Regulations.gov to nearly triple number of rules posted

Only about 36 percent of all federal documents that support agency rules are posted on Regulations.gov, but that will change over the next 11 months.

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, which runs Regulations.gov as part of the E-Rulemaking e-government project, expect by Dec. 31 that the number percentage of documents posted on the portal that suppor rules should jump to more than 90 percent.

These supporting documents include citizen comments, and scientific, legal, economical and technical studies.

“We left some of the larger and more complex agencies toward the end,” said Oscar Morales, E-Rulemaking program director, today at an event celebrating the portal’s fourth anniversary.

E-Rulemaking is one of the Office of Management and Budget’s 25 e-government initiatives. EPA launched it in 2003. Since 2003, E-Rulemaking has posted every federal rule on the portal.

One of the largest agencies that has not yet moved to E-Rulemaking is the Transportation Department. But the E-Rulemaking office and its contractor, Lockheed Martin, have been working with DOT officials over the past year to prepare for the transition, which is expected in 2007, Morales said.

OMB, agencies and the E-Rulemaking executive committee agreed to a sequencing plan of when agencies would move to Regulations.gov, said John Moses, E-Rulemaking deputy program director.

The Agriculture Department is one of the 16 agencies that has fully migrated to Regulations.gov. Previously, USDA used a paper-based system, so moving to an electronic system was easier than for other agencies that already use an online system.

Other recent agencies to migrate fully to Regulations.gov included the departments of Labor and State, the General Services Administration, the Office of Personnel Management and the Small Business Administration, Morales said.

Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator for e-government and IT, said that while she would like the number of rules going through the system to be higher than the current 36 percent, she is nonetheless pleased with the project.

“This is one initiative that reaches out to the American people, and it is about transparency,” Evans said. “It is one of the premier e-government initiatives because it makes something that is a bit of an art to do and lets the public easily participate.”

Evans said since 2005, Regulations.gov has received 24 million page views, lists 310,000 documents and has received 18,000 comments.

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