A Harvard Business School lecturer, J. Ronald Fox, has designed a regulatory reform scheme the Reagan administration should love. In an upcoming article in the Harvard Business Review, Fox urges industry, government, labor groups and consumers to get together early in the regulatory process -- away from the media's prying eyes --and reach a consensus on what the problem is and how to solve it. This approach, says the former assistant secretary of the Army, should reduce the contentiousness that slows rule making.
His models: the National Institute of Building Science (with architects, engineers, business, labor and public interest groups represented), the retail food industry's Joint Labor-Management Committee, the National Coal Policy Project (with coal producers, coal users and environmentalists) and the Health Effects Institute (set up by the Environmental Protection Agency in conjunction with the auto industry.)
Other thoughts from Fox:
* Either the Commerce or Labor departments should promote and assist such problem-solving organizations.
* The Office of Management and Budget should design a plan to change rule makers' attitudes towards business.
* Agency heads should work to change the belief "that the Administrative Procedures Act prohibits conversation with interested parties at any stage of the regulation development process."
* "Corporations must strengthen the capabilities of their internal staffs to anticipate the development of public issues and to formulate solutions designed to cope with major social problems."