Its latest report*, published today, draws on a surveys of a wide range of business organisations and a forum series in which several sector regulators offered their thoughts on deficiencies and improvements.
The report, Accountable Government, ranks the top 20 business concerns about
the system, ranging from 'process failure' items such as investment
insufficiently evidence-based decision-making to annoyance over poor
communication, including documents often being unavailable until days after
they are announced and difficulties in learning about policy developments or
simply finding out who does what. It draws on the views of regulators, RBPG
members and others to offer recommendations including:
- A review of areas where, following the example of interest rates and
merger control, political withdrawal from the policy process might be
- A requirement that expert scientific and technical advice to ministers,
and the justification for any departure from it, should be published
- Giving Regulatory Impact Assessments legal status, allowing them to be
challenged if policy decisions have not taken proper account of costs and
- Following the example of regulators in running the policy process to
- Implementing the Labour 2001 Business Manifesto pledge to review
legislation and regulation after, say, three years to consider effectiveness
and whether actual costs and benefits are out of line with initial forecasts.
- Opening up the Panel For Regulatory Accountability, meant to ensure that
rules for governance of the policy process are followed but currently
operating behind closed doors, to parliamentary and public scrutiny.
- Establishing online facilities to provide automatic notification of
consultations, reports etc
- Establishing (and publicising) a One Stop Shop giving access to all
consultations across Whitehall and Brussels.
None of our recommendations call for a step change in the way Whitehall and
Brussels work. Most do not involve great cost or upheaval - they only
require a cultural Rubicon to be crossed. We are encouraged that some bodies
have already started to implement several of our ideas, but slow progress
will only entrench the concern that the survey has revealed over unnecessary
lack of transparency, accessibility, and political skewing of evidence.
* The report is available here.