Improving Regulatory Inpact Analysis Through Process Reform

Editor’s Note:  The complete testimony is available as a pdf here.

From: Mercatus Center/George Mason University

Testimony before the Joint Economic Committee

Jerry Ellig

Good morning Chairman Brady, Vice Chairman Klobuchar, and members of the committee. Thank you for inviting me to testify today.

I am an economist and research fellow at the Mercatus Center, a 501(c)(3) research, educational, and outreach organization affiliated with George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. I’ve previously served as a senior economist for this committee and as deputy director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission. My principal research for the last 25 years has focused on the regulatory process, government performance, and the effects of government regulation. For these reasons, I’m delighted to testify on today’s topic.

Eliminating Unnecessary and Costly Red Tape Through Smarter Regulations

From: Brookings

By: Michael Greenstone

[Brookings] Editor’s Note: On June 26, 2013, Hamilton Project Director Michael Greenstone testified before the Joint Economic Committee about strategies to improve the government’s regulatory system. Below are his prepared remarks:

Thank you Chairman Brady, Vice Chair Klobuchar, and members of the Joint Economic Committee for inviting me to speak today.

My name is Michael Greenstone, and I am the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Director of the Hamilton Project, and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  My research focuses on estimating the costs and benefits of environmental quality, with a particular emphasis on the impacts of government regulations.

GAO Recommends Reduced Reporting by Cable Industry

Editor’s Note: A newly released  GAO report recommended that FCC-mandated reporting by cable companies be reduced.  The following is the an excerpt.  The complete report, “VIDEO MARKETPLACE: Competition Is Evolving, and Government Reporting Should Be Reevaluated” is available here.

In our review of the video competition reports, we saw little change in the reported findings from year to year; therefore, less frequent reporting could allow for continued measurement of industry performance while reducing the burden on FCC and industry participants.


“it is career bureaucrats who know, better than anyone else, what works and what doesn’t”

Editor’s Note:  The following is the final and most important recommendation from the testimony of Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  The complete statement, Lessons for the Future of Government Reform, is available here.

Moving Forward with Regulatory Lookback

Editor’s Note:  The insightful and valuable article below on retrospective regulatory review analysis makes a statement which requires clarification.  Specifically, the regulatory review function in the 1970s was far from “ad hoc and largely unmanaged.” To the contrary, as the history of pre-OIRA regulatory review explained, the Quality of Life Review (QLR) regulatory review process under President Nixon,

SBA Study of the Cost of Federal Regulation

Editor’s Note:  If the author of the article below had good cause to think that SBA/Advocacy’s landmark study on the costs of federal regulation was lacking in accuracy, objectivity, utility and/or integrity, he could have used the Data Quality Act’s Request for Correction process to seek and obtain any justified changes.  Since the author has declined to use the Congressionally-enacted mechanism for seeking correction of quality-deficient federal information disseminations, readers can only conclude that Mr. Mandelbaum’s objections are to the study’s conclusions, not with how the study was performed.

Questions on a Study of the Cost of Federal Regulation


The Uneven Regulatory Burden

From: National Review Online

By Reihan Salam

Peter Suderman points us to a new report from the American Action Forum on the cost of the regulations imposed by the Obama administration:

In 2012, Cass Sunstein, Obama’s former Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs administrator touted another executive order intended to “eliminate unjustified regulatory costs and to reduce burdens” through international regulatory coordination.

Here’s what that looks like in practice: Last year, Sunstein’s office wiped $2.5 billion in regulations from agency books. And the administration added $236 billion in new regulations.

Sam Batkins summarizes one of the AAF report’s more disturbing findings:

The Costs and Benefits of Regulatory Cost-Benefit Analysis

From: Compliance Week

Joseph McCafferty

The Securities and Exchange Commission and other federal agencies are between Scylla and Charybdis—the original rock and a hard place of Greek mythology—when it comes to performing required cost-benefit analyses for the Dodd-Frank Act rules they are in charge of writing.

Conduct too little analysis and the agencies leave themselves open to second-guessing by industry associations and corporate lobby groups, which can then challenge the rules on the basis of inadequate cost reviews and get them stricken from the books. That’s exactly what happened to the proxy access rule that ended up getting tossed aside after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others launched a legal challenge. (More on that and other challenges to rulemaking in a moment.)

Regulating in the Dark: Examining Bush Midnight Regulations

Editor’s Note:  A pdf of the complete Working Paper “Regulating in the Dark: Examining Bush Midnight Regulations” is attached here.

From: Mercatus Center/George Mason University

by Sherzod Abdukadirov

Conventional wisdom holds that presidents’ powers quickly evaporate the moment they are voted out of office.[1] Members of Congress and even career executives within federal agencies have little reason to heed a lame-duck president’s advice or fear retaliation. Consequently, a lame-duck president’s ability to push legislation through Congress or enact political priorities greatly diminishes. This view, however, underestimates the arsenal of political tools at the president’s disposal. In the absence of congressional cooperation, outgoing administrations turn to executive orders, memoranda, and regulations to pursue their political priorities. Research indicates that they make extensive use of their arsenal to promote a favored political agenda.

Economic Analysis by Federal Financial Regulators

Editor’s Note: The complete Working Paper, Economic Analysis by Federal Financial Regulators, is attached here.

From: Mercatus Center/George Mason University

By Hester Peirce

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”)[1] gave U.S. financial regulators a long list of regulations to write. Despite the sweeping nature of the Dodd-Frank changes, Dodd-Frank does not generally require regulators to conduct economic analysis.[2] Further, most of the regulators charged with implementing Dodd-Frank are not subject to the standard regulatory analysis requirements for government rulemaking. Economic analysis can play a valuable role in assisting regulators in deciding whether and how to regulate, but very few financial regulators take advantage of this tool of their own volition.