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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Drawing a roadmap for regulatory policy

Developments in regulatory policy over the past ten years reveal convergence on the paths of regulatory policy across OECD. Despite progress, there remains considerable potential to improve the process of rule making and the functioning of regulation to contribute to sustainable growth across the OECD. This will require collective and individual effort by countries. A roadmap can set out the important collective goals for governments and guide the development of the regulatory policy agenda for the immediate future. The road map should usefully provide avenues for countries to develop their own practices in different cultural contexts, but shared principles are necessary to assist countries to learn from the experiences of others and to guide the development of regulatory policy and governance as a field of its own. A starting point is a consideration of how elements of the OECD’s 2005 Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance can be refocused to crystallise a better framework for regulatory policy and governance, and provide a basis for developing a benchmark against which countries can measure their efforts.

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