Introducing “Working with Cost-Benefit Analysis as an Advocate”

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Using the language of cost-benefit analysis to explain how people are harmed by unjust policies makes it more likely that your argument will be heard, understood, and judged credible and relevant by regulators.

If you care about the rules agencies issue that governs everything from worker safety to clean air to payday lending, you’ve probably encountered the idea of cost-benefit analysis. Whether you want to comment on an agency’s proposed rulemaking, meet with congressional staff to discuss the impact of a rule on your community, or otherwise influence the regulatory agenda, you can maximize your impact if you reframe your arguments and strategies in the language of cost-benefit analysis.

As an advocate, you have a competitive advantage when it comes to cost-benefit analysis. You know how regulations play out in real life and how one rule interacts with a host of other laws, regulations, and local social and economic practices. All of this is relevant to determining what the costs and benefits of any given regulation are, and all of it is information regulators often can’t get without your engagement. With the right framing, you can turn your intimate knowledge of your community into a compelling point for the agency to consider.

So where do you begin? How should you frame your arguments? What strategies will make your input effective?

To make this process more accessible for advocates, we’ve drafted Working with Cost-Benefit Analysis as an Advocate, a guide which outlines the main components of cost-benefit analysis and highlights strategies advocates can use when engaging in regulatory advocacy. Working with Cost-Benefit Analysis as an Advocate covers:

  1. Requirements for Agencies: The main points of Executive Order 12,866, which sets forth the basic requirements for cost-benefit analysis for most federal agencies, and some information about how regulatory agencies not governed by EO 12866 may approach cost-benefit analysis.
  2. Common Alternative Approaches for Regulations: A list to help anticipate, address, or support other routes for the agency to take.
  3. Common Considerations in Cost-Benefit Analysis: Definitions and examples of concepts that are frequently used in cost-benefit analysis.
  4. Strategies to Make Cost-Benefit Analysis Work for Advocates: A range of ideas for identifying and sharing relevant and helpful information.

Working with Cost-Benefit Analysis as an Advocate is 7 pages long, written in simple language with examples, and is designed to be accessible for any advocate interested in shaping the rules agencies issue.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Travis, Diane, and Kate

Introducing “Decoding the Unified Agenda:  A Guide for Advocates”

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Decoding the Unified Agenda will help you to decide whether to commit resources and engage with the rulemaking process.

If you’re trying to track what rulemaking federal agencies are doing, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the Unified Agenda. Twice a year, the federal government publishes the Unified Agenda, which provides an update on all the rulemaking planned for the next six months across the federal government. If you want to understand or influence the rulemaking process, from the Department of Agriculture to the Surface Transportation Board and all the agencies in between, the Unified Agenda provides essential information on what agencies are doing.

But we know from personal experience that reading the Unified Agenda can sometimes be a baffling experience.

What does it mean when an agency says something is in a pre-rule stage? And how can you tell an essential initiative from one that is just a formality?

We’ve drafted Decoding the Unified Agenda to answer those questions and others, hoping that it will help make your advocacy easier and more effective. Decoding the Unified Agenda will help you to decide whether to commit resources and engage with the rulemaking process. It covers the following topics and “how-tos:”

  1. Identifying Important Issues: How to spot rules in the Unified Agenda that implicate significant matters of policy.
  2. Assessing Your Potential Strategic Contribution: How to determine whether you have access to information, stories, or other data relevant to the potential rulemaking.
  3. Making Your Plans: How to establish the amount of time you have to gather and provide information to the agency.
  4. Pushing Your Agenda: How to move forward if a rulemaking related to your campaign is absent or stalled.

Decoding the Unified Agenda provides a straightforward account of how to figure out what an agency is doing using the Unified Agenda and how to use it to plan your advocacy. Decoding the Unified Agenda is written in plain, simple language, with lots of examples, and headers. At just over 11 pages, we think you should be able to find what you need quickly.

Please check it out, and let us know what you think!

Kate, Nikka, and Diane