Yesterday I had a brief discuss with an attorney that works for the bureau I’m employed by. I expressed by concern over laws, regulations, principles, standards, instructions, etc. being too restrictive. By the time they are written, reviewed, commented on, revised, published, etc., they are frequently obsolete. Dead on arrival. My attempted conversation with the attorney quickly turned ugly. She took a verbal shot at me and became very agitated, as if I was somehow threatening her whole reason for being.
My concern is that because of the rapid changes that are occurring worldwide, it is hard to be very specific any more. If you think of subjects like regulating video production or PR in general, by the time you get your regulations on the street, they’re obsolete.
For example, think of the rapid developing social networking possibilities. I can, as a government employee, bypass the system by using the “latest” thing, like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, youTube, Flicker, wikipedia, etc. By the time the bureaucracy has time to regulate (think control here) my usage, there is something new I can move to. Attempts to control become exercises in futility.
This same issue is true of anything related to technology. Attempts to overregulate are ultimately going to be fail. The biomedical industry is progressing so fast that attempts at regulation are outdated before they are on the street. And if the regulations are too severe or too unwieldy, the researcher can just move to Singapore.
The other problem I have, with stifling attempts to overregulate, is with integration. I work for a federal water agency. But there are several federal agencies with various types of water responsibilities. When each does its own thing, and frequently the solutions don’t mesh, work well together. Who is looking at the big picture? If each agency looks strictly at its own limited mandate or authorizations, then everybody throws up their hands at the overarching issues and says “not my problem.”
This issue of integration is going to be an increasing problem as the world gets more and more complex. Regulating or trying to control various components of the whole (without looking at the big picture) may well end up being counter productive on a regulatory, ethical, and business level.
Organizational mandates and regulations in the future need more room for discretion. They need more flexibility. Turnaround times need to be improved. Otherwise, the lawmakers, lawyers, and regulators are going to hold back progress (which forces endeavors to go elsewhere). And will lead to incredible inefficiencies, thereby taking the USA out of the competitive world market.
I’m not arguing for a regulatory-free environment. Goodness knows, the workers, the public, and the environment need to be protected. I’m just saying that as technology advances, the regulatory process needs to progress also. We need a new paradigm.