March 10, 2011

The Consequences of Midnight Regulations and Other Surges in Regulatory Activity

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Is the midnight regulations phenomenon real and what are its consequences? This paper finds that when an administration’s time is almost up, submissions of economically significant regulations nearly double. Such surges in regulatory activity decrease the duration of regulatory review at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), likely because of political pressure to quickly approve new rules. Specifically, one additional economically significant regulation submitted to OIRA decreases the mean review time for all regulations by about two thirds of a day. If OIRA review improves regulation quality, then regulatory surges that decrease review time could hinder such improvement.