Regulatory Reform:

Information on Costs, Cost-Effectiveness, and Mandated Deadlines for Regulations

PEMD-95-18BR: Published: Mar 8, 1995. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on regulatory reform legislation, focusing on: (1) the cumulative costs of federal regulations; (2) the cost-effectiveness of regulations; and (3) trends in mandated deadlines for significant regulations.

GAO found that: (1) regulations impose costs on society and can slow economic growth, although they have a net positive effect when the value of the benefits exceeds the costs; (2) federal spending on regulatory programs remained relatively constant from 1977 to 1992; (3) cumulative regulatory costs to the economy increased about 9 percent from 1977 to 1994, but the percentage of gross national product devoted to the cost of federal regulations decreased over the period, because gross domestic product grew steadily; (4) in 1990, researchers estimated the costs of five categories of regulation at $110 billion for environmental regulations, $37 billion for other social regulations, $80 billion for economic regulations, $191 billion for process requirements, and $143 billion for transfers, a total of $562 billion; (5) studies indicate that cost-effectiveness across agencies and statutes varies enormously and agencies may have included cost considerations in some regulatory decisions; and (6) the percentage of regulations issued under a mandated deadline increased between 1985 and 1992, but fewer than 50 percent of regulations were issued under a deadline.

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