Reforms in infrastructure sectors since the 1980s have resulted in major growth in the number of regulatory agencies around the world. The success and sustainability of reforms in these sectors will in large part depend upon the professionalism of these agencies, and the quality of the work that they undertake. Donor agencies such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, USAID and others, have funded capacity building programs for agencies in developing countries, covering consulting advice, training, development of centers of research into regulatory economics, and efforts to build regional networks of regulators and practitioners in these areas, such as SAFIR and AFUR. Training efforts for newly formed regulatory agencies have been extensive. Regulatory professionals around the world have attended the training program developed jointly between the University of Florida Public Utility Research Center (PURC) and The World Bank. Other courses have also made substantial contributions. For example, the SAFIR course has instructed several hundred participants. The Energy Regulators Regional Association (ERRA) in Eastern Europe offers a variety of successful courses on regulatory topics.
The programs of training, technical assistance and capacity building have provided relevant and timely expertise and information to regulatory agencies. However, there has been no internationally recognized measure of the expertise and professional competence of professionals working in regulatory agencies and no standard body of knowledge on infrastructure regulation (BoKIR) to serve as guides for capacity building and professional development. The lack of a standard BoKIR and no obvious means by which it could be updated make it difficult to develop consistency for long-term institutional learning, to share knowledge across countries and across sectors, and to establish stable and dependable regulatory practices.
The purpose of this document is to identify such a standard BoKIR on infrastructure regulation, including both transportation and utilities. In developing this document, the authors have focused on basic principles and best practices that have developed during many years of regulation in some developed countries, and more recently across the rest of the world. The BoKIR includes case studies to illustrate how regulators make and implement decisions in practice, and to illustrate that country context matters. The authors do not claim to have identified knowledge that is settled and will remain unchanged, nor best practices that all or even most countries should adopt. Regulation is a dynamic process, so practitioners and scholars are continually learning and adapting to new situations. Countries vary in their stages of development, priorities, histories, and institutional capabilities to name a few, so that best practice for one country may not be best practice for another. In recognition of these dynamics and this diversity in regulation, literature that reflects new thinking, analysis, and opposing points of view are included in the BoKIR. The authors also suggest that this document should be continually updated and augmented as new ideas emerge and new knowledge is gained.