Regulations.gov Is Getting an Update

Regulations.gov provides users with access to federal regulatory information. It is used as the portal through which to submit comments to pending regulatory action. Since 2006, the site has received almost 10 million comments. Users can find proposed rules, final rules, notices, scientific and technical findings, guidance, adjudication, comments, and the Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan. One of the issues with the site, is that it can be slightly clunky to use, takes a while to filter results, and is not particularly intuitive for first time users.

The government is now working on Regulations.gov beta. The beta version provides a more streamlined look to the home page. Trending regulatory actions as well as the ability to narrow results based on comments due soon are still available but presented in a cleaner manner. There is no advanced search option on the new system since it has supposedly been integrated into the general search box. The search box does yield better organized results. Once a search query is entered, the system returns results in three categories: Dockets, Documents, and Comments. The docket provides the centralized home for all documents relating to a regulatory action and are a great resource, so the ability to go directly to the docket is an upgrade from the former system. Under documents, you can easily check a box to filter only for those documents still open for comment. Although this ability was present on the old system, it is more prominent here. The new system also returns results and filters through results faster than the old system. The new system has standardized the comment form across all agencies, as opposed to the old system, which has different forms depending on the agency. Users who wish to submit a comment will need to enter information in the comment field and choose an identity (an individual with first and last name, organization with name and organization type, and anonymous).The preview page and privacy statement box have been removed from the new system. Comments on the new system are organized under the corresponding document under a browse comments tab.

The core functions of the beta product are now available, but the system will be developed, with new features added. There is currently no date on when the old system will be retired. According to the FAQ section, the new site has an optimized search engine and was built to make it responsive for use on mobile and tablet devices as well as desktops and laptops.

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