Capabilities for regulatory roles

Compliance and regulation is one of the job families in the APS Job Family Model. It comprises five functions:

  • Enforcement (e.g. debt recovery, border enforcement)
  • Inspection (e.g. meat, water, primary product inspection)
  • Investigation
  • Maritime
  • Regulation/Compliance (e.g. visa processing, compliance assessment).

The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) has released a set of capabilities for people working in regulatory roles. Regulation is a tool for ‘achieving the social, economic, and environmental policy objectives of government’. Regulatory instruments are used to influence or compel people and organisations to behave in a specific way. These instruments include legislation, regulation, quasi-regulation, and co-regulation such as industry standards and codes of practice, agreements, treaties, and accreditation schemes, as well as self-regulation.

The people involved in developing the capability standard had expertise across a range of subject areas including health, primary industry, small business, consumer affairs, occupational health and safety, transport, environment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, legal services and financial services.

The IPAA Regulatory Professional Capability Guidance document points out that regulation always has impacts and costs and should be underpinned by risk management. A key challenge is ensuring all parts of a regulatory process contribute to policy goals.

The Guidance is a valuable document for an applicant considering a regulatory role. The document:

  • Explains the regulatory cycle
  • Lists contextual issues for the regulatory professional to consider
  • Describes the role of regulatory professionals in government
  • Sets out the regulatory professional domains.

Five domains are identified:

  • Regulatory context: understanding the role of regulation and how it works.
  • Regulatory planning and design: applying a risk based and consultative approach to the design of a regulatory regime.
  • Regulatory implementation: implementing regulatory programs to deliver intended outcomes.
  • Regulatory review and reform: monitoring and reviewing regulation to ensure it is efficient, effective, and meets objectives.
  • Professional development and contribution to the professional body of knowledge.

This document is valuable for applicants for several reasons. It helps you to:

  • Understand what regulation is and what role it plays in a government job.
  • Provide context to your own regulatory experience.
  • Identify your relevant capabilities.
  • Identify professional development needs.
  • Tailor applications to the needs of an organisation.
  • Add nuanced sophistication to an application through recognition of contextual factors.
  • Identify potential interview questions.
  • Identify relevant values and code of conduct behaviours.

The section headed ‘Contemporary regulatory practice context’ is particularly useful for adding nuanced sophistication to an application. Let’s take three items from the list:

  • The degree of sophistication of the individuals or organisations that are regulated and their capacity to understand and comply with the regulatory regime.
  • Recognition that consistency need not be the same as uniformity, and that there are circumstances where regulation that is responsive and adaptive to different circumstances is more effective than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
  • An increasing focus on governance arrangements to build trust in the regulator and ensure that requirements for accountability, consistency, transparency, equity and disclosure are met.

When applying for a job, recognising that these factors apply either in your existing work and/or in the new role will add specific detail that others may overlook. These three factors affect stakeholder relations and perceptions, reputation, modelling professional behaviour, establishing the necessary governance arrangements, and building staff capability, to name a few.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist® specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.