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OMB Report: Regulations Outweigh Costs, but Agencies Lag in Calculating Both

Photo: Christopher Hall

The Office of Management and Budget concluded in an annual report to Congress that regulations reviewed over the past decade show the benefits of regulations outweigh the costs.

However, the report also found that only about 27 percent of the 66 new regulations enacted in 2010 actually calculated both benefits and costs.

The report, in surveying federal regulations from Oct. 1, 2000 to Sept. 30, 2010, described the total annual benefits of regulations as being between $132 billion and $655 billion, while the estimated annual costs were estimated at $44 billion and $62 billion.

There is, however, some fuzziness surrounding the numbers.

“Many rules have benefits or costs that cannot be quantified or monetized,” according to the report, which added that agencies must often “act in the face of substantial uncertainty about the likely consequences,” of new regulations.

While the aggregate number associated with the the benefits of regulation over 10 years shows promise, agencies are not necessarily making headway in terms of subjecting more newly-created rules to cost-benefit analyses.

For example, Federal Times reports the 27 percent of new rules that calculated costs and benefits last year is only a slight increase from 24 percent of rules in 2009 and actually a decrease from 31 percent in 2008.

The regulatory report is an annual practice, but this is the first such report since President Barack Obama issued an executive order in January directing federal agencies to submit plans for streamlining regulations.

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