Susan E. Dudley


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Susan Dudley is Director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center, which she established in 2009 to improve regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach.  She is also a distinguished professor of practice in the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. She is a past president of the Society for Benefit Cost Analysis, a senior fellow with the Administrative Conference of the United States, a National Academy of Public Administration fellow, on the board of Economists Incorporated, and chair of the Regulatory Transparency Project’s Regulatory Process working group. Her book, Regulation: A Primer, with Jerry Brito, is available on

From April 2007 through January 2009, Professor Dudley served as the Presidentially-appointed Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and was responsible for the review of draft executive branch regulations under Executive Order 12866, the collection of federal-government-wide information under the Paperwork Reduction Act, the development and implementation of government-wide policies in the areas of information policy, privacy, and statistical policy, and international regulatory cooperation efforts.

Prior to OIRA, she directed the Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and taught courses on regulation at the George Mason University School of Law. Earlier in her career, Professor Dudley served as an economist at OIRA, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. She was also a consultant to government and private clients at Economists Incorporated. She holds a Master of Science degree from the Sloan School of Management at MIT and a Bachelor of Science degree (summa cum laude) in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Susan E. Dudley CV



Content by Susan Dudley:


Milestones in the Evolution of the Administrative State

November 18, 2020 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The modern administrative state, as measured by number of agencies, their budgets and staffing, and the number of regulations they issue, has grown significantly over the last hundred years. This essay reviews the origins of the administrative state, and identifies four milestone efforts to hold it accountable to the American people: passage of the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946, the economic deregulation of the 1970s and ‘80s, requirements for ex-ante regulatory impact analysis, and White House review. These milestones reflect bipartisan consensus on appropriate constraints on executive rulemaking, but they have not succeeded in stemming the debate over the proper role for administrative agencies and the regulations they issue. New milestones may be on the horizon related to judicial interpretations, legislative actions, and extensions to executive oversight.

The Durability of Regulatory Oversight

July 20, 2020 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The article, published in the Regulation & Governance journal, 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, and concludes with recommendations for allowing OIRA's roles and practices to evolve while retaining the core functions that have received bipartisan support.

Nudging the Nudger: Toward a Choice Architecture for Regulators

June 15, 2020 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Zhoudan Xie

Behavioral research has shown that individuals do not always behave in ways that match textbook definitions of rationality but are subject to cognitive biases that may lead to systematic errors in judgments and decisions. Recognizing that regulators are not immune from these cognitive irrationalities, this article explores how the institutional framework or “choice architecture” in which they operate interacts with those biases. By examining five cognitive biases that may be prevalent among regulators, it discusses the extent to which the institutions regulators face reinforce or counteract the influence of cognitive biases in regulatory decision making. Just as behavioral insights can help design a choice architecture to frame individual decisions in ways that encourage welfare‐enhancing choices, consciously designing regulators' institutional frameworks with behavioral insights in mind could lead to more public‐welfare‐enhancing policies. The article concludes with some modest ideas for improving regulators' choice architecture and suggestions for further research.

Regulatory Oversight and Benefit-Cost Analysis: A Historical Perspective

January 15, 2020 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Executive Office of the President coordinates the federal government’s regulatory agenda, reviews executive branch agencies’ draft regulations, and oversees government-wide information quality, peer review, privacy, and statistical policies. Remarkably, its regulatory oversight functions, and the benefit-cost framework underlying them, have not changed significantly through six very different presidential administrations. This article examines the evolution of executive regulatory oversight and analysis from the 1970s to today, exploring the reasons for its durability and whether the current imposition of a regulatory budget challenges the bipartisan nature of regulatory practice.

Designing a Choice Architecture for Regulators

December 03, 2019 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Zhoudan Xie

Recognizing that cognitive biases can also affect regulators themselves, this article attempts to understand how the institutional environment in which regulators operate interacts with their cognitive biases. This article offers suggestions for improving the regulatory choice architecture at federal agencies by having public managers and policy makers factor in predictable biases when regulating individual behaviors or market transactions.

Dynamic Benefit-Cost Analysis for Uncertain Futures

September 17, 2019 | By: Susan E. Dudley, Daniel R. Pérez, Brian F. Mannix, & Christopher Carrigan

Policymakers face demands to act today to protect against a wide range of future risks, and to do so without impeding economic growth. Yet traditional analytical tools may not be adequate to frame the relevant uncertainties and tradeoffs. Challenges such as climate change, nuclear war, and widespread natural disasters don't lend themselves to decision rules designed for discrete policy questions and marginal analyses. We refer to such issues as "uncertain futures."

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.

Nudging the Nudger

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.

Improving Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

January 22, 2019 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Brian F. Mannix

Across developed countries, benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is the principal public policy tool for laying out available information in a way that allows policy makers to make balanced, efficient regulatory decisions in the face of limited resources. However, BCA has limitations. This article examines the institutional and technical factors limiting the use of BCA as a tool for improving regulatory policy and offers some recommendations for reducing those barriers.

