Continuing its regulatory-reform drive, the Reagan administration yesterday targeted 10 more government programs for review to see if any federal rules could be made less onerous for business, especially small business.
The targeted programs range from federal pension regulations to logging requirements for truckers to fair credit and lending rules, all considered by small businesses to be some of the most burdensome rules with which they have to comply.
In another effort to ease government red tape, the administration also announced it had streamlined or eliminated hundreds of government reporting and record-keeping requirements--especially those of the Internal Revenue Service--to reduce paper work substantially.
In fact, the administration said that since it took office, it has cut by 200 million hours, or 13 percent, the total annual paper-work burden imposed on all Americans.
Despite the administration's emphasis on small businesses, the two top trade associations that represent small concerns did not learn of the latest hit list or the reduction in paper work until hours after they were announced.
And even then, there was some skepticism about how effective these measures would be.
The paper-work reductions "certainly are a step in the right direction," said Herbert Liebenson, president of the National Small Business Association. "However, it remains to be seen whether small business burdens will be reduced as much as the large companies that have the expertise" to take advantages of the changes in government forms.
The regulatory hit list, "while a step in the right direction, could have been more dramatic if it was broader-based," added James D. McKevitt, director of federal legislation for the National Federation of Independent Business. The most onerous rules small businesses have to comply with are those issued by the IRS, McKevitt said. But none of these rules were on the list.
The programs on the list include:
Federal pension rules required by the Departments of Treasury and Labor to implement the Employe Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The administration says many of these rules are so onerous that many companies have stopped offering pension plans to their employes.
Freedom of Information Act rules that permit companies to gather trade secrets about their competitors from government agencies. The administration wants to change the rules to give businesses prior notice that this proprietary information will be released to enable companies to go to court to stop the release.
Federal Highway Administration rules requiring truck drivers to keep a daily log of their activities for every hour of the day, whether on or off duty.
Credit regulations contained in the Truth-in-Lending Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act that require lenders, among other things, not to discriminate in making their loans and to disclose more financial information to their customers.