With the volume of federal regulations exceeding some 165,000 pages, a reliable practice of review is critical to judge how well or poorly existing regulations actually work and to revise regulations accordingly. Yet despite decades of executive orders aimed at improving retrospective analysis and review, agencies consistently fail to produce useful measures of regulations’ performance.
The Obama Administration’s recent directives (Executive Orders 13563 and 13579) renewed an emphasis on the analysis and review of existing federal rules. In addition, E.O.13563 stipulates that the regulatory system “must measure, and seek to improve, the actual results of regulatory requirements” (emphasis added).
This order is a welcome step in the right direction. But has the administration’s new directive spurred progress in agencies’ practice of retrospective review? A year after Executive Order 13563 was issued, a new Mercatus Center study by Randall Lutter, a visiting scholar at Resources for the Future, looks at the impact on four regulatory agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).