E-rulemaking efforts expanding, OMB official says

E-rulemaking is helping to bring a diversity of views to the regulatory process, according to OMB official Cass Sunstein.

Although some people might consider collecting public comments on an agency's proposed rule to be “Kabuki theater” and “artificial,” getting public feedback is a very important step in rulemaking and helps to create better regulations, he said.

The Obama administration encourages e-rulemaking by federal agencies as a part of its open government and transparency agenda, an official from the Office of Management and Budget said today.

Publishing regulatory dockets online in digital formats helps increase diversity of public input, expands access to knowledge, and improves accountability, Cass Sunstein, administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said at a Brookings Institution event.

“E-rulemaking tries to use disclosure and new access to get comments from diverse people and make regulations better," Sunstein said. "Electronic rulemaking, if it is done right, is a partner of accountability.”


Related story:

OMB tells agencies to standardize electronic regulatory dockets


However, there are problems with moving on e-rulemaking while also ensuring national security, privacy, information security and integrity of the deliberative process, he added.

To help agencies adjust to the digital formats, Sunstein has issued a series of memos outlining several requirements of federal e-rulemaking, including a Nov. 22 memo on the need to write regulations in plain language. Sunstein expects to publish guidance on best practices for e-rulemaking shortly, he said.

“We take public comments exceedingly seriously,” Sunstein said. “I read a lot of them myself.”

But many obstacles must be dealt with before e-rulemaking can proceed smoothly, Neil Eisner, assistant general counsel for the Transportation Department, said at the event.

In addition to staffing and budgetary limitations, many legal issues are involved, including some that pose “a tremendous burden," Eisner added. He outlined several legal questions, including:

  • Consistency – Must all federal agencies be consistent in e-rulemaking protocols?
  • Legal Record -- Does the e-docket constitute a legal record or must there be a paper record as well? Must the e-docket contain all linked documents?
  • Signatures -- Should agencies verify the identities of people who submit comments to an e-rulemaking docket? Are anonymous submissions acceptable?
  • Obscenity – Must agencies review e-dockets for obscenity? Should obscenity be censored in the e-docket and, if so, under what standard?
  • Copyright – Should agencies determine whether the e-docket has copyrighted material? May copyrighted material be included in the e-docket?
  • Privacy – Are agencies obligated to review the e-rulemaking docket to determine whether privacy is infringed upon?
  • Formats – Is it fair for an agency to accept only electronic submissions for a rulemaking? Is it fair for an agency to accept only certain electronic formats for a submission?

“These questions are difficult to resolve, and difficult to ignore,” Eisner added.

In addition, Paul Verkuil, chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States, announced that the conference will deal with some of the concerns raised by e-rulemaking in its upcoming meetings. The conference, a federal advisory committee, also will examine federal pre-emption of state laws, ethics for government contractors, open government, immigration adjudication, science in the administrative process, and other topics.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.