

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Public Comment on DOE’s Regulatory Burden Request for Information "Reducing Regulatory Burden"

July 11, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller
To improve its ongoing retrospective review efforts, this public comment recommends that the Department of Energy incorporate plans for retrospective review into its economically significant or major rules, and provide enough time between energy efficiency standards to allow for an effective review of each rule before increasing the stringency of its standards. DOE should also consider surveys or other measures of actual consumer behavior to ensure that its assumptions about household appliance energy use are accurate. Finally, DOE should commit to measuring whether its standards negatively affect competition in regulated industries.

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Regulatory Accretion: Causes and Possible Remedies

March 04, 2016

By Sofie E. Miller & Susan E. Dudley
In this response in the ALR Accord to Reeve Bull’s article, "Building a Framework for Governance: Retrospective Review and Rulemaking Petitions," Miller and Dudley address the inadequacy of the current retrospective review regime, examine the key causes of this failure, and address Bull’s proposal to encourage private parties to initiate review via rulemaking petitions. Miller and Dudley conclude that, while public participation is beneficial in retrospective review, agencies themselves could better this process by writing plans for review at the outset and improving regulatory outcomes.

Agency use of retrospective review of regulations

Learning from Experience: Retrospective Review of Regulations in 2014

November 03, 2015

By Sofie E. Miller
Through a series of Executive Orders, President Obama has encouraged federal regulatory agencies to review existing regulations and to “modify, streamline, expand, or repeal them in accordance with what has been learned.” Learning from experience is an important part of a healthy regulatory process, so multiple government guidelines instruct agencies to incorporate retrospective review plans into their proposals during the rulemaking process. Our latest research finds that, despite these guidelines, agencies are not planning prospectively for ex post analysis of their rules.

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Whose Benefits Are They, Anyway? Examining the Benefits of Energy Efficiency Rules 2007 - 2014

September 02, 2015

By Sofie E. Miller
Over the past decade, regulations setting energy efficiency standards have proliferated. These rules account billions of dollars in annual regulatory benefits, but the Department of Energy relies on private benefits and benefits to residents of other countries to justify the standards, contrary to typical benefit-cost analyses. This paper examines the composition of benefits resulting from DOE’s energy efficiency rules 2007 – 2014, and finds that these rules don’t pass a traditional cost-benefit test when relying on traditional analytical assumptions.

Sequoyah nuclear power plant

Public Comment: NRC's Financial Qualifications for Reactor Licensing

July 30, 2015

By Gerald W. Brock, Co-Director
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published a draft regulatory basis for a proposed rulemaking that would amend the financial qualifications standard for new reactor licensing from the current "reasonable assurance" to the proposed "appears to be financially qualified." However, the proposed standard is unnecessary because there is a market test of financial qualifications that is more accurate than regulatory review. While the proposed new financial qualification standard is better than the current financial qualification standard, simply abolishing the financial qualifications requirement for licensing would be an improvement over the proposed new standard.