Virginia Rule Making Hits the Internet
- By John Monroe
- Feb 06, 2000
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,"
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.