Regulatory Reform in the United States

OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform

Release Date: April 1, 2000

The United States has been a world leader in regulatory reform for a quarter century. Contrary to popular belief, the United States is not less regulated than other countries, but differently regulated due to the pro-competition policy stance of federal regulatory regimes, and the openness and contestability of regulatory process. Far-reaching economic deregulation combined with efforts to improve the quality of social regulation have supported the construction of one of the most innovative, flexible and open economies in the OECD, while maintaining health safety and environmental standards at relatively high levels. However, significant regulatory problems still exist. Improving the performance and cost-effectiveness of expensive social regulations and government formalities is a key challenge for regulatory quality. In a word, the challenge of regulatory reform in the United States is not how much regulation, but how good.

The United States is one of the first OECD countries to request a broad review by the OECD of its national regulatory practices and domestic regulatory reforms. This report–the result of intensive assessment by the OECD and review by its Member countries–is unique in that it presents an integrated assessment of regulatory reform in framework areas such as the macroeconomic context, the quality of the public sector, competition policy and enforcement, and integration of market openness principles in regulatory processes, and in sectors such as electricity and telecommunications. The policy recommendations present a balanced plan of action for both short and longer-term based on best international regulatory practices.