Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) has been working since 1993 to bring common sense to the world of federal regulations. In fact, reinventing the way we regulate continues to be a priority in the work we do with the Federal government's High Impact Agencies. And, we're making real progress.
Our focus is primarily on the relationships that exist between regulators and their regulated communities because we can meet important social goals -- like ensuring clean air and safe food - more effectively if we target our reinvention efforts at those folks who are responsible and want to comply. With better communication and understanding, smarter tools and partnerships, and the right incentives, we can all do a better job at achieving the things we all care about. And, at the same time, we can better target those places for which a more aggressive strategy is needed.
This is an on-going effort involving a wide range of activities: sharing best practices across agencies; breaking down barriers between agencies; pushing plain language and compliance assistance tools; building partnerships with the private sector and communities; putting information technology to work; and changing the way we measure our progress.
A New Approach Yields Results
We're seeing important changes. First, there is movement across government to replace the strictly command-and-control approach with available tools to encourage compliance. Second, the idea of "service" - once foreign to the regulated community -- is now alive and well. Regulatory agencies are measuring customer satisfaction with their services and incorporating service and results measures into their performance plans. In fact, regulators now see compliance assistance as a legitimate and effective line of business. Most important, regulatory partnerships with the private sector are leading to cleaner air and safer food. Agencies are encouraging their partners to get involved in rule-making early in the process, instead of near the end. And, communities and citizens are getting real-time information so they can take steps themselves to be safer.
In 1995, President Clinton directed Federal regulatory agencies to do four key things: cut obsolete regulations; reward results, not red tape; get out of Washington and create grass roots partnerships; and negotiate rather than dictate. Today, we are looking at the results of significant progress in all four areas. For example:
- In June of 1998, the President signed a memo directing all Federal agencies to write in plain language, including new regulations. Since then, a number of agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Bureau of Land Management, General Services Administration, and Food and Drug Administration, have rewritten regulations and have received the Vice Presidentís "No Gobbledygook Award" for their plain language accomplishments. (For more information, visit the Plain Language website.)
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a number of voluntary
partnership programs that encourage and recognize environmentally friendly
actions. In 1998 alone, these programs: eliminated 7.8 million tons
of solid waste; prevented the release of 80 million metric tons of carbon
dioxide; and saved nearly 1.8 billion gallons of clean water. And, through
their voluntary efforts, EPA's partners also saved lots of money --
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recognizes that when they work with responsible companies, they can do a better job removing dangerous products from homes and the marketplace. So, they developed their Fast Track Product Recall program. When companies partner with CPSC to voluntarily recall their products, CPSC provides them with a streamlined process that saves time and money and prevents injuries. For example, under a traditional recall process, about 30 percent of recalled products might be returned. Under the Fast Track process, the percentage of products returned has climbed to nearly 60 percent.
- The U.S. Business Advisor is open for business to provide the public with one-stop access to Federal government information, services, and transactions. Here, businesses can learn quickly and easily what steps to take to be in compliance with government requirements, what tools government provides to help them, and what opportunities the government is making available to them.
- The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is implementing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points program (HACCP), a science-based, preventive system for ensuring safe meat and poultry production. In short, HACCP puts the responsibility for food safety into the hands of food producers, rather than into the hands of government inspectors. Three hundred large plants implemented HACCP in January 1998, and the improvements are already significant. Salmonella has been reduced nearly 50 percent in chicken products, 30 percent in ground beef, and 25 percent in pork products.
- Expert Advisor Systems continue to grow in popularity. These interactive electronic tools give tailored, understandable advice about how to be in compliance with Federal requirements. OSHA continues to be the leader in this arena with customer-tested advisors up and running on such topics as Asbestos, Confined Spaces, and the cost-benefit of safety -- Safety Pays. Other agencies, like FDA and EPA, are exploring ways to make advisor systems work for their regulated communities. These systems not only save federal resources; they also save businesses from having to hire expert help to figure out federal requirements.
- On March 10, 2000, President Clinton announced an unprecedented FAA/industry collaboration to improve the flow of air traffic during severe weather without compromising safety. By working in partnership on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis, and using real-time information about weather and airline needs, the Severe Weather Plan will maximize the use of the available air space, improve communications between FAA and industry, and expand the use of new technology to help reduce delays. FAA and Industry end up smarter, and passengers depart and arrive on time safely.
Federal regulatory agencies are continually looking for new tools and incentives to encourage compliance and to keep their regulated communities focused on results that matter. And there's still a great deal of work to do to unweave old orientations. Employees need more training in customer service, plain language, and results orientation. Agencies must rewrite performance plans to measure what matters: service and real results, not transactions. And we need to keep building partnerships that produce real results and show that we can work together and move forward successfully.
For more information, contact Jean Logan at NPR (telephone  694 0043 or email email@example.com)