Regulatory agencies’ budgets grew faster than inflation in 2012 and 2013, despite concerns about the sequester, and would continue to grow under President Obama’s proposed budget for 2014.
Financial regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fared particularly well over the last two years, receiving large budget and staffing increases to implement the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Food and Drug Administration, to which the Food Safety Inspection Act of 2011 granted new authority, continues to grow, with projected two-year increases in outlays of more than $1.3 billion and additions of more than 2,000 employees. The Patent and Trademark Office has also experienced notable growth since 2010 as a result of the America Invents Act of 2011, which authorized it to set its own fees. It is slated for almost $700 million in new outlays in fiscal years 2013 and 2014, and more than 2,000 new staff.
These are some highlights of a new report, Sequester’s Impact on Regulatory Agencies Modest, released by the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis and the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center. Each year, our two centers analyze the “regulators’ budget,” the portion of the fiscal budget devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations, from 1960 to the present. Though these on-budget costs of regulation do not provide information on regulations’ benefits and represent a small fraction of the full costs of regulations to society, the time-series data presented in this report offers useful insights into the growth and changing composition of regulation over the last half-century.
The regulators’ budget for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 indicates increases in both outlays and staffing, and does not appear to be hard hit by the sequester. The President’s Budget seeks $59.4 billion in FY 2014 for regulation, a real (inflation-adjusted) increase of 3.6 percent above estimated FY 2013 outlays of $56.4 billion. Though last year’s Budget projected a decline in spending at regulatory agencies, estimated outlays for 2013 are 0.9 percent higher than in 2012. The Budget also estimates personnel increases at federal regulatory agencies of 1.6 percent in 2013 and 0.7 percent in 2014, bringing the number of full-time federal employees devoted to regulation to 284,085.
The current report and a number of our past reports are available below: