The President's Task Force on Private Sector Initiatives handed in its term paper yesterday, and a grateful President Reagan immediately announced that he would convene a new class.
Reagan, who accepted the task force's final report at a White House luncheon, said he would name a 15-member bipartisan advisory council to continue the panel's work in encouraging non-governmental solutions to the nation's problems.
"You have all set the stage for a rebirth of creative approaches to meeting human needs," Reagan said.
The 44-member task force, established last December under the leadership of former U.S. Chamber of Commerce chairman C. William Verity Jr., has been operating on private funds out of a government-owned townhouse a stone's throw from the White House.
It spent the year gathering examples of successful community-based programs for its computerized "Data Bank" and drumming up support among governors, businessmen and civic and religious organizations for what it calls "private/public partnerships." Verity told the president that those activities would continue. The Data Bank has found new sponsors, 42 governors have set up their own task forces and more than 200 national organizations have agreed to make private-sector efforts a priority, he said.
Reagan, who had just viewed a 12-minute "video report" on successful community projects across the nation, responded: "How do you talk with a grapefruit in your throat?" He also told the group that he had instructed his Cabinet officers to put encouragement of private-sector efforts "at the top of their agenda."
Paraphrasing liberally from one of his predecessors, Reagan said Americans need to look "not to what government can do to help, but what we can do to help ourselves."
The task force made no formal recommendations in its 65-page report. In individual reports, however, the task force's 11 committees had a wide range of suggestions.
The "impediments committee," chaired by Rep. Barber B. Conable Jr. (R-N.Y.), recommended that government decision-makers review policy changes for their "possible consequences on private-sector initiatives."
Examples at the federal level included the flat-rate income tax, which the committee said could decrease contributions for tax purposes, and Reagan's own New Federalism. "What impact would reallocating government responsibility for meeting human needs have on nonprofit groups involved in helping the needy?" the report asked.
The task force also reviewed the executive branch's current activities to stimulate private initiatives. That committee, chaired by Jean L. Harris, a Control Data vice president, said that 40 departments and agencies provided information on 480 programs or projects "with private-sector implications," including turning over government programs to private industry.
Harris' committee cited federal agencies that use volunteer help, including the Interior, Justice and Treasury departments. The Environmental Protection Agency was cited for "the use of voluntary approaches to regulatory compliance."