Being an Independent Regulator

In series:The Governance of Regulatorsview more titles

Published on July 19, 2016

Regulators operate in a complex environment at the interface among public authorities, the private sector and end-users. As “referees” of the markets that provide water, energy, transport, communications, and financial services to citizens, they must balance competing wants and needs from different actors. This means that they must behave and act objectively, impartially, and consistently, without conflict of interest, bias or undue influence - in other words, independently. What distinguishes an independent regulator is not simply institutional design. Independence is also about finding the right balance between the appropriate and undue influence that can be exercised through the regulators’ daily interactions with ministries, regulated industries and end-users. This report identifies the critical points where undue influence can be exercised at different moments in the life of a regulator and discusses some of the avenues for developing a culture of independence, including through interactions with stakeholders, staffing and financing. 


Foreword and acknowledgements
Acronyms and abbreviations
Executive summary
The why and the how of being an independent regulator
Why does independence matter? The view from the literature
How does independence work in practice? Key trends and evidence
Key bibliographical references
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MAIN findings

This publication surveys 48 public regulators in 26 countries to try and gauge their level of independence in practice and identify areas where undue influence may hinder performance. It looks at potential entry points for undue influence in financing arrangements, staff behaviour and the political cycle.   The key findings are: