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Forward Regulatory Plans

On Septmber 1, 2018, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s “Policy on Regulatory Transparency and Accountability” came into force. Notably, it required departments and agencies to produce forward regulatory plans (FRP) to “provide advance notice of upcoming regulatory changes over a 24 month period, and the notice should be provided annually” (emphasis mine).

A while back, I wrote a script to track edits to the Forward Regulatory Plans of all participating government agencies and departments. I was interested in how they were designed, how often they were updated, and the level of detail therewithin.

It started to seem like the FRPs were not being updated by an increasing number of departments and agencies. I wrote a script to help track down when each FRP was last modified.

It starts by grabbing all the participating departments and agencies from a local file. Then, as it steps through the departments, it takes a look at the most recent local cached copy of the FRP (so as not to waste government resources). It grabs the text of the only time tag on the page, the “Date Modified” time. It then writes this to DateModified.csv.

The results are interesting the FRP that has lasted the longest without any modifications is the FRP for the Canada Industrial Relations Board, which was updated in 2015-04-02. A full 36% haven’t been updated in the last year and only 31% have been updated in 2020.

The heavier regulators tend to have more updated FRPs and the less frequent regulators therefore tend to be the least updated.

In addition to tracking the modified date, I am taking local snapshots of each government department and agency’s forward regulatory plans as it changes to help identify the changes (you can see the snapshots here). Ideally, this would be something captured by an Open Government project. Understanding how the 24 month regulatory plans are implemented or amended, is a vital to understanding how our regulatory system works.

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