Friday, 11 December 2015

Regulatory report cards

Ah, the things that bigger think tanks can do. The Mercatus Centre at George Mason University runs long-term projects on regulatory quality. Here's Mercatus Senior Research Fellow Jerry Ellig's testimony at the Senate Committee on the Budget:
The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has undertaken two long-term research projects that directly assess the quality of federal agencies’ information about the prospective and actual results of government programs and regulations. One is the Performance Report Scorecard, which evaluated the quality of federal agencies’ annual performance reports required under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The other is the Regulatory Report Card, which evaluated the quality of economic analysis produced by executive branch agencies for prescriptive, economically significant regulations proposed from 2008 through 2013. 
From both of these projects, I have learned that telling agencies to conduct prospective analysis before they act (or retrospective analysis of the results of their actions) is no more than a useful first step. Regulations don’t enforce themselves, nor do analytical requirements. Stronger incentives are necessary to: 1) focus regulatory agencies on results rather than outputs; 2) produce high-quality analysis that assesses results; and 3) explain how agencies used their analysis in decisions. To ensure that legislative and budget decisions focus on regulatory results, Congress also needs to commit itself to obtaining and using high-quality analysis when it authorizes regulation by statute and funds agencies to promulgate and enforce regulations. 
Mercatus has, since 2008, produced an online report card scoring the quality of regulatory analyses and whether they meet the requirements set out by the Office of Management and Budget and the Executive Order. Performance has been terrible, but regulations reviewed by OIRA have fared better.

I wonder how NZ's Regulatory Impact Statements would score.

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