When President Reagan went to Baltimore recently to extol the virtues of "New Federalism," he also released Executive Order 12372, which carries the catchy title, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." It replaced Office of Management and Budget Circular A-95, which required local governments in metropolitan areas to talk to each other before they built things with federal money.

The A-95 process, according to the Reagan White House, "created a staggering paperwork burden costing over $50 million each year--with little positive return to state and local governments and their citizens." The replacement, to take effect April 30, 1983, requires only that federal agencies "make efforts to accommodate state and local elected officials' concerns with proposed federal financial assistance . . . . " There is no suggestion that the federal government might play a role in disputes between states and cities because, as an OMB official explained, "for the feds to step in leaves nobody happy."

John Bosley, legal counsel for the National Association of Regional Councils (groups such as the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments), has asked OMB to clarify that and other points. "Their version of federalism is that the federal government shall attempt to accommodate other parties in the system, but there is no process," Bosley said. "If there is a distinct disagreement, what the hell happens then?"

The OMB official said that most of the state and local governments he has heard from have responded positively to the new executive order.