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Published on January 4, 2008

Author: Coralie


GETTING TO GRIPS WITH THE NOTION OF QUALITY:  GETTING TO GRIPS WITH THE NOTION OF QUALITY THE DIFFUSION OF RIA IN EUROPE Claudio M. Radaelli Director, Centre for European Studies © Bradford University 2003 THE ARGUMENT IN THE PAPER:  THE ARGUMENT IN THE PAPER Different definitions of quality, but on balance we know what we are talking about. The problem is that quality means different things to different RIA stakeholders, such as the expert, the bureaucrat, and the politician. RIA quality is not easy to measure, but there are ways to get round the measurement problem. No matter how it is defined and measured, the real issue is how to achieve quality. The paper explains how contextual factors make a difference in terms of success (or failure) of RIA programs. WHAT IS RIA QUALITY:  WHAT IS RIA QUALITY OECD approach to quality: Administrative systems Activities and outputs Real-world outcomes Conclusion: Pitfalls of analysis, slightly different definitions, but on balance we know how to approach the concept of quality of impact assessment MEASURING QUALITY:  MEASURING QUALITY Indicators: we can start from the three broad dimensions of quality and design indicators (see table 2 in the paper) Tests: ex-ante, ex-post, and ‘function’ tests, that is, does RIA make a difference? Does RIA produce better regulation? BUT there is the issue of different logics at work in the regulatory process (see Farrow and Copeland 2003 and the classic Allison 1971) Different logics: quality for whom?:  Different logics: quality for whom? HOW DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS LOOK AT RIA:  HOW DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS LOOK AT RIA TO CLARIFY….:  TO CLARIFY…. RIA is an instrument to increase the role of empirical knowledge in regulatory choices. It is based on the logic of the social sciences… … But in real-world processes RIA is performed by people belonging to all three ideal-types (experts, PA, and politician). We know for example that civil servants often think politically, the European Commission is a political body, etc. ENTERING CONTEXT:  ENTERING CONTEXT The three logics tell us that we need a sophisticated model of the policy process to understand RIA quality They also tell us that the specific institutional, bureaucratic, political context in which RIA is situated can make a difference But what is ‘context’? What is context?:  What is context? FOUR DIMENSIONS: Institutions Territory Policy Process Legitimacy INSTITUTIONS: US and Continental Europe:  INSTITUTIONS: US and Continental Europe Sector-level, specialised regulatory processes (US agencies). RIA is performed by independent agencies Legitimacy is not based on majoritarian politics Bureaucratic context dominated by economists Dominant logic is efficiency RIA as communication tool used by the government Legitimacy based on parliamentary oversight Bureaucratic context: generalists or people trained in public law Dominant logic is still formal respect of procedures or political negotiation (e.g., civil servants interact with the Minister’s cabinet) TERRITORY:  TERRITORY The challenge of multi-level governance in the EU. The Commission is a political body with its own political agenda: implications for the logics of action: what is the nature of the Commission’s IA? The issue of distributional problems. Different methods and different values. How political objections can be disguised as technical objections to RIA methodology. THEORY OF THE POLICY PROCESS:  THEORY OF THE POLICY PROCESS Before RIA is imported in a country, one should raise the question what type of policy process do we have in mind? Multiple points of contact among the three logics in RIA as process. We cannot bracket politics and talk exclusively about the logic of efficiency 1st Implication: quality as process 2nd Implication: RIA as Bayesian learning, not as rational-synoptic process LEGITIMACY:  LEGITIMACY Quality is a plural term. The implication is that RIA legitimacy is complex and that the kind of questions that RIA raises are as important as the answers The crucial role of credibility: where do the government’s numbers come from? Who has validated them? Role of validation of science and extended peer-review The importance of a robust network of RIA stakeholders ‘Pluralistic’ approaches to RIA? BACK TO THE QUESTION OF ‘SUCCESS’ AND ‘QUALITY’:  BACK TO THE QUESTION OF ‘SUCCESS’ AND ‘QUALITY’ ‘Multiple definitions of quality’ does not mean incommensurable definitions But one-size-fits-all approaches to RIA do not work well. The ‘other conditions’ are not equal when we import RIA into a new country Success is not in terms of ‘efficiency’, but in terms of legitimacy, credibility, and robust networks of RIA stakeholders A realistic assessment of ‘context’ increases the chances of using RIA to make institutions think

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