Excerpts from GAO Report B-284527
Federal Rulemaking: Agencies' Use of Information Technology to Facilitate Public Participation
[June 30, 2000]

Use of Interactive Participation

The related literature indicates that some other agencies have begun to experiment with on-line dialogues or interactions among participants during the rulemaking process. For example, as a part of its rulemaking to develop rates that would finance Internet connections in schools and libraries, the Federal Communications Commission sponsored "moderated, on-line policy dialogues" for educators and librarians that, according to an unpublished report, enabled over 500 participants from across the nation to learn about the proposed rule, share their views with each other, and offer comments to the Federal Communications Commission. [This project was conducted by Information Renaissance.] A DOT official also indicated that the Department's Research and Special Programs Administration had used a "chat room" arrangement during some of the agency's rulemaking comment periods. [page 11]

Online Peer Review

APHIS said that electronic comments appeared particularly helpful on less controversial rules with technical elements and on which commenter interaction was possible - in essence, a real-time, informal "peer review." [page11]

Cost Savings

DOT officials told us that the electronic docket has become the official rulemaking record for the department, enabling DOT to save over a million dollars each year in administrative costs and facilitating the rulemaking process in other ways (e.g. permitting agency professionals to review comments at their desks or at home). [page 9]

The Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs said that full-scale Internet access had dramatically increased public awareness and participation [in its organic marketing rule] and had saved taxpayers and USDA more than $100,000 in administrative costs associated with the rulemaking. [page 12]

Background Projects Resources
Rev. Dec 24 2018