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

Jason J. Fichtner, Patrick McLaughlin | Jun 02, 2015
The current legislative and regulatory processes may not adequately inform Congress about the scope and economic consequences of legislation. Even if Congress had such information, no mechanism exists to allow Congress to easily act upon it. The budget process permits Congress to monitor and fund programs based on fiscal impact information. These processes could be improved to provide more, better, and actionable information about legislative and regulatory actions, especially through a reform that we term “legislative impact accounting.”…
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.
Sherzod Abdukadirov | Apr 28, 2015
This paper argues that health advocates are too quick to blame consumers for the ineffectiveness of information disclosure policies. Using the NFP as an example, the paper shows that information disclosures are often poorly designed and fail to actually inform consumers. They often fail to account for how consumers perceive and interpret information or for the differences in their socioeconomic backgrounds. Thus, it may not be consumers’ behavioral biases but rather poor policy design and implementation that is responsible for the NFP’s ineffectiveness. Consequently, the paper argues that nutrition labels should follow smart disclosure principles, which emphasize information salience and usability.
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.
W. Kip Viscusi, Ted Gayer | Mar 31, 2015
A new paper for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University examines several examples in which government actors are subject to behavioral and political biases, leading to inefficient policies.
Timothy Sandefur | Mar 24, 2015
In an article to be published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy in conjunction with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, legal scholar Timothy Sandefur explores the history, theory, and operation of CPCN laws, also known as “Competitor Veto” laws, focusing on evidence uncovered as part of litigation challenging such laws in Missouri and Kentucky. The article concludes that because these laws are designed to protect incumbent businesses, there must be reforms on the federal level to abolish them. Several possible reforms are considered, along with objections.

Testimony & Comments

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
The argument in favor of implementing the “Electronic Distribution of Prescribing Information for Human Prescription Drugs, Including Biological Products” is flawed and incomplete. The FDA does not demonstrate that the regulation solves a significant problem, and it fails to estimate the benefits of the regulation for patient health. Ultimately, a more complete analysis of both the costs and, particularly, the benefits of the proposed regulation and of reasonable alternatives is needed before the FDA can claim that this particular regulation is in the best interests of the public.
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.
Robert J. Michaels | Feb 17, 2015
The NOPR’s analysis of dishwashers is superficially detailed and modern in its research methods. In the areas discussed above and numerous others, the research embodied in it appears to be inadequate as a foundation for a rule that will apply to every dishwasher sold in the United States after 2019. Whatever errors and uncertainties are in the document, it is ultimately just an assertion that the DOE is better than consumers at choosing the energy efficiency and other attributes of dishwashers.

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

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.

Experts

Videos

Richard Williams | April 01, 2015
As part of our Regulation University educational series, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University hosted Regulatory Boot Camp, a special program for policy advisors featuring distinguished constitutional, economic and legal scholars with extensive knowledge of regulation and rulemaking.

Podcasts

Patrick McLaughlin | June 16, 2015
Federal regulations are so long it would take years to read them all. Patrick McLaughlin discusses ways to fight increasingly burdensome federal regulations on the Glen Meakem Show.

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.
' '