Virginia Rule Making Hits the Internet

Virginia is turning to the Internet to get the public more involved in the

commonwealth's rule-making process and to shorten the time it takes to put

proposed regulations into law.

Although Virginia has always sought comment from the public on proposed

regulations, the World Wide Web-based Virginia Regulatory Town Hall is designed

to make it easier for people to stay in touch with the process, said Jay

Lagarde, senior analyst at the Department of Planning and Budget.

Not only will people be able to view proposed regulations on the Web

site, they can sign up to be notified by e-mail when documents are posted,

a comment period begins or a relevant meeting will be held.

Additionally, the Web site will include background discussion documents,

economic impact studies and other supplementary material, which have not

been widely available before. The Regulatory Town Hall "is going to provide

unprecedented public access to the details of the rule-making process,"

Lagarde said.

Commonwealth regulations have a broad influence, affecting everything

from agriculture and mining safety requirements to business and education


Agencies are required to seek comment from the public as they develop

or modify regulations — but people interested in participating generally

had to subscribe to department publications or comb through the Virginia


Between spotting errors and finding more creative and less expensive

ways to get things done, "people have an enormous role to play in making

sure regulations are designed correctly," Lagarde said.

Virginia also has developed a Web-based application to automate its

process for reviewing regulations internally.

Proposed regulations must be approved by a large number of offices throughout

the government, including cabinet secretaries, the Department of Planning

and Budget and the governor's policy office. The new intranet-based application

will ensure that the proposed regulations move through the appropriate offices

electronically, streamlining the process and reducing the reliance on paper

at the same time.


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