How to develop meaningful regulatory performance measures

Like all government entities, regulatory programs and agencies must be able to demonstrate they are well-managed. In the context of Government of Canada and Central Agency expectations this means:

  • Organizational work is planned with consideration for objectives, activities, outputs, outcomes and measures that will demonstrate results;

  • The organization is managed for results, with a clear understanding of why ii exists, what it wants to achieve, and how it will achieve it;

  • Decisions are based on results, and plans and tactics are adjusted as required based on what is learned;

  • The organization is accountable for results, and reports reliably on performance, supporting effective evaluation and the need to be accountable to Parliament and Canadians;

Development of meaningful regulatory performance measures is largely dependent on specifying in measurable terms what the regulatory program is trying to achieve for the target population.

To quote from the Treasury Board Secretariat Cabinet Directive on Streamlining Regulation (CDSR):

Departments and agencies are to:

- Identify the intended results of regulation in managing a public policy issue and, before submitting a regulatory proposal, develop time-based performance indicators for significant regulatory activities;

- Take measures to ensure that monitoring and reporting activities are effective while imposing the least possible burden on government, business, and Canadians;

- Integrate performance measures that can be used to adjust compliance plans as needed; and

- Collect performance information on the results of existing regulation and provide Canadians with this information in a timely manner.

So the process of building an effective reporting framework begins with an organizational assessment to determine the roles, responsibilities and outputs of the regulatory program, the target population, and the desired outcomes for that group. This can also include an evaluation of current reporting practices and resources.

Next, this information is compiled into a regulatory results-based logic model. A logic model links regulatory activities and outputs e.g. drafting subordinate legislation, investigation, prosecution, rules, standards - to desired outcomes – i.e. impacts, benefits and consequences.

Usually this will be represented by an increase in desired behavior and/or decrease in negative behavior on the part of the target population i.e. compliance.

Logic model linkages


The next step is compiling a data collection strategy identifying appropriate regulatory performance measures, data sources and responsibilities for data collection and analysis. It's critically important that this information is compiled and maintained to ensure continuity and sustainability of reporting.

Finally, a reporting strategy must be developed. Elements of a reporting strategy include:

  • A reporting format that clearly organizes and presents the information to support decision-making;

  • A governance structure identifying to whom will the data be reported, how will it be used to make decisions, and who is responsible to act on the findings to improve the organization;

  • A communication strategy identifying the medium, timing, and audiences for messages about performance results for the organization.

The benefit of this approach to the organization is the assurance that regulatory activities and outputs are having their desired effect.

See also:

Conducting a Performance Measurement Assessment

Implementing a Performance Measurement Framework

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