We have gained some fascinating firsthand experience into the federal rulemaking comment process (regarding the DMCA) – I frankly wasn’t aware that there was such a thing until fairly recently, and it appears I am not alone: the number of public comments on federal rules has increased twentyfold in the last three years, according to an article in the Washington Post:
- With the introduction today of www.regulation.gov[the site was not yet up as of 12:44PM EST], the Bush administration is taking the first step to expand this budding interest in electronic rulemaking to the entire government and populace. The goal is to enable anyone with a computer and Internet access to find every federal regulation that is open for comment, read it and submit their views.
“I take to heart the populace’s demand to know what kinds of rules and regulations are out there. This is an important part of opening the federal government to the citizenry,” said Mark A. Forman, the Office of Management and Budget’s associate director on the project.
At first, the electronic gateway only allows comments to be submitted. Users cannot see other people’s comments or background information on the proposed regulation. Still, “It’s a step in the right direction,” said Jeffrey S. Lubbers, a visiting professor at the Washington & Lee University School of Law and an expert in administrative law. “The interest groups already know how to do this. This will level the playing field.”
It’s a great idea and should help facilitate the process of public commenting – now let’s get the site up and running.