E-rulemaking systems may live on

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NEW ORLEANS — Almost every e-government initiative includes a plan for old systems to be shut down when new ones make them obsolete, but with e-rulemaking, some systems may be looking forward to a longer and more productive life.

Many of the electronic docket systems across government do more than just handle the rulemaking process. Often, e-docket systems will also handle all or part of an agency's records management and Paperwork Reduction Act requirements, said Oscar Morales, program manager for the e-rulemaking initiative at the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is important to examine the impact of shutting down the entire system on those extra functions, said Tad Anderson, manager for the government-to-business e-government portfolio at the Office of Management and Budget.

Therefore, initiative leaders are looking into how those extra functions could be expanded or repurposed, Morales said. If the document-management or other functions in one agency's system can be used by multiple agencies, that can only add value to what the government gets out of existing systems, he said.

The EPA-led team has already released the first phase of the e-rulemaking initiative — the Regulations.gov portal, which enables citizens to find all proposed federal rules. The next phase is to enhance the EPA e-docket system to provide a single commenting and management system. The potential shutdowns will come in the third phase as existing systems migrate to new back-end rulemaking management tools for agency officials, Morales said.

He was speaking today at the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils' Management of Change conference.

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