Panel Paper: Oversight In Hindsight: Assessing the U.S. Regulatory System In the Wake of Calamity

Friday, November 9, 2012 : 8:20 AM
Carroll (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Christopher Carrigan, George Washington University and Cary Coglianese, University of Pennsylvania

We explain how psychological and political factors have contributed to the current crisis of confidence over regulation, as politicians and the public naturally seek something to blame when calamities occur.   We caution against leaping to the conclusion that regulation has failed whenever disaster occurs.  Regulation manages risk; it does not eliminate it altogether, at least not when a risky business activity is not banned outright.  As such, when a disaster occurs it may not necessarily reflect the failure of regulation but may instead simply be the expected but rare and tragic consequence of a regulatory policy that responds to and makes tradeoffs in society’s competing values.