Bootleggers & Baptists: The Experience of Another Regulatory Economist

November 27, 2018 | By Susan E. Dudley

Bruce Yandle conceived the theory of Bootleggers and Baptists after working in government as a young economist in the late 1970s and 1980s. Forty years later, his insights regarding the forces that converge to support government intervention continue to explain many regulatory observations. Applying the theory to her own experience, Dudley finds that while the B&B phenomenon is universal, the nature of winning Baptist arguments can vary depending on administration, and that regulatory institutions can reinforce or counteract B&B pressures.

Improving Regulatory Science: A Case Study of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards

August 02, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Marcus Peacock

This paper explores the motivations and institutional incentives of participants involved in the development of regulation aimed at reducing health risks, with a goal of understanding and identifying solutions to what the Bipartisan Policy Center has characterized as “a tendency to frame regulatory issues as debates solely about science, regardless of the actual subject in dispute, [that] is at the root of the stalemate and acrimony all too present in the regulatory system today.” We focus our analysis with a case study of the procedures for developing National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act, and attempt to identify procedural approaches that bring greater diversity (in data, expertise, experience, and accountability) into the decision process.

Book Review of Andrew W. Lo's "Review of Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought"

February 8, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley

What drives our responses to risk and uncertainty, and how can we improve them? In his 2017 book, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought, MIT Sloan finance professor Andrew Lo answers that question using evolutionary concepts and insights, including competition, innovation, reproduction, and adaptation.

Putting a Cap on Regulation

June 13, 2017 | By: Susan E. Dudley

President Donald Trump is moving quickly to make good on his campaign promise to reduce regulation, which he called “one of the greatest job-killers of them all.” President Donald Trump, Remarks at the Republican National Convention (July 21, 2016). During his second week in office, he signed Executive Order 13771, requiring agencies to offset the costs of new regulations by removing existing burdens. Exec. Order No. 13,771, 82 Fed. Reg. 9339 (Jan. 30, 2017). Then, at the end of February, he issued E.O. 13777, establishing mechanisms for implementing both E.O. 13771 and regulatory procedures and policies that Presidents Clinton and Obama had put in place. Exec. Order No. 13,777, 82 Fed. Reg. 12,285 (Feb. 24, 2017).

Can Fiscal Budget Concepts Improve Regulation?

June 13, 2016 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Despite efforts to ensure that new regulations provide net benefits to citizens, the accumulation of regulations threatens economic growth and well-being. As a result, Congress is exploring the possibility that applying fiscal budgeting concepts to regulation could bring more accountability and transparency to the regulatory process. This Essay in the NYU Journal of Legislation and Public Policy examines the advantages and challenges of applying regulatory budgeting practices and draws some preliminary conclusions based on successful experiences in other countries.

Regulatory Accretion: Causes and Possible Remedies

March 4, 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.

The Role of Transparency in Regulatory Governance: Comparing US and EU Regulatory Systems

August 11, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Kai Wegrich

This review of regulatory procedures in the EU and US suggests that each values good regulatory practices, such as transparency, public consultation, and regulatory impact analysis, but emphasizes them to different degrees at different stages in the regulatory process. Particularly for regulations that address human health risks, both jurisdictions should be more transparent regarding the uncertainties surrounding estimates of regulatory outcomes and the effect of key assumptions on those estimates. A transparent process for evaluating regulatory effects ex post could also improve regulatory analysis and outcomes.

Improving Regulatory Accountability: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future

July 15, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

This article examines efforts by the three branches of federal government to oversee regulatory policy and procedures. It begins with a review of efforts over the last century to establish appropriate checks and balances on regulations issued by the executive branch and then evaluates current regulatory reforms that would hold the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch more accountable for regulations and their outcomes.

Point/Counterpoint: Valuing Internalities in Regulatory Impact Analysis

May 13, 2015 | By: Brian Mannix & Susan Dudley

In this Point/Counterpoint article series with Cass Sunstein & Hunt Allcott, Mannix & Dudley argue that allowing regulators to control consumers 'for their own good' – based on some deficiency in the consumers themselves rather than any failure in the marketplace – is to abandon any serious attempt to keep regulatory policy grounded in any objective notion of the public good.

Achieving Regulatory Policy Objectives: An Overview and Comparison of U.S. and EU Procedures

March 10, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Kai Wegrich

This paper aims to provide a descriptive analysis of procedural differences in regulatory development between the United States and the European Union to serve as a factual basis for understanding the regulatory challenges and opportunities for transatlantic trade. It summarizes regulatory procedures in each jurisdiction, dividing the process for establishing regulations into four stages: 1) agenda setting, 2) regulatory development, 3) final determination and opportunities for challenge, and 4) implementation and enforcement. After presenting the procedures in the U.S. and EU, the paper compares how the shared goals for achieving a regulatory system that is evidence based, transparent, and accountable are achieved in the two jurisdictions.

