Choking on the stranglehold of regulation

Compliance, audits, new regulations. It's a burden that confronts every IT manager in every enterprise. And it's not optional. Like death and taxes, it's unavoidable. From the Privacy Act to Basel II, Sarbanes Oxley, or e-mail retention, compliance is increasingly shining the spotlight on IT.

It's little wonder vendors have been banging on your door with compliance solutions!

But are we drowning ourselves in regulation? The Productivity Commission's annual regulation review shows a 55 percent increase in the number of regulations introduced by the federal government last year. The review showed there were 2380 regulations introduced in 2004-05, an all-time high since records began being kept.

The commission also found the federal government passed 172 bills, up almost 13 percent on the previous year. But while the government is merrily creating more red tape, it isn't so keen to measure the impact of these new rules. The number of regulation-impact statements - designed to identify how the regulations will affect the wider economy - actually fell.

Commission chairman Gary Banks said the government is not preparing enough regulation-impact statements to identify how these regulations and laws might work.

Only a fraction of the 2500 or so regulations made in that year were required to have a regulation-impact statement. And the costs to departments and agencies of doing so are not great, especially where best practice is routinely followed. The commission noted that businesses are becoming increasingly concerned about the level of regulation in Australia, and the way it affects them.

And while regulation is a natural part of a more complex society, Banks said it is clear the quality of regulations in Australia could be improved. Only last month, the former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Allan Fels said compliance is costing an estimated $20 billion a year. Not exactly small change and it is a cost burden that is worn by business.

How are you coping with the regulation stranglehold? Send e-mails to

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