Recommendations for Improving Regulatory Accountability and Transparency

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

March 15, 2003

Executive Summary

This testimony identifies current and future regulatory reforms that could help improve the quality of regulatory analysis and the quality of regulatory decision making. We review research from the AEI-Brookings Joint Center on regulatory impact analyses, and provide recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget and Congress on improving regulatory transparency and accountability. We believe that many of our recommendations could be implemented with bipartisan support.

The recommendations include: making regulatory impact analyses publicly available on the Internet; providing a regulatory impact summary table for each regulatory impact analysis that includes information on costs, benefits, technical information, and whether the regulation is likely to pass a benefit-cost test; establishing an agency or office outside the executive branch to independently assess the economic merits of existing and proposed federal rules; requiring that the head of a regulatory agency balance the benefits and costs of a proposed regulation; requiring that all regulatory agencies adhere to established principles of economic analysis when doing a regulatory impact analysis; and requiring that independent agencies perform regulatory impact analyses for key regulations.


We are pleased to appear before this subcommittee to present our views on improving regulation and the regulatory process. We have studied and written about regulatory institutions for over two decades. Five years ago, we organized a cooperative effort between the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution to study regulation. The result was the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies.

A primary objective of the center is to hold lawmakers and regulators more accountable by providing thoughtful, objective analysis of existing regulatory programs and new regulatory proposals. The Joint Center has been at the forefront of outlining principles for improving regulation, enhancing economic welfare, and promoting regulatory accountability.