February 2, 2011

Executive Order on Regulation Needs Teeth

Jerry Ellig

Research Professor, George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center

President Obama’s executive orders governing regulatory review will not have much effect unless they are aggressively enforced by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The order basically reaffirms existing policies and practices. It tells agencies they should continue to do what they were supposed to be doing all along.

We have 30 years of historical evidence showing that the average quality of regulatory analysis isn’t very high. The knowledge needed to produce good analysis is there, but the incentives are not right.

The OIRA needs to return proposed regulations to agencies when their analysis or decisions fail to comply. While the OIRA has this power, it has not returned a proposed regulation to an agency since January 6, 2009.