Agile Governance

A Global Event

Two chairs on a stage in front of sign reading "Agile Governance for our Future: Reimagining Regulation to Support Innovation"

On April 26, the GW Regulatory Studies Center co-hosted senior international government officials, thought leaders in academia and civil society, and business leaders from across sectors for a public event at the Kennedy Center's REACH Pavilion to discuss the ideas behind "agile governance."

On April 27, a smaller group of international academics and practitioners gathered for a workshop on the George Washington University campus to exchange ideas on implementing agile regulation for the benefit of all.  

Our co-hosts for this dynamic discussion were the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & DevelopmentGoogleBusiness at OECDWorld Economic Forum, and U.S. Council on International Business.


Day One - Public Symposium

Photo of people at registration


Photo of three people talking


three people talking


Photo of a plant and three paper boxes with event logo on each side


Photo of attendees.


The event began with remarks from Center director Susan Dudley.

Susan E. Dudley speaking at podium

"Our objective today is to support high impact dialogue on these important topics."

Susan E. Dudley
Director, GW Regulatory Studies Center
Distinguished Professor of Practice, GW Trachtenberg

Photo of Susan Dudley on stage


Photo of Susan Dudley speaking on stage


Photo of Susan Dudley speaking at a podium


Photo of Susan Dudley speaking on stage


Photo of Susan Dudley speaking on stage


After setting the stage, Susan welcomed the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development's Jeffrey Schlagenhauf to virtually introduce the audience to the OECD's recommendations for agile governance.

"The OECD's work in recent years is transforming the way governments make and enforce rules."

Jeffrey Schlagenhauf
Deputy Secretary General, OECD

Photo of Jeffrey Schlagenhauf speaking on a video screen

Building on the ideas Susan and Jeffrey introduced, Harvard University's Cass Sunstein discussed the importance of experimenting and testing, as well as cost-benefit analysis in regulatory policy.

Cass Sunstein speaking behind a lectern on stage

"An agile government needs less sludge, an effective notice and comment process, continuous analysis, and robust testing."

Cass R. Sunstein
Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard


Cass Sunstein speaking at a podium


audience watching Cass Sunstein speak


Cass Sunstein speaking at a podium


audience watching Cass Sunstein speak


audience and stage as Cass Sunstein speaks


Following Professor Sunstein's insightful remarks, Google's President of Global Affairs Kent Walker took the stage to share his own insights and answer questions from Axios' tech reporter Ashley Gold.

Photo of Ashley Gold and Kent Walker seated on stage

"Digital innovation requires us to go beyond the era of incremental interaction between the regulated and the regulator...If we don't, we risk being out of step, with regulations that actually aren't fit for purpose in the long run."

Kent Walker
President of Global Affairs, Google 

Kent Walker on stage


Kent Walker on stage


Kent Walker on stage


Kent Walker and Ashley Gold seated on stage


Audience watching Kent Walker and Ashley Gold on stage


After the fireside chat, Business at OECD Chair Rick Johnston elaborated on the importance of agile governance.

"Agile governance allows for greater experiment and testing to stimulate innovation under regulatory supervision."

Rick Johnston
Managing Director, Citi Group

Rick Johnston at podium

Next an international panel of senior policymakers took the stage and the screen to share reforms from around the world.

  • Former FTC Commissioner & Acting Chair, Maureen Ohlhausen chaired the panel with Dominic Mancini (OIRA Deputy Administrator) and Susana Cordeiro Guerra (Inter-American Development Bank Manager) on the stage, and Tina Green (Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Assistant Secretary) and Katrine Winding (Danish Business Authority Director General) joining remotely.

Photo of panelists seated on stage and on screen

"We need to understand our knowledge limits as regulators, and to focus on substantial harms."

Maureen Ohlhausen
Section Chair, Antitrust & Competition Law
Baker Botts


three people seated on stage


Dom Mancini speaking at a lectern with two others seated on stage


people on stage, screen, and in the audience


Three people seated on stage


Audience watching the panel


Michael Mandel, VP & Chief Economist of the Progressive Policy Institute, then offered reflections on the day's discussions from a civil society perspective.

"Regulatory humility is essential, and agile regulators must be prepared for the goals of regulation to shift suddenly."

Michael A. Mandel
VP & Chief Economist,
Progressive Policy Institute

Michael Mandel speaking from podium

Susan Dudley closed the conference by summarizing three themes she had heard from speakers:

  1. The importance of considering tradeoffs and committing to measurement and rigorous learning
  2. The value of dialogue to engage expertise and insights from a variety of perspectives
  3. A sense of optimism, both about the promise of private sector innovation and the ability of regulators to be more agile.
Susan Dudley speaking on stage

The conversation between participants and audience members continued over refreshments at the Kennedy Center REACH Pavilion.

Photo of people talking during a reception.

Center co-director Steve Balla and  operations manager Lissette Vaquerano join the conversation. 

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Center research assistant Layvon Washington visits with guests.

people speaking with one another during a reception

Center research professor Brian Mannix reflects on the event.

Day Two - Private Workshop

To put into practice the ideas shared by our speakers on the first day, we hosted an all-day workshop on the GW campus where policy experts from around the world shared their experiences and insights.

a desk with materials on it
a welcome banner and guests arriving
Susan Dudley speaking with a microphone
a man speaking behind a podium


three panelists seated on stage
a large conference room people seated at tables
people speaking while seated at tables
a lady speaking from a lectern
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people speaking and writing at a table
a man at a table speaking into a microphone
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people working together at two tables
attendees shake hands at a table