Agency Innovations in e-Rulemaking

Agency Innovations in e-Rulemaking in stage 8. Implementation

Project Stages:

1. Gather ideas - Completed
2. Select ideas - Completed
3. Council approval - Completed
4. Picking a researcher - Completed
5. Committee consideration - Completed
6. Back to the council - Completed
7. Consideration by the full conference - Completed
8. Implementation - Current
8. Implementation
Status Notes:  
Adopted on December 9, 2011.


Committee Chair
Robert S. Rivkin
General Counsel
Staff Counsel
Cary Coglianese
Edward B. Shils Professor of Law
University of Pennsylvania Law School

This project examined how agencies use internet-based technologies, particularly their websites, to support rulemaking activities and improve access to e-rulemaking portals.  It sought to identify useful innovations and best practices that could be spread to other agencies.  The resulting recommendation suggests ways agencies can make rulemaking information, including open dockets, comment policies, and materials from completed rulemakings, more accessible electronically. The recommendation also suggests ways agencies may be able to improve e-rulemaking participation by those who have historically faced barriers to access, including non-English speakers, users of low-bandwidth Internet connections, and individuals with disabilities.

The research report for this project was subsequently published as Cary Coglianese, Enhancing Public Access to Online Rulemaking Information, 2 Mich. J. Envt'l & Admin. L. 1 (2012).  The Environmental Law Institute named this article one of "the year's best academic articles that present legal and policy solutions to pressing environmental problems."  An abridged version of the article will appear in the Environmental Law and Policy Annual Review, a special issue of the Environmental Law Reporter, published in collaboration with the Vanderbily University Law School and the Environmental Law Institute.

Final Recommendation

The rulemaking function of federal regulatory agencies is typically accomplished today through “e-rulemaking”: that is, through “‘the use of digital technologies in the development and implementation of regulations,’ before or during the informal rulemaking process, i.e., notice-and-comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).”[1]   The website centralizes much e-rulemaking activity...


In the past several years, the Administrative Conference has adopted a number of recommendations that address various subjects related to e-Rulemaking.  These recommendations share a common focus and goal and represent incremental contributions to an evolving body of work.  The Conference is accordingly pursuing joint implementation of these recommendations, including the following:

Recommendation 2011-1, Legal Considerations in e-Rulemaking.  This recommendation provides guidance on various legal issues agencies face in e-Rulemaking, including how to efficiently and effectively deal with large numbers of identical comments and how to transfer paper comments to electronic dockets.

Recommendation 2011-2, Rulemaking Comments.  This recommendation identifies best practices in the comment process, including with respect to minimum comment periods, reply comments, late comments, and anonymous comments.

Recommendation 2011-8, Agency Innovations in e-Rulemaking.  This recommendation suggests ways in which agencies can improve their websites to facilitate public accessibility and engagement in the rulemaking process, so as to achieve the promise of e-Rulemaking.

Recommendation 2013-5, Social Media in Rulemaking.  This recommendation provide guidance to agencies on whether, when, and how to use social media to lawfully and effectively support rulemaking activities.

Agencies that are planning or pursuing innovative strategies to leverage technology to improve public engagement in the rulemaking process are encouraged to consider these recommendations.  They are also invited to contact staff counsels Emily S. Bremer or Reeve T. Bull with any questions, concnerns, or updates related to these activities.  Suggestions for new studies that may lead to recommendations further contributing to this body of work are also welcome.

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