Federal regulations are among the most important and widely used tools for implementing the laws of the land – affecting the food we eat, the air we breathe, the safety of consumer products, the quality of the workplace, the soundness of our financial institutions, the smooth operation of our businesses, and much more. Despite the central role of rulemaking in executing public policy, both regulated entities (especially small businesses) and the general public find it extremely difficult to follow the regulatory process; actively participating in it is even harder.
E-rulemaking is the use of technology (particularly, computers and the World Wide Web) to: (i) help develop proposed rules; (ii) make rulemaking materials broadly available online, along with tools for searching, analyzing, explaining and managing the information they contain; and (iii) enable more effective and diverse public participation. E-rulemaking has transformative potential to increase the comprehensibility, transparency and accountability of the regulatory process. Specifically, e-rulemaking – effectively implemented – can open the rulemaking process to a broader range of participants, offer easier access to rulemaking and implementation materials, facilitate dialogue among interested parties about policy and enforcement, enhance regulatory coordination, and help produce better decisions that lead to more effective, accepted and enforceable rules. If realized, this vision would greatly strengthen civic participation and our democratic form of government.
Committee on the Status and Future of Federal e-Rulemaking (U.S.), "Achieving the Potential: The Future of Federal e-Rulemaking: A Report to Congress and the President" (2008). Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative Publications. Paper 11.