In the Netherlands, RIAs are broadly and effectively applied in two fields: Environmental Impact Assessments (EIMs) and Administrative Burden Reduction Assessments (ABRAs).
EIMs have been legally prescribed since 1987. Everybody who needs a government license for initiating substantial spatial or land-use projects (e.g., when building a chemical factory, expanding an airport) with possible harmful environmental impacts is obliged to show these impacts through research. The EIM report mentions one or several alternative options, whose environmental impacts will also be described and analyzed. Meanwhile , more than 1,000 EIM reports have been administratively and politically processed. They guarantee that environmental and sustainability considerations play a considerable role in government decision-making.
The development of a Standard Cost Model (CBA) method for evaluating ex ante legislation regarding compliance costs to business deriving from government regulations was entrusted, in 1998, to an ad-hoc but independent advisory commission, the Advisory Board on Administrative Burden Reduction (ACTAL). Since then, ACTAL’s competency has evolved beyond the think tank function of a policy and organizational infrastructure systematically aiming at the reduction of administrative burdens. Under the Balkenende IV administration, ACTAL served as the government’s watchdog, with two deputy ministers (Finance and Economic Affairs) overseeing its activities and a special-purpose interdepartmental project unit providing support. ACTAL reviews all ministerial ex ante evaluations for administrative burden reduction, assists ministerial units in its analytic tasks, and advises the cabinet and parliament about the quality and effectiveness of ministerial regulatory proposals prior to formal decision-making or policy adoption. ACTAL’s findings are always reported in the explanatory memorandums attached to bills. The cabinet also responds to ACTAL’s annual progress reports. For example, when the Balkenende IV government was compelled to renegotiate its coalition agreement as a consequence of the banking and financial crisis, ACTAL was used to identify the risks (administrative burden increases) involved with new regulations and oversight activities.
C Radaelli, Regulating Rule-Making via Impact Analysis, in Governance, 23, 1, 89-108.