The goal of the Department’s Business Regulation Unit is to find ways to reduce the burden of regulation on business (Red Tape).
This goal should be achieved without undermining the policy goals of regulation or the protections provided by them. The Business Regulation Unit supports Departments and Agencies across Government in identifying ways of simplifying administrative processes, with the aim of streamlining the interface between Business and Government.
The work of the Business Regulation Unit tends to follow four main strands;
Identify ways to reduce business red tape
First and foremost is identifying ways to reduce business red tape. Generally, this relates to the existing stock of regulation: burdens that have already materialised.
To this end, the Unit provides secretariat support to the High Level Group on Business Regulation. This Group acts as a clearing house for specific burden issues brought to its attention by business and seeks their solution by working with the relevant Departments, Agencies and Offices. The Group reports periodically on its activities.
However, it is also important that the flow of new regulations does not create unnecessary burdens; thus, admin burden measurement / estimation should be included in Regulatory Impact Analyses wherever it is likely that new administrative costs will arise when proposed regulation is enacted.
Improve communication between Government and business in relation to regulatory requirements
Second, the BRU works to improve communication between Government and business in relation to regulatory requirements. One of the things that businesses find quite irritating and time-consuming is not being able to understand the regulatory requirements that apply to them, and not easily being able to find the information and advice necessary to address this gap.
Two strands of the Unit’s activity are devoted to bridging this gap: (1) www.businessregulation.ie , a Portal designed and launched in 2012 to bring together online information and advice about all the regulations affecting business; (2) Taking Care of Business, an event (run from one to four times per year) which acts as a concrete version of the Portal, bringing nearly 30 Departments, Agencies and Offices together for half a day to run a free communications event for business.
Co-ordinate a broad range of cross-Government projects
Third, and related to the first two, the Unit co-ordinates a broad range of cross-Government projects, bringing Departments and Agencies together to identify and measure regulatory burdens, to find ways of making the related processes simpler, and to identify co-operative approaches that can lead both to improved efficiency and effectiveness in delivery.
For example, between 2008-2012, the Unit coordinated a project to measure and reduce administrative burdens on business by 25%. This was done in parallel with all other European Member States, using the internationally recognised Standard Cost Model to measure reductions achieved. DJEI, Revenue, the CSO and the Department of Transport have all met or exceeded the 25% target. Overall, across Government, the reduction has been 20.4% to date, so additional work remains to be done by some Departments. The BRU will provide advice and support to any Department or Body wishing to measure administrative costs or find ways of reducing them.
Additionally, the Unit has spent considerable time working with enforcement agencies and bodies, sharing good practice in relation to risk-analysis, principles of good enforcement, and means of improving effectiveness. Improvements in risk-analysis by these bodies should lead to a more finely honed ability to identify non-compliant businesses, thus reducing contact levels (and therefore interaction costs) with firms that consistently comply with regulation.
A number of the projects begun under the auspices of the High Level Group would be either cross-Government or cooperative in nature. The BRU sees itself as a coordinator or broker for practical, operational issues that cut across traditional boundaries, whether they be Department / Agency or Government / Business.
Represent Ireland in all Better Regulation matters at international fora
Fourth, the BRU has responsibility, since April 2012, for representing Ireland in all Better Regulation matters at international fora. The two main foci of this work are European Council Working Groups on Better Regulation in Brussels and the OECD Regulatory Policy Committee in Paris. In order to identify Ireland’s position, concerns and objectives across the complex array of subject-matter, the Unit coordinates with the other Departments responsible for various aspects of Better Regulation.