Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: An Analysis of State Government Regulatory Decisions: The Effectiveness of Pre-Reviews Versus Retrospective Reviews and the Role Politics Plays

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 4:30 PM
President's Room (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Debra Borie-Holtz, Ian Markey and Stuart Shapiro, Rutgers University
 An Analysis of State Government Regulatory Decisions: The Effectiveness of Pre-reviews versus Retrospective Reviews and the Role Politics Plays

Regulatory agencies have long been required to analyze the costs and benefits of their prospective regulations.  Yet once a regulation is in place, discussions of its effectiveness and its costs and benefits are, if they are examined at all, the province of academic analyses.  Rarely do agencies revisit earlier regulatory decisions. Nor do legislatures evaluate the effectiveness of the effectiveness or efficiency of agency rulemaking.

In recent years “retrospective review” has started to become more common.  At the federal level, President Obama’s Executive Order 13563 required agencies to conduct some reviews of existing regulations.  Among the 50 states, exactly half have also implemented retrospective review requirements on regulatory agencies.  For proponents of retrospective review (also known as “look-backs”) this trend is an encouraging sign that governments are beginning to examine the benefits and costs of previous regulatory decisions, and hopefully revise policies that have not been successful.  However, opponents argue look-backs are temporal in natural, driven by political motivations and ineffective in terms of repealing or modification existing regulations. To respond to both the motivational and effectiveness questions raised about this recent wave of regulatory reform, a mix-method analysis was conducted.

We used survival analysis to model the decision to undergo retrospective review of regulations as a function of several political and economic variables (Shapiro and Borie-Holtz 2014).  Our examination reviewed those states who had adopted retrospective reviews over the past decade in an attempt to determine which factors may have influenced the decision by governors and legislatures to undertake a look-back at older regulations.  No significant findings were found that explained these motivations. 

We then set criteria among those polities who undertook look-backs in order to rank states who adopted this regulatory reform with rigor. Four states emerged including Nevada, Wisconsin, Florida and Rhode Island.  Depth interviews were conducted with policies leaders in each of these states in order to draw conclusions about the likely fate of permanency and the effectiveness of the retrospective reviews conducted to date.

Finally, a longitudinal study spanning three decades was conducted of Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC), which is recognized as the states’ longest standing independent review of rulemaking prior to adoption. A logit analysis will model whether commission action (consent/non-consent) resulted in a rule proposal modification or withdraw.  A trend analysis of the incidence rate of look-backs in PA, which can be triggered by members of the public, compared to the rate of rule proposal modifications initiated by the Commission is planned.