Economic regulators have an important role to play in the achievement of social, economic and environmental policy objectives in network sectors. They regulate and supervise to ensure smooth-running sectors that deliver essential services efficiently for the benefit of society. They exist to bring stability, predictability and confidence to markets that are constantly evolving. Since they operate from a unique position among consumers, operators and government, their governance is all the more important. Good governance is crucial to ensure effective regulators able to improve sector outcomes and build trust in regulatory systems and public institutions.

The ability of economic regulators to fulfil their functions may be compromised by budgetary pressures or other constraints in their funding and management of financial and human resources. Like other public bodies, they are expected to deliver “value for money” and find the most efficient ways to fulfil their mandates. As the sectors they oversee change, they need to rely on the right staff and funding to respond to new roles and expectations with agility.

This report identifies the main trends, challenges, opportunities and practices with regard to the resources of economic regulators, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It discusses the implications of funding and staff arrangements for the autonomy, agility, accountability and transparency of regulators and their ability to deliver on their mandates. The report finds that while many regulators are independent bodies, they may face restrictions in how they receive or manage resources. These restrictions can limit their autonomy and agility in practice. Furthermore, while the COVID-19 pandemic prompted fundamental changes to ways of working, it also highlighted some financial vulnerabilities.

The analysis relies on cross-country and cross-sectoral comparative data collected through the OECD Survey on the Resourcing Arrangements of Economic Regulators, conducted in early 2021 among participants of the Network of Economic Regulators. Fifty-seven regulators in energy, e-communications, transport and water sectors across 31 countries responded to the survey.

This report builds on previous OECD work on economic regulators, including the 2016 report Being an Independent Regulator and the 2018 Indicators on the Governance of Sector Regulators, as well as findings from Performance Assessment Reviews (PAFERs) of regulatory authorities.

This report is part of the OECD work programme on the governance of regulators and regulatory policy, led by the OECD Network of Economic Regulators (NER) and the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), with the support of the Regulatory Policy Division of the OECD Directorate for Public Governance. The report was presented to the NER for comments at its 18th meeting in April 2022. The RPC approved the report for publication on 27 July 2022. It was prepared for publication by the Secretariat.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2022

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at