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Guide to Cabinet's Impact Analysis Requirements

10. Obtaining independent Quality Assurance

Independent Quality Assurance is a key part of Cabinet's Impact Analysis Requirements. It helps Ministers determine the confidence they can have in the analysis bearing in mind the decisions they are asked to make.

Regulatory Impact Assessments must be independently assessed as to whether they are appropriately complete, convincing, clear, and concise (see Section 11 Guidance for Quality Assurance assessors). This must take place before the Regulatory Impact Assessment is lodged with the Cabinet paper.

If your Regulatory Impact Assessment is not independently quality assured before it is lodged with the Cabinet paper then it will be subject to the process for proposals with inadequate Impact Analysis (see Section 13 Regulatory proposals with inadequate Impact Analysis).

10.1.  Quality Assurance arrangements

The Regulatory Quality Team will determine whether your agency or Treasury will be responsible for arranging independent Quality Assurance using the process described in section 10 Obtaining independent Quality Assurance. Once this has been decided, there are a range of possible arrangements for carrying out that quality assurance depending on what is most appropriate.

Quality Assurance may be done by:

  • the Regulatory Quality Team
  • internal Quality Assurance panels within agencies
  • panels made up of people from several agencies
  • an individual assigned as the Quality Assurance specialist, who may be inside or outside of the agency (especially in the case of smaller agencies).

A permanent internal panel may not be possible for all agencies. Another option is to identify a pool of experienced people who can be drawn on, on an ad hoc basis. This pool could include people from other agencies (not just internally sourced). The Regulatory Quality Team can help to facilitate this.

Outsourcing independent Quality Assurance such as from a private sector consultant or subject matter expert (eg, academic) may be appropriate for some large or complex pieces of work, or for small agencies where conflicts of interest are difficult to avoid. In these circumstances, it is important that the assessors are familiar with Cabinet's Impact Analysis Requirements and with the Quality Assurance criteria (see Section 11.4 What Quality Assurance involves).

The extent, nature and timing of Quality Assurance assessors' involvement in the Impact Analysis process and in consideration of draft documentation, is likely to vary.

10.2.  Independent Quality Assurance

An assessment of the overall quality of the Regulatory Impact Assessment is made by independent assessors on whether it is complete, convincing, consulted, and clear and concise. The same Quality Assurance criteria are used regardless of the template used for the Regulatory Impact Assessment or who independently assessed it.

The outcome of the Quality Assurance process will be a formal statement from the Quality Assurance assessors on the quality of the Impact Analysis. You must copy this (without edits) into the “Impact Analysis Requirements” section of the Cabinet paper.

The Quality Assurance statement sets out whether the assessors consider the information and analysis summarised in the Regulatory Impact Assessment is sufficiently comprehensive, robust and effectively communicated to enable Ministers to fairly compare the available policy options and take informed decisions on the proposals in this paper.

The Quality Assurance statement is not a comment on the merit of the regulatory proposals themselves. This remains the responsibility of the policy team. Quality Assurance should be undertaken before final advice is provided to the portfolio Minister.

You should contact your Quality Assurance assessors to let them know the nature and timing of your Regulatory Impact Assessment. It is best to keep them informed of your progress.

You will ideally have already been in touch with the relevant people in your agency, for instance, during the “Getting Started” process. Your agency may also provide people with experience in Impact Analysis to assist you as coaches during the process, and to assist you in the various stages where you have been engaging with the Regulatory Quality Team.

Your assessors may have some specific rules or guidelines on how you should engage with them, including how much time to allow for the Quality Assurance. It's important that you allow time for several iterations, as it is not often that Quality Assurance is completed with only one round of comments. There are usually several rounds of back and forth, drafting and amendments before the assessors provide their final assessment.

As well as sight of draft Regulatory Impact Assessments, the Quality Assurance assessors may ask you for additional material to test statements made about the Impact Analysis. For example, the assessors may wish to view evidence that has been cited or referenced, assumptions and calculations underlying the cost benefit analysis, or the summary of stakeholder submissions. This enables the assessors to be assured that the analysis is accurate and robust.

10.3.  Meeting the consultation criteria

Agencies proposing new or changed regulation must demonstrate consultation with affected parties on the problem definition, the range of feasible options, and the impacts of the options.

Consultation can be inadequate for a number of reasons, including:

  • when affected or interested parties are not consulted (eg, not consulted at all or unrepresentative consultation, such as where only large organisations are consulted)
  • when consultation processes are ineffective (eg, consulted parties not given enough time to respond, important issues not consulted on, consultation documents not promoted widely enough).

The magnitude of the proposal, including who is likely to be affected determines who and how to consult—more consultation is required if the proposal has wide-reaching impacts.

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