Regulatory policy


Equipping Agile and Autonomous Regulators

Economic regulators are key to the performance of network sectors such as energy, e-communications, transport and water. They regulate and supervise to ensure sectors that can efficiently deliver essential services for the benefit of society. Operating from a unique position in relation to consumers, operators and government, they provide evidence-based and objective decision making that can build trust in the regulatory system and public institutions. A crucial factor in their ability to do this is their governance, including how they are resourced. Resourcing arrangements can make or break regulators’ effectiveness. Constraints in their funding or in their autonomy to manage resources may limit regulators’ agility or capacity to act. Where these constraints are significant, they may undermine the regulator’s ability to fulfil their mandates. This report discusses the implications of funding and staff arrangements for the autonomy, agility, accountability and transparency of regulators in the energy, e-communications, transport and water sectors. It identifies trends, challenges, opportunities and good practices, drawing upon survey responses from 57 economic regulators across 31 countries.

Published on September 19, 2022

In series:The Governance of Regulatorsview more titles


Abbreviations and acronyms
Executive summary
Equipping agile and autonomous regulators: main findings and conclusions
Human resources
Financial resources
Annexes4 chapters available
Survey respondents
Overview regulators and functions
Funding arrangements of regulators
Powered by OECD iLibrary

Main findings

Autonomy and agility

While many economic regulators are independent bodies, in practice their autonomy and agility can be restricted by how they receive and manage resources. For example, more than a quarter of regulators need to obtain approval from the executive before hiring new staff.

Accountability and transparency

Transparency and accountability mechanisms around budget decisions and spending are in place for most regulators. Five out of six regulators are involved when discussing national budget appropriations or setting the fee that funds the regulator, a safeguard against “closed door” decision making by the executive.

Ability and capacity

Challenges to attract, develop and retain staff and the sufficiency of funding may affect a regulator’s ability to deliver on its mandate. Many regulators report difficulties in hiring well-qualified staff for certain positions, and some saw their revenues decrease during the COVID-19 crisis.