An Analysis of the Tenth Government Report On the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations

Robert Hahn and
Robert Hahn
Robert Hahn Director of Economics - Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, Former Brookings Expert
Robert E. Litan

June 1, 2007

Executive Summary

This paper critically reviews the draft of the Office of Management and Budget’s tenth report on the benefits and costs of federal regulations. The draft report is similar to previous reports, and does not break new ground.

We offer seven recommendations-six for OMB and one for Congress-that would help hold lawmakers and regulators more accountable for the regulations they produce. Our recommendations focus on getting the regulatory agencies to produce better analysis, making that analysis more transparent and readily available, and making the regulatory process itself more transparent.

We recommend that OMB:

  • examine the extent to which regulations maximize net benefits;
  • include a scorecard showing the number and percentage of final regulations that pass a benefit-cost test based on factors that can be quantified and monetized;
  • request that all agencies report on the extent to which they comply with OMB’s guidelines for conducting regulatory analysis using a regulatory scorecard for individual RIAs;
  • provide guidelines for assessing the effectiveness of antiterrorism regulations;
  • include a discussion of the costs and benefits of antitrust activities in its annual report; and
  • facilitate the use of information markets for public and private purposes by issuing a prompt letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and encouraging Congress to lowering regulatory barriers to starting these markets.

We also recommend that Congress require all agencies to comply with OMB’s guidelines for conducting regulatory analysis.