NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regulatory Accountability

June 1, 1999

Competitive Enterprise Institute economist Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. is suggesting that federal regulatory agencies be directed to disclose regulatory costs and trends and that Congress be held accountable for all the costs -- and all the good and bad that agency rules inflict.

The key concept is accountability, because rules and regulations are proliferating at a fast clip.

  • Last year the number of pages in the Federal Register grew by 6 percent -- containing 4,899 final rules, 70 of which will cost at least $100 million each.
  • Having now issued more than 21,000 final rules over the past five years, the 60 federal departments, agencies and commissions are now at work on 4,560 more.
  • The five most active agencies account for 47 percent of all rules under consideration.
  • Of the new rules, 937 are expected to affect small businesses -- a 37 percent increase over the past five years.

Figures from the Rochester Institute of Technology's Thomas Hopkins places regulatory compliance costs as $737 billion -- equal to 9 percent of gross domestic product. The figure also exceeds all U.S. corporate pretax profits, which were $734 billion last year.

The average family of four, with $36,423 in after-tax income in 1997, paid more than $7,000 of hidden regulatory costs.

Source: Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., "Rampant Regulatory Virus," Washington Times, June 1, 1999.


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