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Jacobs, Cordova & Associates offers a wide range of services in regulatory reform, rule of law and governance. Please click on the links below to read more on our services and tools in these areas.

We have designed the world’s largest and most innovative regulatory reform projects aimed at changing the market incentives that drive business behavior in highly regulated environments. Our clients include national governments and international institutions such as the World Bank/IFC/FIAS, EBRD, the European Commission, APEC, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, ILO, UNDP, as well as many bilateral aid agencies such as the various facilities of the European Commission, USAID, DANIDA, DIFID (UK) and Germany Aid (GIZ).

Regulatory Institutions, Regulatory Governance, and Reform Capacities
Modern governments must continually work to improve their regulatory capacities. Regulation has rapidly expanded in recent decades as demands on governments have increased. Yet most governments experience frequent regulatory failures that undermine their capacity to achieve policies important to citizens and consumers, and that increase the costs and risks of commercial activities. Failures are due to persistent and common patterns of over-regulation, under-regulation, poorly designed regulation and implementation, and weak institutional capacities. JC&A brings to its clients the range of regulatory reform tools and instruments that has been developed and implemented over 30 years to help governments improve the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of fast-growing regulatory systems. We help governments design 21st century regulatory institutions and strategies to modernize their regulatory systems.
Training in Good Regulatory Practices

Training in good regulatory practices to regulators and stakeholders is one of our largest service areas. JC&A builds human skills in developing and applying high quality regulatory regimes. We offer on-site training sessions for civil servants and government experts, based on case studies, tailored to client needs. Training sessions can last from one day to two weeks. We train to build government capacities in:

  • Regulatory quality concepts & methods
  • Regulatory impact analysis
  • Reducing administrative burdens
  • Regulatory transparency and stakeholder consultation
  • Other regulatory issues on request.

We also offer off-site training courses that you can see here: RIA Training 

Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) Programs and RIA Training

RIA is a highly adaptable group of policy analysis methods used in a wide range of administrative contexts to help regulators make the right choices about when and how to regulate. The Jacobs, Cordova & Associates team is among the world’s best-known RIA experts. We have designed and implemented RIA systems in over 60 countries over 30 years. Our approach is highly pragmatic and suited to each situation. The many methods used in RIA—including benefit-cost, cost-effectiveness, and least-cost tests, and partial tests such as administrative burden and small-business tests—are simply means of giving order to complex qualitative and quantitative information about the potential effects of regulatory measures. RIA is not, however, about analytical precision. Even simple analysis based on qualitative information and stakeholder consultation can help identify better and worse options.

Our Directors have been instrumental in the global spread of RIA, and our publications and research have defined many of the best of practices in RIA used today to guide country practices. Our services include:

  • Design and implementation of RIA systems and institutions for governments or agencies;
  • Design of RIA methods to ensure that they fit government priorities and capacities;
  • Development of pilot RIAs as training tools;
  • RIA training at introductory and advanced levels. See our training services click here.
  • Start-to-finish RIA preparation for regulatory and private sector clients.
Licensing Reforms, Regulatory GuillotineTM Reforms, Simplification, Standard Cost Model (SCM)

Cutting through the jungles of rules is hard work that has defeated many reformers. Our innovative work to simplify regulations and formalities has helped cut and simplify 25,000 regulations and formalities in 10 countries, with $8 billion in annual cost savings to businesses. That is real change for people’s lives.

Much of our work is simplifying government formalities and red tape to cut costs and reduce corruption. We then help build quality control mechanisms so that governments can continue to better design and implement formalities in future. Our work includes:

  • Simplification: Simplifying business licenses and other formalities such as in the Doing Business agenda
  • Adapting the Standard Cost Model as a tool to measure operating costs to businesses
  • Regulatory Guillotine™ reforms, large and small. For more on the Regulatory GuillotineTM Click Here
  • Building registries of licenses, formalities and other forms of regulation to improve access to forms, procedures, and application processes by users such as businesses.
Stakeholder Consultation and Management

Public debate is the most important learning tool in democratic governments. Public consultation is the means by which regulators learn how to regulate better. Consultation, if constructive and well structured, improves the quality of rules and programs, improves the legitimacy and credibility of government actions, and improves compliance, reducing enforcement costs for both governments and citizens.

JC&A has built systems, procedures, legal frameworks, websites, and capacities for stakeholder consultation in many countries. Using IT tools and modern consultation practices, Jacobs, Cordova & Associates designs tailored consultation approaches for regulators. For example, in Jordan, we piloted consultation guidelines and procedures in two ministries in 2009-2010.

The design of consultation processes is critical to results. Our comparative assessment across countries has shown that public consultation in making regulations has become simultaneously more multilayered, which allows it to become more open, and more targeted:

  • More open in the sense that consultation is occurring sooner, more systematically, and more transparently.
  • More targeted in the sense that consultation is structured to link information needs with particular stakeholders. Consultation with key stakeholders has become more structured in several countries, a welcome development given the difficulty of eliciting high quality information from the public.
Research and Diagnostics on Regulation

Good diagnostics of complex regulatory systems are needed to design effective reform solutions that are feasible under tight time and resource constraints and are capable of changing entrenched regulatory practices. We understand the true causes of problems before we can solve them. The key to designing solutions is to know, not only the symptoms of regulatory problems, but why problems have emerged. Regulations emerge from a system where incentives and habits are strong, and that is fully capable of making the same mistakes over again. It is more important more relevant to markets to change how regulation is made and implemented in the future.

