Regulatory Reports

Regulators’ Budget: Homeland Security Remains Key Administration Priority

An Analysis of the U.S. Budget for Fiscal Years 1960 to 2020

Mark Febrizio, Melinda Warren, and Susan Dudley


This report tracks the “Regulators’ Budget,” the fiscal budget outlays and personnel devoted to developing and enforcing federal regulations, from fiscal year (FY) 1960 to the president’s FY 2020 budget request. 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 here offer useful insights into the growth and composition of regulation over the last 61 years.

The president’s FY 2020 Budget would increase overall spending on regulatory agencies over 2019 levels. It requests $75.2 billion in regulatory outlays, compared to estimated outlays of $71.5 billion in 2019. In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, this would mean a 2.9 percent increase in spending. The FY 2019 regulators’ budget is 0.9 percent higher than in 2018. The number of regulators would rise from 281,606 in 2019 to 287,063 in 2020 (a 1.9 percent increase).

These topline figures hide some large proposed increases in some regulatory agencies and large decreases in others, however. Reflecting the Trump administration’s priorities of strengthening the border and limiting illegal immigration,2 agencies involved in border security and immigration enforcement are slated for significant increases in both funds and staff. Under the president’s proposal, regulators in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would receive a 9.2 percent real increase in resources and a 5.6 percent increase in staff in 2020. Within DHS, funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Coast Guard would increase by 6.3 percent, 22.2 percent, and 24.9 percent, respectively.

These increases are offset by reductions at other agencies. Apart from the homeland security category, funding for the four other main categories of social regulation—consumer safety and health, transportation, workplace, and energy and environment—would decline in real terms. Similar to the president’s request for FY 2019,3 the FY 2020 Budget targets agencies involved in environmental and energy regulation for the biggest cuts. In particular, the Department of Energy (DOE) would receive 31.8 percent less in 2020 than appropriated in 2019, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is slated for a 5.1 percent reduction below 2019 spending levels in real terms.
Overall, agencies conducting economic regulation—categorized as finance and banking, industry-specific regulation, and general business—would receive 0.6 percent less in real resources. However, those cuts are primarily concentrated in spending on finance and banking, which would fall by 4.7 percent.

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The current report and the past three  years' reports are available to view here:

Regulatory Report, 2020

Regulatory Report, 2019

Regulatory Report, 2018

Regulatory Report, 2017