July, 2008

The Influence of Regulatory Economists in Federal Health and Safety Agencies

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This paper presents the results of a series of interviews with senior economists in federal, health, safety, environmental, and homeland security agencies (hereafter referred to as HSE) combined with reflections by the author who served more than 25 years in a similar capacity. The purpose of the interviews was to determine how much influence these economists and their analyses exerted over regulatory policy and the reasons why they might not be as effective as would be optimal.

A logical question might be, why focus on economists versus other disciplines involved in regulations development? One reason is that senior regulatory economists become involved in all major regulations in their respective agencies. Further, these economists are individuals who have been in their agency a relatively long time (most well over 10 years and a few over 30) and have excellent insight into the functioning of their individual agencies.