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Federal Regulations Dashboard

The concentration of regulatory power in the federal government over the last 100 years continues to raise concerns related to government efficiency, accountability, and trust. Measuring variation in regulations over time provides a perspective on American federalism that can not be captured in other standard measures. 

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Executive Orders


Executive lawmaking raises a number of federalism concerns. While the use of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and other executive actions are nothing new to American politics, many Americans worry that these actions represent a shift of power away from elected representatives to agencies with variable oversight and accountability.

Rules Affecting States


In August 1999, President W.J. Clinton signed Executive Order 13132, which mandates that all relevant executive agencies assess regulatory activity on whether or not it would have "a substantial direct effect on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the division of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government." This sub-index allows us to see how often the federal government, specifically the executive branch, proposes or engages in activities that impact relationships between the general government and the states.

Economically Significant Rules


Economically Significant Rules are regulations that are likely to have a $100 million or more effect on the economy or can “adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.”

Regulatory Spending


Regulations are an important part of understanding American federalism, not least because of the changing economic burden that agency rules can impose on states. Measuring regulatory activity is notoriously difficult.  Common measures designed to capture the cost of regulations to the public do not include administrative and enforcement costs.  Not only does this subindex look at those measures, but it also offers a starting point in examining regulatory growth and spending. It does so by looking at economic and social regulations, federal agency outlays, budgets, and other variables that can help provide further insight into this topic.

Regulations in Pages


Tracking the number of federal regulations in pages can be a useful starting point for understanding the complicated relationship between the federal government and states over time. Page counts - while not inherently a good measure of federalism - provide a gross estimate of the sheer size of regulatory activity over the decades. They also provide users with a crude baseline for comparing political parties or spotting macro-level trends over time.

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