Like any private organization, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are largely free to operate without governmental approval or interference. Yet many of these NGOs, because of their valuable expertise and insight in matters related to their industry or profession, exert great influence on the government decision-making process. Many NGOs develop standards to be used by private industry for consistent and safe conduct. Then, the NGOs propose the standards be adopted by legislatures or governmental agencies as a regulation requiring their use by all who practice in that field. As such, legislatures and government agencies should use extra caution and deliberation in adopting proposals from NGOs whose members and industry have an interest in the proposals. NGOs should also use extra caution in developing the standards by ensuring the consideration of a wide range of competing viewpoints and the public at large. Government regulation should always be focused on what is necessary to protect the health and safety of the public.

Key points:

  1. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing specific industries or professions, exert great influence in the adoption of government regulatory standards governing their work.
  2. Since NGOs are private entities, the public often does not have the same level of input in the development of model regulatory standards they develop that may be adopted by legislatures or regulatory agencies.
  3. Government regulation of any industry or profession must always be focused on allowing the maximum amount of freedom to engage in commerce while balancing this freedom with necessary safeguards for public health and safety.
  4. Legislators and government regulators should exercise caution when adopting model standards promulgated by industry or professional NGOs, recognizing that these organizations and their members have specific interests, which may or may not be in the best interests of the public.