Regulatory Studies Program

Regulatory Studies Program

The Regulatory Studies Program works to improve the state of knowledge about regulations and their effects on society. The program identifies market-based solutions that achieve regulatory goals, improving the overall performance of the regulatory process, and acts as a resource to scholars and students who share the goal of improving regulatory policy.

Research

Brian Baugus, Feler Bose | Aug 27, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that the sunset review process can also be seen as an effective bargaining tool for the legislature to minimize the executive branch’s influence on a wide variety of state boards and agencies. It is a way for the legislature to make its veto power credible and to have influence over an agency’s agenda, which is also influenced by special interests and the executive branch.
Richard Williams | Aug 18, 2015
The FDA has been charged by the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) with improving food safety in the United States. The four large regulations analyzed in this paper do not appear able to accomplish that mission. Part of the reason for this failure is that Congress has narrowly prescribed some of the reforms that must be in these regulations.
Diana Thomas, Devon Gorry | Aug 17, 2015
A new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University finds that regulations intended to improve the quality of child care often focus on easily observable measures, such as group sizes or child–staff ratios, that do not necessarily affect the quality of care but do increase the cost of care. These regulations can have unintended consequences, including increasing the cost of child care while decreasing the wages of child care workers. Eliminating regulatory standards that do not affect the quality of care while focusing on those that do, such as teacher training, will improve the quality of child care while making it more affordable to low-income families.
Dima Yazji Shamoun, Edward J. Calabrese | Jul 30, 2015
In a new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Dima Yazji Shamoun and toxicologist Edward J. Calabrese show that shifting the debate to process objectivity would allow better evaluation of risk assessments. In doing so, the paper draws from the government’s own guidance for best practices for performing risk assessments. This paper provides a crucial first step toward enabling those who monitor regulatory agencies to hold them to those practices.
Henry Wray, Maurice P. McTigue | Jul 29, 2015
This paper describes a series of questions and procedures to be followed by congressional staff in analyzing and preparing for a hearing on the budget of an agency. The items outlined in this paper are general principles and can be used to examine most agency budgets. For purposes of illustration, however, the paper uses the FDA, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as an example.
Fred E. Foldvary, Eric Hammer | Jul 28, 2015
A new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University explores several concrete examples of how technology is helping to reduce market deficiencies, dealing a blow to demands for government regulation. The political pressure to increase regulations in fields as diverse as environmental policy and consumer protection ignores the evidence that advancing technology is providing customers and entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools to solve problems without government intervention.

