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Online rulemaking dockets

OMB Watch encourages the Department of the Interior to release to the public more information about regulatory decisionmaking. For information related to rulemakings, any documents, communications, or other material Interior's rulemaking agencies (e.g. Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, etc.) choose to disclose should be placed in the electronic rulemaking docket accessible to the public at Regulations.gov. Specifically, we suggest disclosure of the following types of information:

 

- Any study, research, or other input used during the rulemaking, regardless of whether the information ultimately informed the decisionmaking;

 

- All written communications among federal offices and agencies, including the White House Office of Management and Budget;

 

- All substantive communications, both written and oral, between the agency and an outside party pertaining to the rulemaking.

 

Online disclosure is critical to meaningful transparency. We recognize that some of these materials may already be routinely available in agencies’ paper dockets or through a FOIA request, but, in the Internet era, the public expects online access to documents of interest. Online rulemaking dockets available at Regulations.gov should become the authoritative dockets, that is, identical to those maintained by the agencies in hard copy.

 

Interior must also do a better job describing public comments placed in its online dockets. Currently, in many cases, the document title for all public comments is identical within one docket, making it impossible for users to determine who filed a comment without opening each individual PDF. Most other agencies include the commenter's name in the document title.

 

Matthew R. Madia

Federal Regulatory Policy Analyst

OMB Watch

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Idea No. 112