The Regulatory Council's second semiannual regulatory calendar is considerably broader than the council's first effort, which was published in February. The number of agencies participating jumped from 20 to 25, and the number oif proposed regulations described in the calendar rose from 109 to 125.

Council Director Peter Petkas said there appeared to be a continued slowing of the regulatory process, hinted at when the first calendar was published by the Carter administration last summer.

He said that 68 percent of the regulations noted in the first calendar did not meet their deadlines for action, and speculated that the slowing process was occuring "largely as a result of improved management, and the fact that they [the agencies] are spending more time analyzing what they are doing."

Petkas said that many agencies were struggling with the problem of how to measure costs, particularly in dealing with subjective areas such as environmental considerations.

"Agencies are doing a better job of identifying who wins and who loses because of each proposed regulation," he added.

And, he said, there has been a substantial increase in an analysis of benefits by several federal agencies.

"Agencies are doing a better job," he said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission last week voted unanimously to give the upholstered furniture industry a trial at self-regulation before imposing mandatory government antifire standards.

The commission will give the industry a year to see if it can reduce the number of deaths -- estimated at 500 -- that occur each year because of fires started when smoldering cigaretts ignite furniture.

The industry contended that its self-regulation process, under the auspices of the Upholstered Furniture Action Council, would result in 70 percent of the furniture sold in the U.S. coming under antifire compliance.

The industry also claimed that it could accomplish that goal faster and cheaper without government intervention.

Instead of the $114 million to $174 million that the CPSC staff estimated government standards would add to the cost of furniture nationwide, the UFAC said its own regulations would increase furniture costs by only about $50 million.

Although the CPSC has been investigating the furniture fires since that commission was created, regulations have been proposed only in the past year to force furniture manufacturers to make their products flame-resistant.

Even under the new regulations, however, many heavier-weight cotton fabrics still will be subject to fires. The commission staff will purchase 100 pieces of furniture during the next year and test their flamability as part of its monitoring process.

"We will be watching how the industry complies with its own standards," said CPSC member David Pittle, who had reservations about voting for the voluntary plan. "And if there are indications that it is not, we will quickly go ahead with a mandatory plan."

Pittle said the commission also has asked the National Bureau of Standards to find the most-cost-effective way to make the heavier fabrics flame-retardant.