Regulatory Process & OIRA

Regulatory Process & OIRA

Research

Jerry Ellig, Michael Horney | Jun 21, 2016
When Congress passes legislation that mandates prescriptive regulations, legislators are under no obligation to understand the problem they are trying to solve, assess alternative solutions, or understand the benefits and costs of their choices. Passage of the positive train control mandate in response to several high-profile train accidents amply illustrates how haphazardly the legislative branch can authorize regulations. Congressional hearings and committee reports on the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 contain no analysis of the causes and extent of the safety problem, alternative solutions, and the benefits and costs of alternatives to this $12.5 billion mandate. Given that major regulations are often required by statute, the time has come for Congress to subject regulatory legislation to the same kind of analysis that presidents have required regulatory agencies to conduct for more than three decades.
W. Kip Viscusi, Ted Gayer | Jul 09, 2015
What are the economic justifications for government intervention in the economy? In a market economy, prices coordinate the activities of buyers and sellers and convey information about the strength of consumer demand for a good and the costs of supplying it. Because trade is voluntary, buyers and sellers only make exchanges when both parties benefit. Under ideal market conditions, this process leads to an efficient allocation of goods without government intervention.
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.
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.

Testimony & Comments

John D. Graham | May 24, 2016
My name is John D. Graham, Dean of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs and former administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget (2001–2006). In my capacity as editor of an article series organized by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and published in volume 37, issue 2 of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, I submit the attached articles as my written testimony for the Executive Overreach Task Force’s hearing on May 24, 2016, entitled “The Federal Government on Autopilot: Delegation of Regulatory Authority to an Unaccountable Bureaucracy.”…
Richard Williams | Mar 15, 2016
This small agency, established in 1980 by President Carter to “regulate the regulators” and to give “OMB final word on many of the regulations issued by our government,” has largely failed to achieve either goal. The myth persists that OIRA is a “little-known but extraordinarily powerful” agency that has been a “bottleneck” for protective regulations. The data, however, simply do not support this notion.
Jerry Ellig | Dec 09, 2015
Citizens expect federal regulation to accomplish a lot of important things, such as protecting us from financial fraudsters, preventing workplace injuries, preserving clean air, and deterring terrorist attacks. Regulation also requires sacrifices; there is no free lunch. Depending on the regulation, consumers may pay more, workers may receive less, our retirement savings may grow more slowly due to reduced corporate profits, and we may have less privacy or less personal freedom. Given the important values at stake, Congress and regulatory agencies should craft regulations with full knowledge of their results. Decision-making in the dark should not be an option.
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.
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.

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Speeches & Presentations

Mercatus Regulatory Studies


Charts

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.

Experts

James Broughel is a research fellow for the State and Local Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
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.

Podcasts

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 join Dr. Jerry Ellig, Dr. Jason Fichtner, and Dr. Patrick McLaughlin for a Regulation University to discuss how the budget and regulatory process operate in isolation to each other, and reform options that could improve both systems.

Books

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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