SBA Office of Advocacy Official Gives New Defense of Regulations Study: Data are on the Website (Somewhere)

Ben Somberg

April 19, 2011

Claudia Rodgers, Deputy Chief Council for the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration, testified earlier this month at a hearing conducted by a House Oversight and Government Reform sub-committee. The session ("Assessing The Impact of Greenhouse Gas Regulations on Small Business") was a sparsely attended affair on all sides of the room. But something important happened.

Rep. Jackie Speier asked Rodgers a series of questions (at 1:03:30 in the video) about the Office of Advocacy’s oft-cited report from September, by economists Nicole Crain and Mark Crain, which claims that the cost of regulations in the U.S. in 2008 was $1.75 trillion dollars. Representative Speier cited CPR’s recent report debunking the study. In response, Rodgers mostly gave little new information, telling Speier she'd get back to her. But then there was this:

Rep. Speier:

... Ms. Rodgers, does your office have the data used in the Crain and Crain study, and if so, will you please make that data available to us?

Rodgers:

I will check and see if our office has the data, would make available to you. I do know that it is... I'm told that it is available through Crain and Crain on their website, or through their website, that they have made it available. When we contract out studies, our office is not required to ask of that data and make it publicly available ...

Problem is, if it is somewhere on their website, no one's been able to find it.

The authors of CPR's paper critiquing the Crain and Crain study weren't the only ones who weren't able to get all the data after a request. As the Economic Policy Institute noted in its paper last week on regulatory costs,

The Economic Policy Institute has tried to use the information in the Crain and Crain paper on the authors’ modeling approach in order to replicate their results. Repeated efforts to do so have so far failed. Efforts to obtain further background data from Crain and Crain on the approach they used, which researchers typically provide to one another, have also so far failed.

So, here’s a tip to the SBA's Office of Advocacy: Better get that letter of correction off to the Committee pronto. Members of Congress don’t like it when agency witnesses testify to things that turn out to be not quite true.

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