Testimony & Comments

Richard Williams | Jul 15, 2015
Thirty-five years ago, President Jimmy Carter began an experiment to, in his words, “regulate the regulators” to “eliminate unnecessary federal regulations.” His experiment was to form, through the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs within OMB to allow the president to gain control over the regulatory agencies. We have now had 35 years of experience to see if President Carter’s goals have been achieved. They have not.
Sherzod Abdukadirov, David Wille, Scott King | Jul 02, 2015
This comment addresses the efficiency and efficacy of this proposed rule from an economic point of view. Specifically, it examines how the proposed rule may be improved by more closely examining the societal goals the rule intends to achieve and whether this proposed regulation will successfully achieve those goals. In many instances, regulations can be substantially improved by choosing more effective regulatory options or more carefully assessing the actual societal problem.
Todd Nesbit | May 18, 2015
A new public interest comment by economist Todd Nesbit, written for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, demonstrates that the proposed rule fails to show a need for the rule, fails to properly assess the benefits of the rule, and does not consider alternatives to the rule. The regulatory impact analysis should be improved to account for these failures.
Feler Bose | Apr 06, 2015
In a public interest comment published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, economist Feler Bose determines that the DOE fails to consider alternative approaches to its regulation by requiring the use of electronic ignition instead of implementing a performance standard for standby mode. The comment recommends several ways the DOE can improve its economic analysis and proposal.
Patrick McLaughlin | Mar 02, 2015
One reason it has been hard to address regulatory accumulation is the difficulty of identifying nonfunctional rules—rules that are obsolete, unnecessary, duplicative, or otherwise undesirable. An independent group or commission—not regulatory agencies—seems required to successfully identify nonfunctional rules.
Jerry Ellig | Feb 25, 2015
Debates over regulatory process reform often take a distinctly partisan tone. But the fundamental conflict in the debate over regulatory process reform is not Republicans versus Democrats, liberals versus conservatives, or even business versus the public. It’s knowledge versus ignorance. Decision makers should choose knowledge over ignorance.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Jerry Ellig | Mar 20, 2014
Jerry Ellig's presents arguments for improved regulatory impact analysis at the College of Charleston.
James Broughel | Jan 30, 2014
Members of the Science Advisory Board (SAB), thank you for taking the time to hear to my comments this morning. Today’s topic—how to measure the impact of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on low-income and minority citizens in the United States—is both timely and important. At the research center where I work, we have begun to explore the consequences of regulations on vulnerable populations. I appreciate the opportunity to share some of our findings and to contribute to this important discussion.
Richard Williams | Jul 08, 2012
The United States system of ensuring food safety (FS) is more than 100 years old and, until very recently, was the primary system designed to ensure FS. The system assumes that primarily federal regulators have the necessary knowledge to instruct food manufacturers on producing safe food, with both federal and state governments enforcing their respective regulations. While there have been notable successes in the last century — such as mandatory pasteurization for milk and other products, low acid canned food rules, and basic sanitation requirements — much of this progress was achieved in the first half of the 20th century. In the last 30 years, the incidence of foodborne disease has changed very little.
Jerry Ellig | Jan 14, 2010
Jerry Ellig participated in panel discussion before Texas policy makers in Austin, Texas at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Policy Orientation on the future of the Texas Public Utility…
Jerry Ellig | Nov 05, 2009
Jerry Ellig was invited to give a lecture at Pepperdine University about the future of regulations in the federal government.
Jerry Ellig | May 28, 2009
Jerry Ellig presents before the Department of Energy, Office of Health, Safety and Security in the Visiting Speakers Program about regulation in high reliability organizations, such as…

Mercatus Regulatory Studies


Charts

Patrick McLaughlin, Oliver Sherouse | Aug 26, 2015
The following chart gives a timeline of regulatory accumulation associated with the FDCA and its major amendments, from 1980 (the first year RegData can associate restrictions with laws, because RegData relies on digitized text) through 2014. One notable feature of the graph is the decline in restrictions starting in 1996 through 1999. That period, which included the passage of the FDA Modernization Act of 1997, saw a 12 percent decrease in restrictions.

Experts

Videos

Richard Williams | May 29, 2015
Richard Williams and Michael Jacobson talked about the move to ban trans fats in foods, recent foodborne illness outbreaks, and food labeling standards for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Podcasts

Steven Horwitz | August 18, 2015
Steve Horwitz talks about his new paper on regressive regulations which hinder building businesses and helping people escape poverty on the Mike Schikman Show on WSVA in Virginia.

Recent Events

Jerry Ellig, Ted Gayer, Keith Hall, John Leeth, Patrick McLaughlin, Matthew Mitchell, Hester Peirce, Richard Williams, | November 13, 2012
Please join the Mercatus Center at George Mason University for a series of discussions grounded in academic research and practical experience on how and why the current regulatory process falls short of its purpose—and what can be done to improve regulation in the future.

Books

Jerry Brito, Andrea Castillo | Jan 23, 2014
Como la primera moneda digital descentralizada del mundo, Bitcoin tiene el potencial de revolucionar los sistemas de pago en línea de una manera que beneficia a los consumidores y las empresas. En lugar de utilizar un intermediario, como PayPal, o entregar información de tarjeta de crédito a un tercer partido para su verificación—ya que los dos incluyen cargos de transacción y otras restricciones— Bitcoin permite que los individuos paguen directamente entre sí para bienes o servicios.
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