A case study on public sector mergers and regulatory structures
On 12 December 2000 the Government published its White Paper – A New Future for Communications. On 29 December 2003 Ofcom assumed its full powers under the Communications Act 2003 and began work on its 263 separate statutory duties – more than double the total number of duties inherited from the five regulators Ofcom replaced;the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), the Independent Television Commission (ITC), the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), the Radiocommunications Agency (RA) and the Radio Authority (RAu).
This case study draws on work undertaken in 2005 by a project team led by Ofcom’s retiring External Relations Director, Tony Stoller. This document sets out Ofcom’s considered view of the stages of the organisation’s development and draws out such lessons as we consider may be relevant – and therefore transferable – to future mergers in the public sector. It is not intended to serve as a detailed analysis of the establishment of Ofcom (this will be the focus of a separate National Audit Office report later in 2006), nor is it an assessment of Ofcom’s progress to date – although some brief examples are given to illustrate how the organisational design works in practice.
There have been mergers and de-mergers of communications regulators before, and there have been a number of converged regulators created over recent years. However, Ofcom represents a departure from much of the UK public sector norm; a merged regulator in the form of a statutory corporation, independent of Government, covering the whole sector of electronic communications, and organised around a model which owes at least as much to private sector as to public sector precedents.
The methodology of the project which provided the material for this report was to examine the documentary evidence available from the set-up process, to seek interviews or invite written input from key stakeholders, and to aggregate the collective memories of many of those involved operationally in the project. The project team received contributions from those who were involved in the political and legislative process, from the Legacy Regulators, from those involved in the transition processes, and from the industries affected. AnnexAsets out all who were interviewed, and who were prepared for their input to be acknowledged. We are grateful for their time.
David Currie, Chairman, Ofcom
Stephen A. Carter, Chief Executive, Ofcom
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Annual Report 2011 – 12
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Annual Report 2011-12