Annex C. OECD Best Practice Principles on Stakeholder Engagement in Regulatory Policy

Governments should establish a clear policy identifying how open and balanced public consultation on the development of rules will take place.

  • A clear, cross-cutting, government-wide guiding policy should exist on how to engage with stakeholders with clearly stated objectives. It should not and cannot be overly prescriptive; it should, however, provide for a sufficient level of transparency, predictability and uniformity for the engagement process.

  • It should set clear objectives for stakeholder engagement.

  • Leadership and strong commitment to stakeholder engagement in regulation-making are needed at all levels, from politicians, senior managers and public officials.

  • Capacities in public administration to conduct effective and efficient stakeholder engagement should receive adequate attention. Governments should create mechanisms ensuring that civil servants adhere to the principles of open government and stakeholder engagement in regulatory policy.

  • For successful stakeholder engagement actions, governments need to plan and act strategically by, for example, planning ahead to allow sufficient time for stakeholder engagement and determine how and when to engage stakeholders at the different stages of developing regulatory proposals.

Mechanisms and institutions to actively provide oversight of regulatory policy procedures and goals, support and implement regulatory policy should be established.

  • Control and oversight of the quality of engagement activities and compliance with the engagement policy should exist within all administrations. Clear competences for co-ordinating and promoting stakeholder engagement in regulatory policy across the administration should be established.

Governments should co-operate with stakeholders on reviewing existing and developing new regulations.

  • It is important that the engagement policy covers stakeholder engagement at each stage of the Regulatory Governance Cycle.

  • Stakeholder engagement should be proportionate to the significance and impact of regulations, there should nevertheless be full transparency and predictability and a certain level of uniformity of the process; there should always exist an opportunity for every stakeholder to express their views and provide inputs.

  • Stakeholder inputs should be solicited at the stage of the regulation-making process where there is still sufficient time for the comments to be taken on board.

Governments should actively engage all relevant stakeholders during the regulation-making process and designing consultation processes…

  • Governments should try to reach out to those who are usually least represented in the rule-making process. Potentially affected foreign interests should not be excluded from the engagement process and should have an opportunity to provide their views and arguments as well as data supporting those views.

  • Governments should avoid overreliance on consulting advisory bodies or expert groups.

… to maximise the quality of the information received…

  • Administrations need to provide stakeholders with the most relevant and timely information available.

  • Governments have to provide stakeholders with sufficient time to submit their views. Clear timelines must be set and publicised for stakeholder engagement activities

  • It is important to choose consultation tools that are suitable for the types of stakeholder engagement and for the right phase of the engagement process. Governments should avoid overreliance on consulting only with advisory bodies or expert groups.

  • Central consultation portals should be created. Governments should not be afraid to experiment with new tools but ICTs are not the only way of communication with the public. Governments should mind the digital gap.

  • Governments should consider the stakeholders’ perspective and treat them with respect, it might be necessary to educate stakeholders to the engagement culture. Governments have to be aware of and try to prevent 'consultation fatigue' among stakeholders.

  • Governments have to be aware of and try to prevent 'consultation fatigue' among stakeholders. It is therefore necessary that stakeholders are not asked for similar information or views too often and that there is a visible impact of engagement activities.

…and its effectiveness.

  • It is necessary that administration explains how stakeholder input has been assessed and incorporated in the decisions reached.

  • When processing stakeholders' input, it is necessary to balance different interests and prevent 'regulatory capture' by strong lobby groups and special interests. Clarifying that the objective of stakeholder consultations is to obtain information for the benefit of the public as a whole may help deflect pressures to listen to the loudest voices.

Governments should consult with all significantly affected and potentially interested parties, whether domestic or foreign, where appropriate at the earliest possible stage while developing or reviewing regulations

  • Engaging with stakeholders should therefore start as early as possible in the process.

Governments should make available to the public, as far as possible, all relevant material from regulatory dossiers including the supporting analyses, and the reasons for regulatory decisions as well as all relevant data.

  • To obtain useful input from the public during stakeholder engagement, it is necessary for the government to provide specific information. Taking into account the perspective of stakeholders and depending on the stage of the consultation process, consultees will be more likely to participate if regulators provide detailed, complete information, rather than general descriptions.

Governments should consult on all aspects of impact assessment analysis and use impact assessments as part of the consultation process.

  • Stakeholder engagement should be closely integrated with Regulatory Impact Assessment.

Governments should structure reviews of regulations around the needs of those affected by regulation, cooperating with them through the design and conduct of reviews including prioritisation, assessment of regulations and drafting simplification proposals.

  • Governments should listen to the perception of regulation by stakeholders all along the Regulatory Governance Cycle.

  • Engaging stakeholders who have better information on the real-life effects of regulation can provide invaluable insights into any effort to evaluate the outcome of policymaking ex post. These insights, which complete expert advice, could be particularly valuable insofar as they help policymakers to understand the real impact and performance of the policy.

Governments should regularly evaluate both their stakeholder engagement policy and individual engagement activities towards achieving their goals.

  • While it is not possible to identify a one-size fit all best practice of engagement in regulatory policy, a robust evaluation system may facilitate the identification of more appropriate methods than others.

All regulations should be easily accessible by the public. A complete and up-to-date legislative and regulatory database should be freely available to the public in a searchable format through a user-friendly interface over the Internet.

  • Regulatory transparency requires that governments effectively communicate the existence and content of all regulations to the public. The public should therefore enjoy unimpeded access to regulation, free of charge.

Governments should have a policy that requires regulatory texts to be drafted using plain language. They should also provide clear guidance on compliance with regulations, making sure that affected parties understand their rights and obligations.

  • Governments need to ensure that regulatory goals, strategies, and requirements are articulated clearly to the public.

  • Governments need to ensure that regulatory goals, strategies, and requirements are articulated clearly to the public. Therefore, when drafting regulations, plain language should be used, technical jargon avoided and clear definitions of new terms provided.

Source: (OECD, forthcoming[1]).


[1] OECD (forthcoming), Best Practice Principles on Stakeholder Engagement in Regulatory Policy, OECD Publishing, Paris.

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