THE RENEGOTIATION Board is one of those independent government agencies that rarely make the headlines. Its work is so complex and mundane - trying to capture excess profits from defense contractors - that almost no one other than the contractors pays much attention to it. But the board hit the front page the other morning after President Carter designated its chief dissenter, Goodwin Chase, as its new chairman and apparently asked for the immediate resignation of its three other members. There is more to this than just another shuffle of officeholders. Mr. Chase, it appears, has finally gotten someone with power to listen to him.
Since soon after he came to town more than three years ago, Mr. Chase has been arguing in public and in private that this board could save the taxpayers millions of dollars a year if only it would do its job right. He has been supported in that claim by Adm. H. G. Rickover who one decribed the board as "probably the biggest sieve in government."
We have long suspected that much of this criticism is valid, although the argument frequently turns on the analysis of complicated balance sheets and accounting reports. The board has been a place to park for worn-out politicians practically since its creation 25 years ago, people not known for the skill at analysis required for this job.
If Mr. Chase is going to be joined on the board by a group of like-minded people - and the indications out of the White House are that he will be if the President is successful in his attempt to dump its present members - a new era may be opening in the government's relationships with big contactors. That will be all for the good. There has long been a little too much coziness there. Until that happens, it is sufficient to congratulate Mr. Chase. There must have been times during the last three years when he felt he was crying in the wilderness as his pleas for drastic changes in his agency went generally unnoticed. But he never gave up, and he now may soon be in a position to do what he thinks government should have been doing all along.