While all the shouting goes on about the Office of Management and Budget's A-122 Circular, which limits political advocacy by recipients of federal largess, another initiative that raises the hackles of liberal organizations is being retooled and readied for a return appearance later this year.
OMB spokesman Edwin L. Dale Jr. said yesterday that draft legislation to limit awards for attorneys fees in cases brought against the federal, state and local governments will be resurrected this year and that the OMB expects little trouble in finding a sponsor on Capitol Hill.
Last year's version of the bill prohibited the award of attorneys' fees unless "a party clearly and substantially prevailed on the merits of the controversy," and required that the first 25 percent of any award be paid out of the award for monetary damages, if such an award were made.
MORE ON A-122 . . . Among the throng trooping up to the witness table at a House Government Operations subcommittee hearing on the controversial circular yesterday was Comptroller General Charles A. Bowsher. Like most of those present, he didn't like the OMB's proposal. His testimony was of interest, however, because the OMB had cited a variety of General Accounting Office recommendations in documents supporting the proposal.
"In essence," Bowsher's prepared statement said, "grantees and contractors will be penalized for having individuals engaged in political advocacy doing any work otherwise properly chargeable to a grant or contract. We have serious reservations concerning the legal enforceability of these penalty provisions as well as their desirability from a policy standpoint."
ENDANGERED EXECUTIVE ORDER? . . . The legal backbone of the Reagan administration's regulatory review process has been Executive Order 12291, requiring cost-benefit analysis of most proposed regulations that are expected to cost the government, industry or the public more than $100 million annually.
Those who oppose the order feel it has been dealt a significant blow by U.S. District Court Judge John H. Pratt's recent decision invalidating the administration's withdrawal of a rule requiring liquor manufacturers to list the contents of beer, wine and distilled spirits on bottle labels.
Bruce Silverglade, an attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which brought the successful suit, pointed out that Pratt's decision says, "Whatever the consideration given to costs and benefits, an agency may not substitute its policy judgment for the judgment that has already been articulated by Congress." In effect, Silverglade said, the decision undermines the principle of the executive order.
So far the OMB, which administers the executive order, says it isn't worried. Dale said yesterday that three agency attorneys have said "the judge's decision does not create any problems for the general carrying out of 12291 . . . ."
ARRIVEDERCI . . . Jim J. Tozzi, the 19-year veteran of the bureaucracy whose role in reviewing federal regulations has made other bureaucrats gnash their teeth, has told his staff in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs that he will be leaving before the end of this year.
Where's he going? "It's not completely locked up yet," Tozzi, the office's deputy administrator, said yesterday. "Mrs. Tozzi has advised me I'm staying in Washington." Before coming to town in 1964, Tozzi, a Ph.D. in economics and business administration, taught at Tulane University.