Abstract and Keywords
Independent regulators have proliferated over recent years in most of the industrialized countries. This development has reached a stage where independent regulators should be regarded as an aspect of good governance, constituting part of the machinery through which government is rendered accountable. The contribution to accountability occurs in part through a deliberate diffusion of power which takes some decision-making away from elected government. More significantly, this fragmentation establishes alternative sources of authority and expertise to which government is, in an informal sense, accountable. It also underpins a tendency towards greater transparency both in decision making and outcomes in policy domains involving regulation. There is additionally a more direct, but also horizontal form of accountability established through the creation of independent regulators charged with overseeing government itself, in such matters as public finances, maladministration and human rights. Empirical evidence as to the accountability effects of independent regulators for public accountability generally is rather limited, but some hypotheses are advanced. Overall it is possible to argue a strong normative case for the existence and activities of independent regulators as an aspect of public accountability.
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