Rulemaking is the policy-making process for Executive and Independent agencies of the Federal government. Agencies use this process to develop and issue new regulations.
The recently redesigned " regulations.gov " website has made changes that facilitate the ability of any member of the public to comment on federal government regulations proposed by executive agencies. These changes are in furtherance of the mandates contained in presidential executive orders .
Executive Order 12866, "Regulatory Planning and Review," issued by President Clinton on September 30, 1993, instructs "...each agency should afford the public a meaningful opportunity to comment on any proposed regulation, which in most cases should include a comment period of not less than 60 days. "
Executive Order 13563,"Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review" , issued on January 18, 2011 by President Obama, directs agencies "To promote that open exchange, each agency, consistent with Executive Order 12866 and other applicable legal requirements, shall endeavor to provide the public with an opportunity to participate in the regulatory process. To the extent feasible and permitted by law, each agency shall afford the public a meaningful opportunity to comment through the Internet on any proposed regulation, with a comment period that should generally be at least 60 days. "
To further these requirements the new site attempts to :
• Enhance the ability of the public to submit and review comments on all supporting scientific and technical documents of the rulemaking docket
• Increase public participation in the regulatory process with easier navigation, improved search and social media links to share regulatory information with others
It includes features to help users understand the regulatory process, under the "Learn Tab". Easy access to searching by keyword and finding regulations with comments due soon and newly posted regulations are provided under the "Search Tab" . This tab also has Improved layout of search results, filters and a document spotlight. The New "Browse Tab", features regulations grouped in 10 industry-related Categories and also provides for Browsing by hundreds of topics.
Integrated social media tools like "Regulations.gov Facebook" and a revitalized Twitter page will help educate users and allow the public to offer input on Regulations.gov features.
The site provides the text of the proposed regulations as they appear in the Federal Register :
Clicking on "Submit a Comment ", provides the online form for entering your comment and some identification information :
As the site mentions, comments can be a few sentences long, submitted by an individual, or can consist of detailed and lengthy submissions by interested organizations. You can actually have the satisfaction of seeing your comment on the Regulations.gov site !
However, given that certain regulations may receive thousands of comments, a Federal agency may need several weeks to process and review them before they are posted to Regulations.gov.
The process is really very straight forward. You may want to give it a try, on an issue you care about.