Over the last decade, annual budget outlays for regulatory activities increased by more than 75 percent, according to a federal regulatory spending study conducted by The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis.
The FY 2011 Budget of the United States Government calls for fiscal regulatory expenditures of more than $59 billion, the largest federal regulatory budget to date. Contributing to this increase is the number of full-time federal regulatory staff, which is also expected to reach an all-time high of almost 284,000 employees in 2011, up by more than 7,000 employees in 2010. U.S. regulatory spending in 1960 was less than $3 billion dollars. The Department of Homeland Security currently represents the largest segment of U.S. government regulatory spending.
“The dollar growth in spending over the last decade was more than double that of any previous decade,” said Melinda Warren of Washington University’s Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy. Ms. Warren is the co-author of the study, which has been conducted for the past 32 years.
The “Regulators’ Budget” is the portion of the fiscal budget devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations. While these on-budget costs of regulation represent a small fraction of the full burden of regulations to society (and do not provide information on regulations’ benefits) the data presented in the report offer useful insights into the growth and composition of regulation over the last fifty years, from 1960 to the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2011. 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. Over the last decade, annual budget outlays for regulatory activities increased 75.5 percent in real terms, for a real dollar increase of $21.7 billion.
A Decade of Growth in the Regulators’ Budget: An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 shows steady climb in the cost of regulation
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“Spending and staffing in 2011 will continue this trend,” said Susan Dudley, co-author of the report and director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center. “The allocation of regulatory expenditures among the different departments and agencies reflects continued national concerns about homeland security, housing and financial markets and corporate governance.”
The study, “A Decade of Growth in the Regulators’ Budget: An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011,” reveals that budget expenditures and staffing at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), under the Department of Homeland Security, dominate the growth in the 2011 Regulators’ Budget. President Obama has requested a $1.4 billion increase in expenditures from 2010 and almost 4,600 more positions at the agency. Due in part to the growing number of federal employees engaged in airport screening at the TSA, federal regulatory agencies employed 100,000 more full-time staff in 2010 than in 2000, an increase of more than 57 percent.
Other agencies with homeland security missions also received budget increases in 2011, including the Coast Guard ($158 million increase), the Federal Aviation Administration ($129 million increase) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement ($101 million increase). Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration, the Patent and Trademark Office, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission all received budget increases of $100 million or more.
The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center raises awareness of regulations’ effects to improve regulatory policy through research, education and outreach. It is a leading source for applied scholarship on regulatory issues, and a training ground for current and future policy officials who want to understand the effects of regulation and ensure that regulatory policies are designed to make the public better off.
The Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis supports scholarly research, public affairs programs and other activities in the fields of economics, government and public policy, serving as a bridge between scholars and policy makers.