Enduring Principles of Sound Regulatory Analysis

This fall marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of Executive Order 12,866. The order, issued by President William Clinton and retained by every subsequent president, establishes how agencies should analyze their new regulations and have them reviewed in advance by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). A recent event hosted by The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center commemorated the executive order. Speakers attributed the order’s longevity to the process used to draft the order and to the regulatory analysis principles it espoused. It is important today to understand these principles and why they offer a valuable guide to sound regulatory decision-making. The section of the order entitled “Principles of Regulation” reinforce key economic insights embodied in earlier orders from Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. These principles call for problem identification, assessment of alternatives, and benefit-cost…

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