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Tag: RegRef

Information Quicksand

Government is a never-ending exercise in generating work product, the vast majority of which will languish in archives for years before being destroyed. For some information, the lifecycle is even shorter, with many products disappearing within the year.

The Government of Canada’s Cabinet Directive on Regulation outlines a series of mandatory public postings about upcoming regulatory initiatives in the form of a Forward Regulatory Plan (FRP). The Policy on Transparency and Accountability requires that FRP postings be updated annually on April 1. Updates may also occur during the year. Departments and Agencies are not required to keep historical copies of previous FRPS.

As a result, there is very little historical data to allow researchers, or the general public, to compare FRPs against regulatory workloads. I have been interested in how we could keep this information and use it to inform the regulatory process (particularly ex-post facto review.

While working on the FRPs for the Canada Border Service Agency, I started developing a very simple webscraping tool to grab the relevant FRP information and store it locally. This allowed me to take snapshots of the ever-evolving document.

Since moving to Regulatory Affairs at the Canada Revenue Agency, I felt that something like this tool would be useful on a whole-of-government level. I have started tinkering to expand the use cases. You can see what I’ve done over on Github. At this point, I’m storing the local snapshots on a webserver. Once, I have a more robust, government-wide data collection effort in place, I will share the url more broadly.

Let me know if this is something you find interesting or would like to help with. I’m trying to develop more projects that allow me to explore areas of interest, but also let me use my interest in technology.

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Draft Survey of the Structure and Governance of Federal Regulatory Functions

NOTE: This survey is on hold until the results of a similar survey started by Finance are available.

About a month ago, I wrote about wanting to get a better idea of how the regulatory functions throughout the federal government are structured and governed.

In this post, I hope to layout a draft of the proposed survey.

  • Audience: Any employees working with the development of federal regulations.
  • Mode: Online via Google Forms
  • Method of dissemination: Online via, Twitter, and a proposal for distribution through the Community of Federal Regulators Newsflash will be prepared.

Draft Survey

Part I – Structure

Question 1: Where do you work?

Dropdown of federal departments and agencies with a write-in option for other.

Question 2: Which group in your department or agency is responsible or “holds the pen” for developing the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS)?

  • A single centralized unit responsible for regulatory development (i.e. a regulatory affairs unit)
  • One of several areas responsible for regulatory development (i.e. on regulatory affairs unit per sector, mode, etc)
  • The policy area
  • Both the policy area and a unit responsible for regulatory development

Question 3: Which group in your department or agency communicate with your analyst at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat – Regulatory Affairs Sector (TBS-RAS)?

  • A single centralized unit responsible for regulatory development (i.e. a regulatory affairs unit)
  • One of several areas responsible for regulatory development (i.e. on regulatory affairs unit per sector, mode, etc)
  • The policy area
  • Both the policy area and a unit responsible for regulatory development

Question 4: Which group in your department or agency performs Cost-Benefit Analysis for regulatory proposals?

  • An analyst within a unit exclusively responsible for regulatory development (i.e. a regulatory affairs unit)
  • An analyst within a single centralized and specialised unit for performing cost-benefit analyses (i.e. economic affairs unit)
  • An analyst within the policy area
  • A contractor or outside analyst/company

Question 5: If you have a centralized unit responsible for regulatory development, what is it called?

Question 6: Is there anything else about the structure and/or seperation of responsibilities within your department or agency that you’d like to share?

Part II – Governance

Question 7: How many levels of management exist between the analyst responsible for a regulatory proposal and the Minister responsible for sign-off (do not include the Minister in this count)

Question 8: How many approvals are required for a regulatory proposal before it is approve for drop off at the Privy Council Office (do not include the Minister’s approval or any TBS-RAS approvals in this count)

Question 9: How do you track regulatory development (select all that apply)

  • Standard Excel worksheets
  • Excel-based application developed for tracking regulatory development
  • Access database
  • Internal records management software
  • Internal correspondence management software
  • Project management software (i.e. Microsoft Project)
  • Custom software
  • Other

Question 10:Is there anything else you’d like to add about the governance of regulatory development within your department or agency (best practices, irritants, etc)

Conclusion: Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. Would you be willing to meet and discuss the structure and governance of your department or agencies regulatory function?


I’d like to keep the survey short to encourage as many analysts as possible to take a few moments to complete it. I believe these ten questions will offer a broad overview of the various corporate structures and governance models in use within the public service. Let me know if you have any comments or questions on the proposed draft. Once I have incorporated any comments I receive, I will have it translated and publish a link to the completed survey for people to complete.

