Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

The Executive Branch Review Process

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Office of the Attorney General (OAG)

The formal role of the Attorney General in the regulatory process is limited. Section § 2.2-4013 (A) of the Code contains the only statutory duty—to review regulations for statutory authority. Recent executive orders have expanded the number and nature of certifications agencies are to request from the OAG. Typically an agency will contact its own counsel within the OAG and request one of these certifications. Experienced regulatory coordinators will work with their counsel so that deadlines can be met and problems avoided and, if possible, involve their own counsel during the preliminary stages of development.

The less formal role of the OAG varies, but it can be considerable. Some agencies involve their counsel in the development of some or all of their regulations. When appropriate, this may save considerable time. If the lawyer is in on the ground floor, drafting problems may be eliminated and delays avoided. Legal problems identified in a draft or final regulation are typically handled through privileged communications which, even if put in writing, do not find their way into the public record. Statements of authority, on the other hand, are made part of the agency’s regulatory package and so are public documents.


Department of Planning and Budget economic impact analysis (EIA)

An economic impact analysis (EIA) is completed at the fast-track and proposed stage of every non-exempt regulatory action. EIAs are required pursuant to § 2.2-4007.04 of the Code of Virginia. Additional requirements for EIAs are set out in Executive Order 17 (2014). Once a proposed stage regulation is submitted on the Town Hall, DPB has 45 days to complete an economic impact analysis. As of July 1, 2007, DPB has 30 days to analyze fast-track regulations.

What is an economic impact analysis (EIA)?

An economic impact analysis (EIA) is the end work product generated by DPB economists. Economists evaluate the costs and benefits of potential regulatory changes and present their findings (an EIA) in a way that facilitates the making of effective policy choices. As a part of its general analysis, DPB is required by statute to estimate the impact of regulatory changes on small businesses in the Commonwealth. DPB is also required to determine if “additional costs related to the development of real estate for commercial or residential purposes" will likely be incurred.

Economics and regulatory design: Best practices

There are often many ways to design a regulation. It is best to draft a regulation that achieves the required ends at the lowest possible cost and with the least intrusion into the voluntary choices of individuals and firms.

In general, your regulation should specify results rather than specific actions. This leaves the challenge of finding the best way to achieve the results to those with the most knowledge about the particular circumstances of each individual or firm. Maximizing flexibility has the added advantage of giving people incentives to innovate. In the long run, the incentive to innovate is probably the most important cost-reducing element of regulatory design.

What types of questions can I expect from a DPB economist?

Regulatory actions often change the incentives that people have and the way economic resources are allocated. DPB economists attempt to measure this change in economic activity by (1) identifying the incentives created by the regulatory action, (2) and then predicting the actions that will result from these incentives. In tracing these effects, a DPB economist identifies those changes in employment, property values, the distribution of costs and benefits, and other impacts attributable to the regulatory proposal. One advantage of this process is that you are made aware of any unintended consequences of a proposed regulation.

Risk assessment is the process of listing the possible consequences of a proposed regulatory change and attaching to each possible outcome a probability that the event will occur. For example, a DPB economist might be interested in knowing how a proposed regulation to increase the fire separation distance between residential buildings will affect the likelihood that such buildings will burn down. A risk assessment would use engineering information to assess all of the ways that the regulation affects the potential for a fire and the resulting probabilities of a fire occurring.

For a detailed explanation of methods used to prepare an EIA, see DPB's Economic Impact Analysis Manual.

An EIA generally reports results (1) as a range of possible outcomes, and (2) in a way that makes clear both the best estimate of impact and the range of uncertainty. EIAs can help you make better choices by suggesting the most efficient and effective strategies for achieving a given result, and making sure that you are fully informed of the tradeoffs implicit in any policy decision.

It is DPB’s practice to make an agency aware of, and try to resolve during a stage, any issues that DPB has identified regarding a regulation. Sometimes it is not possible to resolve these problems within the period allotted to DPB to complete its review, e.g., the agency agrees a change is appropriate but needs time to revise the proposed text of the regulation and/or the proposed text may not be changed without formal approval by the board. In these cases, it is common for an agency to retract the stage or action from the Town Hall in order to fix any problems, and then to resubmit the stage or action at a later date.


Department of Planning and Budget policy analysis

A policy analysis is completed at every stage of non-exempt regulatory actions. Policy analyses are required pursuant to Executive Order 17 (2014). Once a regulatory package is submitted to DPB on the Town Hall, DPB has 14 days to complete its analysis for emergency and NOIRA stages, 45 days for a proposed stage, 30 days for a fast-track stage, and 14 days for a final stage.

DPB’s policy analyses are considered confidential working papers of the Governor under the Freedom of Information Act and are not published on the Town Hall. However, a DPB policy analysis typically addresses the following issues, pursuant to Executive Order 17 (2014):


It is DPB’s practice to make an agency aware of, and try to resolve during a stage, any issues that DPB has identified regarding a regulation. Sometimes it is not possible to resolve these problems within the period allotted to DPB to complete its review, e.g., the agency agrees a change is appropriate but needs time to revise the proposed text of the regulation and/or the proposed text may not be changed without formal approval by the board. In these cases, it is common for an agency to retract the stage or action from the Town Hall in order to fix any problems, and then to resubmit the stage or action at a later date.


Cabinet Secretarys' Offices

For non-exempt regulatory stages, a Cabinet Secretary shall review and forward a recommendation to the Governor within seven days for a NOIRA, 14 days for a proposed regulation package, and seven days for a final regulation package.

In reviewing regulatory actions, the secretary’s offices have access to the reviews completed by the OAG and DPB. If there are outstanding issues relating to a regulatory action, they are often resolved when reviewed by the Secretary’s office.


Governor’s office

The Governor’s office has no legally imposed time frame within which to complete its review of non-exempt regulatory stages. In reviewing regulatory actions, the Governor’s office has access to the reviews completed by the OAG, DPB, and the Secretary’s office.