November 21, 2023
Much attention is rightly paid to the high-profile regulatory actions taken by federal agencies and touted on the stump and in the press by the President and his surrogates. Hidden from the limelight is the field manual for how agencies calculate the benefits and costs of those rules.
Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed revisions to Circular A-4, which serves as guidance for federal agencies developing regulatory impact analyses. Updates to OMB guidance don’t usually attract many headlines; however, the changes being considered by the Biden administration have generated significant pushback, including from Congress, state officials, and academia, many of whom view this as OMB rigging benefit-cost analysis to determine favored policy outcomes. Modifications like blurring the lines between domestic and foreign effects of proposed rule making and lowering the discount rate to boost the value of future regulatory impacts could have significant implications for climate regulation and affected industries.
While regulatory decisions don’t rest solely on benefit-cost analysis, it is a critical aspect of government transparency and accountability. Importantly, this analysis is also a potent advocacy tool for agencies making their case to the White House’s regulatory gatekeepers. These materials are leveraged by proponents of regulatory action—from cabinet officials to non-profits—making their case in the court of public opinion. News outlets often cite outputs from these analyses when covering proposed rules, and the calculations are perceived by many as neutral assessments free of political spin.
Businesses and trade organizations need to audit their advocacy resources to ensure they have the tools required to effectively articulate the impact of federal regulation on their community and their interests. It’s imperative that companies, individuals, industry associations, and governments proactively engage with lawmakers, administration officials, media, and thought leaders to ensure their perspective is advanced amid an intensifying regulatory landscape.
Please contact Wesley Wright if you are interested in learning how LSG can be your partner in effectively communicating the impact of federal regulation on your business, association members, and broader stakeholder community.