Accountability for performance

The first provisions for accountability for performance that can be found in the statutes of independent regulatory agencies are requirements to submit the annual activity plan and the annual activity report to governments and parliaments. These are provisions for upward accountability. Although the statutes do not typically include a specification of the contents of the annual (or multi-annual) plan, we know from assessing the documents that are publicly available that these include information on

Table 4.9 Annual activity plan to government

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

No provisions

18

72

10

47.6

Submitting only

2

8

1

4.7

Approval needed

5

20

10

47.6

Total

25

100

21

100

Table 4.10 Annual activity plan to parliament

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

No provisions

17

68

17

81.0

Submitting only

4

16

3

14.3

Approval needed

4

16

1

4.8

Total

25

100

21

100

the strategy of the organization, the activities it is planning to undertake, and the results it hopes to achieve. As we can see in Table 4.9, a large minority of the competition authorities (38 per cent), and a majority of the financial regulators (52 per cent), are subject to a requirement to submit an annual plan to government. In 20 and 48 per cent of the cases, government can disapprove the plan. Annual plans may also need to be submitted to parliament. As Table 4.10 shows, such provisions are not as common as the requirement to submit an annual plan to the minister: they can be found in the statutes of 32 and 19 per cent of the agencies. In 16 and 5 per cent of the cases, the annual plan needs parliamentary approval.

Second, most of the agencies are required to produce an annual activity report that must be submitted to government, parliament, or both. While annual plans describe what activities the organization is planning to set up, annual activity reports give a retrospective overview of the activities in which the agency has been involved. Annual reports describe and justify the activities and decisions of the agency and the results it has achieved in the previous year. The documents often also offer information on the structure of the organization, the changes that have been implemented in the previous year, and the staff members. In some cases, annual reports also offer information on the organization's procedures - for instance, on how the organization has dealt with complaints.

The requirement to submit an annual report to the minister is one of the most common provisions for upward accountability. As we can see in Table 4.11, 76 per cent of the competition authorities and 86 per cent of the financial regulators are subject to the requirement to submit an annual report. In 28 and 24 per cent of the cases, the annual report needs to be approved. Many of the agencies (also) have to submit an annual report to parliament - sometimes directly and sometimes via the

Table 4.11 Annual activity report to government

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

No provisions

6

24

3

14.3

Submitting only

12

48

13

61.9

Approval needed

7

28

5

23.8

Total

25

100

21

100

Table 4.12 Annual activity report to parliament

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

No provisions

7

28

6

28.6

Submitting only

12

48

11

52.4

Approval needed

6

24

4

19.1

Total

25

100

21

100

minister, where the minister is required to forward the annual report which s/he receives to parliament. As Table 4.12 shows, 72 and 71 per cent of the agencies are subject to such a requirement, with approval being needed in 24 and 19 per cent of the cases.

Although ministers and state secretaries typically are responsible for the implementation of regulatory policy, some parliaments have both the power to question these elected officials and the power to hear the head of the agency. In the presence of such provisions, the head of the agency can be asked to answer questions in the plenary or a meeting of the parliamentary committee that deals with the specific policy area. Parliamentarians may use this provision to ask about the finances and fairness of an agency, but the hearings are mainly used as tools of accountability for performance. Provisions allowing parliaments or parliamentary committees to hear the agency head can be found in the statutes of 36 and 43 per cent of the competition authorities and financial regulators in the dataset (Table 4.13).

Although horizontal provisions relating primarily to accountability for performance have not been found, the statutes of the regulators do include provisions contributing to accountability. Agencies may be

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Provision absent

16

64

12

57.1

Provision present

9

36

9

42.9

Total

25

100

21

100

Table 4.14 Publication of annual activity plan

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Provision absent

20

80

19

90.5

Provision present

5

20

2

9.5

Total

25

100

21

100

Table 4.15 Publication of annual activity report

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Provision absent

12

48

12

57.1

Provision present

13

52

9

42.9

Total

25

100

21

100

required to publish an annual plan and annual report, with provisions for the publication of the annual report being more common. That is, while only 20 and 10 per cent of the agencies have to publish an annual plan, an annual report must be published in 52 and 43 per cent of the cases (Tables 4.14 and 4.15).

Requirements to publish the regulatory decisions that are made are even more common: they are present in the statutes of 84 per cent of the competition authorities and 95 per cent of the financial market regulators (Table 4.16). Provisions for the publication of the minutes of board meetings are only found in the statutes of a single competition authority

Table 4.16 Publication of regulatory decisions

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Provision absent

4

16

1

4.8

Provision present

21

84

20

95.2

Total

25

100

21

100

Table 4.17 Consultation procedures

Competition

authorities

Financial market regulators

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

Provision absent

15

60

10

47.6

Provision present

10

40

11

52.4

Total

25

100

21

100

(not reported in a table). Moreover, some of the statutes explicitly indicate that the agency shall not publish its minutes. Finally, requirements to organize consultation procedures are rather common, and present in the statutes of 40 and 52 per cent of the agencies. Agencies are normally required to set up consultation procedures when they develop policy rules or binding regulations. In line with this, it should be emphasized that the agencies not subject to such provisions are usually those that do not have any rule-making powers (Table 4.17).

 
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