Designed to Fail: Why Regulatory Agencies Don’t Work is a great piece about how and why government fails to do its job in regulatory enforcement, written by a veteran U.S. regulator by the name of William Sanjour. Having developed a few regulations myself, I have to say that I completely agree with his observations and concerns. Capture of regulatory agencies in Canada may in fact be worse than in the U.S. There, powerful states like California can drive change at the national level, and NGOs can be backed by billionaires. Not so here. I’ve watched bureaucrats shut out and ignore NGOs, treat unions as the enemy, and call industry executives to get instructions on how to write a regulation.
This quote from the article sums it up well:
“Regulatory agency employees soon learn that drafting and implementing rules for big corporations means making enemies of powerful and influential people. They learn to be “team players,” an ethic that permeates the entire agency without ever being transmitted through written or even oral instructions. People who like to get things done, who need to see concrete results for their efforts, don’t last long. They don’t necessarily get fired, but they don’t advance either; their responsibilities are transferred to others, and they often leave the agency in disgust. The people who get ahead are those clever ones with a talent for procrastination, obfuscation, and coming up with superficially plausible reasons for accomplishing nothing.”
But I recommend reading the whole thing.