Assessing the Impact of Regulatory Impact Assessments

Agenda, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2009

9 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2011

See all articles by Mark D. Harrison

Mark D. Harrison

SMART Facility, University of Wollongong

Date Written: September 7, 2009


The idea of an Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) is to make regulation more efficient and effective by having its designers justify the reasons for implementing a new regulation, consider the costs and benefits of different options at an early stage and take a community-wide perspective of their effects, to ensure that the benefits to society (broadly conceived) of a regulation are greater than the costs (also broadly conceived) and to encourage the design and adoption of the regulation with the greatest net benefit. RIAs have proved popular with governments trying (or trying to be seen) to improve the quality of their regulation. International studies, however, question whether an RIA process improves regulatory outcomes.

In Australia too, the results of RIA requirements have been disappointing. Although the focus of regulatory-review inquiries has been on improving the incentives of regulatory agencies, the central regulatory monitor can lack the incentive to carry out policies to improve the regulatory process. In Australia the OBPR is the central monitor. The RIA process has often provided it with poor incentives.

Some recent evidence on OBPR decisions suggests that if improving the regulatory process is to be more than wishful thinking, the process must take account of, and improve, the incentives and constraints that face decision-makers, including those in the OBPR.

If the RIA process is to be kept, there are a number of practical reforms that could make it more transparent and increase the incentives of all participants to improve the analysis of proposed regulations.

Keywords: Regulatory impact assessments, Regulatory impact statements, regulation reform

JEL Classification: L51

Suggested Citation

Harrison, Mark D., Assessing the Impact of Regulatory Impact Assessments (September 7, 2009). Agenda, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Mark D. Harrison (Contact Author)

SMART Facility, University of Wollongong ( email )

Northfields Avenue
Wollongong, New South Wales 2522

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