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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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Executive summary

Regulations are indispensible to the proper function of economies and societies. They create the “rules of the game” for citizens, business, government and civil society. 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 not costless. Businesses complain that red tape holds back competitiveness while citizens complain about the time that it takes to fill out government paperwork. Moreover, designing and enforcing regulations also requires resources for government and public administrations. Regulations can also have unintended costs, when they become outdated or inconsistent with the achievement of policy objectives. The 2008 financial crisis – which resulted in part from poorly designed regulatory regimes and the uneven enforcement of existing regulations – and the ensuing and ongoing economic downturn starkly illustrate the potential consequences of regulatory failure.

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