JC&A has been a pioneer in assessing the origins of regulatory problems. We carry out initial diagnostics of issues unique to each economy, before we propose solutions. We identify regulatory bottlenecks to development, and priorities for government action.  We focus on identifying the high-cost, high-risk elements of regulation.

Using benchmarks of good regulatory practices, we have evaluated national regulatory practices in G7, developed and developing countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. Our reviews range from broad assessments of regulatory impediments to private sector development to specialized issues such as sectoral licensing practices.

Our diagnostic work is based on the OECD framework for the review of national regulatory practices. Scott Jacobs and Cesar Cordova developed this comprehensive framework for the influential OECD reviews carried out since 1998. The framework allows reformers to pinpoint problems in legal frameworks, institutional capacities, relationships with stakeholders, or skills.

The Jacobs and Associates diagnostic approach – looking at the big picture — is becoming the mainstream of regulatory reform. As evidence accumulates, the regulatory reform community is swinging away from easy and short-term reforms to more systemic reforms.  

Monitoring and Evaluation of Reform Programs

JC&A has carried out detailed program evaluations and has developed quantitative evaluation methods such as cost-savings estimations to determine if regulatory reform programs have paid off in lower costs to businesses and consumers.

Integrating monitoring and evaluation into program design can produce better data on the gains from reform, which can play an important role in generating momentum for further and more comprehensive regulatory governance reforms.

Inspections Reforms

Government inspections are on the front line between the state and the market, and are an essential component of the modern regulatory state. Reform of inspection systems, procedures and practices is one of the JC&A specialties. This is a particularly difficult reform challenge, because inspectorates are decentralized, and human behavior and incentives are difficult to change.

We have advised many countries on inspections reforms, often in the context of broader regulatory reform effort. We have also worked extensively on alternatives to traditional inspection systems. On each project, we tailored our advice to national political and economic realities. In this work, we apply the quality principles that we developed for the IFC toolkit Good Practices for Business Inspections Guidelines for Reformers.


Independent Utility and Competition Regulators

JC&A assists in designing, and tailoring to the country context and development needs, regulatory policies, instruments and institutions for specific sectors, including telecommunications, energy, transport, and water. We have worked in many areas of utility regulation:

  • Telecommunication regulation
  • Energy regulation
  • Postal services regulation
  • Governance of independent regulators, including their degree and type of policy and financial independence, their governance and accountability, their transparency and procedures, their staffing, and their relations with competition authorities
  • Use of RIA by independent regulators
  • Role of competition authorities in regulation

Regulatory policy advice. Regulatory policy in liberalizing utility networks is a continually moving target. Regulators must put into place the proper incentives for market actors to improve efficiency and serve consumer needs. Regulators must balance consumer interests with those of investors, and short-term welfare against longer-term innovation and dynamism. In telecommunications and energy fields, regulators must work in increasingly open regional and global markets, requiring convergence of domestic regulations with international norms. Pricing policies must reward producers for good service, while keeping prices as low as possible for consumers. Competition policy has an important role to play in leveling the playing field. Jacobs and Associates provides expert, technical advice on the design of regulatory regimes in developed and transitional economies.

Advice on the design and operation of independent regulators, based on international standards of performance in competitive investment environments. A highly regarded institution of modern regulatory governance is the independent regulatory body, often used in network sectors such as energy and communications, and in other sectors where sector-specific oversight is needed such as financial services. Independent regulators are intended to shield market interventions from political interference, and to improve transparency, stability, and expertise. They must ensure non-discriminatory access and economically rational pricing for services. But experience in many countries shows that independent regulators have not always resolved serious regulatory failures, and have not always succeeded in establishing independence and credibility. Jacobs and Associates helps to improve design and performance of these critical institutions in initial and later stages to meet market needs.

Assistance in drafting major regulatory decisions. Independent regulators must draft complex decisions that are clear, persuasive, and meet market expectations. The quality of decisions is important in influencing credibility and market confidence. Jacobs and Associates offers an advisory service to independent regulators to assist in bringing individual decisions up to international standards in reasoning, content, and presentation.

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Trade Facilitation

Good Regulatory Practices (GRPs) contribute directly to trade, investment, job creation, and sustained economic growth. Regulatory quality, competition policy, and market openness are all related. JC&A has assisted governments in applying GRPs related to market openness, including:

  • Development of standards based on GRPs important to trade and investment such as accountability, consultation, efficiency, and transparency;
  • Internal coordination of rulemaking activity, particularly the ability to manage regulatory reform and coordinate with trade and competition officials;
  • Regulatory impact assessment (RIA), particularly the capacity to ensure that better policy options are chosen by establishing a systematic and consistent framework for assessing the potential impacts of government action, including impacts on trade;
  • Public consultation mechanisms, particularly “publication for comment” and other practices that allow wide access, and the quality of consultation mechanisms.
Public Administration Reforms

Governance is the focus of the JC&A work through every report and workshop we prepare. The capacity of governments to mobilize resources, diagnose problems, design solutions, and implement programs through effective institutions and skilled human resources is central to our work. We have worked on a variety of governance issues and implemented 400 projects in monitoring and evaluation, public finance, human resource development, education, business development, health, vocational training and employment, justice, and information management. These projects cover more than 110 countries, private firms, and organizations.