Regulatory Process & OIRA

Regulatory Process & OIRA


Stuart Shapiro, Deanna Moran | Mar 04, 2015
We review four major regulatory reform statutes passed since the legal enshrinement of the regulatory state by the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946. None of the four statutes can be said to have accomplished its substantive goals (which usually involved reducing the burden of regulation).
Jerry Ellig, Sherzod Abdukadirov | Jan 27, 2015
A research team from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University has assessed the quality and use of regulatory analysis accompanying every economically significant, prescriptive regulation proposed by executive branch regulatory agencies between 2008 and 2012.
Jerry Ellig | Jan 15, 2015
On the eve of its abolition in 1981, the Council on Wage and Price Stability (CWPS) pointed out that regulations were often imposed without a clear understanding of the problem they were supposed to solve, a realistic examination of a range of options for solving the problem, and a benefit-cost analysis of each option.
Jerry Ellig, Richard Williams | Dec 12, 2014
Congress has a diverse array of proposed regulatory reforms vying for attention, from targeted reforms aimed at providing relief to small businesses to broadbased reforms of the rulemaking process. Setting priorities will be a challenge, but the common objective is clear: solving more problems at a lower cost with fewer regulations.
Mark D. White | Dec 02, 2014
There are important reasons why using happiness to guide policymaking cannot work as promised. The term happiness covers many different concepts and means something different to different people.
Jerry Ellig, Christopher J. Conover | Nov 18, 2014
Elected leaders delegate rulemaking to federal agencies, then seek to influence rulemaking through top-down directives and statutory deadlines. This paper documents an unintended consequence of these control strategies: they reduce regulatory agencies’ ability and incentive to conduct high-quality economic analysis to inform their decisions.

Testimony & Comments

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.
John Morrall | Sep 30, 2013
The enormous amount of regulation generated each year and the huge potential for improving it could provide enormous net benefits to society. A strong watchdog agency is needed to provide the transparency and checks and balances needed to set priorities for high-impact regulations. In addition to rebuilding OIRA’s technical staff and enhancing its voice in policy debates with the agencies, several other more subtle steps should be considered by the administrator.
Diana Thomas | Jul 09, 2013
The best way to avoid forcing low-income households to pay for the preferences of high-income households is to allow them to make their own choices when it comes to the mitigation of risks they experience. Unintended consequences of regulation, like the regressive effect identified here, will often result in greater harm than the harm the regulation seeks to avoid in the first place. Regulators should heed the medical ethics maxim “first, do no harm” and at a minimum subject all regulation to a cost-benefit test that considers potential regressive effects.
Jerry Ellig | Jun 26, 2013
Unfortunately, agencies’ Regulatory Impact Analyses are not nearly as informative as they ought to be, and there is often scant evidence that agencies utilized the analysis in decision making. These problems have persisted through multiple administrations of both political parties. The problem is institutional, not partisan or personal. Further improvement in the quality and use of Regulatory Impact Analysis will likely occur only as a result of legislative reform of the regulatory process. To achieve improvement, all agencies should be required to conduct thorough and objective Regulatory Impact Analysis for major regulations and to explain how the results of the analysis informed their decisions.
Randall Lutter | Jul 12, 2012
More generally, greater data collection, access, and analysis can foster improved understanding of regulations and contribute to reducing regulatory burdens and improving their effectiveness.
Todd Zywicki, | Jun 28, 2012
Profits gained from overdraft protection have been used by banks to expand services and accessibility for customers both rich and poor, and limiting overdraft protection may threaten many of the benefits that it makes possible.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Mercatus Regulatory Studies


Reasonable people may disagree about how much and what type of regulation is justified, but we should all be able to agree that government owes the public a clear explanation of how it’s making regulatory decisions.


James Broughel is a program manager of the Regulatory Studies Program at the Mercatus Center. Mr. Broughel is a doctoral student in the economics program at George Mason University. He earned his MA in economics from Hunter College of the City University of New York.
Jerry Ellig is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a former assistant professor of economics at George Mason University. He specializes in the federal regulatory process, economic regulation, and telecommunications regulation.
Thomas D. Hopkins is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Rochester Institute of Technology, where he taught from 1988 to 2012.
John Morrall is an affiliated senior scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His primary research interests are regulatory impact analysis, benefit-cost analysis, and regulatory reform and oversight.
Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in technology, media, Internet, and free-speech policies, with a particular focus on online safety and digital privacy. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Forbes, and he has appeared on national television and radio. Thierer is a frequent guest lecturer and has testified numerous times on Capitol Hill.


Hester Peirce | February 21, 2013
Hester Peirce discusses how regulations bring laws to life at this Regulation University event.

Recent Events

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University invites you to a Regulation University presentation with Dr. Jerry Ellig, senior research fellow, on what causes regulatory “decision-making in the dark” today.


Susan Dudley, Jerry Brito | Aug 14, 2012
Federal regulations affect nearly every area of our lives and interest in them is increasing. However, many people have no idea how regulations are developed or how they impact our lives. Regulation: A Primer by Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito provides an accessible overview of regulatory theory, analysis, and practice.

Media Clippings

| Aug 01, 2013
Patrick McLaughlin discusses regulatory analysis.
Jerry Ellig | Jun 26, 2013
Jerry Ellig testifies before the Joint Economic Committee regarding regulatory reform.
Jerry Brito, Susan Dudley | Aug 17, 2012
Regulation: A Primer, by Susan Dudley and Jerry Brito cited in National Review Online…
Ted Gayer, W. Kip Viscusi | Aug 10, 2012
Ted Gayer and Kip Viscusi were cited for their research on energy regulations.
Jerry Ellig | May 28, 2012
Jerry Ellig and Patrick A. McLaughlin describe a new methodology they have developed to asses regulations.
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