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Regulatory Affairs – Structure and Governance Survey

I tweeted a couple of days about my interest in “… conducting a meta-analysis of the regulatory development corporate structures and processes across the government. I would like to start with a short survey followed up with brief clarification interviews. I’d like to send the callout through the @CFR_CRF”


Understand the various corporate structures and governance of regulatory functions throughout agencies and departments within the government of Canada.

Methodology Overview

Short bilingual survey distribute as widely as possible through GCConnex, the Community of Federal Regulators, and Twitter seeking to determine the following:

Is the regulatory function centralized, or distributed throughout the policy areas?

If the function is distributed, is there a centralized regulatory function for coordinating with Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat – Regulatory Affairs Sector (TBS-RAS) and other central agencies?

If the function is centralized, how are the functions split between the policy areas and the regulatory affairs analyst.

How many approval levels exist between the regulatory affairs function and the responsible Minister?

What systems are in use for tracking regulatory proposals?

Additionally, I would like to follow up with a series of clarification interviews with a range of small, medium, and large regulators with various corporate structures and reporting relationships to determine in more detail:

  • How the regulatory function situated, what aspects are handled by the policy area versus a dedicated regulatory affairs function?
  • How do you handle Letters of Concurrence and Co-Signatures?
  • How regulatory proposals are tracked?
  • How do you assess priority for new proposed regulatory amendments?
  • What are the irritants in your process that should be eliminated?

Next Steps

I will prepare a draft of the survey for comment with the aim of distributing the survey widely by the end of February. Results will be published and follow-up interviews will be scheduled with any groups that indicated a desire. Let me know what you think. Am I missing something major that you’d like to know about regulatory function structure and process?

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OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018

The OECD released the OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018 in October of this year, and I thought it would be an interested exercise to go through the major points and provide my views as well as my take on Canada’s place among our OECD peers. Over a series of posts, I will discuss the observations within the report in the context of Canada’s regulatory regime.

Quality of Regulatory Development

Legislation, including subordinate legislation like regulations, need to be supported by sound evidence, developed within a framework of broad consultations, and, most importantly be accomplish policy objectives effectively.

As regulators, we are constantly up against the perception that all regulation stifles economic activity and should be minimized, if not eliminated.

The OECD report defines regulatory quality as having regulations and regulatory processes “in line with the principles of consultation, transparency, accountability, and evidence … [and] whether regulations are effective.” They provide nine practical indicators of regulatory quality:

With the release of the Cabinet Directive on Regulation (CDR), which came into effect September 1, 2018 in Canada and the associated guidance, contain a significant number of improvements designed at increasing the quality of regulatory proposals.

Examples of improvements which should increase the quality of regulations:

  • Renewed focus on consultations throughout the regulatory lifecycle.
  • Explicit focus on regulatory agencies assessing opportunities for alignment with other jurisdictions, both at home and abroad.
  • More detailed Forward Regulatory Plans to provide early opportunities for identifying and engaging stakeholders as well as providing details on consultation opportunities, identifying business impacts, and publishing ex-post facto review schedules.
  • The Triage Statement and Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS), now includes significant emphasis on early and comprehensive analysis of the proposed regulations. The following analyses are now mandatory with the level of scrutiny determined by the potential impact of the regulations:
    • Strategic Environmental Assessment
    • Gender-Based Analysis+
    • Modern Treaty Obligations
    • Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • One-for-One rule
  • Finally, the CDR lays out a robust set of requirements for a review of existing regulatory stock as well as requirements for planning regular ex post facto regulatory reviews of regulatory proposals.

As a result of these changes, the OECD now ranks Canada’s regulatory regime’s stakeholder engagement, regulatory impact assessment, and ex post facto evaluation of regulations higher than 2015 and higher than the systems in place for primary legislation.

My only thoughts relate to the need to ensure a balance between significant analysis at the Triage and RIAS stages and the burgeoning time horizon to implement Governor-in-Council regulations. We need to ensure that impacts are understood while still ensuring that subordinate legislation such as regulations can occur within a timeframe to allow the government to keep up with the accelerating growht of progress.

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Cabinet Directive on Regulation Guidance Policy Suite

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has released the policy guidance on the new Cabinet Directive on Regulation (CDR) which came into force on September 1, 2018.

The policy suite released consists of five policy documents:

I have had the opportunity to review and comment throughout the development process, but over the next week I hope to discuss some of the more important changes here.

I did notice that the while regulatory stock reviews are referenced in the CDR and in the Policy on Limiting Regulatory Burden on Business, the guidance documents for regulatory reviews have not yet been published.  It will be interesting to see the impact regulatory stock review will have on the regulatory development cycle, the workload of regulatory affairs departments, and the publication and usefulness of Forward Regulatory Plans.

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