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Jun
17

Getting More Bang for the Regulatory Buck

From: US News & World Report

The government needs to provide better analysis of new and old regulations.

By

The White House Office of Management and Budget recently published a draft report to Congress in which it estimated the overall benefits and costs of federal regulations. The OMB report cautioned about taking the estimates at face value, as it pointed out the numerous problems with them. 

However, it omitted one crucial point: The OMB report did not estimate the actual benefits and costs. Instead, it summarized agencies’ best guesses as to how much their regulations would improve public health and safety. Yet, the poor quality of agencies’ regulatory analysis puts in doubt their ability to actually achieve the promised benefits.

In a typical regulatory analysis, agencies point to a specific problem, like air pollution or fatal traffic accidents, and then estimate how much public health or safety would improve if they reduced or eliminated the problem through regulation. This estimate is not an actual benefit, but rather the agency’s promise to improve the public’s wellbeing. There is no guarantee that agency will in fact deliver on its promise in full, if at all.

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