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Recommendations for the Design of the Federal Docket Management System, Working Paper 008 Open Access

In recent years, regulatory agencies, Congress, and the White House have taken steps to increase the use of information technology in the management of the rulemaking process. The latest such “e-rulemaking” effort is the design of a new, government-wide regulatory information system being developed by Bush Administration. The system, known as the Federal Docket Management System, will for the first time make all information pertaining to federal regulation available to the public via the Internet. By making information about government regulation available on-line, the Administration’s eRulemaking Initiative seeks to improve the quality and legitimacy of the government’s regulatory decisions. If developed properly, the Initiative’s new online docket management system can also facilitate academic research that in the longer term should improve regulatory policymaking. The recommendations in this paper, joined by a group of fifty-five other scholars of regulation, were originally delivered in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, which is spearheading the Administration’s eRulemaking Initiative. The paper describes the information currently maintained by government agencies and emphasizes the importance of ensuring that no loss of information occurs in making the transition to the on-line system. It also offers steps that the administration should take to ensure a high level of quality of the information stored in the new system as well as effective search and downloading capabilities.

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