NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 1, 2010

In the Budget of the U.S. Government, the "Regulators' Budget" is the portion devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations.  A regular examination offers useful insights into the growth and composition of regulation over the last 50 years, from 1960 to President Obama's budget request for fiscal year 2011, say researchers Susan E. Dudley and Melinda Warren of George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis respectively. 

The allocation of regulatory outlays among the different departments and agencies reflects continued national concerns about homeland security, housing and financial markets, and corporate governance, say Dudley and Warren: 

  • The president's budget request calls for fiscal regulatory expenditures of over $59 billion in 2011 and a staff of almost 284,000.
  • The requested Regulators' Budget of $59.4 billion in 2011 is 4.1 percent larger in real terms than appropriated outlays of $56.3 billion in 2010.
  • Appropriated outlays in fiscal year 2010 were 8.9 percent higher than in 2009.
  • Over the last decade, between 2000 and 2010, annual budget outlays for regulatory activities increased 75.5 percent in real terms, for a real dollar increase of $21.7 billion.
  • While the growth in the Regulators' Budget was larger in percentage terms during the 1960s and 1970s, the growth in dollar terms over the last ten years is more than double that of any previous decade. 

Staffing increases at the federal regulatory agencies over the last decade have been similarly dramatic, and growth continues, say Dudley and Warren: 

  • The number of full time staff is expected to reach an all time high of 283,741 in 2011.
  • Due in part to the growing number of federal employees engaged in airport screening at the Transportation Security Administration, federal regulatory agencies employ over 100,000 more full-time equivalent staff in 2010 than they did in 2000, an increase of over 57 percent. 

Source: Susan E. Dudley and Melinda Warren, "Regulators' Budget Rising," George Washington University, May 18, 2010.


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