COVID-19 has put extra pressures on regulators and forced a re-examination of how they work, demonstrating the vital importance of functional agility, strong and consistent leadership and ongoing collaborative relationships with peers.
An ANZSOG/National Regulators Community of Practice (NRCoP) facilitated conversation on September 22 brought a group of senior regulators from a range of jurisdictions and sectors together to discuss the challenge and opportunities of Compliance in a crisis, the second of the NRCoP’s facilitated conversations.
COVID-19 has brought the benefits of regulators learning from each other into sharp focus and the initiative responds to long-standing requests by NRCoP participants for the opportunity for deeper engagement with their regulatory peers on common challenges and innovations.
The first facilitated conversation focused on Windows of opportunity in a crisis and discussed the platform which regulating in times of pandemic has provided for testing out ‘bottom drawer’ ideas, for accelerating regulators’ transition to more digital and contemporary forms of regulation, and for ceasing areas of work which have proven to be low value or redundant. Insights from the discussion can be found here.
Compliance in a crisis, canvassed three key questions in small groups:
Over the course of the discussion, several themes emerged, as did insights and lessons learned for the future. These are listed in more detail below, but key among them were:
Leaders and managers have been required to step up, not only to deliver crisis-driven requirements but to support a stressed workforce operating in an uncertain environment.
Despite this, there were many positives that had emerged over the past six months, as regulators reassessed their roles. There was a new awareness of the discipline of regulation as a transferable skill, and the similarities between the work of regulators in different fields, as well as the importance of the ‘right people being at the table’ when decisions are made. Finally, the pandemic has served to emphasise the commitment of regulatory teams to the public good and their mission of serving the community.
The pandemic has put regulators’ agility and digital sophistication to the most stressful of stress tests, bringing into sharp focus what it takes to be a contemporary regulator supporting a mobile and digitally-enabled workforce. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
Visible leadership really matters. Although regulatory leaders can often no longer literally ‘walk the floor’, their leadership is more important than at any other time. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
Participants agreed that it is critical to build your relationships with other regulators in ‘peace time’, because it is too late by the time ‘war’ breaks out. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
Some regulators have set up multi-agency groups as a forum for shared decision making and coordinated implementation around the pandemic and have documented and embedded them as a resource for the future. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
Regulators tend to overestimate their specialised knowledge and differences from other regulators and underestimate the degree of commonality between all regulators. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
Understanding what ‘compliance’ means to different regulators in different contexts is critical to working together. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
There is a need to make sure we do not lose sight of business as usual. In the throes of a crisis, it is easy to forget the harm which ‘ordinary’ non-compliance can do to individuals and the community. The Compliance in a crisis conversation revealed:
Participants rated the workshop and this report at a pleasing 4.3 out of a possible 5.0 on the question of its value in exploring the topic and capturing key insights for the broader NRCoP.
In terms of the experience of the workshop, one participant commented:
‘I thought Adam [Beaumont] was particularly good at drawing out the information and identifying the commonalities between the different regulators. Prior to the discussion I had wondered how much I would have to contribute as we are such a new regulator but in fact, I felt I had a lot to contribute as well as learn. Thanks for the opportunity.’