Comment on Löfstedt’s ‘The substitution principle in chemical regulation: a constructive critique’

January 02, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

This commentary on Ragnar Löfstedt’s constructive critique of the substitution principle observes that while the principle is intuitively appealing, it begins to unravel on closer examination. When considering government intervention to effect societal improvements, it is important to be aware of two problems. First, predicting the actual outcome of an intervention is very difficult, and second, people disagree about what constitutes ‘societal improvements’. This commentary examines the substitution principle in light of those problems and offers a set of guiding principles for evaluating and developing alternative policy frameworks that will improve public health and welfare.

Perpetuating Puffery: An Analysis of the Composition of OMB's Reported Benefits of Regulation

August 14, 2012 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The Office of Management and Budget reports that the benefits of regulations issued over the last decade exceed the costs by an order of magnitude. But how accurate are those estimates? Over 80 percent of total reported regulatory benefits derive from three sources: (1) reductions of fine particles in the air as a direct result of regulation, (2) the co-benefits achieved from ancillary reductions in these particles as an indirect result of regulation, and (3) private savings for which agencies have offered no market failure explanation. This article critically examines the approaches and assumptions behind these estimates, and suggests that the reported benefits should be viewed with some skepticism.

Regulatory Consultation in the United States

November 01, 2010 | By: Susan E. Dudley

This paper provides an overview of the U.S. regulatory process to facilitate discussion of stakeholder consultation at the joint Bertelsmann Stiftung and George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center workshop on December 1, 2010. U.S. procedures for developing regulations derive from the U.S. Constitution and the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA). While more recent laws and executive orders provide for additional analytical requirements, review, and consultation, the APA has guided the regulatory process and the role for the public for almost 65 years. This paper summarizes the Constitutional framework and the APA requirements, and then reviews the stages of rulemaking and the role for public consultation at each stage.


From Beginning to End: An Examination of Agencies’ Early Public Engagement and Retrospective Review

May 07, 2019 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Susan Dudley testified before the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Regulatory Affairs and Financial Management Subcommittee on May 7, 2019, commending the Subcommittee’s bipartisan regulatory reform legislation. By 1) engaging public input earlier in the regulatory development process and 2) providing for retrospective review of regulations to evaluate whether they are achieving their objectives, the two bills can help ensure that regulations are based on the best evidence available and that they are working as intended for the American people.

Increasing Consistency and Transparency in EPA's Benefit Cost Analysis

July 17, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley

In this comment, Dudley supports EPA’s efforts to improve the transparency and consistency of the analysis supporting its significant regulations and, referring to the Consumer’s Guide to Regulatory Impact Analysis, reviews ten tips for achieving this objective. She encourages EPA, as a first step, to review all its statutory authority and, to the maximum extent possible, interpret its statutory standards through a lens of standard benefit-cost analysis principles.

EPA’s Proposed Rule Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science

May 18, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The EPA’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” proposed rule seeks to improve the data and models that underlie the rulemaking process by making them publicly available for further analysis and validation. This public interest comment examines the merits of the proposed rule and how it relates to existing practices. These remarks conclude with a case for why clearer explanations of rulemaking rationale would encourage more openness and constructive discussion, ultimately improve policy decisions, and engender greater acceptance of policy choices.

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.

Agency Use of Science in the Rulemaking Process: Proposals for Improving Transparency and Accountability

March 14, 2017 | By: Susan E. Dudley

As the Senate subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management considers proposals for improving transparency and accountability in agencies’ use of science in the rulemaking process, it should recognize two problems. “Hidden policy judgments” occur when scientists, intentionally or unintentionally, insert, but do not disclose, their own policy preferences in the scientific advice they provide government decision-makers. The “science charade” occurs when scientists and/or policymakers conflate scientific information and nonscientific judgments to make a policy choice, but then present that decision as being solely based on science.

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.

Public Interest Comment to the National Economic Council on The President's Executive Order 13725: Steps to Increase Competition and Better Inform Consumers and Workers to Support Continued Growth of the American Economy

May 12, 2016 | By: Sofie E. Miller, Daniel R. Pérez, Susan E. Dudley & Brian Mannix

This public comment suggests several areas of regulatory policy where federal regulations have hindered, rather than helped, competition, and recommends that agencies take this opportunity to reduce these regulatory barriers to competition.

A Review of Regulatory Reform Proposals

September 17, 2015 | By Susan E. Dudley

The Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee held a hearing on Thursday September 16, at which they asked Susan Dudley to provide expert input on six regulatory reform proposals scheduled for markup. Her testimony complimented the Committee on the constructive, bipartisan reforms, which if passed, could bring about real improvements in regulatory procedures and outcomes. She offered detailed comments on each bill, of which three focus on evaluating the effects of existing regulations and modifying them as appropriate, and three focus on enhancing analytical procedures conducted before new regulations are issued.

Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation: Exploring the Possibility of a Regulatory Budget

June 23, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

On June 23, RSC scholars Susan Dudley and Richard Pierce and President of the Canadian Treasury Board, Tony Clement, testified during a joint hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget and Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Dudley testified in support of a regulatory budget and cited the potential for constructive debate on the real impacts of regulations, greater transparency, more efficient allocation of resources, and ultimately the potential for more cost-effective achievement of public priorities.

Accounting for the True Cost of Regulation: Exploring the Possibility of a Regulatory Budget

June 23, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

On June 23, RSC scholars Susan Dudley and Richard Pierce and President of the Canadian Treasury Board, Tony Clement, testified during a joint hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget and Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Dudley testified in support of a regulatory budget and cited the potential for constructive debate on the real impacts of regulations, greater transparency, more efficient allocation of resources, and ultimately the potential for more cost-effective achievement of public priorities.

Examining Practical Solutions to Improve the Federal Regulatory Process

June 03, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Though regulation affects every aspect of our lives, as a policy tool it rarely reaches the attention of voters (and consequently of elected officials) because, unlike the federal budget, its effects are often not visible. This testimony offers recommendations in four areas that may meet the Subcommittee's request for "common sense ideas that could garner bipartisan support and provide immediate improvement to the federal regulatory process." These are 1) codifying regulatory impact analysis requirements, 2) providing for earlier analysis and public input on new regulations, 3) increasing resources for regulatory oversight, and 4) being mindful of regulatory consequences when passing new legislation.

Public Interest Comment on The Interagency Technical Support Document: Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis under Executive Order No. 12866

February 26, 2014 | By Susan E. Dudley & Brian F. Mannix

This comment endorses the administration’s effort to arrive at a uniform SCC, to help ensure internal consistency across a portfolio of policies directed at reducing carbon emissions. However, it raises concerns that the task of estimating the SCC was undertaken with an apparent bias that needs to be corrected before it can be taken as objective.


Engaging in the Rulemaking Process

June 3, 2021 | By: Susan E. Dudley

People and organizations interested in influencing public policy often focus on Congress, but most policy details are actually developed in the executive branch by specialist agencies. As regulations are being developed, the public has opportunities to share insights, preferences, information, and experience. This Insight offers an overview of the rulemaking process and highlights opportunities to engage at different stages.

Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis--Advice for a New Presidential Term

February 25, 2021 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Clark Nardinelli

In January, the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis organized a panel to share advice to the incoming administration on improving and expanding the use of benefit-cost analysis.

Extending Executive Order 12866 to Independent Regulatory Agencies

February 03, 2021 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Clark Nardinelli

An October 2019 Dept. of Justice opinion suggests that the President can require the independent agencies to perform benefit-cost analyses of all significant regulations and submit the regulations for review to OIRA.

The Regulators' New Marching Orders

January 27, 2021 | By: Susan E. Dudley

President Biden has moved quickly to put his stamp on regulatory policy and practice. While his Inauguration Day actions acknowledge longstanding regulatory review practices, they also foreshadow a move away from the bipartisan emphasis on evidence-based policy and signal a much more progressive, and less humble, approach to regulating.

Advice for the Biden-Harris Administration

January 06, 2021 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Time-tested regulatory practices can help ensure evidence-based policies take diverse perspectives and information into account.

The Midnight Regulation Phenomenon

December 02, 2020 | By: Susan E. Dudley

It’s officially midnight in Washington, when an outgoing presidential administration rushes to complete its priorities before a new administration takes office. Without support from Congress, presidents in their final days must rely on actions they can take unilaterally, leading to the phenomenon known as “midnight regulation.”

The Ambition of the Administrative State

August 29, 2019 | By: Susan E. Dudley

America’s founders 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.

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.

Policy Analysis for Uncertain Futures

March 13, 2019 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Daniel R. Pérez

Policymakers face demands to act today to protect against a wide range of future risks, and to do so without impeding economic growth. Yet traditional analytical tools may not be adequate to frame the relevant uncertainties and tradeoffs. Challenges such as climate change, nuclear war, and widespread natural disasters don’t lend themselves to decision rules designed for discrete policy questions and marginal analyses. We refer to such issues as “uncertain futures.”

More flexible and dynamic decision-analysis approaches that anticipate the need to learn from experience (and that encourage learning) are essential. Developing a body of research that cuts across disciplines to introduce better tools for anticipating and examining uncertain future risks can lead to policies that lower the probabilities and mitigate the consequences of these uncertain futures while encouraging economic growth and increasing resilience. To this end, the GW Regulatory Studies Center commissioned four papers from leading experts in different fields.

