Summary: The framework set out in this paper provides guidance for auditing the performance of regulators in regard to the compliance costs they impose on business and other regulated entities. It complements other frameworks that are used to assess the performance of regulators in regard to their efficiency and effectiveness, and processes for ex ante assessment of the impact of proposed regulations. The framework should be applied within institutional arrangements that establish the authority, resources, and mechanisms to hold regulators to account.
For audits to improve regulator performance in this regard they need to:
- develop an audit plan in consultation with business and other stakeholders. This document should set out how the regulator will reduce compliance costs (good practice indicators), and how their achievement of this objective will be assessed (metrics)
- reward good performance and sanction poor performance
- comply with, and report against, the high level principles for good performance
- be public documents, with the audit plans and reports made available on the regulator's website.
In order for the audits to be undertaken in an effective and efficient way they should:
- focus on the principles and particular areas of regulator behaviour that have the greatest effect on the cost of compliance for businesses they regulate — these will differ across regulators
- select good practice indicators that best reflect regulator behaviour that minimises compliance costs while still achieving the objectives of the regulation
- provide metrics at the highest level possible to demonstrate the satisfaction of the principle or indicator, utilising data and information from existing sources where available
- require auditors to 'triangulate' information in forming a view of the satisfactory achievement of a principle
- be included as a separate module in external audits that examine broader areas of performance of the regulator and regulation.
As part of the broader system that promotes regulation reform and reduces regulatory burden, oversight is needed to:
- ensure that audit plans are prepared and that both plans and audit reports are published
- coordinate the development of audit plans and audits to minimise the costs to business of participating in the process, and prioritise resources to where the potential for improvement is greatest
- facilitate feedback on the quality of the regulations and need for reform
- publish a report card facilitating comparison of the performance of regulators and lessons on approaches that have worked well in reducing compliance costs.