by John F. Morrall III, James W. Broughel
April 15, 2014
Regulatory impact analysis (RIA) is a tool regulators use to help guide them through the decision-making process when promulgating regulations. The goals of an RIA are simple and straightforward: to assess whether a problem exists that is systemic in nature and therefore requires intervention, to define the desired outcome sought through intervention, to describe the various alternatives that might address the problem and bring about the desired outcome, and to compare the benefits and costs of each alternative. Since 1981, presidential oversight of rulemaking has required that RIAs be performed by executive branch agencies. Ignoring any of RIA steps is likely to lead to poorly informed regulations that will fail to achieve their objectives and may have severe unintended consequences. RIA improves the process for generating regulation, makes agencies more transparent, and makes decision makers in Washington more accountable to the public they have pledged to serve.