The Role of Retrospective Analysis and Review in Regulatory Policy

The president’s directive to measure and improve the actual results of regulatory requirements is a welcome step. Retrospective analysis will have to be targeted and timely and to meet high standards for analysis to offer meaningful information about both the benefits and costs of existing regulations. Unfortunately, key regulatory agencies appear unable to perform such analysis of their own rules. Independent analysis by a congressionally mandated body may be warranted. In addition, retrospective analysis and review should not focus exclusively on individual rules, but rather should include some regulatory programs. Finally, new rules should be supported by better analysis of their likely benefits and costs relative to reasonable alternatives, and they should also be designed to promote measurement and evaluation of actual results of the regulation. Agencies should promote market-based mechanisms like permit trading as well as greater use of surveys of the effectiveness of information disclosure requirements.

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