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The development of new regulations

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Predictable and systematic procedures for making regulations improve the transparency of the regulatory system and the quality of decisions. These include forward planning (the periodic listing of forthcoming regulations), administrative procedures for the management of rulemaking, and procedures to secure the legal quality of new regulations (including training and guidance for legal drafting, plain language drafting, and oversight by expert bodies). Ex ante impact assessment of new regulations is one of the most important regulatory tools available to governments. Its aim is to assist policy makers in adopting the most efficient and effective regulatory options (including the "no regulation" option), using evidence‐based techniques to justify the best option and identify the trade‐offs involved when pursuing different policy objectives. The costs of regulations should not exceed their benefits, and alternatives should also be examined. However the deployment of impact assessment is often resisted or poorly applied, for a variety of reasons, ranging from a political concern that it may substitute for policy making (not true‐ impact assessment is a tool that helps to ensure a policy which has already been identified and agreed is supported by effective regulations, if they are needed), to the demands that it makes on already hard pressed officials. There is no single remedy to these issues. However experience around the OECD shows that a strong and coherent focal point with adequate resourcing helps to ensure that impact assessment finds an appropriate and timely place in the policy and rule making process, and helps to raise the quality of assessments. Effective consultation needs to be an integral part of impact assessment. Impact assessment processes have‐ or should have‐ a close link with general consultation processes for the development of new regulations. There is also an important potential link with the measurement of administrative burdens (use of the Standard Cost Model technique can contribute to the benefit‐cost analysis for an effective impact assessment). The use of a wide range of mechanisms, not just traditional "command and control" regulation, for meeting policy goals helps to ensure that the most efficient and effective approaches are used. Experience shows that governments must lead strongly on this to overcome inbuilt inertia and risk aversion. The first response to a problem is often still to regulate. The range of alternative approaches is broad, from voluntary agreements, standardisation, conformity assessment, to self regulation in sectors such as corporate governance, financial markets and professional services such as accounting. At the same time care must be taken when deciding to use "soft" approaches such as self regulation, to ensure that regulatory quality is maintained. An issue that is attracting increasing attention for the development of new regulations is risk management. Regulation is a fundamental tool for managing the risks present in society and the economy, and can help to reduce the incidence of hazardous events and their severity. A few countries have started to explore how rule‐making can better reflect the need to assess and manage risks appropriately.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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