Graham Russell and Christopher Hodges, editors, (2019), Hart
Publishing Oxford, 504 pages

Good times for regulatory literature! Graham Russel (Chief Executive
of the Office for Product Safety and Standards in the UK Government Department
for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Prof Chris Hodges (University
of Oxford) have just published their Regulatory
Delivery: Introducing the Regulatory Delivery Model
. Comparable to Governing
through regulation
and Achieving
Regulatory Excellence
(books that I have reviewed earlier) this
new book is clearly written for an audience of policymakers and regulatory
practitioners.

I am very glad to see this new trend of books that address the, to
speak with Russell and Hodges, delivery side of regulation. As they
rightfully point out in the introduction: “[Academics] and policy-makers have historically overlooked the
importance of regulatory delivery mechanisms in securing desired outcomes”
(p.15). The recent
history of regulatory scholarship
points at a broad range of publications
on how to develop better rules. Likewise, much regulatory reform that we have witnessed
since the 1980s has been “seeking to perfect the ‘rules’ rather than improve
their delivery” (p.19).

Building on a decade of experience in improving
regulatory delivery in the UK and a range of case studies from other countries,
the collective of authors in Regulatory Delivery
share their experience of how they have sought to make regulation more effective.
Central to the book is the Regulatory Delivery Model. It is a heuristic that
can help regulators to map their existing regulatory regimes and use it as a
diagnostic tool to explore the workings of these regimes. The central ambition
of the model is “to improve the
impact of the regulatory activity (effectiveness) whilst minimising its costs
to the state (efficiency)”. It keeps in mind that “the principal impacts of
effectiveness must be on the originating policy objectives (protection), effective
delivery will also promote benefits for the regulated (prosperity) both
directly through reducing costs and indirectly by improving confidence and
control” (p.19-20).

The Regulatory Delivery Model has two domains. The first,
prerequisites, “describe the three
elements [governance, accountability, culture] that define the potential of a
regulatory agency to fulfil its mandate and to continue to do so in a changing
environment”. The second domain, practices, “cover the operational activity of
a regulatory agency and its ability to plan, deliver and describe whether it is
achieving the outcomes for which it exists” (p.35). The three practices are
outcome measurement, risk-based allocation of resources, and responsive
inspection practices. The book brings together a wealth
of knowledge on how interventions that have proven to work can be combined to
develop modern regulatory regimes.

The book is a must-read for regulators at all levels of government. For
regulatory practitioners working at the frontlines, the chapters on regulatory
practices will likely be of most interest. For those working in managerial
positions in regulatory agencies, the chapters on prerequisites will likely have
the most insights. Yet, as the authors of the Regulatory Delivery Model explain
(in exceptionally clear language) all these aspects impact each other. Contrary
to some of the other books that I have discussed on this blog, Regulatory
Delivery
provides regulators with an easy heuristic to work with. And one
that, based on my reading of the broader regulatory literature, has a lot of
promise to Help regulators strengthen their licence to operate—that is, “the extent to which the regulatory agency establishes
confidence and then trust amongst beneficiaries and regulated entities that it
will deliver outcomes with equity, consistency and predictability” (p.47-48).  

Disclaimer

In these brief book reviews, I discuss classic
and contemporary books that make up the canon of regulatory scholarship. I
focus on their central guiding idea or core notions and aim to keep the reviews
to around 500 words. Unfortunately, this implies I must sacrifice a
considerable amount of detail from the books reviewed.