The Grand Experiment in Regulatory Reporting

39 Pages Posted: 24 May 2005

See all articles by Robert W. Hahn

Robert W. Hahn

Technology Policy Institute; University of Oxford, Smith School

M. Muething

AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies


This paper evaluates a grand regulatory experiment - the first of its kind in the world - aimed at providing objective and comprehensive characterization of the costs and benefits of U.S. federal regulation as well as identifying opportunities for reform. This experiment, if successful, could have important implications for reviewing the impact of regulation across the world. Five government reports on the costs and benefits of regulation are now complete. We offer a critical evaluation of these reports, using an approach that scores the reports on various dimensions.

By and large, the reports represent a significant step forward in providing insights into the regulatory process and in providing information on the costs and benefits of regulation. But they also illustrate the shortcomings of having a government agency do the analysis.

We recommend that the Office of Management and Budget require agencies to issue a scorecard evaluating each agency regulation; that OMB summarize the strengths and weaknesses of regulations using this scorecard; that OMB include not only executive agencies, but also independent agencies in its analysis; and that Congress create an agency or office outside of the executive branch to perform a regulatory evaluation function similar to that of OMB. While we are highly critical of some aspects of these important reports, we are guardedly optimistic about their potential to improve regulation and the regulatory process.

Keywords: costs and benefits, federal regulation, reporting, OMB

JEL Classification: H00

Suggested Citation

Hahn, Robert W. and Muething, M., The Grand Experiment in Regulatory Reporting. Administrative Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 3, pp. 607-642, Summer 2003, AEI-Brookings Joint Center Working Paper No. 03-03, Available at SSRN:

Robert W. Hahn (Contact Author)

Technology Policy Institute ( email )

1401 Eye St. NW
Suite 505
Washington, DC 20005
United States

University of Oxford, Smith School ( email )

United Kingdom

M. Muething

AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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