Web 2.0 tools could save rulemaking transparency
Cornell Law School study collaborated with Transportation
Federal agencies face several barriers in establishing effective and transparent online rulemaking programs and aren't likely to achieve success until they use Web 2.0 technologies to overcome those problems, according to a new white paper on “Rulemaking 2.0” from Cornell Law School.
Public participation in online rulemaking is hurt by ignorance of the process, lack of awareness of specific rulemaking formats and schedules and information overload and complexity, wrote authors Clair Cardie, Dan Cosley, Cynthia Farina and Mary Newhart.
“Unless we recognize the several barriers to making rulemaking a more broadly participatory process, and purposefully adapt Web 2.0 technologies and methods to lower those barriers, Rulemaking 2.0 is likely to disappoint agencies and open government advocates alike,” said the report recently published online by the Social Science Research Network.
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The authors advocate use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to publicize upcoming regulations and their deadlines and procedures.
Online rulemaking was a feature of President George W. Bush’s e-government agenda, and currently is being advanced at several federal agencies as a facet of the open government agenda of President Barack Obama. Online rulemaking dockets are available at Regulations.gov. Several federal agencies are fostering online rulemaking, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission.
The Cornell researchers collaborated with the Transportation Department to create RegulationRoom, a pilot platform for rulemaking with public participation. Ongoing RegulationRoom discussions involve two Transportation rules under development -- one that concerns airline passenger rights and one about texting while driving.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.