Duquesne Law Review


With increasing intensity and wider application, the concept of cost/benefit analysis has been invoked in recent years as a relevant and necessary consideration in governmental decision making. This perhaps has been nowhere more evident than with regard to the activities of federal administrative agencies. With Executive Order 12291, issued by President Reagan in 1981, cost/benefit analysis in this context became a reality, most obvious in the order's mandate that "[regulatory action shall not be undertaken unless the potential benefits to society for the regulation outweigh the potential costs .... " This article presents the results of an in-depth study to determine whether statutes, the congressional mandates under which agencies operate, are such that there is no opportunity or discretion for the invocation of principles of cost/benefit analysis without simultaneous conflict with legislative intent. After an exhaustive examination of the United States Code, the author reaches conclusions not only as to the existence of these statutory barriers, but also with respect to their utility and desirability.

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