OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015. Evidence-based policy making through RIA

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Chapter 4 of the OECD volume “Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015” is dedicated to the analysis of the role of regulatory impact assessment-RIA in policy making.

Even though the use of RIA spread among member states, where significant progress can be recorded, the report points out several challenges which need to be faced and areas for further actions. Actually, there are many difficulties in deepening the application of RIA: it requires a significant investment in the short term and it may be difficult to persuade that additional administrative requirements in the analysis of regulatory proposals are necessary. Moreover, benefits are not visible in the short term and might be difficult to communicate.

The report identifies several practices that are generally associated with an effective RIA and which should be implemented in order to improve the application of this important tool.

First of all, the design of an appropriate institutional framework is essential in ensuring quality control of RIA. To this regards, it particularly recommended that States pursue strong oversight on the application of RIA.

Second, it is crucial to limit the application of RIA to significant regulatory interventions with noticeably economic impacts. As RIA requires a great effort in term of analytical capacity, it is vital that such a scarce resource is allocated in a proportional and targeted manner. States should support the “proportional” use of RIA, with the application of “materiality” analysis, in order to ensure that “only the most significant impact that are material to the possible outcomes of the regulatory intervention would be assessed”.

Third, it is important to ensure that effective consultation is a part of RIA. Despite this is often required, implementation is uneven, also, the link between consultation for RIA and open government policy is weak. Therefore, it is important to pursue more stakeholders engagement, which help to motivate government to invest on RIA and to use it effectively, but also to strengthen the political commitment on RIA, especially by measuring and communicating the benefit of RIA.

Finally, it is important that RIA is integrated to give an overall picture of costs and benefits, as this is not a stand-alone tool, but an instrument that need to be integrated in the policy cycle. In fact, according to the Report, a common problem is that many RIA cover a wide range of issues (for instance, assessing the impact on competition, gender, environment, equality..), but too often they lack a bottom line, so that their overall impact is diminished.

(Eleonora Cavalieri)

Credits image: OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2015