Regulations are indispensable for the proper function of economies and the society. 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. The objective of regulatory policy is to ensure that regulations and regulatory frameworks work effectively in the public interest.

The way in which regulations are designed is a major factor in both the quality of the regulatory environment for businesses and citizens and the outcomes achieved. But how regulations are implemented and enforced, and how compliance with regulatory requirements is assured and promoted, are also critical determinants of whether the regulatory system is working as intended.

Inspections are one of the most important ways to enforce regulations and to ensure regulatory compliance. As already shown by the OECD Best Practice Principles for Regulatory Enforcement and Inspections (OECD, 2014[1]), there are many core activities that inspections have in common and that are relevant for all or most sectors where inspections take place. These issues include planning and better targeting inspections, communicating with regulated subjects, preventing corruption, and promoting ethical behaviour, as well as the organisation of inspections and the governance of inspection authorities.

The OECD Regulatory Enforcement and Inspections Toolkit presents a checklist of 12 criteria to help officials, regulators, stakeholders and experts assess the level of development of the inspection and enforcement system in a given jurisdiction, or of a particular institution or structure, to identify strengths and weaknesses, and potential areas for improvement.

The Toolkit builds on previous work by the OECD to promote regulatory reform and the implementation of sound regulatory practices across the whole of government. The body of information and experience it has gathered is summarised in the Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory and Policy Governance (OECD, 2012[2]).