Rent-a-Regulator: Design and Innovation in Privatized Governmental Decisionmaking
Ecology Law Journal, Vol. 33, p. 1091, (2006)
59 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2016
Date Written: 2006
Privatization of traditionally governmental functions, from police work to education, has been a contentious topic in recent years. Popular debates treating the decision as a/I-or-nothing overlook the plethora of extant models of privatization that depart from the familiar paradigms of contracting out or selling assets entirely. This Comment examines one such under-the-radar model in the context of environmental regulation, both to highlight an approach that deserves attention and to show the connection between an initiative - design and its results. The model, which this Comment nickknames "rent-a-regulator," transfers regulatory decisionmaking to licensed professionals who directly serve regulated "clients." Rather than contracting out regulatory functions or privatizing them entirely, the government licenses professionals, just as it would doctors or plumbers, to make compliance decisions. A case study of Massachusetts' program reveals systematic regulatory violations in this system. At the same time, ii suggests that the program's failings are likely due to specific structural shortcomings, such that the program might be redesigned rather than abandoned. Careful attention to design and structure thus helps establish middle ground between privatization supporters and opponents. Refining existing privatization strategies may provide the most promising way forward.
Keywords: privitization, regulation, decision making, government functions, regulation models
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