A Brief History of Regulation and Deregulation

March 12, 2019

The history of regulatory policy in the United States is rich, but its future remains unclear. Susan Dudley provides four key milestones in the development of the current regulatory policy landscape, and posits that we may be in the midst of a fifth milestone being laid, in this article for The Regulatory Review at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

The Future of E.O. 12866: Embracing Regulatory Humility

October 05, 2018

Susan Dudley, former OIRA Administrator, discusses how Executive Order 12866 has lead to bipartisan consensus of regulatory principles, reviews the ongoing effects of this 25-year-old rulemaking process, and why it is likely to continue to make a significant difference well into the future.

EPA Proposes Replacement for Obama’s Signature Climate Initiative

August 22, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley

On August 21, 2018, EPA proposed its replacement for the Clean Power Plan that the Supreme Court stayed in 2016. The new “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule is dramatically different from the Obama-era Clean Power Plan; it focuses on increasing efficiency and providing states more flexibility, rather than shifting power generation away from coal and fossil fuels. Dudley reviews the legal and analytical background for the rule and observes that market forces will likely cause greenhouse gas emissions to continue to decline.

U.S. and Canada Sign Agreement on Regulatory Cooperation

June 06, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The Treasury Board of Canada and the U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding last week to continue collaborating on the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council. With the goal of reducing unnecessary differences between the two countries' regulatory framework, the MOU promotes a joint effort to create mutually beneficial economic outcomes, despite recent trade tariffs imposed on Canada by the U.S.

Regulating Within a Budget

April 23, 2018 | By: Susan E. Dudley -- Originally published in The Regulatory Review

Despite his rhetoric on regulation, President Trump continues to require agencies to make decisions based on an understanding of regulatory benefits and costs. Although he has overlaid a budget constraint on these existing requirements, and his executive orders signal less emphasis on estimating regulatory benefits, this may not be all bad.

Reviewers and Revenooers Reach Compromise

April 16, 2018

After weeks of negotiations, the Treasury Department and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) agreed last week that IRS regulations would be subject to the same analytical requirements and interagency review as other agencies’ rules. Susan Dudley thinks the memorandum of agreement strikes the right balance between ensuring regulations are well-reasoned and cost-effective, while not inhibiting the issuance of timely guidance for taxpayers.

New Implications of the Congressional Review Act

November 08, 2017 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The CRA has been getting much attention recently. Not only did President Trump sign his fifteenth resolution disapproving a CFPB regulation last week, but this action marked the first time a president had disapproved a regulation issued during his own tenure. Congress is also taking steps to apply the CRA to guidance documents and other non-APA agency regulatory actions. These recent actions suggest the CRA is likely to continue to influence the development, implementation, and enforcement of regulation.

Latest Trump Executive Order Provides Guidance on “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda”

February 27, 2017 | By: Susan E. Dudley

President Trump signed his second executive order aimed at government-wide regulatory practice Friday afternoon. This one is not as dramatic as his January EO 13771, which required agencies to offset the costs of new regulations by removing existing burdens, but it sets up mechanisms for implementing that order, as well as other principles. Specifically, it creates a Regulatory Reform Task Force at each agency, to be headed by a Regulatory Reform Officer, responsible for overseeing implementation of the president’s regulatory reform initiatives and policies.

The Devil is in the Details of President Trump’s Regulatory Executive Order

February 01, 2017 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Sofie E. Miller

President Trump’s new executive order, which follows his promises to cut regulatory costs and eliminate two regulations for every new one issued, is certain to shake up the regulatory state. A regulatory offset policy, like those in the U.K and Canada, could provide agencies incentives to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of their accumulated regulations and determine which ones have outlived their usefulness. However, the devil is in the details, and the order doesn’t specify how the policy will be implemented, which could have a “huge” impact on its effectiveness.

A Tumultuous Inaugural Week in Washington

January 18, 2017 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The U.S. prides itself on smooth transitions of power, but that doesn’t mean this inaugural week isn’t a tumultuous one. President Obama has until noon on Friday to cement his final legacy; then at 12:01 pm it will be President Trump’s turn to flex his muscle. This commentary provides a quick rundown of the policy changes the lead-up to January 20th has brought, and what to expect on Friday afternoon.

Regulatory Reset: How easy is it to undo regulation?

November 30, 2016

President-elect Trump has promised big cuts in regulation, including through a requirement that for “for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated.” How easy would this be to accomplish? It depends on the circumstances. While regulations cannot be repealed with the stroke of pen (unlike executive orders, which presidents can unilaterally issue and unilaterally revoke), there are procedures for modifying or removing them. In this commentary, Susan Dudley weighs in.

Improving Evaluation of Chemical Regulations

August 31, 2016 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Ex-ante regulatory impact assessment has a long tradition in many countries but it necessarily depends on unverifiable assumptions and models of how the world would look absent the regulation, and how responses to regulatory requirements will alter those conditions. In essence, ex-ante analyses are hypotheses of the effects of regulatory actions. More consistent and robust evaluation of regulatory outcomes would allow agencies to test those hypotheses. This would be valuable not only for understanding the effect of past actions, but for improving future decisions.

