A 1993 Presidential Executive Order on Regulatory Planning and Review laid the foundation for a regulatory system that meddles less and puts more responsibility in the hands of the people themselves.
The President and Vice President pulled out the stops in February 1995 when they summoned the heads of regulatory agencies to a press conference. We’re going to change the regulatory culture, the President announced. Rethink the entire regulatory process, he told the regulators. Review every reg you’ve got. Cut obsolete regulations. Reward results, not red tape. Negotiate, don’t dictate. Get out of Washington—create grass roots partnerships.
And while you’re cutting back on regs, the Vice President added, write what’s left in plain English. In a Presidential memo that followed, President Clinton said reform of the regulatory system is the“ central part of reinventing government.”
Richard Zanetti, editor of Chemical Engineering magazine, a McGraw-Hill trade publication, says the Environmental Protection Agency’s first voluntary program worked. The program is a toxic emissions reduction program called 33/50. “I would guess that the taxpayer return on investment...is light years ahead of that from traditionally run environmental programs...33/50 may be the harbinger of a changing regulatory rationale.”(See box on page 5.)
“Companies cut more than 750 million pounds of pollution in the time it would take EPA to write a reg. It’s awesome,” said Chris Tirpak, 33/50 deputy. “We were stunned that companies signed up to make these reductions publicly. You take a risk in admitting that you are a big polluter. But companies even signed up for 90 percent reductions and some companies made it. All we did was set the national goals and identify the targets. The companies chose their own methods.”
With partnerships, EPA has changed its emphasis from cleaning up pollution to preventing it. Since 1992, the agency more than tripled the number of members in its partnership programs. More than 7,100 companies now participate.
EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory agencies did not give up their responsibility to enforce the rules and apply stiff penalties if it’s necessary. Because they no longer waste time on the “good guys,” they can do a better job going after the cheaters.
Led by Annetta Cheek at Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, the team opened a Plain English web page in December at http://www.blm.gov/nhp/ NPR/plaineng.html. You’ll find a list of agency representatives, samples, and an interactive tutorial. You may reach Annetta Cheek at (202) 452-5099 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. NPR’s web site includes a page called “Common Sense Regulations” at http://www.npr.gov/initiati/common/index/html.
Here is a before and after sample from Interior’s Mineral Management Services. Reg writers in this agency won a Hammer Award for their plain English regulations.
|Insufficient estimates also result in interest charges. These exceptions are generated when the actual royalties reported for a given sales month exceed the previously paid royalty estimates on file for that lease. In the “Dear Payor” letter, dated July 8, 1991, and the Federal Register, 57 FR 3435 (January 29,1992) MMS informed you of the procedures for calculating interest for insufficient estimates. If the enclosed invoice(s) include charges for insufficient esti- mates, a detailed insufficient esti- mated used to calculate these charges is also enclosed.||How to pay your bill: To avoid penalties as well as further interest, you must pay this bill by its due date.|