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e-Rulemaking: Status and Future

A new wave of interest has been building around e-Rulemaking, and the ABA has released a report on the topic by a star-studded committee. I’ve written about before, as they unveiled new, citizen-centric features to make the site easier to use for the public. The newly released report, and those speaking about it, have both praise for the incredible progress that has been made, and suggestions that will improve e-Rulemaking for everyone.

The speakers were quick to commend the team, who have made e-Rulemaking a vital part of both government services and citizen participation. However, with great success comes more demand; there is a demand for a better, more feature-filled e-Rulemaking platform that actively enhances citizen participation. This is one of the greatest signs of’s success. When was conceived, there was not a system serving this purpose. The e-Rulemaking team had to come up with one and try it- there were understandable roadblocks encountered, but is now an indispensible part of the rulemaking process.

With that said, the report brings up many fantastic suggestions that could greatly improve and e-Rulemaking. The primary goal of e-Democracy, and e-Government, should be encouraging broader and better citizen participation, helping people outside government understand decisions as well as helping government get all points of view. By streamlining and improving the process, everyone wins.

For one, was designed with the primary goal of consolidating service for government agencies, and improvements for public users have been slow to arrive. There are still many improvements that we’re waiting on. The report has a very exciting recommendation to create an open architecture for the e-Rulemaking system, allowing agencies- and the public- to build tools and extend the system as they see fit. Even more exciting, the report advocates for data standardization. Common data and metadata formats would potentially allow the public to reuse the data and create new, useful tools with it that we haven’t even thought of yet.

The report was full of other advice, as well. has long suffered from inadequate funding; the report advocates for more stable funding as well as a fee structure for agencies that does not discourage use of the system. The agency cultures around rulemaking- including a reliance on paper over electronic dockets- should explore ways to use the Internet to be more effective.

These are a few of the great recommendations for improving the e-Rulemaking website that we already have. This is both a victory for e-Government, and an opportunity to make it even better. I think that, with collaboration between government, public interest organizations, and academics we can build a better I’m excited to see a starting point for that.