The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (PIPS) is a non-profit, independent science & technology (S&T) research institute devoted to the development of meaningful policy options and ensuring their implementation at the intersection of business and government. The Institute bases their approach on information gained from discussions, analysis, and data concerning science, technology, and national security issues facing our society. S&T are needed to support the development of good policy, and the Institute understands this. It promotes and assists in the use of sound S&T to guide policies that are developed and implemented by both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. For the Institute to continue to be successful in its mission it must remain committed to helping foster the development of leading S&T policy for the betterment of society.
PIPS roots in S&T policy have been founded in the legislative branch since its inception, as it grew out of the Congressional Office of Technology and Assessment. Over time, more of the Institute’s S&T policy work began to involve various levels of the executive branch. The Institute recently recognized a need for the study of regulatory policy processes. Since 1976, when the Office of the Federal Register made the number of documents published in the final rules section of the Federal Register first available, there have been 184,342 final rule documents published. In that same amount of time, there have been 9,539 bills turned into law by Congress. Over that same amount of time, the number of pages published in the Federal Register regarding Final Rules has increased by approximately 300 pages per year. The number of pages continues to increase despite the fact the number of actual Final Rules in the Federal Register has slightly decreased over the last 20 years. Furthermore, since 1980 there have been 4 major Acts passed by Congress and at least 5 Executive Orders that provide additional rules and exceptions to the regulatory process. It seems obvious the mechanisms that drive the regulatory process are inefficient and could benefit from a more science-based approach.
Applying a science-based approach to the process of creating and implementing regulation is known as regulatory science and engineering, most often just referred to as regulatory science. The field of regulatory science is focused on identifying appropriate frameworks to instill the best available science and engineering practices into the process of developing and implementing beneficial regulation policy. Regulatory science and engineering can be defined thusly: a distinct scientific discipline that constitutes the foundation of regulatory, legislative, and judicial decisions. Regulatory science and engineering is both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in that it relies upon many basic and applied scientific disciplines, from ABC to XYZ. Currently, the application of regulatory science during the regulatory process only occurs within the FDA. Given the inefficiencies in the current Federal regulatory system it seems clear incorporating the application of regulatory science to the regulatory process is worth considering.
In response to this observation, the Institute identified the need for a center whose vision was to become the center of excellence in the U.S. on regulatory policy. The Regulatory Science & Engineering Center (RSEC) is the Institute’s response to this demand. RSEC serves to study and influence the regulatory process by incorporating the best available science and engineering practices into its policy recommendations. Like PIPS, RSEC will only be successful in its mission if it continues to help foster the development of leading S&T regulatory policy for the betterment of society.