Put simply, a decision can’t be—or shouldn’t be—made without a RIS.
The RIS questions are critical because they help policy makers focus on the regulatory impact of major decisions. In other words, the burden we impose on the community.
The questions are a useful discipline in your everyday work. They can help structure your ideas, test your assumptions and encourage you to think beyond a regulation-based solution as the default.
They are all the more important when you bear in mind a RIS is, in most cases, a public document: your answers will be on the public record. Think carefully about each one in turn.
- What is the problem you are trying to solve?
The RIS requires you to explain the problem—and your objective—simply and clearly. A crisply defined problem offers scope for innovative, non-regulatory thinking.
- Why is government action needed?
Ask yourself: is it a genuine priority? Is it government’s job? Is the problem serious enough to justify government intervention? Will intervention work?
- What policy options are you considering?
A RIS will reveal whether you’ve thought through all of the viable options, including the option of not regulating. Until you’ve analysed the problem from every angle, you may be overlooking a viable, low-impact alternative.
- What is the likely net benefit of each option?
Policy interventions often come at a cost. The RIS obliges you to assess the benefit of your proposed intervention against the burden you impose. If that burden is greater than the benefit, you should look for alternatives or reconsider the need to intervene at all.
- Who will you consult about these options and how will you consult them?
Transparency and accountability are not optional. The RIS encourages you to walk in the shoes of the people, business decision makers and community groups affected by your policy proposal.
- What is the best option from those you have considered?
The RIS will help make clear whether your decision making processes are robust enough to cope with scrutiny. The public don’t just need to know what you’ve decided; they want to know why and on what information and arguments your decision was based.
- How will you implement and evaluate your chosen option?
Too often this question is left until the last minute. The RIS process ensures you give adequate and timely consideration to the real-world problems of making your policy work—and makes sure you will test its effectiveness and ongoing relevance.