The Regulatory Right-to-Know Act and The Congressional Office of Regulatory Analysis Act

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

April 15, 1999

Executive Summary

Regulation is becoming increasingly important in many aspects of our economy. Congress has traditionally paid much less attention to the benefits and costs of regulation than to directly budgeted expenditures. This imbalance needs to be rectified.

Congress is now holding hearings on the Regulatory Right-to-Know Act and the Congressional Office of Regulatory Analysis Act. Those acts, if passed, will highlight the impact of regulation on consumers and workers; help inform the process of designing new laws and regulations; and also help provide insight on how to improve existing regulations.

This testimony argues that both those bills are likely to improve regulatory accountability. We offer some specific suggestions for strengthening the Right-to-Know Act, for example, by encouraging the Office of Management and Budget regulatory oversight unit to make greater use of its expertise in evaluating the actual impacts of federal regulation on the general public. We also make some practical suggestions for implementing a congressional Office of Regulatory Analysis, including recommendations on which regulations to analyze, the scope of the analysis, and the timing of such analysis so that it can have an important impact on the regulatory process.