Empirical Analysis and Administrative Law

Empirical research has been used to study many areas of law, including administrative law. In this article Professor Coglianese discusses the current and future role of empirical research in understanding and im-proving administrative rulemaking. Criticism of government regulation and calls for regulatory reform have grown in the last few decades. Em-pirical research is a valuable tool for designing reforms that will truly improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and legitimacy of regulatory gov-ernance. Specifically, Professor Coglianese discusses three areas of ad-ministrative law that have benefited from empirical research—economic review of new regulations, judicial review of agency rulemaking, and ne-gotiated rulemaking.Agencies are now required to perform a cost-benefit analysis of all major regulations. Those analyses themselves are empirical in nature, and fur-ther empirical research has been conducted to examine what effect these analyses have on the rulemaking process. Judicial review has also bene-fited from empirical research, and would benefit from still further such research. Scholars debate whether judicial review improves governance or ossifies agencies due to fear of potential judicial challenges. Despite the widespread belief that agencies are retreating from rulemaking, the empirical evidence is actually more mixed, with few agency rules ever re-versed due to judicial review. Finally, negotiated rulemaking is meant to avoid litigation and speed up the rulemaking process, yet the empirical research to date shows that negotiated rules take as long to develop as nonnegotiated rules, and are challenged more often than nonnegotiated rules. Overall, empirical research on how procedures affect administra-tive agencies is vital to improving administrative law in ways that will contribute to more effective and legitimate governance.

The full text of this Symposium is available to download as a PDF.