Since 2012, the Penn Program on Regulation has organized an annual Distinguished Regulation Lecture, bringing to campus prominent government officials, legal scholars, regulatory practitioners, and business leaders, all with deep experience in regulatory law and policy, who share their insights with students, faculty, and others within the Penn Law community. Our 2021 Distinguished Regulation Lecture, held on November 2, featured Guy-Uriel Charles, the Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, speaking on Race, Political Power, and American Democracy: Rethinking Voting Rights Law for a Divided Nation. The video recording and other content from Professor Charles’ lecture will be available soon.
Every day, regulations affect our lives—helping to keep roads safe, water clean, electricity running and so much more. In this lecture, Sally Katzen reflects on how these regulatory benefits are too often “hidden in plain sight.” Many people not only fail to recognize these benefits, but they disparage the very idea of regulation as costly, bothersome, and damaging to their economic interests. Professor Katzen, who served in the Clinton Administration as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and then as deputy assistant to the president for economic policy and deputy director of the National Economic Council, offers insights about why this neglect occurs, discusses its consequences, and explains what all of us can do to make regulation and regulatory benefits less hidden.
Between December 22, 2018 and January 25, 2019, the U.S. experienced the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history. For those 35 days, operations across nine executive departments were severely curtailed or ground to a halt entirely, disrupting critical federal services and diminishing public trust in government. In this lecture, however, Professor Paul C. Light sees a possible silver lining in that ordeal, and offers a vision for how the 2018-19 shutdown could inspire long-overdue reforms of the federal civil service system.
Gina McCarthy, who headed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the second Obama Administration, reflects on efforts of the Trump Administration to roll back environmental rules and commitments such as the Clean Water Rule, the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Agreement, and discusses the important role that states, cities, and businesses can play in sustaining environmental progress.
When developing and issuing rules, federal agencies need a clear understanding of who their rules will affect and how their lives will be impacted. Drawing on his own extensive experience as an administrative law practitioner, Eugene Scalia discusses how advocacy groups, businesses, lawyers, and other members of the public have the power to help government agencies make better regulatory decisions through participation in the rulemaking process.
Government agencies are relying increasingly on algorithms for decision-making. Judge Cuellar’s lecture explores how automation might well improve the fairness and efficiency of governmental decisions, but also addresses the challenges posed by artificial intelligence, including cybersecurity risks and the need to maintain human empathy in how government engages with the public.
The term “bureaucrat” often is used negatively, especially when applied to government. Paul R. Verkuil’s lecture, however, examines the ways in which the civil service bureaucracy—created early in the 20th Century in response to rampant nepotism and incompetence in government—remains essential for promoting professionalism within federal agencies, and by extension, good governance.
On the thirtieth anniversary of the landmark decision by the Supreme Court in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Ann R. Klee makes the case for abandoning the Chevron doctrine of deference to the expertise of administrative agencies in interpreting regulatory statutes. While agencies must have some ability to interpret the bounds of their regulatory authority, Klee argues the doctrine is both irresponsible and unnecessary, and she offers ideas for reform.
The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), often called “the most important government office you’ve never heard of,” has been criticized for politicizing or inhibiting good rulemaking. In this lecture, Sunstein, President Obama’s first OIRA Administrator, provides an inside look at its work, showing how OIRA serves to aggregate information and resolve technical and legal disagreements between experts, leading to better regulatory decision-making.
In the inaugural Distinguished Regulation Lecture, John F. Cooney shares observations on the regulatory process, drawing on his experiences both in private legal practice and in prominent government positions at the Department of Justice, White House Office of Management and Budget, and White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.