Explain the Brookings Regulatory Tracker



The Brookings Center on Regulations and Markets Regulatory Tracker (“Reg Tracker”) is a tool that tracks and provides information on important regulatory actions taken by the federal government. Originally launched in October 2017, the Reg Tracker monitors an organized selection of executive agency rules, as well as notable directions and policy introductions or revocations. The rules cover a wide range of policy areas including, but not limited to education, labor, environment and transport.

This article provides the background surrounding the regulatory process, details of the actions that the Reg Tracker encompasses, and tips on how to use its interactive features.

Reg Tracker Context

The Reg Tracker was first launched in October 2017 to monitor major regulatory changes during the Trump administration. In particular, early in his term, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771, the “two-for-one” deregulation executive order that required all agencies to adopt two deregulation measures for each new regulatory action. Our tracking tool sought to monitor the impact of this rule, as well as highlight other key policy changes adopted by the executive.

After the transition to the Biden administration, we release the tracker to follow President Biden’s key regulatory changes, including regulatory and deregulation actions. In the next section, we’ll help you understand and navigate the updated tracker. For more information on how we organized and monitored the Reg Tracker during the Trump administration, check out this blog post.

What is included in the Reg Tracker?

The Reg Tracker is a tool for monitoring major changes in federal policy by the executive. Most of the entries in the Reg Tracker are regulations that are promulgated through the federal agency rulemaking process. Federal regulation is largely governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The process of publishing (or removing) regulations can be long and arduous. Once a rule is “proposed”, it must undergo a period of public notice and comment before it becomes “final” and “in effect”. The Reg Tracker also includes policies adopted by other means, such as orders in council, memos and guidance documents.

It is important to note that the Reg Tracker is not exhaustive. Instead, the tracker encompasses an organized set of rules that staff at the Center on Regulation and Markets (CRM) find particularly important. We use four key characteristics to determine whether a rule should be included in the tracker:

  1. Media attention. If staff find that a rule is covered by two or more major media outlets, we will consider including it in the follow-up.
  2. Litigation. Rules that are the subject of any new or pending litigation will likely be included in the tracker after a more detailed review of the lawsuit.
  3. Flashback to Trump’s reign. At the start of the Biden administration, we expect that many rules will explicitly seek to repeal or revise the deregulations that were passed under the Trump administration. We aim to include more of these rules in the tracker.
  4. General impact. If a rule does not meet any of the above qualifications but seems to have a particularly strong impact on the staff judgment basis, then it can be included.

Using these criteria, the Reg Tracker is intended to provide an organized list of economically or politically significant, controversial or otherwise relevant regulatory events. We exclude obscure, routine or uncontroversial rules.

Navigate in Reg Tracker

The search bar

The search bar at the top of the tracker allows you to filter the rules according to the nature of the action, the policy area (category) and the current state. We’ve also included a checkbox where you can choose whether or not to show the rules from the Trump archive, rules that have not been updated since January 19, 2021. Finally, on the far right , there is a search function, which iterates through the two headers. and details the rule text for a keyword or phrase of your choice.

The rule header

Reg Tracker Rule Header

For each rule, you will see the same header (an example of which is shown above). On the far left is a nickname for each rule or set of rules. You can then find information about the nature by which the rule was promulgated (whether through agency rule development or other process), the relevant policy categories, the agency or the agencies sponsoring the rule and the current state of the rule. Finally, the far right column shows the date the entry was last updated by CRM staff.

Rule Details

Reg Tracker Rule Details

Once you click on a rule, the entry expands to give a more detailed summary. There will be a brief summary of the rule and then a more detailed overview. The overview is divided into two to four parts, depending on the particular rule: context (which provides information about the current state of the policy that the rule is changing), impact (which describes how the rule would change policy), dispute (which details whether a dispute over the rule is pending or resolved) and notes (where any other relevant information is listed). For regulations promulgated through Agency Regulation, you will also see a timeline for each action under the rule title which indicates the dates on which the rule was proposed, finalized, and effective (with links to the relevant pages of the Federal Register). The color of the timeline indicates the administration involved in that part of the process, while the “arrow” or “X” indicates whether the rule has progressed successfully or has been blocked. For decrees, guidance documents or other policies that have not gone through the development of agency rules, instead of the timeline will be a block of text indicating the type of regulatory action.

To subscribe to the Reg Tracker newsletter, click here. If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, we would love to hear from you! Email us at [email protected]


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