OIRA’s goal: Regulation for humans, not econs

Type “OIRA dashboard” into Google. The first hit? RegInfo.gov, a new web site that demystifies the opaque subject of rules and regulation in Washington by enabling people to track their progress throughout a review process.

The site’s launch coincides with Nudge co-author Cass Sunstein’s first public remarks since taking over the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the office in charge of reviewing, developing, and overseeing regulations across the federal government. Speaking at an American University law school conference, Sunstein emphasized that OIRA’s goal is to create regulatory policy for Humans, not Econs; “homo sapiens rather than homo economicus,” he explained.

As an example, he cited a set of recently released rules intended to discourage airlines from pulling away from the gate and sitting near a runway, essentially trapping people on planes for unknown periods of time.

The basic idea is if you’re flying domestically, and you can’t be kept on the tarmac for more than three hours, and you get food and water and medical care if you need it within two hours. That rule is accompanied by an extremely disciplined analysis of its cost and benefits. If we’re imposing financial burdens on airlines, we want to catalog them as best we can, and make sure the benefits justify the action.

You can listen to Sunstein’s remarks here.

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One Response to “OIRA’s goal: Regulation for humans, not econs”

  1. Paul Brandon Says:

    Of course, the predicted (and very economic) airline response to this regulation will be to cancel more flights to avoid penalties.
    I assume this is not the response that the authors of the regulation had in mind.
    It remains to be seem who will benefit from this regulation.

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