2019 Annual Conference


Thinking About the Width and Breadth of Benefit-Cost Analysis

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the production of SBCAs 11th Annual Conference and Meeting, including all of our speakers, presenters, and participants. Without everyone offering their time and expertise, this truly engaging conference would not happen. The 2019 conference highlights include a registration of just under 350 individuals who networked and attended 40+ sessions over two days focused on the "Width & Breath of Benefit-Cost Analysis."


2019 SBCA Annual Conference Final Program: 2019 Final Program
View a complete list of Abstracts :   2019 Conference Abstracts


Conference Overview:

The theme for this years SBCA Annual Conference and Meeting is "Thinking About the Width and Breadth of Benefit-Cost Analysis." The theme recognizes that benefit-cost analysis is not a narrow guide to investment projects but in fact covers the whole range of private and public evaluations and decisions. As the panels in this year's conference show, benefit-cost analysis applies globally,  speaking both geographically and by subject matter. The subjects for benefit-cost analysis include climate change, investment in infrastructure, health disparities, economic development around the world, monetary reforms, tax policies, the safety of workers and food and much else.  Thinking about benefits and costs is how we assess social well-being.




2019 Conference Program Committee

  • Clark Nardinelli, Chair (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)

  • Kenneth Acks (The Cost-Benefit Group)

  • Daniel Acland (UC Berkeley)

  • Eliane Catilina (Environmental Protection Agency)

  • Susan Dudley (The George Washington University)

  • Andrew Estrin (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)

  • Michael Getzner (Vienna University of Technology)

  • Sue Hamann (National Institutes of Health)

  • Lynn Karoly (RAND Corporation)

  • Steven Lize (Pew Charitable Trusts)

  • Jerome Massiani (Ca Foscari University)

  • Kyle Rozema (University of Chicago)

  • John Whitehead (Appalachian State University)

  • Tomeka Williams (MITRE Corporation)

  • Richard Zerbe (University of Washington)

2019 Workshop Subcommittee

  • Steven Lize, Chair (Pew Charitable Trusts)

  • Jennifer Baxter (Industrial Economics, Inc.)

  • Cristina McLaughlin (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)

  • Clark Nardinelli (U.S. Food & Drug Administration)

  • Lisa Robinson (Harvard University)

  • Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers University)  



Agenda & Abstracts


 2019 Conference & Meeting Keynote Speaker Cass Sunstein





2019 Conference & Meeting Membership Meeting

Please find below the preliminary agenda and abstracts for the 2019 Annual Conference and Meeting: Thinking About the Width and Breadth of Benefit-Cost Analysis.

Detailed program schedule:    2019 Final Program

Full set of Abstracts:    2019 Conference Abstracts

Wednesday, March 13

  • 8:00 9:00          Registration for Full-day and Morning Workshops

  • 8:30 12:30        Professional Development Workshops Workshop

    • Workshop 3: Using Meta-Analysis to Support Benefit-Cost Analysis and Evidence-Based Policymaking  

    • Workshop 2: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness? Techniques for Promoting the Use of Evidence and BCA Results to Policymakers

    • Workshop 5: Introduction to Regulatory Impact Assessment

  • 12:30 1:30       Lunch 

  • 1:00 1:30         Registration for Afternoon Workshop

  • 1:30 5:00         Professional Development Workshops

    • Workshop 4: Deregulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

  • 5:00 6:30         Opening Reception (for all registered workshop and conference participants (sponsored by ExxonMobil) 

Thursday, March 14

  • 8:00 9:00         Registration & Breakfast 

  • 9:00 10:30       Session 1

    •  Finkel 1.E

    •  Getzner 1.F

    •  Quinet 1.G

  • 10:30 10:45     Break 

  • 10:45 12:15     Session 2

    •  Brennan 2.F

    •  Hansen 2.F

    •  Qingran 2.F

    •  Gaudy 2.G

  • 12:15 2:00       Luncheon and Annual Meeting of the SBCA Membership (sponsored by American Petroleum Institute)

  • 2:00 3:30         Session 3

    •  Scheffler 3.D

  • 3:30 3:45         Break

  • 3:45 5:15         Session 4

    •  Dou 4.D

    • Bromberg 4.F

    • Estrin 4.G

  • 5:30 6:30         Networking Reception 

Friday, March 15

  • 8:00 9:00          Registration  & Breakfast 

  • 9:00 10:30        Session 5

    •  Cropper 5.A

    •  Neumann Amanya Strzepek 5.A

    •  Robinson 5.A

    •  Poudel 5.F       

  • 10:30 10:45      Break 

  • 10:45 12:15      Session 6

    •  Robinson 6.A

    •  Besedin 6.F

  • 12:15 2:00        Luncheon and Keynote Address - Cass Sunstein (sponsored by American Chemcial Council)

