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Inside/outside: The pros and cons of the independent versus the departmental regulator, and does it matter?






50 mins


14 July 2020


As the OECD has noted, ‘How a regulator is established, directed, controlled, resourced and held to account – including the nature of the relationship between the regulatory decision maker, political actors, the legislature, the executive administration, judicial processes and regulated entities – builds trust in the regulator and is crucial to the overall effectiveness of regulation’.

If we can all agree that trust and effectiveness are the outcomes we seek as regulators, is there an ideal configuration of machinery of government arrangements which will help us get there? Are we simply looking for the best compromise between the risk of regulators at arms-length from departments/ministers going rogue versus the risk of internal regulators being captured by political and departmental agendas? Does it matter if the regulator is an individual or a board/commission? Or are there many dimensions to these questions, of which governance is only one?