Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don't Hold Your Breath for a New E.O. on Regulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

I have it on very good authority that the long anticipated Obama Executive Order on Benefit-Cost Analysis (or Regulatory Impact Analysis) will not be promulgated any time soon. It is being held up by politics (go figure). According to my source, the main resistance appears to be among environmental groups that continue to object to any assessment of costs and benefits in the regulatory process. Of course, that horse left the barn decades ago. The real question is whether the Obama Administration can substantially improve BCA processes that already exist, e.g., by establishing an official schedule of declining discount rates, such as the UK Treasury uses, or institutionalizing the use of regulatory prompt letters.

The delay in promulgation of the new E.O. is disappointing, as I was hoping to organize a panel of law professors for this fall's MacArthur/Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis conference around it. We'll have to resort to Plan B, which is to focus on distributional issues in benefit-cost analysis.

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