Supervisors launch regulatory outreach effort
The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has taken "a first step toward improved government service", instructing a host of county departments to develop a comprehensive outreach program to the business community and other stakeholders before any new rules are adopted. The Enhanced Regulatory Outreach Program, launched today on a unanimous vote, will be led by Deputy County Manager Joy Rich and will entail a formalized network of input from citizen boards, stakeholders, public participation and communication.
As a result of the Board’s action, county staff will work to formalize a process that ensures that those groups and businesses most impacted by county rules are closely involved in the development of those regulations. Some key elements are to be addressed: Additional public meetings prior to the adoption of any regulatory changes, publicized staff reports and unfiltered public comment to ensure decision makers consider all input from the public, and significantly enhanced electronic communications to make public and participation more convenient for all.
"We want to make sure that each regulation, each change, amendment or fee will include an ample opportunity for public participation," commented Ms. Rich. "All regulations will be reviewed by a citizens' group."
Officials said Maricopa County has been accessible and open to public participation. But this effort aims to create a more formal and transparent process by which affected businesses, other governments and ordinary citizens will be informed and can have some input before the regulations are adopted by the board of supervisors.
County Manager Tom Manos said the effort is designed not only to increase public participation but also to establish a standardized process across all regulatory departments in the county. This standard and comprehensive format would also make it easier for the board members to receive and digest all the information on new rules and regulatory changes, Manos said.
The program will involve several county offices, including Planning and Development, Transportation, Communications, the Office of Enterprise Technology, Environmental Services, Flood Control, Air Quality, the Clerk of the Board and Government Relations.
"This is a pro-active effort to make our process more open to all stakeholders in business and the community," according to Supervisor Andy Kunasek.
The supervisors' action allows the county departments to set up the specific details of the program’s implementation. Several members of the board wanted to make sure the regulatory process is balanced. "We want to see this process become less cumbersome and more user-friendly," commented Supervisor Don Stapley. "This is an exciting concept," said Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. "We have to make sure that everybody gets included, make sure people are not overlooked. This is a good start."
Board chairman Max Wilson called the effort "intriguing," but cautioned that it would more training for the members of the citizens' boards and commissions that advise county departments. "I promised that I would work to get government out of the way of business," he said. "My hope is that after we implement these reforms, businesses can get about creating jobs."
County officials said they hoped to have the new program ready for adoption by early January.