Reg Neg Redux: The Career of a Procedural Reform
This Article traces the trajectory of negotiated rulemaking within American administrative law. The popularity of negotiated rulemaking — among scholars, politicians, and regulators — has waxed and waned since its start in the 1980s. This Article describes and assesses these shifts, charting the birth of negotiated rulemaking, its incorporation into the APA, and its infrequent use in recent years. In mapping the rise and fall of negotiated rulemaking, we focus on two particular critiques — that it violates normative commitments to expertise and rationality in bureaucratic decision making, and that it fails to deliver on its promises of faster rulemaking and less litigation. This Article contends that the first critique is overblown and that the second is true in some instances but not in others. We argue that negotiated rulemaking is most valuable when the appropriate negotiating parties can be easily identified, when they are likely to make concessions and build rapport with each other, and when traditional methods of rulemaking have become ossified.