James Broughel

James Broughel

  • Research Fellow, SLPP

James Broughel is a Research Fellow for the State and Local Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in the economic analysis of regulations and regulatory processes. 

James has authored numerous policy briefs and reports on regulatory issues. His writing has appeared in outlets such as U.S. News & World Report, Real Clear Policy, the Hill, and the Washington Examiner. He has published in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy: Federalist Edition and the European Journal of Risk Regulation.

For five years prior to becoming a research fellow, James managed and coordinated research projects for the Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center. He graduated summa cum laude with a BA and MA in economics from Hunter College of the City University of New York. James is a PhD candidate in economics at George Mason University. 

Published Research


Richard Williams, James Broughel | Jun 09, 2015
Federal agencies issue guidance documents that typically consist of sets of instructions or announcements written to inform regulated parties how to stay in compliance with the law. Owing to a confusing set of events, it is unclear whether these documents are receiving executive branch oversight from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). In the case of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hundreds of guidance documents appear on its website, yet there is almost no evidence of oversight from OIRA.
Richard Williams, James Broughel | Oct 01, 2014
Over the last decade, federal regulatory agencies finalized more than 37,000 regulations, yet 92 percent of rules escaped review by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a small office tasked with reviewing significant regulatory actions promulgated by such agencies.
Jerry Ellig, James Broughel | May 06, 2014
Federal regulatory agencies consume enormous amounts of time and resources in producing approximately 3,000 final regulations each year. Agencies have seen sizable increases in their budgets in the last several years, as they have added thousands of new rules and requirements to the books. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that these increases have not necessarily meant resources have been used well.
Jerry Ellig, James Broughel | Mar 17, 2014
To see agencies make better decisions, Congress could explicitly mandate via legislation that agencies identify the problem and outcome a regulation is designed to address. Ideally, agencies should be required to seek public comment on their analysis of the problem before they decide what solution to propose. Only when agencies act like the experts we expect them to be can the public trust them to create regulations that advance the public good.
Jerry Ellig, James Broughel | Mar 12, 2014
Before approving medical drugs sold on the market, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires companies to demonstrate that the drug meets basic standards of safety and effectiveness. This is a high bar to pass, and Americans expect that officials at the FDA will use sound judgment in deciding which drugs get approved, since these decisions will have profound effects on the health and well-being of the American people.
Richard Williams, James Broughel | Dec 02, 2013
OIRA’s most recent draft report for fiscal year 2003 through 2012 estimated that the major regulations the agencies evaluated would produce benefits ranging from $192.7 to $799.7 billion (2001$), at a cost of $56.6 to $83.7 billion (2001$).
Jerry Ellig, James Broughel | Oct 17, 2013
The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was created by the 1980 Paperwork Reduction Act. Since 1981, OIRA has reviewed regulatory actions by federal agencies. OIRA review is intended to ensure that regulations meet the basic standards set forth by presidential Executive Orders governing regulatory review. These minimum standards include identifying the problem the agency is seeking to solve through regulation, considering a variety of alternatives, and assessing the benefits and costs of each alternative.
James Broughel | Sep 11, 2013
New energy-efficiency regulations are sold to the public as a benefit to the environment. Regulatory agencies’ own estimates, however, demonstrate that the environmental benefits are only a fraction of the total benefits of these rules and are often exceeded by the societal costs they impose. These costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices on everyday appliances such as microwave ovens, clothes dryers, refrigerators, and room air conditioners.

Policy Briefs

Jerry Ellig, James Broughel, Spencer Bell | Mar 09, 2016
For more than three decades, presidents have required executive branch regulatory agencies to identify the systemic problems they wish to solve when issuing major regulatory actions. The first principle in Executive Order 12866, which governs executive branch regulatory review, is that an agency shall “identify the problem that it intends to address (including, where applicable, the failures of private markets or public institutions that warrant new agency action) as well as assess the significance of that problem.” This principle reflects the sensible notion that before proposing regulation, regulators should understand the root cause of the problem the proposed regulation is supposed to solve.
Richard Williams, James Broughel | May 27, 2015
Federal regulatory agencies have been required to produce a regulatory impact analysis (RIA) for major regulations since the early 1980s. The analysis should include an estimate of the expected benefits and costs of the regulatory action (a benefit-cost analysis, or BCA) as well as a description of the parties who are likely to receive those benefits and incur those costs. The latter part of an RIA is known as a distributional analysis, and is not part of a classic BCA. Distributional analysis explores how wealth is redistributed as a result of policy decisions.
John D. Graham , James Broughel | Apr 13, 2015
While agencies must have some leeway to carry out their missions and prioritize activities, agencies have many opportunities to evade checks and balances altogether via an array of mechanisms that circumvent the traditional rulemaking process. Congress and the president have many options available to strike a better balance between agency discretion and agency evasion of notice-and-comment and economic analysis requirements.
Jerry Ellig, James Broughel | Jul 16, 2013
For more than three decades, presidents have instructed executive branch agencies to use the results of Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIAs) when deciding whether and how to regulate. Scores from the Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Report Card—an in-depth evaluation of the quality and use of regulatory analysis conducted by executive branch agencies— show that agencies often fail to explain how RIAs affected their decisions. For this reason, regulatory reform should require agencies to conduct analysis before making decisions and explain how the analysis affected the decisions.

Testimony & Comments

Speeches & Presentations

Expert Commentary

Aug 15, 2016

Unfortunately, policymakers rarely use tools like risk tradeoff analysis, and they generally don't consider risk tradeoffs that happened in the past. Instead, they tend to focus only on the risk directly in front of them, ignoring other rising (and also falling) risks that occur in tandem.
Aug 14, 2016

...similarly hasty logic underlies dozens of energy efficiency regulations finalized each year. These rules are not aimed at State Department employees, but at the American people. When regulators focus only on part of the equation — hypothetical benefits — while ignoring the far more certain costs, the public receives an incomplete picture of what a policy is achieving. Consumers are the ones who ultimately pay the price.
Mar 14, 2016

A new USDA rule is the latest example of a regulatory response to a phantom problem.
Oct 29, 2015

Every day newspapers remind us of the daunting challenges we face: Entitlements that threaten to bankrupt the country, a political system incapable of solving big problems, diminished influence on the world stage. The dysfunction in Congress may generate most of the headlines, but there is evidence of U.S. decline in one additional, and often overlooked area — regulation.


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