This article was authored by Michael J. Cole, Attorney Advisor at ACUS on detail from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission
Federal agencies, open government organizations, and other participants all come together from March 11 – 17 to celebrate Sunshine Week, which is a national initiative intended to highlight the importance of open government and transparency. Indeed, from its inception, ACUS’s statutory mission has been to promote these very goals by adopting recommendations to improve transparency and public participation.
Since its reconstitution in 2010, ACUS has promoted transparency in several of its recommendations. For instance, ACUS adopted Recommendation 2014-2, which urges agencies to describe how they conduct business more openly and to take advantage of new technologies when they disseminate information under the Sunshine Act. ACUS also adopted Recommendation 2011-7, which advises agencies on how to enhance the transparency of their processes under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It also adopted Recommendation 2011-2, which highlights best practices for agencies to promote public participation in the notice-and-comment rulemaking process more effectively, under the Administrative Procedure Act. ACUS also adopted Recommendation 2013-5, which suggests ways that agencies can embrace social media in the rulemaking process to better engage the public. In addition, ACUS adopted Recommendation 2014-1, which suggests more effective ways to use alternative dispute resolution to help resolve disputes arising under the Freedom of Information Act. Most recently, ACUS has adopted Recommendation 2017-1, which advises agencies on how to provide better access to adjudication materials on their websites beyond the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.
With an eye toward recommending future improvements to government transparency, openness, and access, ACUS has recently undertaken a project to explore agency practices related to docket management and data quality on the Federal Docket Management System and Regulations.gov. One of the goals of this project is to better ensure that users of those platforms receive accurate information regarding agency actions.