Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New CAP Brief Offers Recommendations for Reforming the Regulatory Process
Press Release

RELEASE: New CAP Brief Offers Recommendations for Reforming the Regulatory Process

Washington, D.C. — Regulation is essential to ensuring well-functioning markets, but the current U.S. regulatory process is too often subject to delays, inaction, and regulatory capture—when regulation is skewed toward regulated industry at the detriment of the public interest. Given these problems, there is a critical need for a regulatory reform agenda that is designed to counteract industry capture and improve the regulatory process, says a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress.

“Regulation helps keep workers and families safe and prevents fraud, corruption, and theft, but the existing system can often reflect the influence of industry interests or fall prey to delay or inaction,” said Ganesh Sitaraman, Senior Fellow at CAP. “There are, however, policies the U.S. can adopt to help ensure that the regulatory process better reflects the public interest.”

While federal agencies follow a mandatory notice and comment process that allows for public comment on a proposal; review by the courts; and cost-benefit analysis, the U.S. regulatory system has room for improvement, CAP’s brief notes. First, the regulatory process is in practice often skewed in favor of industry interests as a result of regulatory capture, where the system leans in a direction that tends to help powerful special interests rather than the public interest. Second, regulators are often delayed in meeting their statutory obligations. Delays and inaction mean that the public goes unprotected, even though Congress has passed laws requiring agency action; for instance, one study of 159 public health and safety regulations with statutory deadlines found that 78 percent were delayed.

CAP’s brief offers recommendations for counteracting capture and improving the regulatory process. These recommendations are centered on three general categories: increasing the voice of the people; facilitating agency action; and fostering effective, faithful agencies:

  • Increasing the voice of the people—through public advocates, an amicus brief system for agencies, and preproposal consultation—can help ensure balance in regulatory decision-making and level the playing field between special interests and the general public.
  • Facilitating the adoption of best practices around the country, increasing transparency around compliance and enforcement, and adopting fail-safes that operate even in the absence of regulatory action can all help facilitate agency action.
  • Ensuring that agency personnel come from diverse backgrounds; reducing revolving door conflicts of interest; and issuing a “true effectiveness” budget can all help foster effective, faithful agencies.

Click here to read “Reforming Regulation: Policies to Counteract Capture and Improve the Regulatory Process” by Ganesh Sitaraman.

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202.478.6331.