• Rulemaking Home
  • Key Findings
  • Reforms
  • Methodology
  • About Us


2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20433 USA

Key Findings

Key findings of the 2016 Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance include:

Transparency and consultation

Among the 185 countries sampled by the Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance, 135 notify the general public of a proposed new regulation before its adoption. Most countries that give notice are either high-income OECD economies or located in the European and Central Asia regions.

Poorer countries have significantly less transparent and consultative rulemaking processes than their richer counterparts. Less than one-third of low-income countries notify the general public of proposed new business regulations and publish draft texts in a place where stakeholders can view them (on websites or in the federal register). This is compared to 81 percent of high-income countries. And slightly over half of the Sub-Saharan African countries (25 of 46) make texts of proposed regulations public before their enactment. This means that close to 50 percent of Sub-Saharan African governments and two-thirds of low-income countries fail to give voice to all relevant constituencies when designing new regulations, opening the process to capture and potentially undermining compliance once the regulations are passed.

More encouragingly, roughly half out of the sampled 185 countries (98) develop forward regulatory plans, publicizing at the beginning of the year all the changes that the government plans to introduce in the upcoming period. This includes 12 low-income countries.

Measures of regulatory transparency

Countries that publicly share draft texts of proposed business regulations for stakeholders to view, by region and income level.

Where poorer countries do engage the public for feedback before passage, they tend to do so through low-cost methods like public meetings rather than websites. Many low-income countries have some sort of web presence for rulemaking, but comprehensive web platforms are predominantly used in high-income countries. For those countries with active online consultation, they still overwhelmingly conduct face-to-face meetings as well. In these cases the internet is used to expand outreach to civil society and individuals who may have a stake in the new regulation, but the websites do not replace direct engagement with targeted groups. Participation through the use of online platforms also makes the dialogue with regulators more efficient, convenient and cheaper, especially for those who do not live in central urban locations.

Notice methods

How does the government notify the public of proposed regulations?

In many regions, it is common for government officials to proactively seek stakeholder input to the policymaking process. In 127 out of 185 countries studied, ministries or regulatory agencies request comments on proposed regulations. This is done through public outreach on websites or through public meetings, or by reaching out directly to known stakeholders. All high-income OECD economies, 85 percent of countries in Europe and Central Asia, and 76 percent in East Asia and the Pacific solicit feedback through at least one of these different means of communication.

Among economies that solicit comments on proposed regulations, around 60 percent do not make the comments publicly available.


Do agencies solicit comments on proposed regulations?

The ability for citizens and firms to engage with governments on proposed business regulations differs around the world, however. The Middle East and North Africa has the lowest regional level of transparency and engagement around rulemaking, with Morocco as a notable exception.

Overall, the data show that inclusive rulemaking processes are prominent in the developed world and sorely lacking among developing countries. Variation exists within each region and income group, yet aside from a handful of notable exceptions, many developing countries are still significantly lagging behind the advanced countries when it comes to better regulatory practices.

Consultation methods by regions

How does the government consult with public on proposed regulations?

Latin America has a clear divide between Caribbean and Central American countries, which tend to conduct only targeted consultation with identified stakeholders, and the larger regional countries with more systematic and open consultation processes (for example, Brazil, Colombia and Peru).

  •  Regulatory impact assessments

    Regulators in 90 of the 185 economies surveyed do not conduct regulatory impact assessments for proposed regulations. For those that do, the impact assessments vary in scope, charting the administrative costs to the government of enforcing the new regulation and expected compliance costs for the private sector. Measures of the possible environmental impact and effect on market openness are also common. Survey results show that the scope and purpose of impact assessments encompass a wide range of practices and methods.

    Only 12 high-income countries do not carry out impact assessments: Brunei Darussalam, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Uruguay, Seychelles, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In contrast, impact assessments are relatively absent in low- and middle-income countries. Only 18 percent of low-income countries surveyed by the project report conducting some analysis of the impact of the proposed regulation on administrative costs for government, competitiveness and market openness, on the environment or private sector, or other factors.

    Twenty-five countries that conduct impact assessments do not have any specific guidelines for officials completing the assessments. Ten of these are in Latin America and the Caribbean. In all regions, more governments perform impact assessments than are required to by law.

    Use of regulatory impact assessments

    Shares of countries conducting regulatory impact assessments (RIA)

  •  Access to laws and regulations

    New data this year investigate the ability of citizens to access the laws and regulations governing their country. Free and easy access to these laws helps to protect the public from unpredictable and predatory regulators.

    Globally, in only 56% of countries can the public access all the laws and regulations currently in force in one, consolidated and frequently updated place. In low income countries, that figure drops to 31%.

    Easily accessible laws and regulations

    Share of countries in which laws and regulations are publicly available in one consolidated, frequently updated place.

  •  Overall score on regulatory governance

    The data find that inclusive rulemaking processes are prominent in the developed world and sorely lacking among developing countries. Yet, while low-income economies tend to be less transparent as a whole, it is possible to have a high degree of transparency at all income levels. Taking the overall regulatory governance score, several low-income countries perform above the 3.9 average score of the high-income economies. On the reverse side, there are six high-income economies with a score of zero.

    High-income OECD countries continue to lead on the aggregate regulatory governance score, while Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East and North Africa considerably lag behind.

    Out of 42 economies that score zero on the aggregate score, 19 are from Sub-Saharan Africa. Aside from high-income countries, only four upper middle-income economies–Brazil, Macedonia, Mexico and Serbia–receive the maximum possible score of 6. Among Sub-Saharan African countries, only Kenya receives a relatively high score – 5.2. Among Latin-American and Caribbean, only Costa Rica – 5.

    Regulatory governance scores


    The scatterplot below provides another perspective on the relationship between income and transparency, showing that while there is a correlation, there are numerous outliers. Given that higher income provides the means for more transparency, there is an opportunity for some well-off countries to increase their score.

    Transparency and wealth

    Relationship between score and income per capita.

    Regulatory governance score and other relevant measures

    When linked to other measures of good governance, the regulatory governance score shows a strong association with higher quality regulations, lower corruption and stronger rule of law. Comparator variables include the Transparency International’s overall rank; the World Justice Project’s rule of law, effective regulatory enforcement and open government indices; and World Governance Indicators’ voice and accountability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality and rule of law variables.