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Newsletter of the Federal Depository Library Program

[ PDF version ]  [ Back Issues ]
Cumulative Table of Contents Vol. 1 - present [ PDF ] ( includes current issue )

August 15, 2003

GP 3.16/3-2:24/10
(Vol. 24, no. 10)

Remarks by Judy Russell
Superintendent of Documents

Narrative to accompany PowerPoint Presentation on Regulations.gov
E-GOV 2003, June 12, 2003

( PowerPoint Presentation   |   Text-only version of PowerPoint Presentation )

[Russell portion of presentation covered slides 6 through 9]

  • Federal regulations implement Federal laws and establish the rights and obligations of the public and government under specific legislative authority. Before a Federal agency may adopt new regulations, it is required to notify the public about its intentions and solicit comments on proposed rules.
  • Since 1934 that system has been administered by the Office of the Federal Register and proposed and final regulations have been promulgated through the Federal Register and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This provides a centralized system that insures public notice of proposed regulations and public access to existing regulations.
  • In 1994, the Federal Register was made available for free public access on GPO Access <www.gpoaccess.gov>. In 1996, the CFR became available on GPO Access. Currently, an average of 4 million Federal Register documents and 7.5 million CFR documents are downloaded from GPO Access each month. This service has vastly expanded timely public access to official regulatory information. The day a proposed rule is published, it is available on GPO Access and can be viewed and downloaded from anywhere in the world. People who are remote from Washington are no longer disadvantaged by the need to wait for the paper copies to arrive days after publication.
  • In order to implement laws passed by Congress, more than 4,000 new rules are created each year by approximately 160 different Federal agencies. As many as 500 rules can be open for comment at any given time.
  • In 2001, more than 23 million people and organizations submitted comments on proposed rules. Over 80,000 pages of notices, proposed and final rules were published in the Federal Register in 2002.
  • Regulations.gov Web site <www.regulations.gov> is the first milestone in reaching the goals of the Presidentís eRulemaking Initiative, one of the Presidentís Management Initiatives. The eRulemaking Initiative is focused on creating a simple web-based tool for viewing and commenting on proposed rules. The Regulations.gov Web site was created as a first step in this process.
  • Regulations.gov can be traced back to an effort by the interagency E-Government Task Force, a group of about 80 Federal employees from across the Government, which was created to develop an action plan for implementing the Presidentís E-Government Initiative.
  • The E-Government Task Force gathered input from government employees conducting over 71 interviews with more that 150 senior Government officials and identifying 200 possible project ideas from e-mails sent by Federal employees. As a result, the E-Government Task Force found that the Federal Government could significantly improve customer service over the next 18-24 months by focusing on 24 E-government initiatives.
  • One of the 24 identified E-government initiatives to improve citizen service, make Government more efficient and save taxpayer money was the Online Rulemaking initiative. Regulations.gov is the first phase of this effort. Our vision is to make sure that citizens can easily access and participate in a high quality, efficient and open rulemaking process. The goals for the initial module are:
    • Improved citizen and intergovernmental participation in the full lifecycle of rulemaking;
    • Improved regulatory policies and outcomes through greater quality, management efficiency, and transparency in the rulemaking process (collaboration, effectiveness); and
    • Provide an easy and consistent way for the public to search, view and comment on proposed Federal rules
  • The goal for Module 2 is to create a centralized Federal Government docket system.
  • The goal for Module 3 is to build a seamless, integrated, unified, and cost-effective regulatory management system.
  • As with many Federal initiatives, the Regulations.gov Web site is the result of a unique collaborative effort of five agencies and six different contracting firms.
    • EPA is the Managing Partner for the overall eRulemaking Initiative, and hosts the comment portion.
    • NARA/OFR designed the Web site, search function and database application that tracks rules for comment.
    • GPO provides the full text of the proposed rules and user support through the GPO Access User Support Team and hosts the Web site for identification of proposed rules.
    • HHS/FDA provided the initial comment application that was further modified specifically for this site and technical support to launch.
    • DOL and several other agencies are providing additional technical support for XML documentation/registry and testing.
    • In addition, all agencies including the DOT, USDA, FCC, GSA, DOJ, and HUD provided extensive in-house and contractual support.
    • This effort involved collaboration and teamwork, with each participating agency working from its strengths and contributing some of its resources.
  • Regulations.gov efficiently employs the power of the existing information systems at GPO and NARA. The same Federal Register documents that GPO provides online through GPO Access are also used to keep Regulations.gov up-to-date. Therefore, Regulations.gov is updated every business day as new regulations are proposed. All the rules that are open for comment are cataloged and then posted to the site. Via Regulations.gov, citizens have easy, manageable access and the ability to comment on these proposed rules at one Web site.
  • The successful public launch of this Web site was accomplished on January 23, 2003 with dignitaries participating from OMB, EPA, HHS/FDA, NARA/FR and GPO. Since its launch on January 23, 2003, there have been over 750,000 connections to the Web site, averaging 8,000 hits per day.

John Moses from EPA will show a demonstration of the site, and we encourage you to stop at the booth to try the Regulations.gov service yourself after this presentation.