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United States

Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations (US0077)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United States Action Plan 2015-2017

Action Plan Cycle: 2015

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Administration

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Public Participation, Regulatory Governance

IRM Review

IRM Report: United States End-of-Term IRM Report 2015-2017, United States Mid-Term Report 2015-2017

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Public participation in Federal rulemaking is important, providing individuals who are affected by Federal regulations with an opportunity to comment and have their voices heard. Rulemaking covers the full spectrum of public policy issues, including energy, education, homeland security, agriculture, food safety, environmental protection, health care, tax administration, and transportation safety. In order to make regulations easier to read and navigate, the Administration will expand the open source pilot developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to additional agencies. By leveraging the Regulations.gov website, application programming interfaces, and the Federal Docket Management System, the Administration will develop and pilot applications to make commenting on proposed rulemakings easier and will find ways to promote commenting opportunities.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

Commitment 25. Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

Commitment Text:

Expand Public Participation in the Development of Regulations

Public participation in Federal rulemaking is important, providing individuals who are affected by Federal regulations with an opportunity to comment and have their voices heard. Rulemaking covers the full spectrum of public policy issues, including energy, education, homeland security, agriculture, food safety, environmental protection, health care, tax administration, and transportation safety. In order to make regulations easier to read and navigate, the Administration will expand the open source pilot developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to additional agencies. By leveraging the Regulations.gov website, application programming interfaces, and the Federal Docket Management System, the Administration will develop and pilot applications to make commenting on proposed rulemakings easier and will find ways to promote commenting opportunities.

Responsible Institutions: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), General Services Administration (GSA), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

Supporting Institutions: Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) within the Department of Justice

Start Date: Not Specified  End Date: Not Specified

Commitment Aim

This commitment aimed to enhance opportunities for the public to participate in federal rulemaking. It would develop and pilot new ways for the public to comment on proposed regulations and promote such commenting opportunities. The commitment aimed to expand the “eRegulations” pilot developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. [357] The pilot would be an open source regulatory repository intended to make government regulations easier to access.

Status

Midterm: Limited

At the midterm, the government had made limited progress on this commitment. The eRegulations pilot platform [358]—referred to as an “application” on its GitHub page [359]—was in use by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Election Commission, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Thus, it left most regulation beyond its purview. Moreover, agencies run their own versions of eRegulations [360] as there is no centralized repository of regulation.

End of term: Limited

At the end of term, the same three agencies mentioned above used the eRegulations application. No further use of the application was noted by the end of term.

In July 2016, the General Services Administration’s 18F division launched a related eRegulations pilot project. This was done in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency’s e-Manifest team. This project would allow users to submit comments on paragraphs of specific proposed rulemakings, as opposed to submitting comments for rulemakings as a whole. [361] However, by the close of the end-of-term reporting period, the pilot does not appear to have been expanded. Also, the IRM researcher was unable to locate a report summarizing the pilot’s results.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Marginal

Civic Participation: Marginal

This commitment marginally opened government with respect to access to information and civic participation. By developing the eRegulations application, the government devised a tool that makes it easier for the public to access and comment on proposed regulation. Specifically, the tool provides in-line interpretations and definitions, a feature for viewing and comparing revisions, and an easy-to-use design and clear typography that works on phones and tablets. However, the tool’s potential remains hampered by the relatively small number of federal agencies that utilize the application (three), and its current “pilot” status.

Carried Forward?

At the time of writing, the US government had not published its fourth national action plan, so it is unclear if this commitment will be carried forward. To open government more significantly, the eRegulations application could be expanded more widely across the federal government. Also, 18F could release a report summarizing the findings of its paragraph-level commenting pilot.

[357] “Title XII Banks and Banking,” eRegulations, https://www.consumerfinance.gov/eregulations/, consulted 5 October 2017.

[358] Ibid.

[359] eRegulations, GitHub, https://github.com/cfpb/eRegulations, consulted 5 October 2017.

[360] See, for example, “Regulations,” Federal Election Commission, https://www.fec.gov/regulations/; “Title XII Banks and Banking,” eRegulations, https://www.consumerfinance.gov/eregulations/; and “ATF Title 27 Regulations,” ATF eRegulations, https://atf-eregs.app.cloud.gov/. All consulted 17 September 2017.

[361] “Notice and Comment,” eRegulations, GitHub, https://eregs.github.io/features/notice-and-comment/, consulted 17 September 2017. The pilot is available at https://epa-notice.usa.gov/, consulted 17 September 2017.


Commitments

Open Government Partnership