Evolution and Innovation

June 14, 2016 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Government regulations would benefit from a greater appreciation of the ecosystem-like nature of economies and a greater respect for the evolutionary pressures stimulated by competition, choice and decentralized decision-making. We live in a diverse society made up of individuals with varied circumstances and preferences. Regulatory approaches at the national level that reduce competition, choice and feedback disrupt evolutionary processes, protect favored interests from challenge and make the economic ecosystem as a whole less able to adapt and innovate.

President Obama’s Competition Executive Order Could Benefit from a History Lesson

April 19, 2016 | By: Susan E. Dudley

President Obama’s new executive order, aimed at promoting competitive markets, is a welcome announcement. Competition among firms is often the best regulator of undesirable behavior. However, the order and accompanying issue brief fail to recognize that regulation itself, rather than offering a cure for “natural monopoly,” can contribute to some unnatural monopolies. The deregulation of the 1970s and 1980s and competitive markets have generated real gains for consumers and for society as a whole, while markets have evolved in beneficial, previously unanticipated, ways.

OSHA's Shortsighted Solution to Crystalline Silica Exposure

March 30, 2016 | By: Susan E. Dudley

OSHA issued its long awaited regulation restricting workplace exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) on Friday. Unfortunately, the final rule is unlikely to have the beneficial effects the agency predicts because it doesn’t tackle the core problem. The rule mandates various technologies and practices, but the greatest challenge to reducing risks is not that employers or employees are not motivated to take protective measures, but rather a lack of information, particularly information on the relative toxicity of different forms of silica.

Senators: Put Politics Aside in Reforming America’s Regulatory System

March 22, 2016 | By: Sydney E. Allen

Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management Senator James Lankford and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, respectively, joined the more than 300 attendees of the 8th annual SBCA conference on March 17 to discuss their bipartisan legislation aimed at updating the current federal regulatory system. Their conversation, moderated by Susan Dudley, addressed the discourse they engage in as leaders of the subcommittee and stressed the importance of making the rulemaking process more evidence based and finding common ground in an ever-divisive political atmosphere.

Regulatory Reboot: Options for Revisiting Midnight Regulations

February 23, 2016 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is bracing for the rush of regulatory activity that typically comes during the final year of a presidential administration. A government planning document lists 95 economically significant final regulations as priorities for President Obama’s final year in office. But according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service, any rule published after May 16 runs the risk of being summarily overturned in 2017.

With Data, Will Regulators Show Humility or Hubris?

September 22, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Rapid technological change, big data, and greater interconnectivity are poised to transform the way we live and work. In the hands of entrepreneurs subject to competitive pressures and a light regulatory hand, they can yield innovations beyond our imagination. For this to occur, however, government regulators must resist the temptation to think that more data should be used to design more detailed interventions in private activities. Rather, guided by the principle of “epistemic humility,” regulation should be designed to encourage competition and experimentation.


Considering the Cumulative Effects of Regulation

August 10, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Longstanding executive and legislative directives require agencies to analyze the expected impact of new regulatory requirements before they are issued. While important, this ex-ante regulation-by-regulation analysis may not account for the cumulative effect of regulations on society or specific sectors of the economy. Dudley's reflections were triggered by insightful questions for the record posed by Senator Joni Ernst after a joint hearing of the Senate Budget and Homeland Security and Government Affairs on June 23 Senate.


Making Regulation More Accountable

June 19, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

On June 18, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act which would require independent Federal regulatory agencies (such as the FCC, SEC, & CPSC) to be held to the same analytical and oversight standards as executive agencies. In this commentary, Dudley explains how this piece of legislation is a positive step towards good governance.

Regulators' Budget Increases Consistent with Growth in Fiscal Budget

May 19, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Melinda Warren

Every year, Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren examine the on-budget costs of regulation by examining the portion of the Budget of the United States devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations. In this year's report, Dudley and Warren find that the regulators’ budget is growing at approximately the same pace as the overall Budget, 5.3 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) terms in FY 2016 and 4.3 percent in FY 2015. The President’s proposed budget for the regulatory activities tracked here is $66.8 billion in FY 2016. Some of the largest increases reflect Presidential priorities, such as financial market reform and immigration reform.

Improving Regulatory Accountability: Lessons from the Past, Prospects for the Future

February 17, 2015 | By: Susan E. Dudley

There are now more than 70 federal agencies, employing almost 300,000 people, that write and implement regulations. Every year, they issue tens of thousands of new regulations, which now occupy over 175,000 pages of code. Concerns over the accountability of what some have called the "fourth branch" of government have led all three branches of government to take steps to exercise checks and balances. Like the bipartisan regulatory reform efforts of the 1970s and 1980s, reforms today could spur economic growth and improve the welfare of American families, workers and entrepreneurs.

