Moving Forward with Regulatory Lookback

10 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2017

See all articles by Cary Coglianese

Cary Coglianese

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: 2013


President Obama has rightly called on government agencies to establish ongoing routines for reviewing existing regulations to determine if they need modification or repeal. Over the last two years, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has overseen a signature regulatory “lookback” initiative that has prompted dozens of federal agencies to review hundreds of regulations. This regulatory initiative represents a good first step toward increasing the retrospective review of regulation, but by itself will do little to build a lasting culture of serious regulatory evaluation. After all, past administrations have made similar review efforts, but these ad hoc exercises have never taken root. If President Obama is serious about institutionalizing the practice of retrospective review, his Administration will need to take further steps in the coming years. This essay offers three feasible actions – guidelines, plans, and prompts – that President Obama’s next OIRA Administrator should take to move forward with regulatory lookback and improve both the regularity and rigor of regulatory evaluation.

Keywords: Administrative law, government regulation, Obama Administration, retrospective regulatory analysis, regulatory impact analysis, RIA, benefit-cost analysis, regulatory review, program evaluation, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

JEL Classification: K23, H83

Suggested Citation

Coglianese, Cary, Moving Forward with Regulatory Lookback (2013). Yale Journal on Regulation, Vol. 30, p. 57, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Cary Coglianese (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-6867 (Phone)


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