Regulations need retrospective review

From: The Hill | Congress Blog

By Sofie Miller

There’s an old adage that says, “You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.” Everyone from teachers to businesses routinely evaluate the results of their efforts to see if they’re paying off, so it seems natural that we would expect the federal government to do the same for its regulations. However, that’s rarely the case: While recent efforts have drawn more attention to “retrospective review” of rules, new research shows agencies still have a long way to go.

Every year, federal agencies issue thousands of new regulations that they estimate will result in billions of dollars in both benefits and costs for Americans. Despite this proliferation of regulatory activity, regulators seldom look back at existing rules to see whether they are, in fact, working as intended. That may be because, as our latest research finds, agencies don’t write their rules to enable measurement of results, and public policy and accountability suffer as a result.

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