Advocacy Presents Timely and Actionable Research at Major Regulatory Policy Conference

By Jonathan Porat, Regulatory Economist

Regulatory policy is at the crux of many recent White House policies and congressional actions. As a result, regulation is front and center on the mind of government officials and the public. In this environment of great interest and new regulatory opportunities and challenges, Advocacy attended and presented at one of the top regulatory policy conferences in the country: The 9th Annual Meeting of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis or SBCA.

Founded in 2007, SBCA aims to improve the theory and application of benefit-cost analysis and more generally promote evidenced-based policy decisions. SBCA’s Annual Meeting is a chance for top regulatory policy officials, economists, and analysts to come together to improve the theory, methods, and applications of benefit-cost analysis in public policy.

Building on the panel it chaired at SBCA’s 8th annual meeting last year, Advocacy continued to have a presence at the conference. Research Economist Daniel Wilmoth presented his work on understanding the relevance of different approaches to discounting the costs and benefits from potential regulations while Regulatory Economist Lindsay Abate was a discussant on a research session on developing high-quality benefit-cost analyses. Regulatory economists Jonathan Porat, Patrick Delehanty, and Michael McManus along with Assistant Chief Counsel Kevin Bromberg and Economic Research Fellow Elizabeth Glass attended the Annual Meeting to enrich their benefit-cost analysis skills and promote Advocacy’s work in regulatory review.

Advocacy presented research as part of a larger session focused on methodological issues on applying benefit-cost analysis to policy. The session was chaired by Lynn Karoly of the RAND Corporation, the current President of SBCA and consisted of presentations from other government officials and academics. These topics ranged from a methodology for benefit-cost analysis based around what groups receive the majority of the benefits and costs respectively to ways to measure the macroeconomic impacts of international governments purchasing foreign currency to improve their own economies. Research Economist Daniel Wilmoth presented his research on the public sector relevance of hurdle rates and declining discount rates, two approaches to assessing costs and benefits of potential policies common in the private sector.

Advocacy also discussed relevant research through a session built around considerations in developing cost-benefit analyses. Chaired by Professor Judy Temple of the University of Minnesota, the session featured talks from researchers and government officials. Some speakers discussed the potential pitfalls of benefit-cost analysis. Others explored ways to predict what groups of people might be affected by potential policies, as well as ways to correct for marginal economic effects of regulation in benefit-cost analysis. Regulatory Economist Lindsay Abate utilized her experience reviewing regulations at Advocacy to lead a discussion on the policy relevance and practicality of each of the speakers presentations.

In addition to Wilmoth’s and Abate’s presentations, Advocacy attended many sessions toimprove its regulatory review and research capabilities. Some of these included:

  • A panel on how to improve the way that government measures the effectiveness of regulations featuring former U.S. Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator and GW Regulatory Studies Center Director Susan Dudley
  • A roundtable of top government economists focused on their experiences developing guidance or best practices for regulatory impact analyses
  • Presentations on how government officials can apply benefit-cost analysis to better understand the potential impact of international trade and economic development policy
  • A panel of industry, government, and academic researchers providing advice to policymakers on the best ways to interpret benefit-cost analysis for regulatory decision making

Advocacy is grateful to continue to contribute to the SBCA’s annual meeting. It will be exciting to see how all the valuable information and experience from this conference can be put into action while regulatory policy is such a hot topic. Advocacy looks forward to expanding its regulatory review capabilities at future events.

Porat is a Regulatory Economist at the SBA’s Office of Advocacy. He can be reached at


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