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Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies

Program Session(s):
September 25, 2016 - September 30, 2016
March 6, 2017 - March 10, 2017

Application Deadline(s):
July 25, 2016
January 5, 2017

Program Fee:$7,600

Program fee includes: tuition, housing, curricular materials, and most meals.

Click here to see this program’s Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) alignment.

Faculty Chair: Malcolm Sparrow

Program Director: Caitlin McBride

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The Strategic Management of Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies (SMREA) program curriculum combines lectures, small group discussions, and case studies to create a stimulating and intellectually rigorous experience.  During the five-day course, participants will analyze and discuss cases that encompass multiple regulatory and enforcement fields, including strategic management, the role of enforcement, emerging compliance strategies, organizational structure, performance management, and information and analytic support.  The case studies span a variety of regulatory and enforcement domains, ranging from the environment to public health to crime, and are chosen on the basis of their ability to provoke, illuminate, and define the scope of best practices and new approaches.

A central component involves the participants’ reflection upon their own professional experiences and their presentation of specific examples from their work environments in both small groups and plenary sessions.

Topics to be explored include:

  • What are the appropriate applications and limitations of applying the customer service model to regulatory agencies?
  • Can agency performance be measured in terms of effects or impacts?
  • What role should enforcement outputs and compliance rates play in performance reporting?
  • How can agencies leverage innovative compliance-oriented tools without being perceived as going “soft” on violators?
  • How can partnerships be structured to avoid compromising the enforcement deterrent?
  • What constraints should be imposed on the use of self-audit privileges, amnesties, and immunity from inspection of prosecution?
  • Given imperfect information, how can agencies learn to assess risks and set priorities among competing risks?
  • How should agencies understand and manage the relationships among preventive, proactive, and reactive work?
  • What types of budgetary support, analytic support, and authorization are required to support effective risk-control, problem-solving, or compliance-management operations?

Please view a sample schedule.

Cases used in past sessions of the SMREA program include:

Regulatory Reform at OSHA

The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration, created by Congress in 1970 to curtail what was viewed as a still-alarming level of industrial accidents, had, 20 years later, become a lightning rod for controversy. Its advocates viewed it as a bulwark of the defense of sale working conditions but opponents portrayed it as abusively intrusive, creating bureaucratic nightmares for employers. With that backdrop -- and with dwindling manpower and other resources -- OSHA officials in Maine, in 1991, try a radically different approach to their task, targeting 200 businesses which data has told them are the state's most important to bring into compliance. OSHA hopes both to avoid diluting the inspection capacity it has -- and to find ways to persuade, rather than to coerce through the law, business to make improvements. The apparent success of the Maine 200 program comes at a time when the new Clinton Administration is eager to find such government "reinvention" programs it can widely replicate. This case allows, first, for analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Maine 200 effort as an example of gaining compliance through a new form of enforcement, and, second, for discussion of the complications, and advisability, of taking a small program "to scale."

On the Kindness of Strangers: The Origins and Early Days of FINCEN

When the Bush administration considers ways in which to make good on its pledge to win the war against drugs, it turns to a new type of law enforcement agency. The Financial Crime Enforcement Network, a division of the Treasury Department created in early 1990, is designed to use information from a wide variety of government agencies to follow the money-laundering trail left by drug kingpins. But an agency which must depend for its lifeblood on information in the files of other agencies faces a daunting challenge. Even the anti-drug mission is no guarantee of cooperation. This case examines the incentives and disincentives for federal inter-agency cooperation.

Dealing with Corruption in the Police Force of La Paz

A reform mayor of Bolivia's capital city is taken aback by a consultant's report showing a shocking level of corruption on the part of municipal police-a force whose many duties involve regulation of the city's sprawling open-air markets. Licenses, health inspections and many other forms of public permits are routinely exchanged for money, goods, even sex. What's more, the report concludes that the vast majority of the police could not do their job even if they set out to do so: most are illiterate. In this political management/ethics case, the Harvard-educated mayor must decide both whether and how to attempt to reform this system, at a time when he is facing re-election and is widely viewed as a "technocrat."

Recent Faculty News and Publications

Malcolm Sparrow, faculty chair of Strategic Management for Regulatory and Enforcement Agencies, was named by the White House to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel. Visit the Harvard Kennedy School website for more details.

Malcolm Sparrow was quoted in a Bloomberg Businessweek article in regard to Medicare fraud.

Malcolm Sparrow was featured in an article addressing the Medicare fraud 'epidemic' on MSNBC.

Malcolm Sparrow was interviewed for The Nation in regard to Medicare fraud.


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