Building Capacity for Economic Analysis at Independent Agencies

From: The Regulatory Review


The administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Neomi Rao, has argued that regulations from independent agencies should be subject to the same economic analysis standards and review procedures as regulations from executive branch agencies. Sixteen state governors and attorneys general signed a letter requesting that President Donald J. Trump issue an executive order to accomplish that goal. Former OIRA administrators of both political parties agree. Requiring economic analysis and OIRA review is also one of the statutory regulatory process reforms that enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. Legal scholars like Cass Sunstein, Jonathan Masur and Eric A. Posner predict that federal courts will eventually adopt the doctrine that it is arbitrary for an agency to ignore economic factors if the authorizing statute does not prohibit the agency from considering them.

In short, economic analysis of independent agency regulations is not just good public policy but it may soon become the law. Consequently, independent agencies should build the capacity to conduct more thorough economic analysis and integrate it into the regulation-writing process. In particular, independent agencies should undertake five steps to improve the quality of economic analysis and its use in decisions:

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