Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation (2014)

What is the best way for governments to learn from disasters/crises such as financial crashes, offshore oil spills, and nuclear accidents? This project team explores that question as part of the larger research effort, “Recalibrating Risk” at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Almost always these disasters/crises prompt special inquiries by legislative committees or blue-ribbon commissions that are convened as one-off investigations. We wish to explore the potential expansion of more permanent investigative bodies such as the United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Chemical Safety Board (CSB). Students will examine the NTSB and CSB including their origins and evolution and their institutional strengths and weaknesses. The project will include travel to Washington, DC, to interview NTSB and CSB officials, as a means of fleshing out their organizational culture, professional ethos, and sense of independence. Students will also interview officials at financial, energy, and environmental agencies to explore whether and how investigatory institutions might be used in these policy domains. Research outputs will include policy briefs and a white paper.

Project timeline: Mid-May 2014 - July 1, 2014

This team in the news:

Bass Connections Inspires New Teaching, Research

Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation - A Bass Connections Project Team and the Library

Regulation Students Interview National Officials in DC

See photos from this team on the Bass Connections Flickr page!

Jonathon Free: My Bass Connections Pathway

Dissecting Disaster: 4 best practices for government response

Team outcomes:

The Global Diffusion of Regulatory Impact Assessment (session at  World Congress on Risk 2015 chaired by Jonathan Wiener, with related presentations from Bass Connections project team research)

Commissions of Inquiry and Crisis Events (presentation by Emily Pechar)

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Lori Bennear*, Environmental Sciences & Policy
Edward Balleisen*, History, Public Policy, Kenan Institute for Ethics
Kimberly Krawiec*, Law School
Jonathan Wiener*, Law, Environmental Sciences & Policy, Public Policy

Graduate Team Members

Megan Hayes, Master of Environmental Management
Jon Free, History
Emily Pechar, Environmental Science & Policy
David Cheang, Master of Environmental Management

Undergraduate Team Members

Kate Preston, History

* denotes team leader


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