New Ideas for Risk Regulation


Washington, DC

Event Dates

Monday, 22 June 2009 to Tuesday, 23 June 2009

On June 22-23, 2009, the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) and Resources for the Future (RFF) sponsored the “New Ideas for Risk Regulation” conference. The results of this event are provided below, including: (1) an overview the conference; (2) the detailed program (which contains links to speaker websites) and video and audio recordings; and (3) files containing individual presentations and related papers. The conference summary is available here. The December 6-9, 2009 SRA Annual Meeting (in Baltimore, Maryland) will also feature related sessions. Articles based on selected conference presentations will be published in SRA’s journal, Risk Analysis in 2010.


The start of a new Administration opens a new chapter in U.S. regulatory policy. Early actions by President Obama, such as requesting ideas for reforming regulatory review, signal a strong interest in innovation.

The “New Ideas for Risk Regulation” conference, sponsored by the Society for Risk Analysis (SRA) and Resources for the Future (RFF), was designed to inform efforts to improve regulatory development and analysis and to foster creative thinking on these issues. It focuses on the regulation of environmental, health, safety, and security risks, and considers the national and international role of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in regulatory review and assessment.

The topics addressed include improving OIRA’s role in encouraging better regulation domestically and internationally, enhancing the constructive use of risk assessment and benefit-cost analyses in informing decisions, and addressing several related challenges. Speakers included current and former senior government officials as well as leading scholars with expertise in a wide array of related issues.


The detailed conference program is available here. The program includes links to the websites for individual speakers, as well as brief summaries of the topics discussed by each panel. The conference video and audio can be viewed on the RFF website for the event.


The conference involved eight panels as indicated below. The slides from each presentation can be viewed as a PDF, where available, by clicking on the title. Related papers are listed in the subsequent bullets, where provided by individual speakers. Many speakers include additional documents on their websites, which are listed in the conference program provided above.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Welcome and Overview
Mark Cohen, Resources for the Future
Jonathan Wiener, Society for Risk Analysis
Lisa Robinson, Conference Chair

Panel 1 - OIRA Domestically: Towards Better Regulation
The advent of a new Administration provides an opportunity to reconsider the regulatory development process. This panel focuses on OIRA’s role in prompting and reviewing domestic regulations as well as its requirements for regulatory analysis, reflecting the views of those who have worked within OIRA, interacted with OIRA as agency representatives, and studied OIRA’s legal authority and effectiveness. (Arthur Fraas, Resources for the Future, Moderator.)

“The Role of Analysis on the 17 Most Political Acres on the Face of the Earth”
Donald Arbuckle, University of Texas
“The Role of Analysis” (paper)

“OIRA: What's It Good For?”
Donald Elliott, Yale University, Willkie, Farr, and Gallagher LLP
“Only a Poor Workman Blames His Tools" (paper)
“TQMing OMB” (paper)

“Using Regulatory Impact Analyses to Inform Regulatory Decisions” (slides)
Richard Williams, George Mason University

“Defragmenting the Regulatory Process” (slides)
Stuart Shapiro, Rutgers University

Panel 2 - OIRA Internationally: Towards Global Cooperation
As nations work to improve the quality of their policies and legislation, there are substantial opportunities for mutual learning. This panel explores the successes and failures of U.S., E.U., and other regulatory reform efforts, highlights opportunities to learn from other’s policy innovations, and examines options for increasing international cooperation in evaluating and improving the quality of each nation’s policies and laws. (Dominic Mancini, U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Moderator.)

“Better Regulation in the EU: Learning by Doing” (slides)
Marianne Klingbeil, European Commission

“Transatlantic Regulatory Impact Assessment: Tomorrow's Dream or Realization” (slides)
Alberto Alemanno, HEC Paris

“Quality Regulation for the 21st Century” (slides)
Stephane Jacobzone, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

“Toward a Global Policy Laboratory”
Jonathan Wiener, Duke University
“Better Regulation in Europe” (paper)
“Issues in the Comparison of Regulatory Oversight Bodies” (paper)

Lunch Speaker: “Which Way the Political Winds Are Blowing”
Sally Katzen, Podesta Group
(John Morrall, U.S. Office of Management and Budget (retired), Moderator)

Panel 3 - Regulating Highly Uncertain and Potentially Catastrophic Risks
Risks that are highly uncertain but potentially catastrophic, such as climate change, terrorism, or natural disasters, provide special challenges for regulators. Difficult issues include determining the effects of regulations on the likelihood of catastrophic outcomes, the ways in which government agencies should address the associated fear, the extent to which regulations should be precautionary, and the appropriate roles of the public and private sectors. (Jennifer Baxter, Industrial Economics, Incorporated, Moderator.)