The Utility of Humility

December 09, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

What effect do regulations have on economic growth and well-being? In the United States, there is growing concern that our regulatory system has gone beyond the rules needed for an efficient, competitive market. Because of this concern, fundamental change is needed, the foundation of which must be greater humility. Without a counterfactual, it is impossible to know what a more restrained regulatory environment would have meant for economic growth and well-being, but available evidence suggests that the benefits of a simpler regulatory system that is targeted at problems that cannot be solved by other means could have enormous benefits for us and future generations.

Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Transatlantic Trade

December 01, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Regulatory systems that "promote competitive markets, secure property rights, and intervene to correct market failures rather than to increase state influence" are not only more conducive to greater economic growth and public welfare within countries, but they can support international trade and investment. As our economies become more global, and the EU and U.S. work to reduce tariffs and explicit trade barriers, regulations are emerging as more important and significant barriers to trade. Not only can poorly designed or conflicting regulations inhibit transatlantic trade and investment, but differences in regulatory policy and procedural approaches may continue to challenge economic partnerships between the EU and U.S. The success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) thus depends on strengthening EU-U.S. regulatory coherence, and reducing regulatory barriers to transatlantic trade and investment.

New Study Finds Federal Regulation Costs Over $2 Trillion Per Year and Disproportionately Affects Small Businesses

September 10, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The costs of regulation, both individually and in the aggregate, are notoriously hard to measure. Unlike the direct costs of government programs, which are tracked through the fiscal budget, there is no mechanism for keeping track of the off-budget costs imposed by regulation. Thus, to get a clearer picture of the impact of regulations, it is important to examine those impacts through different lenses using different measurement tools, even though none of those approaches is perfect.

Tight Budgets Constrain Some Regulatory Agencies, but Not All

July 15, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley & Melinda Warren

Each year we examine the President’s proposed Budget of the United States to identify the outlays and staffing devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations. This “regulators’ budget” report covers agencies whose regulations primarily affect private-sector activities, and expressly excludes budget and staffing associated with regulations that govern taxation, entitlement, procurement, subsidy, and credit functions. This year’s analysis also documents some interesting long-term shifts in regulatory spending patterns, including a trend in which overall outlays devoted to economic regulatory activities, including price, quality, and entry regulation, are increasing at a faster rate than those aimed at social regulatory activities, such as environmental, safety and health issues. This reverses a trend that began in the 1970s away from economic regulation of private-sector activities. This is worth watching because economic theory and empirical evidence suggest that the costs of economic types of regulation often outweigh the benefits.

DOT Should Incorporate Lookback Plans into Proposed Hours of Service Rule

May 21, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

Despite executive orders and guidance calling on agencies to plan for evaluating regulations, FMCSA's proposal does not discuss how it would do so. While some of the linkages FMCSA anticipates cannot be directly measured (e.g., will compliance with HOS regulations actually reduce driver fatigue?), the extent to which the safety benefits that FMCSA predicts transpire should be measurable with data that the agency collects regularly through roadside inspections and accident reports. Consistent with Executive Order 13563, in the preamble of its final rule, FMCSA should commit to measuring the actual results of this regulation, and specify the data and measurement tools it plans to use.

EPA’s Wood Stove Analysis is Smoke & Mirrors

May 05, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

EPA projects that the benefits of its proposal to regulate emissions from residential wood stoves would outweigh the costs by a factor of more than 100. However, EPA’s analysis is flawed in ways that not only make these net benefit estimates suspect but violate Presidential requirements, and may undermine EPA’s determination of what reflects the “best system of emissions reduction.”

Australia's Regulatory "Bonfire"

March 24, 2014 | By: Susan E. Dudley

The World Economic Forum ranks Australia 128th in the world in terms of the burden of government regulation, noting “the business community cites labor regulations and bureaucratic red tape as being, respectively, the first and second most problematic factor for doing business in their country.” 


One Trump-Era Notion Biden May Want to Embrace, by Susan Dudley & Sally Katzen

Independent regulators should analyze the costs and benefits of new rules, like executive agencies do.

The Biden-Harris Team Needs Benefit-Cost Analysis, by Susan Dudley

Changes in administration always bring out advocates for rethinking practices and policies, and that’s healthy. But calls for abandoning benefit-cost analysis are tired old ideas that failed to take hold in the Clinton and Obama administrations and should fail again.

Trump Takes a Parting Swipe at the Executive Branch, by Susan Dudley & Sally Katzen

We served as presidential appointees in the Office of Management and Budget under Republican and Democratic administrations, and we disagree on plenty. But we are in complete accord that OMB’s career professionals are essential for effective government. They bring deep knowledge—built up over years, sometimes decades—of how government works, which approaches to policy have succeeded or failed, and why.

That’s why we are alarmed by reports that OMB Director Russell Vought has, in the waning days of the administration, reclassified 88% of the OMB’s career staff into a new Schedule F category that means they can be hired and fired at will on political grounds. The move was a hasty effort to implement an executive order from President Trump that overturned more than a century of civil service law to exert greater political control over government employees in “policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions.”

