Regulatory measurement can lead to actionable knowledge

From: The Hill

By Patrick A. McLaughlin, contributor

Scientific progress requires measurement, especially when working with a complex system such as the economy or the human body. For example, our understanding of the relationship between cholesterol and human health continues to evolve, but it has only gotten to the point where we debate the merits of “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol via a century of investigation and the development of measurement techniques. Similarly, although in a very different field, professional sports teams increasingly develop new, quantitative metrics of player performance in order to optimize team performance — as described by the book and movie “Moneyball.”

Good governance also can develop over time through careful measurement combined with scientific inquiry. To that end, I developed (along with my colleague, George Mason University economics professor Omar Al-Ubaydli) a new set of metrics of federal regulation called RegData.

RegData offers novel metrics of an important input in our economy — federal regulation — and takes the first step in using a “Moneyball” approach to improving the regulatory system. This tool creates statistics based on the actual text in federal regulation, and these statistics can be used by researchers to create a better understanding of the causes and consequences of regulation. This week, a new version — RegData 2.0 — will be available for use, and it’s no longer just for researchers. RegData 2.0 can provide insights on the regulatory climate for anyone with a more than casual interest in regulations and public policy.

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