Monday, January 30, 2017

Two for One Order

The President has issued his order on regulations--do away with two regulations each time you do a new one.  I discussed it previously here and argued against a similar proposal of Senator Warner's back in 2010.  Cass Sunstein back in November argued it might work in limited cases.  He ends:
"In theory, “one in, two out” is silly, and in practice it’s likely to be a bit of a mess. It’s hardly the most sensible approach to regulatory reform. But with a little flexibility, and a lot of determination, executive branch officials might be able to make it work."
The two for one is the headline grabber, but the order also mandates "zero incremental costs" for regulations.  OMB is given this authority:
  The Director shall provide the heads of agencies with guidance on the implementation of this section.  Such guidance shall address, among other things, processes for standardizing the measurement and estimation of regulatory costs; standards for determining what qualifies as new and offsetting regulations; standards for determining the costs of existing regulations that are considered for elimination; processes for accounting for costs in different fiscal years; methods to oversee the issuance of rules with costs offset by savings at different times or different agencies; and emergencies and other circumstances that might justify individual waivers of the requirements of this section.  The Director shall consider phasing in and updating these requirements.
The zero incremental costs creates another dimension to evaluate regulations by, possibly a conflicting one.

My own two cents: by the time OMB gets through writing and rewriting its guidance to the agencies and the agencies get through with their meetings to understand the guidance and train their people, this executive order will have cost the government millions of dollars.

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