Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Regulation is a high-stakes enterprise marked by tremendous challenges and relentless public pressure. Regulators are expected to protect the public from harms associated with economic activity and technological change without unduly impeding economic growth or efficiency. Regulators today also face new demands, such as adapting to rapidly changing and complex financial instruments, the emergence of the sharing economy, and the potential hazards of synthetic biology and other innovations. Faced with these challenges, regulators need a lodestar for what constitutes high-quality regulation and guidance on how to improve their organizations’ performance. In the book Achieving Regulatory Excellence, leading regulatory experts across various disciplines seek to provide the guidance regulators so often lack, and to elucidate what it means to be an excellent regulator. This introductory chapter sets the stage for defining regulatory excellence by clarifying regulators’ primary challenges, functions, and ultimate goals. The chapter also emphasizes that even though regulation is widely associated with technical expertise, excellent regulators must also focus on “people excellence” by building an internal culture that fosters and reinforces humility, openness, empathy, and a steadfast commitment to public service.


Administrative law, regulation, regulatory excellence, quality management, regulatory performance, public value, problem-solving, human capital, governmental improvement, public policy and administration

Publication Title

Achieving Regulatory Excellence

Publication Citation

In Achieving Regulatory Excellence (Cary Coglianese, ed., Brookings Institution Press).