News from the Bush School

Dr. William West Receives American Bar Association Annual Scholarship Award

September 14, 2018

Bill West

Dr. William West

Dr. William West, Professor and Sara Lindsey Chair at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, has been awarded the 2018 American Bar Association’s Administrative Law Section Annual Scholarship Award for his coauthored work “Dynamic Rulemaking.” West shares the prestigious award with past recipients such as Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan. The members of ABA’s Administrative Law Section were unanimous in their decision to recognize the study as the best article published in 2017.

West coauthored the work with Professor Wendy E. Wagner, the Professor Richard Dale Endowed Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law; Thomas O. McGarity, the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Administrative Law at the University of Texas; and Lisa Peters at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

West said he was “surprised and very pleased” upon hearing the news.

The article is the first in a series, according to West, and it studies rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The study develops the implications of the fact that “final regulations” are seldom the last word—that most rules are revisions of existing rules.

“What explains these revisions, and what procedures do agencies use in making them?  What does this mean for the character and effects of participation in agency policy making?  What are the implications for transparency?  In so far as it is reactive, is the dynamic process of rulemaking an effective way of identifying and addressing problems with existing regulations? These are among the questions we address,” West said. 

West said the authors are working on a second article that measures participation and its effects at different stages in the rulemaking process, using data from the EPA, OSHA, and FCC. One finding in the next article is most participation in the rulemaking process occurs outside notice and comment, and another is agencies seek public opinion in distinct ways that represent the political and technical world they work in.

The authors will receive their award formally during the Administrative Law Section’s annual fall meeting on November 2, 2018, in Washington, DC.