  • 2:00 3:30          Session 7

    •  Ritchot 7.A

    •  Kearsley 7.E

  • 3:30 3:45          Break  

  • 3:45 5:00          Closing Plenary - Dean Jamison

  • 5:00 6:30          Closing Reception (sponsored by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Center for Health Decision Science, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)



Pre-Conference Professional Development Workshops



A Voice Crying in the Wilderness? Techniques for Promoting the Use of Evidence and BCA Results to Policymakers

Organizer: Steven Lize, The Pew Charitable Trusts

Additional Presenters: Gary VanLandingham, The Florida State University; Nick Hart, Bipartisan Policy Center


There are increasing calls for government officials to use benefit-cost analysis (BCA) and related forms of evidence to inform budget and policy decisions. Yet, as the intended consumers of BCA, policymakers are typically unfamiliar with the concepts, assumptions, and methods used to carry out these studies, which can cause confusion and/or dismissal of findings. It is thus critical for analysts to know how to present BCA findings and related evidence in a clear and convincing manner. It is also vital for analysts to build effective long-term relationships to gain the trust of policymakers, and to help them devise policy levers that promote the ongoing use of BCA results and related evidence into the policy process. 

This workshop will train participants on ways to effectively bring BCA results and related evidence to government officials in the fast-paced policy process and to help build a culture of evidence use within the executive and legislative branches. The presenters bring decades of experience working with public leaders and their key staff as well as best practices gained from working with federal, state, and local governments to promote evidence-based policymaking. 

The topics will include effective modes of communicating complex findings to policymakers through presentations, reports, in-person briefings, and social media. It also includes effective approaches for building partnerships with policymakers and their key staff to gain the confidence and support of these key stakeholders, and discussion of proven mechanisms for promoting the use of BCA and rigorous evidence in the policy and budget processes. This half-day workshop includes a mixture of lecture-style presentation, discussion, and hands-on problem solving. Participants are encouraged to bring samples of their work as well as practical questions to collaborate on with the facilitators.

Preliminary Agenda (Subject to Change)

8:30 - 9:00 Overview of workshop and learning objectives

9:00 - 9:45 Understanding the policymaking context

9:45 - 10:15 Analytical tools for showing the bottom line

10:15 - 10:30 Break 

10:30 - 11:15 Techniques for communicating economic analyses and related evidence

11:15 - 12:00 Helping policymakers create a culture of producing and evidence 

12:00 - 12:30 Conclusion & review





Using meta-analysis to support benefit-cost analysis and evidence-based policymaking

Organizer: Michael Hirsch, Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Additional Presenter: Eva Westley, Washington State Institute for Public Policy


Government interest in using benefit-cost analysis (BCA) to inform budget and policy decisions has grown in recent years. A fundamental challenge in conducting these analyses is the need to predict the outcomes of the programs and policies under review. The practical, policy-ready creation of a benefit-cost analysis based on literature requires a coordinated meta-analysis and the consideration of other factors.

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is a recognized national leader in meta-analysis and benefit-cost modeling, and it has developed rigorous methods in these fields that can be a valuable resource to other organizations. This workshop will cover the WSIPP process for determining changes in quantity of relevant public policy outcomes reported in high-quality program evaluations and research. This training will cover topic selection, literature reviews, effect size calculation, meta-regression, and the practical steps to use an effect-size measurement in a benefit-cost analysis. Participants will be guided through case studies of the WSIPP process and leave with excel workbooks and the knowledge to calculate common effect size transformations and perform meta-analysis aimed at applying to benefit-cost analysis.

Preliminary Agenda (Subject to Change)

8:30 - 8:45: WSIPP intro / Why conduct this work. Why is this something of interest? A discussion of WSIPP's legislative direction and the ways in which the stakeholder determines the questions

8:45 - 9:30: What does it mean to look at a program? We will cover the scoping of topics, literature reviews, coding studies for meta-analysis, and classification of topics and outcomes

9:30 - 11:00: How Much? Effect Sizes and Meta- Analysis. Ideas covered will include an examination of WSIPP techniques to aggregate research using the 'Effect Size' in the context of meta-analysis

11:00 - 11:15: Break

11:15 - 12:00 - Practical implementation of effect size calculations. We will then look at the practical application of the effect size including issues of meta-regression, the context in which the program is implemented, who gets, the program, and how long do the effects last.

