Request for Proposals: Retrospective Studies of Regulatory Performance

Request for Proposals: Retrospective Studies of Regulatory Performance
A research component of the RFF Regulatory Performance Initiative
Deadline: July 1, 2013
For the past 60 years, Resources for the Future (RFF) has been a leader in economic analysis and regulatory and policy innovation for energy, environmental, and natural resource management. The RFF Regulatory Performance Initiative (RPI) seeks to strengthen the measurement of the outcomes of federal regulation, focusing on the areas of safety, health, and environmental protection. RFF is soliciting research proposals that pursue creative new ideas for measuring actual, realized costs and benefits of federal regulation. In particular, the project is focused on investigations that compare observed outcomes with a range of credible baselines and prospective or ex ante estimates.
Research Theme
RFF seeks applications for research and policy analysis on the performance of federal regulations in the United States. Notwithstanding the extensive ex ante analyses conducted for new federal regulations, little is known about the actual performance of regulations. For instance, do they achieve substantial gains? If so, how do the realized gains compare with the anticipated gains? Are the realized costs in line with the expected costs?  
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the retrospective evaluation of federal regulation, including a recent presidential executive order (E.O. 13610, May 10, 2012) promoting such analyses by federal agencies. Yet many challenges hinder development of reliable, comprehensive measures of the performance of regulations and regulatory programs. The available ex post analyses often focus on metrics such as inspections or audits rather than on outcomes more directly connected to human welfare. When retrospective analyses do adopt welfare-oriented outcomes, they typically do so in a manner that is subject to selection bias and disproportionately focused on costs as opposed to benefits or measures of physical effectiveness.
As part of the RPI, RFF is already planning to conduct four new in-house retrospective studies in the areas of food safety, industrial water pollution, air toxics, and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. Each of these studies involves extensive analysis of the physical outcomes of the individual regulations and regulatory programs; two of them include assessments of the costs.
Part of the overall initiative strategy is to complement RFF’s in-house analyses with extramural research, covering similar or related areas of interest. This request for proposals details the characteristics sought by the RFF project team for additional research on the topic of ex post regulatory evaluation.
Proposed studies should consider evaluating regulations issued by one or more of the following federal agencies:
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration 
Note that for evaluations on regulations from other federal agencies, researchers should contact RFF before submitting applications. 
Selection of proposals will be based on the originality and scientific merit of the proposed research, compatibility with the goals of the RFF Regulatory Performance Initiative, and the demonstrated research competence of the applicants.
Outreach and Dissemination
Grant recipients are expected to publish their research in both peer-reviewed journals and popular outlets.  
Applicants must have demonstrated expertise in the relevant area of study.
The grant performance period is for up to 18 months. The starting date is flexible, but applicants are urged to target a start date no later than November 2013.
The application process is relatively simple and proceeds in two stages. In the first stage, individuals interested in applying should submit a brief pre-proposal. The pre-proposal must include the following: (1) full name, title, and professional address (including telephone number and email address) of each investigator; (2) the title of the project; (3) a brief, concise description (one page, single-spaced, or less) of the problem to be addressed by the project, the innovation offered by the project, and the anticipated products of the project (for example, a journal article, report, monograph, etc); (4) a list of the major tasks involved in the project; (5) the proposed dates for start and completion of the project; and (6) a CV or brief statement of prior experience of the project leader. Applicants are welcome to contact one of the PIs (listed below) to discuss project ideas in advance of submission of a pre-proposal.
For the second stage, final proposals will be invited after review by the PIs. Final proposals must be limited to five pages and should augment the information contained in the pre-proposal, including a more detailed description of the proposed research, anticipated contribution of the project, and a detailed outreach plan. 
At present, $150,000 is immediately available to support up to four grants. Applicants are encouraged to leverage this funding with other sources, consistent with RFF’s policy on outside support (note that RFF does not accept corporate support for specific projects).
The pre-proposal must be received by July 1, 2013. Applicants will be notified by July 15, 2013, if they are invited to submit final proposals. Final proposals must be received by August 15, 2013. Awards will be announced by September 15, 2013. All pre-proposal and final proposal materials should be sent electronically as PDF files to
For more information, please contact the RFF Principal Investigators: