The Professional Regulator
John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Conference Date
19th & 20th September 2018
Swissotel Sydney
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How to be a risk-based regulator
This Executive Forum with Professor Malcolm K. Sparrow examines the role of the "Professional Regulator", focusing on the practical and operational challenges which are common across regulatory, enforcement, compliance or disciplinary functions of government, regardless of the specific industries being regulated.

Regulatory scholarship has traditionally paid much more attention to regulatory policy (the content of the law) than to regulatory practice, and this forum seeks to redress that imbalance.

Professor Sparrow has worked closely with professional regulators for more than 25 years, focusing on the strategic and operational dilemmas that are distinctive to harm-reduction or risk-control tasks of government (as distinct from “customer service” roles), and which may involve the use of coercive power and associated discretion.

Key themes to be address:
  • What does it mean to be “risk-based” in enforcement, regulatory, or compliance roles
  • What would it take to institutionalize an operational risk-management (or “harm-reduction”) approach as a framework for carrying out tasks and reporting accomplishments
  • How do we measure an agency’s contributions to risk reduction?
  • What is regulatory craftsmanship, and how might we as an agency deliver it
  • What is the relationship between enforcement discretion and effective risk control?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of alternative regulatory structures (e.g. prescriptive regulation, performance-based regulation, self-regulation, co-regulation, etc.)
  • What types of risks ("wicked problems") present special challenges for regulatory operations, and how can those challenges best be met?
What will you take away?
Participants will come away with a heightened appreciation of the importance and complexity of the role of the Professional Regulator. They will understand the variety of pressures currently acting on regulatory, enforcement, and security agencies around the world, and the various adaptations available to them as they strive to enhance their effectiveness.

Who will attend?
This course is designed for upper level regulatory and enforcement practitioners, for members of professional boards with oversight responsibilities (e.g. medical boards), and for politicians with regulatory portfolios.

Attend to learn:

  • What it means to be “risk-based” in enforcement, regulatory & compliance roles
  • Regulatory craftsmanship & how to deliver it
  • The harm-reduction approach as a framework for carrying out tasks
  • How to measure your agency’s contributions to risk reduction
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Key Speakers

Professor Malcolm K. Sparrow
John F Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University


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