Joint Statement on Proposed Staff Reclassifications in the Office of Management and Budget, co-authored by Susan Dudley

As former career officials and presidential appointees from both parties at the Office Management and Budget, we write with great concern about reports that up to 88 percent of staff positions at OMB could be classified as Schedule F appointees, making their incumbents subject to removal or appointment at will by political leadership. This would, in our view as former OMB officials, fundamentally damage one of the central institutions of our government, and would harm the ability of the Biden administration and any future administration of either party to govern effectively. 

Midnight in the Garden of Rules and Regulations

Midnight regulation is upon us and it may be more chaotic than usual and not just because of Donald Trump’s personality. Since his presidency is ending after one term, his administrators may be more rushed than in previous transitions. On the other hand, career staff may hinder their efforts.

Roadmap to a Regulatory Reset

While we don’t know the outcome of Tuesday’s election, the Biden team must be considering their options for reversing Trump regulatory actions if they win the White House. Here’s a roadmap to a regulatory reset.

The Measure & Mismeasure of Rules

Fact checking President Trump’s deregulatory claims: Behind the puffery lies some truth.

Regulatory Reform to Get the Economy Moving

A dynamic post-pandemic requires thoughtful evaluation to be sure regulations are achieving their goals without needlessly burdening the workers, consumers, small businesses and entrepreneurs who comprise a thriving society. Here are recommendations for emerging from the pandemic with strength.

Learning from COVID-19

As the world struggles to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, short-term policies should focus on generating much-needed information. The longer term focus should be on policies that make society more resilient and able to respond to a range of future challenges, whether they are anticipated or not.

DOT Asserts More Control over Regulatory Traffic

DOT's rule on rules provides a rare window into the inner workings of the department’s rulemaking procedures. It also codifies regulatory practices and analytical principles that, while accepted across different presidencies, have heretofore not been legally enforceable.

New Trump Orders: Guidance Should Be a Shield Not a Sword

Two new executive orders on agency use of guidance lend presidential weight to a longstanding issue. Implementation of the orders will need to strike the right balance between ensuring transparency and adequate notice of agency policy without quashing valuable information sharing with the public.

The Capitalism Paradox

Professor Paul Rubin’s thoughtful and engaging new book, The Capitalism Paradox, explores why many Americans reject capitalism, despite strong evidence linking free economies to human well-being. It turns out that economists’ focus on competition rather than cooperation may be partly to blame.

Not All Regulations Are Created Equal

Switching from more-constraining forms of regulations to forms that are productivity-neutral or even productivity-enhancing can achieve policy goals at lower social cost.

Competition Can Be Good For Regulators Too

The Business Roundtable’s new report documents how overlapping regulatory jurisdiction can impede innovation and economic growth. But it would be a mistake to conclude that national regulatory uniformity is the only solution. Sometimes, regulatory competition may yield better societal results.

Out of the Spotlight, Rare Bipartisan Reform

In contrast to the dysfunction and partisan posturing so characteristic of Washington, Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are working together to introduce 2 bills that offer relatively modest, yet potentially powerful, improvements to rulemaking practices and outcomes.

Closing the Tax Man's Loophole

On April 11, 2018, the IRS closed a loophole that had hindered the transparency and accountable of its rules. One year later, it has made some progress toward better economic analysis in support of its regulations, but there’s still room for improvement.

Wall Street Journal, Commissions Are Mulvaney’s Error of Omission, by Susan E. Dudley & Sally Katzen

The Hill, US-Canada regulatory cooperation continues despite Trump’s G-7 outburst, by Daniel R. Pérez & Susan E. Dudley

The Hill, Despite call for big cuts, Trump’s budget maintains regulatory spending, by Susan Dudley & Melinda Warren

The Hill, The steps to making Trump’s bump stock regulation a reality, by Susan E. Dudley & Sofie E. Miller

Wall Street Journal, The Story Behind the IRS’s Exemption From Oversight, by Susan E. Dudley & Sally Katzen

The HillTrump’s deregulatory promises are coming true and saving $570 million, by Susan E. Dudley

The HillBoosting integrity of federal policymaking is an easy win for Congress, by Susan E. Dudley and Daniel R. Pérez

The HillEPA's new science advisor will bolster objectivity and transparency, by Susan E. Dudley

The HillCongress created a regulatory scheme that keeps its hands clean - time for accountability, by Susan E. Dudley & David Schoenbrod

NBC THINKTrump Wants to Deconstruct the Administrative State. Can He?, by Susan E. Dudley

Wall Street JournalThe $2 Trillion Compliance Figure Came From the SBA, by Susan E. Dudley

Wall Street JournalA Trump Nomination Shows He’s Serious About Deregulation, by Susan E. Dudley

The HillPresident Trump's FDA nominee could mean better drugs sooner at lower cost, by Susan Dudley & Bartley Madden

The HillTrump weighs key pick for regulatory rollback, by Susan Dudley