OECD’s “Regulatory Policy in Perspective” 2015: what about ex post evaluation of regulation?


Chapter no. 5 of Regulatory Policy in Perspective, published by OECD in conjunction with the Regulatory Policy Outlook for 2015, provides an updated overview of ex post evaluation of regulation, both from a theoretical and a practical point of view.

As for the first, Lorenzo Allio, the author, interestingly starts by trying to provide a definition for ex post evaluation, based on academic, practitioner and OECD literature, and investigates the reasons for evaluation within the policy cycle, in general and for regulatory interventions in particular.

As for the second, a second part of the chapter then tries to give an overview of ex post evaluation of regulation in practice, highlighting how considerably ex post evaluation in practice varies across countries considered, and also internally, across different ministries or agencies in government.

To define evaluation, as the contribution does, it is important not only to clarify what it actually is, but also what it is not. In this respect, ex post evaluation is not monitoring, nor it should be confused with research, audit or control. Rather, it is possible to define different ranges of evaluations, from a narrow assessment of the effects of a single law to a broader policy sector evaluation. Concepts are further explained by means of boxes, where specific national experiences are described in order to give direct examples of how they are translated into practice.

From a theoretical viewpoint, finally, evaluation poses many challenges, which the author mentions: among them, managing evaluation biases is key, like identifying and involving relevant stakeholders, adequately timing the process, and accounting for the actual costs.

The section about ex post evaluation in practice provides first of all an interesting overview of the diffusion of ex post evaluation of regulation, stressing that government have come relatively late to introduce systematic retrospective reviews of regulation, although they have long been aware of their good effects on the overall policy making process.

The trend, Allio says, is nonetheless positive, and OECD most recent surveys indicate an increase of the governments that carry out regulatory ex post evaluations, be they more or less institutionalized, with at least 20 countries with automatic review requirements for primary laws. Numbers are quite lower when it comes to systematic review, indeed, with only six countries reporting a mandatory commitment for periodic regulatory reviews.

The contribution therefore accounts for some national examples, grouped with regard to the following seven elements: a) political commitment and legal bases; b) evaluation planning and linkages to RIAs; c) guidelines and methodological support; d) stakeholder involvement; e) role of legislative assemblies; f) minimum standards and quality oversights; g) publication.

The contribution concludes by offering some policy findings on the critical success factors of ex post evaluation of regulations  and on some possible ways to institutionalize them and make them more effective

(Federica Cacciatore)