US Opens Portal for Online Comments on Regulations
From my 2600 member DoWire e-list on politics and technology: http://e-democracy.org/do
Some Clift Notes Suggestions
A couple of quick suggestions, the Topical Guide to Regulations and Services should be a profile link from the home page. It is much more than a Related Link. I'd also change the phrase "Search Open Regs" to "List Proposed Regs" that is what what clicking there conveniently does. On the home page, unless you read the full text at right you wouldn't know that the selection tools on the top banner will list proposed regulations - I thought was getting access to existing regulations. I'd switch "Find Regulations" to "List Proposed Regs" and simply say "Search Proposed Regulations" for the search option.
Now my main "what's next" suggestions:
1. What's Popular - Ensure that site usage creates automatic pathways to "What's Popular" lists for all users.
If X proposal is generating high amounts of aggregate traffic or a daily or weekly surge in new traffic, use that data to generate dynamic directories _across the whole of government_ to the information most people are looking for that day/week/year.
This is already being done by the excellent Department of Transportation e-rulemaking web site: http://dms.dot.gov/reports/topdock_rpt.htm This is how people find good shareware all the time: http://download.com.com/3101-2001-0-1.html And how we know what is hot on Yahoo News: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=index2&cid=1 046
Comment statistics should also generate a public display listing the proposed regulations receiving the most frequent comments.
2. Public e-access to public e-comments - I understand that this is a future goal of this effort. I don't know if this is written down anywhere, but key government officials have indicated to me this is a goal.
This is huge. For the first time the business of interest group influence on proposed regulations will gain _timely_ transparency. For the first time across government (the DOT system allows you to see comments already), official decision-making process will have an online interface that will allow the public to then further comment on other public submissions. Let's help the government do this right and then share this version of highly structured online consultation with governments around the country/world.
3. What's New - Personalization and e-mail notification are the most politically powerful tools available for e-government today. Notification doesn't change what information becomes public, so this is more a technical choice.
Information only has value in the political process if you know about it when it can be used to influence a decision, a decision-maker, or the public. It should be a fundamental right of all Americans to track a set of keywords, agencies, or other factors and be notified via e-mail when something of likely interest is newly available on Regulations.gov.
There could be volume restrictions per user to balance the server demand and provide equitable service. This would prevent putting put all the "value-added" commercial tracking services the big lobby groups use from going out of business. Those businesses will politically stop anything that provides too much convenience to those who are willing and able to pay big bucks for any political advantage.
If the UK government can use these tools, why not us? http://www.info4local.gov.uk/emailalert.asp Also, check out the features of these sites: http://www.itpapers.com and http://www.bitpipe.com
End of my main comments ...
Folks at CDT also have comments on what they would like to see next: http://www.cdt.org/publications/pp_9.03.shtml
Here is the a news item from the Washington Post on this: U.S. Opens Online Portal to Rulemaking Web Site Invites Wider Participation in the Regulatory Process http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A304 69-2003Jan22.html Can anyone find a press release online about the new site?
Something related: Congress Plans to Slash E-Gov Funding http://dc.internet.com/news/article.php/1573661 (Adding more e-regulation features will cost money, hey Congress, help us out here and invest in your own online public services as well.)
A number of very recent articles and presentations by the number one academic e-rulemaking guru, Stuart Shulman: http://www.drake.edu/artsci/faculty/sshulman/NSF/r esearch.htm
For commentary on rules, regulatory reform in general: http://www.ombwatch.org/regs http://www.ncseonline.org/nle/crsreports/risk/rsk- 3.cfm
Past DO-WIRE posts on e-rulemaking:
http://www.mail-archive.com/do-wire @tc.umn.edu/msg 00515.html
http://www.mail-archive.com/do-wire@tc .umn.edu/msg 00586.html
http://mail.tc.umn.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=i nd0205&L=do- wire&P=R273