“The Five Neglects: Risks Gone Amiss” (slides)
Richard Zeckhauser, Harvard University
“Policymaking for Posterity” (paper)
“Overreaction to Fearsome Risks” (paper)
“The Five Neglects: Risks Gone Amiss” (paper)

“Duty to Inform When All Hell Could Break Loose” (slides)
Baruch Fischhoff, Carnegie Mellon University
“The Science and Practice of Risk Ranking” (paper)
“Strategic Plan for Risk Communication at the Food and Drug Administration” (paper)

“Considering Risk in Developing a Regulatory Response to Climate Change” (slides)
Mort Webster, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Uncertainty and the IPCC” (paper)

“At War with the Weather and Other Extreme Events” (slides)
Howard Kunreuther, University of Pennsylvania

Panel 4 - Integrating Risk Assessment and Risk Management
Better integration of science, economics, and decisionmaking has long been a significant concern in regulation. Most recently, the National Research Council report, Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment, made several recommendations for changing how these issues are addressed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These recommendations, as well as preceding proposals and newer ideas for fundamental change, have significant implications for how environmental and numerous other risks are assessed and regulated. (Kara Morgan, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Moderator.)

“Assessing and Managing Risk: First Things First” (slides)
Gail Charnley, HealthRisk Strategies

“Integration of Risk Assessment and Risk Management: The Need for Caution” (slides)
Bernard Goldstein, University of Pittsburgh

“Solution-Focused Risk Assessment: Reversing the ‘Red Book’ Relationship” (slides)
Adam Finkel, University of Pennsylvania

“Risk Assessment and the Behavioral Science of Economics” (slides)
Sandra Hoffmann, Resources for the Future

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Welcome and Overview
Jonathan Wiener, Society for Risk Analysis
Alan Krupnick, Resources for the Future
Lisa Robinson, Conference Chair

Panel 5 - What does Benefit-Cost Analysis Tell Us? Positive and Normative Justifications
While benefit-cost analysis has long been the dominant method for assessing regulatory impacts, its focus on individual preferences and on monetary valuation of nonmarket benefits has been the subject of some debate. This panel discusses the role of benefit-cost analysis as a positive or normative framework. It also considers alternatives to benefit-cost analysis, including cost-effectiveness analysis and utilitarian decision analysis, as aids to decision-making. (Joseph Cordes, George Washington University, Moderator.)

“Positive and Normative Justifications for Benefit-Cost Analysis” (slides)
James Hammitt, Harvard University
“Saving Lives: Benefit-Cost Analysis and Distribution” (paper)

“Prospects for Utilitarian Decision Analysis” (slides)
Jonathan Baron, University of Pennsylvania
“Prospects for Utilitarian Decision Analysis” (paper)

“Self-Selection in Cost-Effectiveness Analysis”
David Meltzer, University of Chicago

“What Should Benefit-Cost Analysis Tell Us?” (slides)
Maureen Cropper, Resources for the Future

Panel 6 - Beyond Efficiency: Incorporating Equity in Regulatory Analysis
While Federal agencies have been required to consider the distributional impacts of their regulatory actions for many years, these effects are not subject to the same sort of rigorous assessment as economic efficiency. This session discusses how to improve consideration of distributional impacts and equity. (Kelly Maguire, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Moderator)

“Distributional Effects of Environmental Policy” (slides)
Don Fullerton, University of Illinois

“Incorporating Equity Metrics into Regulatory Review” (slides)
Matthew Adler, University of Pennsylvania
“Risk Equity: A New Proposal” (paper)

“Incorporating Equity in Regulatory and Benefit-Cost Analysis” (slides)
Scott Farrow, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
“Incorporating Equity” (paper)

“Whose Injustice? Relevant Inequalities for Regulatory Analysis and How We Should Address Them” (slides)
Wilhelmine Miller, George Washington University

Lunch Speaker: “Benefit-Cost Analysis and Common Sense: Friends or Foes?”
Paul Portney, University of Arizona
(Moderator: Alan Krupnick, Resources for the Future)

Panel 7 - Do We Know What We Prefer? Implications of Behavioral Economics for Research on Preferences
Nonmarket benefits of regulatory policies, including reduced risks to human health and the environment, are often valued using stated or revealed preference methods. However, work by behavioral economists has challenged the assumptions that underlie these methods, suggesting that individual preferences often diverge from the standard tenets of rational choice. This panel considers diverse perspectives on this problem. (James Hammitt, Harvard University, Moderator)

“Behavioral Economics and Stated Preference Methods” (slides)
Alan Krupnick, Resources for the Future

“How are Preferences Revealed?” (slides)
David Laibson, Harvard University
“How are Preferences Revealed?” (paper)

“Two Cheers and Six Nagging Questions” (slides)
Jason Shogren, University of Wyoming
“Do French Students Really Bid Sincerely?” (paper)

“Whose Preferences Should We Use?” (slides)
David Schkade, University of California, San Diego

Panel 8 – Concluding Roundtable: The Future of Regulatory Oversight
This concluding session invites former OIRA and government agency officials and leading scholars to reflect on the results of the conference, discuss the implications of the presentations, and identify the key issues to be addressed in the future.

Jonathan Wiener, Duke University (Moderator)
“SRA Presidents’ Recommendations to OMB” (paper)
“10 Ideas to Improve Regulatory Oversight” (paper)

John Graham, Indiana University
Michael Livermore, New York University
Richard Morgenstern, Resources for the Future
Rena Steinzor, University of Maryland
Richard Zerbe, University of Washington


The Society for Risk Analysis and Resources for the Future would like to thank the following for providing additional support for this conference:

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis; Industrial Economics, Incorporated; Mercatus Center at George Mason University; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Regulatory Checkbook; Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis; SRA National Capital Area Chapter; Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, George Washington University; University of Maryland, Baltimore County; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; and U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security.