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Regulatory stewardship

Regulatory stewardship is a responsibility of government regulatory agencies.  It involves them adopting a whole-of-system, lifecycle view of regulation, and taking a proactive, collaborative approach, to the monitoring and care of the regulatory system(s) within which they have policy or operational responsibilities.

Regulatory stewardship is a statutory obligation for government departments

The State Sector Act now provides that one of the principal responsibilities of a departmental chief executive is to exercise “stewardship of ... the legislation administered by the department” – see s.32 of the State Sector Act 1988

  • The State Sector Act defines stewardship as the “active planning and management of medium- and long-term interests, along with associated advice”.
  • Most pieces of New Zealand  legislation (both primary and delegated)  are administered by a government agency, usually a department.

The 2017 Updated Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship

In April 2017, the government released a set of updated expectations for regulatory stewardship by government agencies.  These extended and replaced the 2013 “Initial Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship” (see below).

The updated Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship form Part B of the Government Expectations for Good Regulatory Practice. These stewardship expectations include responsibilities for:

  • monitoring, review and reporting on regulatory systems
  • robust analysis and implementation support for changes to regulatory systems, and
  • good regulator practice.

The 2013 Initial Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship

In March 2013, the government agreed to a set of “Initial Expectations for Regulatory Stewardship”, in order to give departments more direction as to how they should discharge their regulatory stewardship obligations. 

More information about the 2013 Expectations can be found as part of this information release. The text of 2013 Expectations can be found in Annex One of the Memorandum to the Cabinet Committee on State Sector Reform and Expenditure Control SEC (13) 8: Regulatory Systems (Paper Two): Improving New Zealand’s Regulatory Performance (206 KB)

Departmental regulatory stewardship strategies and plans

The Government response to the NZ Productivity Commission 2014 report on Regulatory Institutions and Practices sets out the Government’s expectation that each year the major regulatory departments will publish information on their regulatory management strategy, information on the state of their regulatory stock and their regulatory priorities for the year ahead (their regulatory stewardship strategy).

See the Departmental Regulatory Stewardship Strategies page for further information and links to each department’s strategy.

Since 2014, information on a department’s regulatory priorities may also be included in their Four Year Plans as part of the department’s medium term interventions to achieve their strategic objectives. Before 2014, departments prepared annual portfolio regulatory plans.

Statutes Repeal Bills and Regulatory Systems Bills

The government promised in its response to the New Zealand Productivity Commission report on Regulatory Institutions and Practices to look at mechanisms to better keep legislation up to date, including omnibus bills like:

Best practice regulation assessments

Before the major regulatory departments began to produce and publish regulatory stewardship strategies, the Treasury attempted to collate and present a set of summary information in a standardised format on the quality or performance of a large cross-section of regulatory systems. 

These regulation assessments drew on information about system performance provided by the relevant administering departments, assessed against a set of high-level “best practice” regulation principles identified by the Treasury.

See the Best Practice Regulation page for more information.

Last updated: 
Friday, 21 April 2017