Regulatory Reform

Overview

Since 1980 the “regulatory state” in the United States has grown enormously, whether measured by the sheer number of new federal regulations, the number of staff employed by federal regulatory agencies, the costs imposed on small businesses, or the national economic burdens of “major” rules—those that typically cost society more than $100 million in compliance costs. The complexities of the modern regulatory state are amplified by the proliferation of state and local regulations, sometimes without any coordination with federal regulations. Internationally, U.S. regulations are often different than regulations issued in Europe or in other parts of the world, which gives rise to concerns about nontariff barriers to trade and the use of regulation for protectionist purposes.

The solution to the growing “regulatory state” will often be more nuanced than deregulation, since federal regulatory programs have reaped significant benefits for the American people: civil rights, safer prescription drugs, clean air and water, and better food safety information for consumers.  The term “regulatory reform” refers to a growing intellectual and political movement, both in the U.S. and abroad, to design a better, smarter, and more efficient regulatory system. The focus is sometimes on fixing the flaws in specific regulatory programs but often the focus is on improvements in the processes used to develop, implement, enforce and evaluate regulatory programs.  

The mission of the Working Group on Regulatory Reform at SPEA is to bring new evidence, methods, and insights to the public debate on regulatory reform.  The SPEA Working Group has a special interest in the application of analytic tools (risk assessment, cost-effectiveness analysis, and benefit-cost analysis) in the regulatory process.  We also have a strong interest in the comparison of regulatory activities in different countries, both through document reviews and expert interviews. 

Our Group is comprised of faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, doctoral students and others, and we welcome inquiries from practitioners and scholars from other organizations who might wish to join our efforts or visit SPEA.  For example, we are currently (2016-17) hosting the former Hungarian Minister of the Environment Zoltan Illes, who is offering interesting perspectives on European approaches to environmental regulation.  

Working Research Group

John Graham

Dean, School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Interests: Government reform, energy and the environment, and the future of the automobile in both developed and developing countries

News release on Dean Graham's congressional testimony
See Dean Graham's profile
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David Good

Associate Professor

Interests: African politics; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); energy and international development; comparative public administration; governance; civil society; political economy of development.

See David Good's profile
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Kerry Krutilla

Associate Professor

Interests: Theory and practice of benefit-cost analysis; environmental and energy policy analysis; environmental and energy program evaluation; natural resource management in developing countries; social capital.

See Kerry Krutilla's profile
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Anh Tran

Associate Professor

Interests: Institutions and behavior of bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, and workers in developing countries

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Thuy D. Nguyen

Searle Postdoctoral Fellow

Interests: Corruption, economic growth, behavior of entrepreneurs

See Thuy Nguyen's profile