Originally published: November 18, 2010
Last updated: November 18, 2010 - 9:03pm
Sen Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced a bipartisan bill that for the first time would require stable funding for technology aimed at letting the general public in on the arcane process of shaping federal regulations -- e-rule-making.
Rules are what the executive branch uses to put Congress' words into action by, for example, prohibiting health insurance companies from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. Most people might not know or care about proposed rules, or their right to oppose such draft regulations through open comment periods. The 2002 E-Government Act, which Sen Lieberman wrote, attempted to change that by mandating that agencies post rules on a searchable website, Regulations.gov. But the site is handicapped by underlying structural problems that Lieberman's new bill could fix.
The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen Susan Collins (R-Maine), would require a $10 million line item in the annual budget for Regulations.gov. Currently, agencies that want to use the site fund it based on the number of documents they file and the services they want. The bill also would provide $1 million a year to upgrade the system's architecture. The measure requires that rule-making data be formatted uniformly so that Internet users and agencies can easily retrieve and analyze materials. In addition, it stipulates improvements to the overall consistency of the rule-tracking system.
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