Regulation chronically suffers significant delay starting at the detectable initiation of a “regulable activity” and culminating at effective regulatory response. Regulator reaction is impeded by various impediments: (i) confusion in optimal level, form and choice of regulatory agency, (ii) political resistance to creating new regulatory agencies, (iii) lack of statutory authorization to address particular novel problems, (iv) jurisdictional competition among regulators, (v) Congressional disinclination to regulate given political conditions, and (vi) a lack of expertise, both substantive and procedurally, to deploy successful counter-measures. Delay is rooted in several stubborn institutions, including libertarian ideals permeating both the U.S. legal system and the polity, constitutional constraints on exercise of governmental powers, chronic resource constraints including underfunding, and agency technical incapacities. Therefore, regulatory prospecting to identify regulable activity often lags the suspicion of future regulable activity or its first discernable appearance.
This article develops the regulatory lag theory (RegLag), reviews regulatory technologies (RegTech) that show promise in narrowing the RegLag gap, and proposes programs to improve regulatory agency clairvoyance to more aggressively adapt to changing regulable activities, such as by using anticipatory approaches that show promise to narrow RegLag delays.
Bagby, John W. and Packin, Nizan Geslevich, RegTech and Predictive Lawmaking: Closing the RegLag between Prospective Regulated Activity and Regulation (August 2, 2020).