Institute for Policy Integrity
Most of us expect the question of how much something costs to be followed by a simple answer. We can know, with certainty, the cost of a shirt, a car or a house. With laws and regulations, the question of costs is often subject to debate. Rhetoric takes over, and important decisions about public health, safety and finances can be based not on facts but on ideology and perception.
The Institute for Policy Integrity, based at New York University School of Law, brings clarity and intellectual rigor to those discussions. The project helps advocacy groups effectively participate in regulatory processes by working to develop rigorous and unbiased cost-benefit analyses. (Cost-benefit analyses are almost always funded by industry associations, which can afford to undertake the studies but often have an obvious vested interest in the outcome.)
IPI's approach to cost-benefit analysis helps decision-makers understand the true financial, health, environmental, community and other costs associated with official actions.
- IPI supported litigation by groups challenging regulations that would increase the number of hours truckers are allowed to drive each week. The project makes its case with solid analysis of the health consequences to truckers.
- IPI’s analysis of low-cost insurance rates by the National Flood Insurance Program revealed the true cost of the program. It showed that the cheap policies actually encouraged development in risky, low-lying areas that are prone to weather disasters – and taxpayers often end up footing the clean-up and repair bills.
- IPI showed that regulations intended to provide better treatment of prison inmates can substantially reduce prisoner violence – while also reducing the high financial costs associated with such violence inside of prison and once the prisoners are released into the general population. Its willingness to enter the fray on these kinds of controversial topics can help states save money and make better long-term decisions.
We were the first foundation to provide funding for the Institute for Policy Integrity and have been on the ground floor with them on a number of the organization’s important projects. Its work is widely recognized, and many groups – working on a wide range of issues – now seek out their help. IPI is an example of how a small, smart group, filling an important niche, can effectively redirect our national debate about critical issues.
- At a time when governments are cutting budgets, it is essential that officials and the public understand the true costs and benefits of programs.
- Rigorous, honest financial analysis usually moves debates towards the public’s interest.