Web 2.0, regulations may collide

White House officials say some regulations need to be re-evaluated

Older regulations, such as the Paperwork Reduction Act, do not always work well with new Web 2.0 tools championed by White House officials, according to a blog post by Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, and Michael Fitzpatrick, associate administrator for the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

A major part of the Obama administration’s effort to create an interactive government is to determine how Web 2.0 tools can be used for communication and information sharing, according to the blog posted on Whitehouse.gov.

The post on June 16 discusses the backgrounds of current policies and provides examples of what White House officials have heard from the public during a brainstorming outreach effort.

For example, the Paperwork Reduction Act was written some years ago with the aim of cutting back on administrative and paperwork burdens on the public. The act is also designed to ensure that the information collected from and provided to the public has the greatest possible use.

For example, the law encourages agencies to make raw data in electronic formats available to the public, much in the spirit of efforts such as the recently launched Data.gov, the blog states.

However, according to one federal employee, the trouble that the act imposes on interactive Web innovations is it imposes a burden on agencies to obtain any user-generated input.

“The result is that we often don’t go to the trouble,” of using interactive tools, the employee said, according to the blog.

Others commented that the act creates ambiguity about when its provisions apply to interactive activities like blogs and wikis, according to the blog post.

White House officials want more input on how to make the Paperwork Reduction Act more effective, the blog says.

The post also examines the federal cookie policy put in place in 2000 to protect the privacy of the public. The policy limited the use of persistent cookies by federal agencies. A cookie is a small piece of software that tracks or authenticates Web viewing activities by the user.

One piece of feedback said cookies are valuable for determining what content Web site visitors find most important. Information from cookies leads to better-designed, more navigable Web sites, the blog says.

“Recognizing the fundamental change in technology in the past nine years, and the feedback that we’ve received so far, the Office of Management and Budget is re-examining the cookie policy as part of this Open Government Initiative,” the blog states.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.


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