Last summer, as the Reagan administration's regulatory reform moved into high gear, the Commerce Department announced it was creating a hotline for the owners of small businesses, through which they could funnel complaints about unreasonable federal regulations. Now the hotline is being disconnected and, in fact, the entire 11-person Office of Regulatory Reform will be disbanded June 2.
The regulatory reform office, part of the Commerce general counsel's office, has been around since 1976. Composed largely of economists and engineers, the office has tracked regulations for the department and, since August, has assisted more than 5,000 small businesses. Some of the hotline complaints from small businesses found their way onto the list of regulations targeted by the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief.
The office is being eliminated as part of a reorganization of the general counsel's office. The general counsel will retain responsibility for regulatory reform, but it appears that most, if not all, of the regulatory reform staff will be transferred to other areas. According to sources, the deputy director of the office has been offered a job as a "communications equipment operator," the senior economist a job as a warehouse operator and a staff engineer a position as a purchasing expert.