No. 34




Twelve institutional preconditions for knowledge-based policy and draft legislation. Better regulation barometer 2015/2011 *

14 December 2016


RiTo No. 34, 2016

The legal policy has been a relatively unexplored field in the sociology of law studies.

In Estonia, as in other EU and OECD countries, the information on social, economic, environmental, security, administrative and budgetary impacts of proposed legislation have to be given in the explanatory memorandum of a draft Act to facilitate the transparent resolutions of policy controversies. Since 1997, many normative content analyses of explanatory memoranda proposed to the parliamentary proceedings are showing a gap between the normatively required and factually provided social information (Table 1: selective fulfilment of law-making rules). Why so many civil servants are not following the legal requirements of good law-making in the categories of impact assessment, scientific references and civic engagement? Or as the OECD report put it: why the regulatory reforms tend to fail? (OECD, 2000). In 2011, the Government and Parliament of Estonia took a step closer to the leading OECD countries by approving the Legal Policy Development Plan 2011–2018, and the recent follow-up study proceeds from the hypothesis that this legal policy reform has a positive impact on the ministerial work routines. On the basis of the OECD regulatory reform recommendations (1995–2010) and multiple academic sources, the author of the article compiled a simple e-Questionnaire to measure the fulfilment/level of twelve institutional preconditions for the knowledge-based regulatory reforms, starting from political commitment and legal basis and ending with regulatory quality supervision and possible sanctions. The results of two civil servants eSurveys (2015 and 2011) show many positive structural changes and a general positive trend (Table 2: when all 12 preconditions are summed up, the rise is +52%), but on the other hand, the institutional framework (e.g. impact assessment system) is still far from sustainability, because only one precondition (legal basis) is ranked higher than 50% (2011: 49%; 2015: 67%). Other positive rankings are between 18% (political culture and will) and 49% (methodologies and guidelines for impact assessment). The author is interpreting the results of eSurveys as long transition to the good regulatory governance.

* Peer-reviewed article.