Guidelines for Conducting California Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessments

The authors of this report provide an overview of California‘s rulemaking process for executive branch agencies and the state’s guidelines for conducting standardized regulatory impact assessments (SRIAs) for major regulations. They also provide guidance on economic impact assessment methodologies and technical approaches for assessing impacts of future proposed regulations.

The authors describe the purpose of a SRIA, when state agencies are required to conduct a SRIA, the overall rulemaking process for major regulations, the standard elements of a SRIA, high-level descriptions of the methods and tools that can be used for the assessment, and commonly requested revisions from the California Department of Finance (DOF) as the principal agency tasked with reviewing SRIAs.

Recommendations

  • California state agencies should be careful to avoid common errors in developing SRIAs. They should be in close communication with DOF for informal feedback in advance of the formal submission of a SRIA and should review available guidance materials for insights.
  • The California legislature should direct DOF to develop more-detailed guidance on best practices for SRIAs and to focus on common issues. DOF should also consider providing more-detailed guidelines for areas in which it has frequently raised issues with assumptions in analyses. In addition, DOF should consider providing more guidance on macroeconomic models, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The California legislature should consider removing certain analytical requirements that increase the rulemaking burden for state agencies but provide limited informational value for decisionmaking.
  • The California legislature should direct DOF to require that state agencies publicly post updated analyses when economic methods, key assumptions, or findings in a SRIA are substantially changed after the document is initially reviewed by DOF or posted for public comment.

This study was sponsored by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and conducting by RAND Education and Labor and the Justice Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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