EPA making move toward e-gov

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking the first step toward enabling

companies to file environmental reports to the government online.

The EPA is planning to issue a proposed regulation this month that would

establish a process for regulated companies to file data electronically

and use digital signatures.

The final rule, however, won't be issued for a year, according Don Flattery,

director of the outreach and communications staff for the Office of Environmental

Information.

Meantime, the EPA said it is "committed to ensuring that regulated companies

will be able to report electronically under all major environmental programs

by 2002."

The change in policy is designed to comply with the 2003 deadline imposed

by the 1998 Government Paperwork Elimination Act.

The new EPA rule would make sure that electronic documents have the

same legal force as their paper counterparts. It would specify how electronic

reports must be submitted and what kind of software is useable with EPA

systems.

EPA is the latest federal agency enabling e-government. Other agencies

that are using electronic programs that include digital signatures include

the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Internal Revenue Service.

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