PATRICK A. MCLAUGHLIN, Mercatus Center at George Mason University
The midnight regulations phenomenon – an increase in the rate of regulation promulgation during the final months of an outgoing president’s term – is empirically tested using data on the number of economically significant regulations reviewed each month. Submissions of economically significant regulations to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) are found to increase by seven percent during midnight periods. Spikes in regulatory activity, such as those of midnight periods, are shown to decrease the amount of time regulations are reviewed at OIRA, perhaps because of budget and staff limitations. Evaluated at the mean, one additional economically significant regulation submitted to OIRA decreases the mean review time for all regulations by about half a day. If OIRA review improves the quality of regulations, then any phenomenon such as midnight regulations that leads to spikes in regulatory activity and decreases review time could result in the proliferation of low quality regulations.
Source: LSN Experimental & Empirical Studies Vol. 10 No. 19, 03/26/2009