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Regulatory Policy and Governance

Supporting Economic Growth and Serving the Public Interest

image of Regulatory Policy and Governance

Regulations are indispensable to the proper functioning of economies and societies.  They underpin markets, protect the rights and safety of citizens and ensure the delivery of public goods and services.  At the same time, regulations are rarely costless.  Businesses complain that red tape holds back competitiveness while citizens complain about the time that it takes to fill out government paperwork.  More worrying still, regulations can be inconsistent with the achievement of policy objectives.  They can have unintended consequences and they can become less effective or even redundant over time. The 2008 financial crisis, and the ensuing and ongoing economic downturn are stark reminders of the consequence of regulatory failure.  

Reflecting the importance of getting regulation right, this report encourages governments to “think big” about the relevance of regulatory policy. It assesses the recent efforts of OECD countries to develop and deepen regulatory policy and governance.  It evaluates the comprehensive policy cycle by which regulations are designed, assessed and evaluated, revised, and enforced at all levels of government.  It describes progress developing a range of regulatory management tools including consultation, Regulatory Impact Assessment, and risk and regulation. It also illustrates more nascent effort to promote regulatory governance including creating accountability and oversight of regulatory agencies and creating a “whole of government” approach for regulatory design and enforcement.  The report provides ideas on developing a robust regulatory environment, a key to returning to a stronger, fairer and more sustainable growth path.

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Challenges for the future

Governments face a range of challenges as they emerge from the crisis. They need to put their economies back on the path to sustainable growth, find ways to handle complex and interrelated policy areas, anticipate and manage risks more effectively, and regain the trust of their citizens. Effective regulation can provide strong support for meeting these challenges. Ineffective regulation, conversely, will slow recovery, brake growth, undermine efforts to address complex issues such as climate change, and reinforce citizens’ scepticism of government. Challenges for regulatory policy include the need to strengthen impact assessment and institutional capacities to identify and drive reform priorities, as well as greater attention to the voice of users who need to be part of the regulatory development process.

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