Big Upgrade for Federal Register Online
by Matthew Madia, 8/4/2010
The Federal Register unveiled a slick new website last week that should allow the public to find proposed and final rules more easily.
The Office of the Federal Register, in partnership with the Government Printing Office, gave FederalRegister.gov a facelift that makes the site more interactive and user friendly. Previously, the site was little more than an online version of each day’s hard copy – very Web 1.0.
The site, dubbed Federal Register 2.0, now allows users to sort Federal Register documents in a variety of ways. Users can refine a day’s issue or a user-generated search by proposed or final rule, date of publication, agency, or topic.
The redesign makes FederalRegister.gov more relevant to the government’s broader e-rulemaking system. Federal e-rulemaking efforts have tended to focus on participation, allowing citizens to comment on regulations through websites, but finding basic information on regulations has often been too difficult a prerequisite to complete.
Regulations.gov, the main e-rulemaking website, already contains nearly all documents published in the Federal Register. It also may contain public comments filed on proposed rules and, in some cases, supporting information and documents that go into agencies decisions on a rules.
But, for Federal Register documents, the new FederalRegister.gov should provide quicker and easier access to documents. In my limited experience with FederalRegister.gov thus far, I have found it easier to search, browse by agency, and generally navigate the site (though it appears to be missing an advanced search).
Perhaps most significantly, FederalRegister.gov has the capacity to integrate itself with Regulations.gov. If a FederalRegister.gov user happens upon a rule with an open comment period, the site includes a link to information on how to comment. In some cases, the link takes users to the page on Regulations.gov where they can submit a comment online. I can't tell why the Regulations.gov link is only included for some rules, but hopefully FederalRegister.gov will expand this feature – it's just plain common sense, and should have been included long ago.
If you’ve used the new FederalRegister.gov, leave your thoughts in the comments section below.