Successes, Failures and Directions for Reform
New Horizons in Public Policy series
Chapter 6: Impact analysis and the regulatory process
Impact analyses make less of a claim of being comprehensive than the other forms of comprehensive-rational analysis discussed in this book. By their very name, they indicate that the intention of the analysis is not to look at the comprehensive impact of a policy or regulation, but rather the particular impact on a subset of the affected universe. Like Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), they focus on one policy aspect of a regulatory decision but on a more manageable scale then the “environment.” Like cost-benefit analyses they are focused on the economic impacts of the regulation, but just on a relevant population, not as part of an attempt to measure changes in social welfare. In some sense then, impact analyses are smaller than the other analyses. Impact analyses have a political appeal that in some ways exceeds that of other forms of analysis. When political actors support a requirement to look at the impact of government policy on a particular group, they are signaling a value for that constituency. If a constituency is upset about a particular regulation, or regulations in general, one way to assuage those potential voters/donors is to require agencies to pay particular attention to that constituency in future regulatory decisions. That constituency will then be a reliable supporter of the impact analysis enacted in their behalf. Impact analyses have also been studied less than the other forms of analysis in this book.
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