GAO Spotlights MSHA’s Data Selection Decision

Editor’s Note: The GAO Mine Safety Report GAO-14-345, “Basis for Proposed Exposure Limit on Respirable Coal Mine Dust and Possible Approaches for Lowering Dust Levels,” found here, assesses MSHA’s decision to “not use NIOSH’s surveillance data as the basis for its proposed new coal mine dust limit…” and instead base their proposal on other available data. GAO’s assessment of the agency’s data selection decision indicates that their auditing standards are consistent with OIRA’s government-wide data quality requirements.

Below is are two excerpts from the GAO report.

Measuring the Impact of Public Comments

Editor’s Note: Analyses seeking to understand the effect of public comments need to analyze the substance of the comments submitted.

From: George Washington University/Regulatory Studies Center

Steven J. Balla

For decades, a central question in rulemaking has been the extent to which public comments on proposed rules affect the substance of agency regulations. On the one hand, the notice and comment process has been likened to Kabuki theater. On the other hand, researchers have discovered that, under certain circumstances, comments can have substantial effects on final rules.

Behavioural economics and public policy

From: Financial Times

By Tim Harford

The past decade has been a triumph for behavioural economics, the fashionable cross-breed of psychology and economics. First there was the award in 2002 of the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics to a psychologist, Daniel Kahneman – the man who did as much as anything to create the field of behavioural economics. Bestselling books were launched, most notably by Kahneman himself (Thinking, Fast and Slow , 2011) and by his friend Richard Thaler, co-author of Nudge (2008). Behavioural economics seems far sexier than the ordinary sort, too: when last year’s Nobel was shared three ways, it was the behavioural economist Robert Shiller who grabbed all the headlines.

Business Roundtable: Statement for the Record on Improving the Regulatory Framework

From: Business Rountable

Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers who lead companies that operate in every sector of the U.S. economy, appreciates the opportunity to submit this statement for consideration by the Subcommittee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce. Our statement makes the case for a smarter regulatory system and a streamlined federal permitting process.

Nearly three-quarters of Business Roundtable CEOs list regulations as one of the top three cost pressures facing their businesses. Roundtable CEOs believe that a smarter regulatory system and a more streamlined federal permitting process will help drive increased business investment, economic growth and job creation.

Week in Regulation

From: American Action Forum

By Sam Batkins

Regulators were busy this week with 20 notable regulations. Combined, they could impose $312 million in costs and more than 359,000 paperwork burden hours. In addition, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) withdrew two energy conservation standards (reflector lamps and manufactured housing) that had been under review for more than two years.

Regulatory Toplines

  • New Proposed Rules: 51
  • New Final Rules: 67
  • 2014 Significant Documents: 109
  • 2014 Total Pages of Regulation: 14,608
  • 2014 Proposed Rules: $7.3 Billion
  • 2014 Final Rules: $5.9 Billion

Surprise rollback: 500 regulations on chopping block, savings could top $12b

From: Washington Examiner

Hundreds of new federal rules and regulations and those on the books for years are now under review and may be junked under a “look-back” program President Obama created to offer businesses relief from costly and burdensome rules that just don’t work.

Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that more than 500 regulations are being reviewed and reconsidered. She said the program is “something that has never happened before, which is called ‘regulatory look-back,’ e.g. what can you undo versus what can you add.”

GAO on Regulatory Review: Processes Could Be Enhanced

Editor’s Note: The complete GAO Testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce, “FEDERAL RULEMAKING: Regulatory Review Processes Could Be Enhanced” (GAO-14-423T) is attached here. Below is an excerpt from the General Accountability Office’s insightful understanding of the history and significance of centralized regulatory review.

Nudging, Paternalism, and Human Agency

From: Political Theology Today

A Response to the Responses, Pt. II: Nudging, Paternalism, and Human Agency


1. Nudges: Myth and Reality

Let’s start with a note of clarification regarding “nudges” themselves. What are these nudges that we have been discussing, and what do they do? Perhaps looking at examples that are already in play in our world—nudges developed by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA)—may serve to bring a level of coherence, specificity, and clarity to an otherwise fraught, and likely to be mythologized, issue.

Improving Regulation Requires Closer Scrutiny of Benefits

From: RegBlog/Penn Program on Regulation

Many debates over regulation focus only on the costs of new rules. Critics argue that the weight of regulatory costs depresses economic activity, reduces productivity, and discourages formation of new businesses. Estimates seeking to quantify the total federal regulatory burden range from hundreds of billions to well over a trillion dollars. Regulation advocates, in contrast, claim that many of those estimates exaggerate the costs of regulation. More importantly, they point out that regulation critics focus exclusively on the costs and overlook the benefits of regulation.

Increased disclosure? Or an obstacle for EPA?

From: FCW

By Reid Davenport

Should the government have to provide the data underlying a scientific report that it has used to support a regulation? Or would increasing the required burden of proof moot policymaking and expose participants’ private data?

Environmental Protection Agency regulations have brought this issue from the abstract to the halls of Congress, where lawmakers and academics have debated the issue over the past several months.

Last week, Republican lawmakers, backed by some scientists, demanded that EPA make available to the public all of the data used to justify its regulations. Democrats, with their own scientific supporters in tow, argued that requiring the release of such data would undercut EPA’s ability to use outside research to inform its work.