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Federal Register 2.0: Engaging the Public!

September 29, 2010

With the passage of the Federal Register Act on July 26, 1935, the Federal Register was created, and for the first time, the public had access to federal rules, proposed rules, orders, presidential documents, and notices.   The notion then, as it is now, is that a democratic society must have open access to government information, if it is to flourish.    In keeping with the Federal Register Act’s spirit of basic fairness and due process, on July 26, 2010, 75 years later, the Office of the Federal Register released Federal Register 2.0 (FR 2.0) in an unofficial prototype edition.     What is Federal Register 2.0?

Federal Register 2.0 is part of President Obama’s Open Government Directive, a government wide attempt to make federal information and activities more accessible and transparent, using current technology.   At a modest cost of $275,000, the Federal Register web page was redesigned into a FR 2.0 home page, organizing federal rules, orders and notices into a clean, clear, and crisp newspaper format.    The website organizes information into one of six broad categories – money, environment, world, science & technology, business & industry, and health & public welfare.    Below each category are links to the latest regulations, with official PDF links, document citations, and more.    The site’s user friendly navigation features allow for ease of browsing.   FR 2.0 also includes RSS feeds, so that users can receive news content.

For those seeking a more “true” web 2.0 experience, FR 2.0 even allows you to submit comments into the official e-Rulemaking docket.  You may share information using Facebook, Twitter, and Digg links.    A more detailed discussion of the site’s features are available under Special Features of the Website.

In a July 26, 2010 White House blog post, David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States said: 

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”    Federal Register 2.0 enables citizens and communities to better understand the regulatory process and participate in government decision-making. The National Archives and the Office of the Federal Register are committed to enabling the free flow of information to foster engaged and knowledgeable public discourse and collaboration.

The National Archives is soliciting public feedback on FR 2.0, and it is also considering making FR 2.0 into an “official edition” in 2011.    In the meanwhile, however, check out FR 2.0, and contribute to the public/private dialogue on issues of the day!