12:00 - 12:30: Using effect sizes in benefit-cost analysis. The concluding unit introduces ways that effect sizes are used to estimate unit changes in quantities that may be monetized in benefit-cost analysis. We will provide a framework for translating effect size unit changes into monetary impacts across a range of policy outcomes.





Deregulatory Benefit-Cost Analysis

Organizer: Jennifer Baxter, Industrial Economics, Incorporated

Additional Presenters: Bethany Davis Noll, New York University School of Law; Elizabeth Ashley, U.S. Office of Management and Budget; Dallas Burtraw, Resources for the Future; Jerry Ellig, George Washington Regulatory Studies Center; Amber Jessup, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


While benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is a well-established component of the regulatory development process, it is generally conducted in the context of regulations imposing new constraints on regulated entities. Analysis of agency actions offering regulatory relief is less commonly undertaken, however, such analysis is likely to be used more frequently in the future as a key tool in the implementation of Executive Order 13771. BCA of deregulatory actions may involve retrospective analysis to identify candidates for repeal or revision, as well as prospective analysis of the likely cost savings or forgone benefits resulting from proposed regulatory changes.

These analyses pose difficult challenges related to predicting what is likely to occur if existing requirements remain in force and likely responses to deregulation. For example, costs of existing regulations may be sunk or fixed in the near-term or longer-run, affecting decisions about how to respond to deregulatory actions. Similarly, changes in cultural norms and attitudes might affect responses to deregulation.  Additionally, technological progress and related changes in risks can be difficult to forecast.

This workshop brings together leading experts and practitioners with diverse perspectives to discuss these challenges. It is targeted to both those interested in conducting these analyses and those interested in better understanding the strengths and limitations of analyses they review. Prior to the workshop, participants will receive a list of optional readings. The workshop itself will consist of a series of presentations, including case studies, with ample time for discussion. There are no prerequisites or requirements for participation.

Preliminary Agenda (Subject to Change)

1:30 - 1:40 Introduction (Jennifer Baxter, Industrial Economics, Incorporated)

1:40 - 2:20 Executive Order 13771 and Legal Requirements Related to Deregulatory Actions (Bethany Davis Noll, New York University School of Law)

2:20 - 3:00 OMB Guidance on Deregulatory Analysis (Dr. Elizabeth Ashley, OMB OIRA)

3:00 - 3:15 Break

3:15 - 3:45 Case Study #1: EPA's Replacement of the Clean Power Plan (Dr. Dallas Burtraw, Resources for the Future)

3:45 - 4:15 Case Study #2: FCC's Repeal and Replacement of the Net Neutrality Rules (Dr. Jerry Ellig, The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center)

4:15 - 4:45 General Lessons Learned: An Agency Perspective (Dr. Amber Jessup, U.S. Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation)

4:45 - 5:00 Wrap-up (Jennifer Baxter)


Introduction to Regulatory Impact Assessment

Organizer: Lisa A. Robinson, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Center for Health Decision Science and Center for Risk Analysis)

Additional Presenters (preliminary): Chris Dockins, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Charles Griffiths, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Aliya Sassi, U.S. Food and Drug Administration


Benefit-cost analysis is used around the world to assess regulatory impacts. This workshop provides an introduction to the approaches used in these analyses, including the overall framework, the methods used to estimate costs and benefits, and the presentation of the results. While we focus on analyses of U.S. environmental, health, and safety regulations, the concepts and practices we discuss are equally applicable to analyses conducted in other policy areas and in other countries or at a subnational level. The workshop combines presentations with substantial opportunities for discussion and includes  working through examples of these practices in specific contexts.

This introductory workshop is intended for both economists who are new to this topic and non-economists who want to develop a better understanding of these assessments. It features presenters who are seasoned practitioners with substantial experience in conducting these analyses across different policy areas and agencies. Prior to the workshop, we will contact registrants to learn more about their background and interests, and will tailor the workshop content to their needs. We will also circulate a set of optional readings.

Preliminary Agenda (Subject to Change)

8:30 8:45 Introductions and overview (Lisa A. Robinson)

8:45 9:15 Institutional framework and analytic components (Lisa A. Robinson)

9:15  9:45 Predicting conditions without and with the regulation (Charles Griffiths)

9:45 10:15 Estimating administrative and other costs (Charles Griffiths)

10:15 - 10:30 Break 

10:30 - 11:15 Valuing health and longevity (Lisa A. Robinson)

11:15 - 12:00 Valuing other benefits (Chris Dockins)

12:00 - 12:30 Roundtable discussion (Aliya Sassi)