The FCC's new Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA) has produced its first work product, a paper entitled “The Organization of Economists in Regulatory Agencies: Does Structure Matter?"
The paper, essentially a self-justifying establisher for the office, concludes that creating an office like OEA "can provide more independent and higher quality economic analysis within regulatory agencies."
FCC chair Ajit Pai last December formally created the office, which was almost two years in the making.
The office brings together approximately 100 staffers including economists, attorneys and data specialists from across the FCC with the goal of improving the analysis and data usage. Auction oversight has also been moved under the new office.
Pai has explained the need for creating the separate office as prompted by his conclusion that FCC economists were not always "used optimally"--working in siloes, employed ad hoc and late in the process--which he said, employing some economic argot of his own, was a "serious opportunity cost" for the FCC and the public.
One of the goals of the office is to systematically apply cost-benefit analysis to regulations, something Pai has long said was needed, but lacking, under previous Administrations. although it was under the Obama Administration that the Office of Management and Budget directed federal agencies to do such analysis--the FCC, as an independent agency, is exempt from such mandates, but Pai was happy to use that yardstick without prompting.
“This Working Paper provides data, analysis, and insights that will strengthen the FCC’s ability to make effective use of OEA economists and analysts,” Pai said. “With the release of this Working Paper, OEA has established a strong foundation from which to ensure that the economic analysis underlying FCC policies benefits consumers and the economy. Its release also represents an important and concrete step toward building a culture of open inquiry and big-thinking among the agency’s terrific staff.”