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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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Setting the scene: The importance of regulatory policy

Regulation is of critical importance in shaping the welfare of economies and society. The objective of regulatory policy is to ensure that regulation works effectively, and is in the public interest. Regulatory policy, a comparatively young discipline, is taking shape in different ways across OECD members and beyond. Different pathways, however, are tending towards common objectives. Many OECD countries did not have a regulatory policy ten years ago; nearly all do now. There is growing interest in using regulatory policy to address broad societal concerns such as distributional equity and sustainable development. There is no room for complacency for the work which lies ahead to transform regulatory policy into a truly effective support for meeting public policy goals.

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