Regulatory Reform


Since 1980 the “regulatory state” in the United States has grown enormously, whether measured by the sheer number of new federal regulations, the number of staff employed by federal regulatory agencies, the costs imposed on small businesses, or the national economic burdens of “major” rules—those that typically cost society more than $100 million in compliance costs. The complexities of the modern regulatory state are amplified by the proliferation of state and local regulations, sometimes without any coordination with federal regulations. Internationally, U.S. regulations are often different than regulations issued in Europe or in other parts of the world, which gives rise to concerns about nontariff barriers to trade and the use of regulation for protectionist purposes.

The solution to the growing “regulatory state” will often be more nuanced than deregulation, since federal regulatory programs have reaped significant benefits for the American people: civil rights, safer prescription drugs, clean air and water, and better food safety information for consumers.  The term “regulatory reform” refers to a growing intellectual and political movement, both in the U.S. and abroad, to design a better, smarter, and more efficient regulatory system. The focus is sometimes on fixing the flaws in specific regulatory programs but often the focus is on improvements in the processes used to develop, implement, enforce and evaluate regulatory programs.  

The mission of the Working Group on Regulatory Reform at the O’Neill School is to bring new evidence, methods, and insights to the public debate on regulatory reform. The O’Neill Working Group has a special interest in the application of analytic tools (risk assessment, cost-effectiveness analysis, and benefit-cost analysis) in the regulatory process. We also have a strong interest in the comparison of regulatory activities in different countries, both through document reviews and expert interviews. 

Our Group is comprised of faculty members, post-doctoral fellows, doctoral students and others, and we welcome inquiries from practitioners and scholars from other organizations who might wish to join our efforts or visit the O’Neill School.  For example, during 2016-17 we hosted the former Hungarian Minister of the Environment Zoltan Illes, who offered interesting perspectives on European approaches to environmental regulation.  

Working Research Group

John D. Graham
(812) 855-1432

  • Government reform
  • Energy and the environment
  • The future of the automobile in both developed and developing countries
  • Presidential studies

Keith Belton
Academic Specialist
(812) 855-6122

  • Environment, health, and safety policy
  • Regulatory reform
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Chemical manufacturing industry

David Good
Associate Professor
(812) 855-4556

  • Quantitative policy modeling
  • Productivity measurement in public and regulated industries
  • Urban policy analysis

Kerry Krutilla
(812) 855-0492

  • Theory and practice of benefit-cost analysis
  • Environmental and natural resource modeling and policy evaluation

Anh Tran
(812) 855-0563

  • Institutions and behavior of bureaucrats, entrepreneurs, and workers in developing countries

Thuy D. Nguyen
Postdoctoral Fellow
(812) 855-3648

  • Corruption
  • Economic Growth
  • Behavior of Entrepreneurs