The federal government opened the door for regional accreditors to operate in other parts of the country, and one agency is taking advantage, Judith Eaton writes. Is this a good idea or a bad one? Department officials said their goal was to open up the institutional accreditation system to competition. The agency's firecracker was, at first glance, a small one. The regional accreditors are not forced to operate nationally. They don’t even have to consider institutions out of their regions that seek accreditation, even if institutions make such requests. But, in the last few weeks, the firecracker went off. One regional accreditor, the WASC Senior College and University Commission, has taken first, albeit modest, steps to operate nationally.