E-Rulemaking

E-Rulemaking

Cary Coglianese (Harvard University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch206
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Abstract

Throughout the world, governments use regulation to combat monopoly power, protect consumers, and reduce health, safety, and environmental risks. Regulation promotes the safety of transportation, the cleanliness of the air, and the quality of their food and drugs. Today, nearly every major aspect of contemporary public life is significantly affected by rules made by regulatory agencies, ministries, or bureaus (Kerwin, 2003). Given the consequential and complex nature of regulatory decision-making, crafting rules presents government agencies with significant informational challenges. Government regulators must collect information to understand the causes of regulatory problems, identify available regulatory options, and predict the effects of each alternative (Coglianese, Zeckhauser, & Parson, 2004). To develop a new rule, regulators must often undertake extensive studies and analyses and respond to comments from industry groups and other interested organizations. E-rulemaking—or the use of information technology in government rulemaking—promises to help regulatory agencies make rules more efficiently and with better quality (Brandon & Carlitz, 2002; Johnson, 1998). E-rulemaking may also help expand public access to and participation in government decision making. Despite the significance of regulatory decisions, they have often been made in relative obscurity, with organized business lobbies sometimes having disproportionate influence over policymaking. Information technology may facilitate greater transparency and democratic accountability in the rulemaking process. Already, regulatory agencies are making use of information technology to create Websites containing notices of new regulatory proposals and various background documents. They have also begun to allow citizens to use the Internet to share comments on new regulatory policies or engage in online dialogues (Beierle, 2003; Brandon & Carlitz, 2002). In early 2003, for example, the United States government launched a new Web portal called Regulations.Gov that allows the public to locate and comment on all new regulatory proposals announced by hundreds of federal regulatory agencies (Skrzycki, 2003). In addition, American officials are currently at work developing a government-wide, online docket system that will make available all the extensive information contained in each agency’s rulemaking files (Skrzycki, 2004). Efforts such as these are likely to continue and can be expected in other regulatory jurisdictions around the world.

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