OMB launches third e-gov project this month

The Office of Management and Budget and the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday launched another of the 25 e-government initiatives: an online rule-making portal, Regulations.gov, where citizens and businesses can find and comment on agency rules.

Regulations.gov follows the IRS’ launch of a free tax-filing portal (Click here for GCN archive story) and the Office of Personnel Management’s consolidation of government payroll service providers to four from 22 (Click here for GCN archive story). The three efforts are part of OMB’s Quicksilver program.

“The intent is to change the world—let democracy see what’s in government and get involved easily,” said Mark Forman, OMB associate director for IT and e-government. “This is clearly a positive step in that direction.”

Project managers designed the rule-making portal with components from four agencies. The Government Printing Office and the National Archives and Records Administration supplied the front end, which lets users find proposed and final rules. EPA and the Food and Drug Administration put together the back end, which lets users send comments about proposed rules to the correct agency.

“This really is a great example of agencies working together,” said Oscar Morales, online rule-making project director. Users can search by agency or by key word, and the comment forms are tailored to agency requirements, Morales said.

EPA plans two more modules for the portal. One would merge other rule-making sites and bring in agencies that do not have an online presence for rules. The other module would push the services to employees’ desks for easier regulatory analysis, said Linda Fisher, EPA deputy administrator.

“Regulations.gov will make it quicker and easier for the public to search and comment on several hundred regulations without having to be an expert in how government is organized,” Fisher said. “Every controversial decision the government makes is enhanced by timely public input.”

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