Current Trends and Processes in RIA May 2006 Jacobs and Associates.pdf

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30 May 2006

Current Trends in Regulatory Impact Analysis ©

Jacobs and Associates

1) a move toward more integrated methods of assessment, converging to a method
called here soft benefit-cost analysis, as countries try harder to identify the interactive
effects of policies. RIA users such as the United States, Australia (at federal and state
levels), Ireland, New Zealand, and the European Commission are actively improving
the rigor and quality of broad RIA as an integrated framework to deal with the
complexity of modern public policy;
2) simultaneously, there is a move toward more fragmented and partial forms of
assessment, particularly assessment of administrative burdens on businesses. This is
partly a reaction to the neglect of these issues by regulators in the past, leading to
ever-increasing paperwork burdens, and partly a political response to constituency
pressures from businesses operating in more competitive environments.
Under these two opposing trends, RIA is integrating and fragmenting at the same time. Both
trends pose risks and opportunities for the future contributions of RIA to sensible policymaking. Fragmentation poses the larger risk because it can systematically bias policy
decisions. While it might make sense to emphasize selected impacts in the RIA, partial
methods should be contained within larger and more integrated methods of RIA, such as soft
benefit-cost analysis, so that regulators can identify and make beneficial trade-offs between
goals and impacts.
As RIA expands, continued effort is needed to track the evolution of RIA and more
investment is needed in assessing the contributions of RIA to the quality of pubic policy.