Country Reviews on Regulatory Reform

 

The 1997 Council Meeting at the ministerial level provided the mandate for the OECD to conduct reviews of regulatory reform on the basis of the OECD Report on Regulatory Reform. This mandate was the origin of the OECD Horizontal Programme on Regulatory Reform, which is the multidisciplinary framework in which this peer review is conducted. The aims and the scope of the review have been described as follows:

  • The aims of the country review are to help governments identify best-practice regulatory methods, to set priorities for regulatory reform across a broad range of policy areas, and to strengthen their capacities for self-assessment; to help reduce the costs and risks of transition; and to support public debate by developing information that will help governments explain the importance and implications of sustained regulatory reform. Broadly, the goal is to contribute to the steady improvement of regulatory practices in all Member countries.

  • The scope of the review will cover, for most countries, three thematic areas, such as capacities of the public sector, competition policy, and enhanced market openness, and two sectors -- telecommunications and electricity -- that Member countries have identified as their top priorities for this exercise. The reviews will also examine the potential impacts of further reform on various aspects of economic performance.
The regulatory reform cuts across several areas of competence of the Organisation and involves various committees and working groups. A co-ordination role is assigned to the Public Management Committee, but the context in which the review actually takes place is the Ad Hoc Multidisciplinary Group on Regulatory Reform, which is a central high level expert group on regulatory reform.

The structure of the review and its main procedural elements were formally set forth in the document: Regulatory Reform, The OECD Country Reviews on Regulatory Reform: Proposed Structure and Content, 13 February 1998, SG/RR(98)1.

The OECD developed a sophisticated method of self and mutual assessment in connection with these reviews. The method is based on a series of comparative regulatory indicators, covering regulatory frameworks, impacts and performance of regulated activities. These indicators include, for instance, standards to assess firm ownership and control in the country or tables to represent its general competition law (see Regulatory Reform, The OECD Regulatory Indicators Questionnaire: Regulatory Structures and Policies in OECD Countries, 9 March 1998, SG/RR(98)2/FINAL).

On the basis of these indicators and standards, the OECD prepared two questionnaires for selfevaluation by the States: the review questionnaire and the indicators questionnaire (see ibidem, and Regulatory Reform, The OECD Country Reviews on Regulatory Reform: Review Questionnaire, 18 March 1998, SG/RR(98)3/FINAL).

The process starts with the completion of the questionnaires by the authorities of the country under review. Once it has received these documents, the Secretariat shares them with the examiner countries and a dialogue with the reviewed country – including, in some cases, on-site visits – is initiated. The dialogue extends to those subsidiary bodies which are involved in regulatory reform, such as the Competition Law and Policy Committee, the Working Party of the Trade Committee, the Working Party on Telecommunication and Information Services Policies, and the Regulatory Management and Reform Group of the Public Management Committees.

Each of the subsidiary bodies involved in the review prepares a sectoral document, which is integrated into the draft final report prepared by the Secretariat and the lead examiners. This draft is discussed by the Ad Hoc Multidisciplinary Group on Regulatory Reform, which meets once a year. In this meeting the examiners lead the discussion and open a debate in which the reviewed country is called to answer questions and provide clarification. The Group adopts the report, which normally contains an analytical examination of the country, an executive summary and recommendations.