Roger G. Noll


Executive Order (E.O.) 13,422 is remarkably short, covering barely more than two pages and consisting primarily of a series of small wording changes and insertions into President Clinton's E.O. 12,866 that established the current regime of mandatory benefit-cost analysis for regulations promulgated by executive branch agencies. Despite its brevity, the new E.O. has been widely heralded by proponents and critics alike as the most significant change in the process of reviewing new regulations since E.O. 12,866 was released in 1993. The purpose of this Essay is to assess the likely economic significance of the new E.O. Before evaluating the desirability of the new Order, one must first determine what effects, if any, it is likely to have on regulatory outcomes. My main conclusion is that both the accolades and the criticisms of E.O. 13,422 are overstated and based less on what the new E.O. says than on one's views about the desirability of benefit-cost analysis generally or one's evaluation of the Bush administration.

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