Vice President George Bush said yesterday that the administration still has a long way to go toward getting rid of federal red tape and paperwork.
Commenting on the report card that the White House released yesterday on its regulatory reform actions, Bush said in a telephone interview that he is pleased with the progress the administration has made in its drive to "relieve the American public from burdensome and uneconomic regulations."
Nonetheless, Bush conceded, "there is still plenty to be done, regrettably. . . . We've made some real progress, but again in that whole field, for every agency, there is an awful lot to do. We can't say that we've done what we've set out to do. But we've started--and made a good start."
As chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief, Bush has overseen the administration's regulatory reform campaign--a campaign that it says already has saved taxpayers, businesses and local governments billions of dollars.
According to the report card, the final actions taken since Jan. 20 have resulted in savings of between $2.8 billion and $4.8 billion in capital investment costs. An additional savings of nearly $2 billion in annual recurring costs also were achieved this past year, the White House said.
Still, when pressed, Bush said that the administration has accomplished only 10 percent of what needs to be done. "On a scale of 1 to 100, we've gone 10," he said.
However, Bush quickly added that no administration ever will be able to succeed 100 percent. The job "will never end. It will go on to infinity because every administration will be challenged to make sure they don't go back to overregulation and burdening the economy," he said.
Among Bush's chief disappointments is the administration's failure to win congressional changes in the Clean Air Act, which the administration has cited as one of the chief culprits for many of the costly and burdensome rules now on the books.
Even so, Bush said this disappointment was offset somewhat by one of the administration's major accomplishments: "an attitudinal change in people doing the regulating." Heavily regulated companies no longer feel "they are dealing with adversaries. . . . This is an accomplishment which lifts some of the burdens" many companies have felt, especially small businesses.
Other accomplishments listed in the White House report card include:
* Substantial reductions in the paperwork that individuals and businesses have had to complete for the government.
* During the first 10 months of the Reagan administration, the number of pages in the Federal Register--the daily digest of government rules--was one-third less than the same time period a year ago. The number of rules published in the Register also has decreased--by about 25 percent for the same time periods.
* A detailed review was made of 100 existing regulations to see where they can be relaxed and made less costly. More than half of these are health, safety and environmental rules.
* A new procedure was established under which federal rule makers must submit new rules--even before they are proposed--to the Office of Management and Budget for review to make sure they are cost-effective and necessary. Approximately 2,800 rules have been submitted to the OMB over the year. Of these, 91 were returned to or withdrawn by the agencies that submitted them.
* Consolidation of money for 57 individual programs into nine lump-sum grant programs was made to allow state and local government to dole out money according to their own priorities. As a result, state and local reporting requirements with the government have been reduced drastically--in some cases by 83 percent.
* A change was made in enforcement policy by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration so that the agency no longer can inspect without cause, concentrating instead on facilities that have higher-than-average injury rates or on plants where complaints about unsafe conditions are raised.
These actions are a good beginning, Bush said. But, he added, "We're just beginning, and we know that. We've got a long way to go."