Different Degrees of Stringency

In general, both the benefits and costs associated with a regulation will increase with the level of stringency (although marginal costs generally increase with stringency, whereas marginal benefits may decrease). You should study alternative levels of stringency to understand more fully the relationship between stringency and the size and distribution of benefits and costs among different groups.

Different Requirements for Different Sized Firms

You should consider setting different requirements for large and small firms, basing the requirements on estimated differences in the expected costs of compliance or in the expected benefits. The balance of benefits and costs can shift depending on the size of the firms being regulated. Small firms may find it more costly to comply with regulation, especially if there are large fixed costs required for regulatory compliance. On the other hand, it is not efficient to place a heavier burden on one segment of a regulated industry solely because it can better afford the higher cost. This has the potential to load costs on the most productive firms, costs that are disproportionate to the damages they create. You should also remember that a rule with a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities will trigger the requirements set forth in the Regulatory Flexibility Act. (5 U.S.C. 603(c), 604).

Different Requirements for Different Geographic Regions

Rarely do all regions of the country benefit uniformly from government regulation. It is also unlikely that costs will be uniformly distributed across the country. Where there are significant regional variations in benefits and/or costs, you should consider the possibility of setting different requirements for the different regions.

Performance Standards Rather than Design Standards

Performance standards express requirements in terms of outcomes rather than specifying the means to those ends. They are generally superior to engineering or design standards because performance standards give the regulated parties the flexibility to achieve regulatory objectives in the most cost-effective way. In general, you should take into account both the cost savings to the regulated parties of the greater flexibility and the costs of assuring compliance through monitoring or some other means.

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