The Regulatory Craft: Controlling Risks, Solving Problems, and Managing Compliance

Brookings Institution Press
2
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The Regulatory Craft tackles one of the most pressing public policy issues of our time—the reform of regulatory and enforcement practice. Malcolm K. Sparrow shows how the vogue prescriptions for reform (centered on concepts of customer service and process improvement) fail to take account of the distinctive character of regulatory responsibilities—which involve the delivery of obligations rather than just services.In order to construct more balanced prescriptions for reform, Sparrow invites us to reconsider the central purpose of social regulation—the abatement or control of risks to society. He recounts the experiences of pioneering agencies that have confronted the risk-control challenge directly, developing operational capacities for specifying risk-concentrations, problem areas, or patterns of noncompliance, and then designing interventions tailored to each problem. At the heart of a new regulatory craftsmanship, according to Sparrow, lies the central notion, "pick important problems and fix them." This beguilingly simple idea turns out to present enormously complex implementation challenges and carries with it profound consequences for the way regulators organize their work, manage their discretion, and report their performance. Although the book is primarily aimed at regulatory and law-enforcement practitioners, it will also be invaluable for legislators, overseers, and others who care about the nature and quality of regulatory practice, and who want to know what kind of performance to demand from regulators and how it might be delivered. It stresses the enormous benefit to society that might accrue from development of the risk-control art as a core professional skill for regulators.
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About the author

Malcolm K. Sparrow is Professor of the Practice of Public Management at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is Faculty Chair of the School's Executive Programs on regulation and enforcement, corruption control, policing, and counter-terrorism.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Jan 1, 2011
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Pages
370
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ISBN
9780815798286
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice
Political Science / Public Affairs & Administration
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Malcolm K. Sparrow
Whatever happened to community and problem-oriented policing?  How the current crisis in policing can be traced to failures of reform.

The police shooting of an unarmed young black man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 sparked riots and the beginning of a national conversation on race and policing. Much of the ensuing discussion has focused on the persistence of racial disparities and the extraordinarily high rate at which American police kill civilians (an average of roughly three per day).

Malcolm Sparrow, who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School and is a former British police detective, argues that other factors in the development of police theory and practice over the last twenty-five years have also played a major role in contributing to these tragedies and to a great many other cases involving excessive police force and community alienation.

Sparrow shows how the core ideas of community and problem-solving policing have failed to thrive. In many police departments these foundational ideas have been reduced to mere rhetoric. The result is heavy reliance on narrow quantitative metrics, where police define how well they are doing by tallying up traffic tickets issued (Ferguson), or arrests made for petty crimes (in New York).

Sparrow’s analysis shows what it will take for police departments to escape their narrow focus and perverse metrics and turn back to making public safety and public cooperation their primary goals. Police, according to Sparrow, are in the risk-control business and need to grasp the fundamental nature of that challenge and develop a much more sophisticated understanding of its implications for mission, methods, measurement, partnerships, and analysis.
Malcolm K. Sparrow
Whatever happened to community and problem-oriented policing?  How the current crisis in policing can be traced to failures of reform.

The police shooting of an unarmed young black man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 sparked riots and the beginning of a national conversation on race and policing. Much of the ensuing discussion has focused on the persistence of racial disparities and the extraordinarily high rate at which American police kill civilians (an average of roughly three per day).

Malcolm Sparrow, who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School and is a former British police detective, argues that other factors in the development of police theory and practice over the last twenty-five years have also played a major role in contributing to these tragedies and to a great many other cases involving excessive police force and community alienation.

Sparrow shows how the core ideas of community and problem-solving policing have failed to thrive. In many police departments these foundational ideas have been reduced to mere rhetoric. The result is heavy reliance on narrow quantitative metrics, where police define how well they are doing by tallying up traffic tickets issued (Ferguson), or arrests made for petty crimes (in New York).

Sparrow’s analysis shows what it will take for police departments to escape their narrow focus and perverse metrics and turn back to making public safety and public cooperation their primary goals. Police, according to Sparrow, are in the risk-control business and need to grasp the fundamental nature of that challenge and develop a much more sophisticated understanding of its implications for mission, methods, measurement, partnerships, and analysis.
Malcolm K. Sparrow
Whatever happened to community and problem-oriented policing?  How the current crisis in policing can be traced to failures of reform.

The police shooting of an unarmed young black man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014 sparked riots and the beginning of a national conversation on race and policing. Much of the ensuing discussion has focused on the persistence of racial disparities and the extraordinarily high rate at which American police kill civilians (an average of roughly three per day).

Malcolm Sparrow, who teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School and is a former British police detective, argues that other factors in the development of police theory and practice over the last twenty-five years have also played a major role in contributing to these tragedies and to a great many other cases involving excessive police force and community alienation.

Sparrow shows how the core ideas of community and problem-solving policing have failed to thrive. In many police departments these foundational ideas have been reduced to mere rhetoric. The result is heavy reliance on narrow quantitative metrics, where police define how well they are doing by tallying up traffic tickets issued (Ferguson), or arrests made for petty crimes (in New York).

Sparrow’s analysis shows what it will take for police departments to escape their narrow focus and perverse metrics and turn back to making public safety and public cooperation their primary goals. Police, according to Sparrow, are in the risk-control business and need to grasp the fundamental nature of that challenge and develop a much more sophisticated understanding of its implications for mission, methods, measurement, partnerships, and analysis.
Malcolm K Sparrow
Who steals? An extraordinary range of folk--from low-life hoods who sign on as Medicare or Medicaid providers equipped with nothing more than beepers and mailboxes, to drug trafficking organizations, organized crime syndicates, and even major hospital chains. In License to Steal, Malcolm K. Sparrow shows how the industry's defenses, which focus mostly on finding and correcting billing errors, are no match for such well orchestrated attacks. The maxim for thieves simply becomes "bill your lies correctly." Provided they do that, fraud perpetrators with any degree of sophistication can steal millions of dollars with impunity, testing payment systems carefully, and then spreading fraudulent billings widely enough across patient and provider accounts to escape detection. The kinds of highly automated, quality controlled claims processing systems that pervade the industry present fraud perpetrators with their favorite kind of target: rich, fast paying, transparent, utterly predictable check printing systems, with little threat of human intervention, and with the U.S. Treasury on the end of the electronic line. Sparrow picks apart the industry's response to the government's efforts to control this problem. The provider associations (well heeled and politically influential) have vociferously opposed almost every recent enforcement initiative, creating the unfortunate public impression that the entire health care industry is against effective fraud control. A significant segment of the industry, it seems, regards fraud and abuse not as a problem, but as a lucrative enterprise worth defending. Meanwhile, it remains a perfectly commonplace experience for patients or their relatives to examine a medical bill and discover that half of it never happened, or that; likewise, if patients then complain, they discover that no one seems to care, or that no one has the resources to do anything about it.Sparrow's research suggests that the growth of capitated managed care systems does not solve the problem, as many in the industry had assumed, but merely changes its form. The managed care environment produces scams involving underutilization, and the withholding of medical care schemes that are harder to uncover and investigate, and much more dangerous to human health. Having worked extensively with federal and state officials since the appearance of his first book on this subject, Sparrow is in a unique position to evaluate recent law enforcement initiatives. He admits the "war on fraud" is at least now engaged, but it is far from won.
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