With Professor Malcolm K Sparrow
Conference Date
23rd & 30th November 2021, 9:00am - 12:30pm AEDT
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The Navigating Current Challenges in Regulatory Practice Seminar will examine two different areas of regulatory strategy, both of which are currently receiving significant attention from a broad range of Australian regulatory bodies.

On the first day we will examine the practical challenges of implementing “problem-centric” work (which some agencies refer to as “harm-reduction” or “risk-based” projects). The basic concept has been circulating in regulatory circles for at least two decades, but the practical work of developing mature problem-centric capabilities and institutionalising them is far from done. Many agencies have had some success with specific projects on an ad-hoc basis, but lack any formal system for managing a portfolio of such projects. Many agencies have tried to run problem-based or risk-based projects only to watch them run into difficulties given the range of ambiguities and subjective decision-making required, as well as the analytic challenges that such projects inevitably bring. In this session, we will revisit the essential nature of problem-centric work and the reasons for doing it, but the majority of the time will be devoted to identifying and dealing with the practical obstacles most commonly confronted by agencies that commit to developing a substantial and sustainable problem-centric capacity.

The second day will focus on alternate regulatory structures, and their respective strengths and weaknesses. Even long-established agencies with legacies of prescriptive (or “rule-based”) regulation have been pushed, of late, or have chosen to migrate towards other structures such as performance-based regulation, principle-based regulation, self-regulation, third party regulation, Safety Management Systems, or other approaches labelled “light-touch,” “right-touch,” responsive, or co-regulatory, etc. Political fashion has played a role in pushing regulatory regimes one way or another, and some proponents believe that a “light-touch, trusting, self-regulatory” approach is now what constitutes modern regulation and is the best approach for everything.

This session will take a more cautious and discriminating approach. It will provide an opportunity for participants to clarify which systems their agencies use, and why. Specifically, we will examine how various parts of the risk-management task can be delegated by regulators to industry, or to third parties, and how such structures of delegation match up with different regulatory approaches. The goal is to provide clarity about which classes of risk are best handled by which structures, bearing in mind the varying motivations and capabilities of regulated entities. A clear understanding of these issues will enable regulators to identify any weaknesses in their current arrangements and provide a reliable foundation when they choose to use or advocate for, one structure rather than another in various parts of their mission and jurisdiction.

Who should attend?

This two-part seminar is designed principally, but not exclusively, for mid to upper level regulatory and enforcement practitioners.

Day 1 will be especially useful for executives and managers in agencies already committed or thinking of committing, to developing their capacity for problem-based work. Also, for project team leaders and project team members engaged in such work.

Day 2 will be especially useful for newly formed (or newly reorganised) agencies that are still in the design phase, and for other agencies undertaking redesign initiatives or facing external pressures for reform. This conversation should usefully include regulatory policymakers as well as regulatory practitioners.

Key Learning Outcomes

Day 1 – Implementing Problem-Centric Work

Understanding the essential nature of problem-centric work (as distinct from functional work, process-based work, & crisis response) and the motivations for doing it
• Components of a problem-solving protocol. Essential disciplines. Choosing an appropriate level of rigor and granularity —providing structure and a sense of progression but without becoming burdensome or overwhelming
• Components of the supporting managerial infrastructure. Systems required to facilitate, support, supervise and sustain the work of problem-based project teams
How the exercise of discretion is affected in the context of problem-centric work. Ethical challenges involved in portfolio management (including terminating projects with residual risk levels)
• The distinctive nature of problem-centric or risk-based project accounts. How problem-centric work feeds into agency performance accounts. What it takes to demonstrate impact

Implications of “wicked categories” of harm. Special challenges associated with tackling invisible problems, problems involving adversaries, and catastrophic risks

Day 2 – Understanding Alternate Regulatory Structures

How the choice of regulatory structures relates to delegating parts of the risk-management task to industry, or to third parties
• Historical and prevailing motivations for moving away from prescriptive regulation
Strengths and weaknesses of the various models. On what basis to prefer one to another
The implications of different regulatory structures on performance monitoring and evaluation. How success will be described. And when failures occur under each model, who will have failed, and how?
• The special challenges of controlling catastrophic risks. Which models should we trust in the governance of catastrophic risks?
• Why it matters whether self-regulatory approaches (such as SMS) are seen as a replacement for prescriptive regulation, or a supplement?

Attend to learn:

  • Highly Rated: With 500+ participants to his Seminars with The Hatchery in 2021, Professor Sparrow received an average customer satisfaction rating of 93%
  • Tangible Takeaways: 87% of the audience were inspired to make a change in their organisation after attending recent seminars with Professor Sparrow
  • Great for Groups: Group bookings are highly popular, with the opportunity to work through the concepts as a team
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