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New Zealand's Regulatory Management System

Page updated 20 Dec 2016

What is regulatory management?

The regulatory management system is the set of policies, institutions, processes and tools employed by central government to pursue and maintain good quality regulation.

This is also sometimes referred to as “regulatory governance” or “regulatory policy”.

Key features of the regulatory management system tend to focus on the development of regulation, but system elements may also target the implementation, administration, enforcement, monitoring and review of regulation.

Regulating, broadly understood, is the deliberate attempt to alter the behaviour of others to meet a specified objective.  It is neither exclusively an act of government, nor confined to the use of formal legal rules.  In most instances, however, the institutions, processes and tools of interest here are those operated by executive government, and are concerned with government-initiated legislation (either primary or delegated).  

New Zealand’s regulatory management system

New Zealand’s legal/constitutional arrangements provide the base on which the current regulatory management system is built.  They include such fundamental features as parliamentary scrutiny and disallowance, and judicial interpretation and review, of legislation.  Within executive government, they also include: 

The system is administered by the Treasury and overseen for the Government by the Minister for Regulatory Reform, Hon Paul Goldsmith, supported by a Parliamentary Under Secretary, David Seymour MP.

Some of the key aspects of the regulatory management system that supplement these important legal/constitutional arrangements are:

The 2013 Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship

The New Zealand government expects government agencies to take a proactive, lifecycle approach to the monitoring and care of the regulatory regimes within which they exercise administrative responsibilities.

In March 2013, Cabinet agreed to a set of "Initial Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship", in order to give departments more direction as to how they should discharge their regulatory stewardship obligations.

Regulatory Impact Analysis

Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) is a systematic  approach to policy analysis that includes regulatory options.  The RIA framework provides both a structure and  process intended to assist policy advisors in undertaking that analysis.  RIA has been a formal  Cabinet requirement in New Zealand since 1998, with  the requirements for undertaking RIA being  strengthened over time. The RIA requirements currently apply to any proposal that:

  • considers options that involve creating, amending or repealing legislation (either primary legislation or disallowable instruments for the purposes of the Legislation Act 2012); and
  • is expected to result in a cabinet paper. 

If the RIA requirements apply then a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), which summarises the RIA work undertaken by policy advisors, will need to be completed and quality assured. See the Regulatory Impact Statement and Regulatory Impact Analysis sections for more information.

Regulatory planning and prioritisation

Since 2014, information on a department’s regulatory priorities are included in their Four Year Plans as part of the department’s medium term interventions to achieve their strategic objectives. See Keeping Regulation Fit for Purpose for more information.

Departmental disclosure statements

Since mid 2013, departments have been required to publish a disclosure statement for most government Bills and substantive Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) at the time the Bill or SOP is provided to Parliament. The departmental disclosure statement provides factual information about the policy background, development, and key features of the proposed legislation. See the Departmental Disclosure Statements section for more information.

See Timeline of Government Regulatory Strategy and Tools for a selected timeline of key regulatory management developments in New Zealand since the mid 1990s.

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