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Foreword: The Place of Private Accrediting Among the Instruments of Government

Duke University School of Law
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  • Law
  • Education
  • Law
  • Political Science


Foreword: The Place of Private Accrediting among the Instruments of Government LAW AND CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS Volume 57 Autumn 1994 Number 4 FOREWORD: THE PLACE OF PRIVATE ACCREDITING AMONG THE INSTRUMENTS OF GOVERNMENT CLARK C. HAVIGHURST* I INTRODUCTION The impressive degree to which the U.S. economy depends upon private organizations rather than public regulators to establish quality standards for industrial products and service providers is the kind of thing on which a modern Alexis de Tocqueville could be expected to remark. One can only conjecture, of course, how that same widely hypothesized observer of the modern scene might feel about political scientists who lump private certifying, credentialing, and accrediting agencies under the acronym "quangos"-quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations. But he or she would certainly be struck by the ubiquity of such entities and by the extent to which they perform in profession- al, educational, and industrial fields tasks that might be assumed to fall within the province of government. It is another question, however, whether an admirer of American pluralism, as de Tocqueville was, would still be impressed by private accrediting after taking a closer look at it today. Although this symposium lacks a contributor of de Tocqueville's stature, our authors trenchantly describe and evaluate some recent experiences with government reliance on private accreditors in lieu of direct public regulation. The symposium focuses particular attention on the fields of health care and education in the belief that experiences with accrediting in these two fields can be usefully shared and compared. The symposium was also conceived as a search for some larger lessons concerning the legal and policy implications of Copyright © 1995 by Law and Contemporary Problems * Special Editor; William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law, Duke University. LAW AND CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS letting private accreditors identify entities eligible to participate

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