Better rules – Better outcomes

Better rules better outcomes logo

‘Better rules – better outcomes’ is an initiative examining the way we develop and implement regulation to ensure it’s more easily consumable for better public outcomes.

Shaping the future of government regulation

‘Better rules – better outcomes’ is an initiative examining the way we develop and implement regulation to ensure it’s more easily consumable for better public outcomes.

It is about re-imagining regulation as an open platform based on logic, decision models and rules – also known as ‘legislation as code’. We are reframing the regulatory design process using an end-to-end system design approach to enable regulation to be more easily implemented as part of NZ government’s digital services for citizens and businesses.

The problem

The traditional models of creating, managing, using and improving the 'rules' of government (policy, legislation, regulations and business rules) were developed for use in a non-digital environment, and can result in a mismatch between policy intent and implementation.

New digital technologies and the effective use of government data present opportunities to better deliver to people’s needs. To fully realise these opportunities, however, policy and rules need to be developed in a manner that recognises the context of impacted people and systems, and enables digital service delivery where appropriate.

An innovative approach

Better Rules is an initiative that examines the way government develops and implements regulation to ensure that it can be more easily consumed by digital channels. It involves re-imagining regulation as an open platform based on logic, decision-models and rules, which is also referred to as ‘legislation as code’.

Better Rules is about policy-makers, regulators, legislative drafters, service designers, software developers and impacted people working closely together to clearly articulate the rules underpinning the regulation and how those rules will actually work in practice.

If we consider the future state, the code/machine consumable version of the regulation would be available from a single authoritative source. Then anyone could use this trusted reliable source to design and deliver a myriad of integrated services.

Better Rules is about reframing the regulatory design process using an end-to-end system design approach to enable regulation to be more easily implemented as part of government’s digital services. It ensures that regulation is developed to be machine-consumable – in parallel with the (current) human-readable version.

The ultimate aim would be for New Zealand to have a platform that futureproofs our approach to regulation in an increasing digital world.

This initiative is being jointly led by the Better for Business programme and sits within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Service Innovation Lab within the Department of Internal Affairs. It’s collaboration between multiple New Zealand government agencies including Inland Revenue and the Parliamentary Counsel Office as major contributors of skills, insights and experience.

Where to next?

Better Rules initiative was short-listed for an innovation award from the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation – one of four from 500 international entries.

The initiative is also one of the three key innovation trends featured in the OECD’s Global Trends Report 2019(external link).