All posts tagged regulatory oversight of industry

Designed to Fail: Why Regulatory Agencies Don’t Work

Designed to Fail: Why Regulatory Agencies Don’t Work is a great piece about how and why government fails to do its job in regulatory enforcement, written by a veteran U.S. regulator by the name of William Sanjour. Having developed a few regulations myself, I have to say that I completely agree with his observations and concerns. Capture of regulatory agencies in Canada may in fact be worse than in the U.S. There, powerful states like California can drive change at the national level, and NGOs can be backed by billionaires. Not so here. I’ve watched bureaucrats shut out and ignore NGOs, treat unions as the enemy, and call industry executives to get instructions on how to write a regulation.

This quote from the article sums it up well:

“Regulatory agency employees soon learn that drafting and implementing rules for big corporations means making enemies of powerful and influential people. They learn to be “team players,” an ethic that permeates the entire agency without ever being transmitted through written or even oral instructions. People who like to get things done, who need to see concrete results for their efforts, don’t last long. They don’t necessarily get fired, but they don’t advance either; their responsibilities are transferred to others, and they often leave the agency in disgust.… Read the rest

Media Update for April 17, 2011

Advance warnings negate benefits of inspections:

It seems that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is giving egg producers an easy ride when it comes to inspections. A blogger has posted that the CFIA gives as much as two weeks notice. Some producers have used this time to clean up and get their hen-houses in order. This, of course, negates the much of the benefit of an inspection regime. To be really effective, they should be random, unannounced and include real testing (as opposed to just inspecting the paperwork).

The CFIA should know better, but can’t seem to change itself. There were many lessons learned after the 2008 listeriosis outbreak, but they still haven’t implemented many of them – most notably the lack of inspectors. How can they promote a safety culture in the industry when they themselves are so negligent?

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Inspections lack surprise
Agri 007 (blog), April 13, 2011
Summary: If you’re speeding and get warning that there’s a policeman with radar over the hill, you slow down to the speed limit.  You’re not caught and disciplined, so you probably continue to speed. There appear to be lots of warnings for egg farmers in Ontario and grading stations that the enforcers are coming, so few are caught and disciplined.… Read the rest

Media Update for April 9, 2011

More reasons for strong regulatory enforcement:

Most Canadians don’t realize that we actually have a pretty poor record of regulatory enforcement. And by enforcement, I mean inspecting regulated industries and holding them accountable for breaches of law and regulation.

The problem, you see, is that it’s all well and good to have tough laws. But if you don’t back them up with action, industry folks get the picture pretty quickly. Some quickly begin to see circumventing the rules as a way to cut costs. That puts pressure on everyone else and standards start to drop across the sector.

Don’t get the impression that this is my pet theory, by the way. Global Integrity, an international NGO, measures corruption in many countries. I’m getting my information from them.

In any event, here are two stories to prove the point. In Ontario, directors of an adoption agency were just charged with fraud after years of stealing money from the agency (read: people trying to adopt children). It turns out that Ontario didn’t even require such agencies to submit an audited financial statement before this. They do now, but really – why does it take a crime for government officials to require prudent measures?… Read the rest