Government at a Glance 2015: There is still room for improvement in regulatory governance

GovernmentGlance2015

The OECD recently published the 2015 edition of “Government at a Glance”. The report includes more than 50 indicators regarding the political and institutional frameworks of government and administration, government revenues and expenditures in the 34 OECD countries. Indicators on key governance and public management issues, such as transparency in governance and regulatory governance, are also included.

As for the latter, the report shows that the financial and economic crisis of 2008 has strengthened the need for a well-functioning regulatory framework in order to keep incentives for transparent and efficient markets. OECD member countries have acknowledged the critical importance of regulatory policy and made substantial efforts to ensure that regulations are of high quality and fit-for-purpose. A positive evaluation has also been given to stakeholders engagement, which “should be part of all stages of the regulatory governance cycle”.

As for Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA), even though the majority of OECD countries have set the requirement to conduct RIA in a legal or official document, there is a significant gap in the actual practice of RIA, especially for subordinate regulation. Even if oversight bodies for the RIA process has generally been established, in a significant number of cases they do not yet function as effective gatekeepers to guarantee regulatory quality.

With regard to ex post evaluation, which is highly recommended as the final stage of the regulatory policy cycle, the report remarks that this practice has stagnated across OECD member countries.

Finally the report deals with the role of independent regulators, which is crucial in the overall governance of a sector. The OECD underlines that Italy (together with Germany and the United Kingdom) appears to have the strongest governance arrangements across OECD member countries. Network sector regulators are held accountable to the government or the legislature; moreover, transparency is assured through the publication of activity reports, regulatory decisions, resolutions and agreements, and even through public consultation.

(Giovanna Perniciaro)