Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) yesterday introduced legislation aimed at streamlining federal regulatory agencies and making them more effective and fair.
The Kennedy proposal, called the "Administrative Practice and Regulatory Control Act of 1979," supplements two previous regulatory reform legislation proposals by the White House and Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn.).
The bill, which is co-sponsored by Ribicoff and Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), does overlap slightly with the other proposals, but also would require:
That all agencies place on public record the names of all individuals who contact agency officials, as well as a brief discussion of the subject matter of the communication.
That certain federal agencies have a "pro-competitive standard" that must be applied to all agency actions. This would particularly apply to agencies involved in economic regulation, like the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
A mandated review of specific agencies by a committee of regulators to assess the need for, and effectiveness of, regulation by each agency. The proposal calls for review over a fixed 10-year schedule of all major agencies, one at a time.
"It is my firm conviction," Kennedy said in his statement announcing the proposal, "based on my experiences with reforming the trucking, airline and drug industries, that meaningful regulatory reform is most thoroughly achieved by analyzing on an agency-by-agency, step-by-step basis the effectiveness of government regulation."
Kennedy called the proposed review process "painstaking and difficult," but said it "does give the political system the needed flexibility to facilitate the reform of government regulation.