The Reagan administration, continuing its efforts to make it easier for business to comply with federal red tape and paperwork, is weighing a new incentive system that would give companies a variety of regulatory awards for complying with government rules.
The administration is considering exempting firms with good regulatory records from having to pay penalties for minor violations. The administration is also considering easing paperwork requirements and federal inspections for firms that consistently obey the federal rules.
Additionally, these "good firms" would receive priority treatment when they apply for government permits, such as environmental permits needed before manufacturing plants can expand their operations.
This scheme is being explored by the Office of Management and Budget, which hopes the incentive program will ease business' regulatory burden and reduce the need for thousands of government employes to conduct thorough on-site inspections to ensure compliance with government rules.
To see if such a plan is feasible, OMB is working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which oversees affirmative action programs of federal contractors, and the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which supervises meat and poultry processing plants.
The administration would encourage firms to set up their own internal auditing systems to monitor how well they are complying with federal regulations.
For firms willing to set up such internal regulatory audits, the administration would offer what one official called "safe harbors" to guarantee that these firms would not be subject to federal penalties for minor violations. After the internal auditing system is established and the administration is convinced that the company's top management is committed to the plan, government officials will then begin monitoring the books and making spot checks to make sure the books are accurate, just as certified public accountants now check a company's financial record.
If a company's record is good over a period of time, it would be subject to fewer inspections, fewer paperwork requirements, and preferential treatment for new government licenses