New Strategies for Rethinking Regulation

How can smarter regulation create stronger cities?

From the shape of our skylines to the quality of our commutes, local regulation affects multiple aspects of city life. Yet, outdated rules and processes can limit innovation. The recommendations and case studies below can help cities leaders create not just new rules, but new ways of writing and adjusting regulations that match the dynamism of cities themselves. Learn more about this project.

Food Safety

Apply an equity lens

An intentional focus on equity will help regulators to devise regulations that lead to better outcomes for all living within city limits.

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Transportation

Collaborate between cities

Cities that work together on transportation regulation can benefit from an exchange of ideas as well as increased bargaining power when negotiating with companies.

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Permitting

Improving the basics of business regulation in New York City

Procurement

Open the process

Expanding access to the competitive bidding process creates opportunities for non-traditional suppliers and novel solutions.

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Transportation

Encouraging safety and innovation in ride-sharing in Austin

Food Safety

Empower city employees

Regulatory regimes are most effective when they leverage the experience and expertise of city staff and provide the information they need to make smart decisions.

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Transportation

Drive decisions with data

Use company data to inform regulatory decisions that can help improve the precision of regulatory design and enforcement while also reducing unintended consequences.

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Permitting

Revisit rules regularly

Establish a route for auditing codes and processes to weed out unnecessary rules and make the regulatory regime more flexible.

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Food Safety

Adopting a values-based approach to regulatory challenges in Oakland

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Procurement

Implementing an outcomes-based approach to procurement in Philadelphia

Food Safety

Define success clearly

Focusing on the goals to be accomplished through regulation can make space for greater flexibility in how those targets are met.

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Transportation

Decide what’s non-negotiable

Establish clear priorities for what regulations should protect or enable to ensure that what’s most important for city residents stays front and center.

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Procurement

Put problem solving first

A focus on defining the problem and facilitating problem solving empowers procurement staff to make the most of contractors’ expertise and creativity.

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Permitting

Using human-centered design to update the regulatory system in Toronto

Permitting

Make permits about people

Adopt a more human-centered approach to permitting that incorporates the insights of city staff and permit seekers in order to reach better outcomes.

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Food Safety

Test new approaches

City officials should consider whether zoning, permitting, and other requirements forbid incremental regulation or other valuable market shifts.

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Procurement

Understand risk

Accurate assessment of risk enables city staff to streamline processes for lower-risk contracts.

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Transportation

Using private-sector data to inform regulatory change in Portland

Transportation

Ensure equal access

City government should use the regulatory regime to ensure equitable access to transportation for all city residents.

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Permitting

Using innovation as a reality check on red tape in Detroit

About this project

Why rethink regulation?

Many of our current rules for city-making and city-sustaining are not well-suited for the technological, economic, and social demands of the present or the emerging future. These recommendations and case studies can help city governments do better with and for companies, entrepreneurs, and residents.