ROC'n' the Boat

Posted on June 07, 2005
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The Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) is charged with protecting vulnerable consumers in Arizona from construction scams: the elderly, new home owners, the City of Tempe. The City of Tempe?

When Tempe decided to install a city-wide wireless internet (wi-fi) network, the ROC stepped in to protect the city from itself. The city had hired an experienced technology firm to install the system, but the ROC threatened to shut down the project because the firm was not licensed to perform construction in Arizona. Setting aside the merits or demerits of Tempe's project, the ROC has overstepped its consumer protection mission.

Instead of focusing on helping consumers resolve claims against contractors who walk off a job or do shoddy work, the ROC is increasingly becoming a pseudo law-enforcement agency, complete with most-wanted lists and sting operations.

Fundamentally, this raises the question of whether ROC functions are necessary and appropriate to government. Private organizations like the Better Business Bureau, the Underwriters Laboratories, and numerous self-regulating industry agencies protect consumers from fraud. Oversight from such private organizations is effective for consumers, less costly to taxpayers, and importantly, keeps government within its appropriate purview.

Key Links:
-Tempe wi-fi system
-Arizona Registrar of Contractors
-Cato Institute study: Is Self-Regulation the Answer?

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