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Despite repeated calls for retrospective regulatory review by every President since the 1970s, progress on implementing such reviews has been slow. We argue that part of the explanation for the slow progress to date stems from misalignment between the goals of regulatory review and the institutional framework used for the review. We define three distinct goals of regulatory review – the rule relevance goal, the rule improvement goal, and the regulatory learning goal. We then examine the text of the Presidential Executive Orders and major Congressional legislation addressing retrospective review, and document which goals were targeted and which institutions were used to conduct the reviews. We find that the U.S. federal government has almost always sought review of one rule at a time, conducted by the agency that issued or promulgated the rule and that these reviews tend to focus on rule relevance and costs. This institutional framework for retrospective review – one rule, assessed by the promulgating agency, focused on relevance and cost – is only well-suited to a narrow interpretation of the rule improvement goal. We then review alternative institutional structures that could better meet the rule improvement goal and the broader regulatory learning goal across multiple rules and agencies, and we offer recommendations for developing new guidance and institutions to promote multiagency regulatory learning.
Policy Shock examines how policy-makers in industrialized democracies respond to major crises. After the immediate challenges of disaster management, crises often reveal new evidence or frame new normative perspectives that drive reforms designed to prevent future events of a similar magnitude. Such responses vary widely - from cosmetically masking inaction, to creating stronger incentive systems, requiring greater transparency, reorganizing government institutions and tightening regulatory standards. This book situates post-crisis regulatory policy-making through a set of conceptual essays written by leading scholars from economics, psychology and political science, which probe the latest thinking about risk analysis, risk perceptions, focusing events and narrative politics. It then presents ten historically-rich case studies that engage with crisis events in three policy domains: offshore oil, nuclear power and finance. It considers how governments can prepare to learn from crisis events - by creating standing expert investigative agencies to identify crisis causes and frame policy recommendations.