Harnessing Private Regulation
130 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2013 Last revised: 29 Jul 2014
Date Written: April 7, 2014
In private regulation, private actors make, implement, and enforce rules that serve traditional public goals. While private safety standards have a long history, private social and environmental regulation in the forms of self-regulation, supply chain contracting, and voluntary certification and labeling programs have proliferated in the past couple decades. This expansion of private regulation raises the question of how it might be harnessed by public actors to build better regulatory regimes. This Article tackles this question first by identifying three forms of strong harnessing: public incorporation of private standards, public endorsement of self-regulation, and third-party verification. It then analyzes eight third-party verification programs established by six federal regulatory agencies to derive lessons about what makes a program successful and to develop recommendations to federal agencies about when and how they should use third-party verification.
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