Decentralization of Decision Making
Through the decade of the 1970s, there was a sharp increase in the range and complexity of issues required to be addressed in the urban transportation planning process. The combination of requirements and regulations had become burdensome and counterproductive. Organizations and techniques seemed unable to adapt with sufficient speed. It was becoming impossible to analyze all of the trade-offs that were required. This problem was not confined to urban transportation but to most activities where the federal government was involved. It ushered in a new mood in the nation to decentralize control and authority, and to reduce federal intrusion into local decision making (Weiner, 1983).
On January 29, 1981, President Reagan sent a memorandum to all major domestic agencies to postpone the implementation of all regulations that were to take effect within the coming 60 days (Reagan, 1981b). This was to provide time for the newly appointed Task Force on Regulatory Relief to develop regulatory review procedures.
The Executive Order 12291 on Federal Regulation was issued on February 17, 1981 (Reagan, 1981a). It established procedures for reviewing existing regulations and evaluating new ones. It required that a regulation have greater benefits to society than costs and that the approach used must maximize those benefits. All regulatory actions were to be based on a regulatory impact analysis that assessed the benefits and costs.
The order set in motion a major effort at the federal level to eliminate and