On November 9th, the White House finalized its revision of Circular A-4, the primary guidance on how federal agencies should assess the costs and benefits of regulations. This document plays a critical role in federal policymaking, and it had not been updated in two decades. The new guidance represents a major improvement over current practice and incorporates numerous changes that Policy Integrity has long recommended. Highlights include:
- Greater weight placed on long-term environmental and health benefits through lower discount rates.
- Robust distributional analysis that breaks down regulatory benefits and costs along demographic dimensions.
- Attention to regulatory effects outside the nation’s borders, including a global assessment of climate damage.
The final Circular is in part the product of extensive Policy Integrity advocacy. Since the Obama administration, Policy Integrity has led the charge to assess climate impacts on a global scale. Starting early in the Biden administration, we pushed to revise Circular A-4 to endorse lower discount rates and robust distributional analysis. After this revision was proposed in April 2023, we organized coalitions of economists and environmental organizations supporting the proposal and offering additional reforms.
The final Circular incorporates key priorities that Policy Integrity has advanced for years and specific suggestions that we offered during the comment period.