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Regulatory stewardship

Regulatory stewardship is a responsibility of government regulatory agencies.  It involves them adopting a whole-of-system, lifecycle view of regulation, and taking a proactive, collaborative approach, to the monitoring and care of the regulatory system(s) within which they have policy or operational responsibilities.

Regulatory stewardship is a statutory obligation for public service agencies

The Public Service Act provides that public service chief executives or boards are responsible for upholding, and ensuring the agencies they lead also uphold, five public service principles when carrying out their responsibilities and functions. “Stewardship” is one of those five principles and, as specified in the Public Service Act, that includes proactively promoting stewardship “of… the legislation administered by agencies” – see s.12 of the Public Service Act 2020

Most pieces of New Zealand legislation (both primary and secondary) are administered by a public service agency, usually a department.

The 2017 Updated Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship

In April 2017, the government released a set of updated expectations for regulatory stewardship by government agencies.  These extended and replaced the 2013 “Initial Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship” (see below).

The updated Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship form Part B of the Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice. These stewardship expectations include responsibilities for:

  • monitoring, review and reporting on regulatory systems
  • robust analysis and implementation support for changes to regulatory systems, and
  • good regulator practice.

The 2013 Initial Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship

In March 2013, the government 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. 

More information about the 2013 Expectations can be found as part of this information release. The text of 2013 Expectations can be found in Annex One of the Memorandum to the Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control SEC (13) 8: Regulatory Systems (Paper Two): Improving New Zealand’s Regulatory Performance (206 KB)

Regulatory stewardship reporting

The Government response to the New Zealand Productivity Commission 2014 report on Regulatory Institutions and Practices sets out the Government’s expectation that each year the major regulatory departments will publish information on their regulatory management strategy, information on the state of their regulatory stock and their regulatory priorities for the year ahead (their regulatory stewardship strategy).

This information was published in departmental regulatory stewardship strategies in 2016 and 2017. 

Since 2018/19, regulatory stewardship reporting has moved from requiring departmental strategies, to instead focus on the regulatory systems in which the departments have stewardship roles. 

The major regulatory departments are required to publish descriptions and assessments of the regulatory systems in which they have stewardship roles.

See Regulatory Reporting for further information and links to the reporting to date. 

Statutes Repeal Bills and Regulatory Systems Bills

The government promised in its response to the New Zealand Productivity Commission report on Regulatory Institutions and Practices to look at mechanisms to better keep legislation up to date, including omnibus bills like:

Best practice regulation assessments

Before the major regulatory departments began to produce and publish regulatory stewardship strategies, the Treasury attempted to collate and present a set of summary information in a standardised format on the quality or performance of a large cross-section of regulatory systems. 

These regulation assessments drew on information about system performance provided by the relevant administering departments, assessed against a set of high-level “best practice” regulation principles identified by the Treasury.

See the Best Practice Regulation page for more information.

Last updated: 
Wednesday, 2 December 2020