recommended reading

Draft report urges greater access to proposed rules for non-English speakers

Federal agencies should make more of an effort to post translations of proposed new regulations on their websites for non-English speakers, according to a draft report released Monday.

Agencies also should provide text-only versions of the proposals to make them more accessible to citizens with low-bandwidth Internet and more compatible with software that translates Web pages into audio for the blind, according to the report to the rule-making committee of the Administrative Conference of the United States.

ACUS, which was reinstated in 2010 after a 14-year funding lapse, is a public-private partnership charged with advising federal agencies on sound administrative procedures.

The draft report on e-rule-making, which the group's rule-making committee will discuss at an Aug. 24 meeting, follows an earlier round of recommendations adopted by the full ACUS conference in June. Those recommendations focused on how agencies should collect and manage public comments on proposed rules.

ACUS suggestions are not binding on any government agencies.

Proposed new rules and regulations promulgated by an agency are legally required to be listed in the Federal Register, but are typically also placed on agency websites. Agencies have been required to accept public comments on proposed rules online since 2002.

The e-rule-making report was authored by University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Cary Coglianese and released to committee members July 17.

Agencies that lack the time or resources to share proposals in multiple languages, or that can render them only in a few main languages, should consider providing links to online programs such as Google Translate next to the text, Coglianese recommended. He acknowledged, though, that agencies are rightfully hesitant to rely on automatic translation programs for sensitive and often very technical regulatory language.

The report recommended making an extra effort to translate proposed regulations that will have an inordinate effect on citizens who are not fluent in English, such as those stemming from trade agreements and other treaties with foreign nations.

About two-thirds of agencies that carry a heavy rule-making load link to non-English language text on their home pages, Coglianese said. About one-third of agency sites overall have such links, according to his report.

Only about 3 percent of federal agencies offer low-bandwidth accessible text-only options on their websites and none of those agencies do a significant amount of rule-making, he said.

People without broadband access tend to have lower incomes and lower levels of education than broadband users and are more likely to be black or Hispanic, Coglianese said.

Agencies also should consider giving more prominent placement to proposed rules on their website home pages and should create a one-stop shop for all new regulations promulgated by the agency that are currently open for public comment, he recommended.

The trend in agency websites, he said, has been to give favored access to citizen services and other items that the public visits most often, which tends to push proposed rule-making off agency home pages.

"Rule-making may perhaps never be a 'top task' in terms of the numbers of Web users," Coglianese said, "but in a democracy few tasks compare in significance with the ability of government agencies to create binding law backed up with the threat of civil, and even, criminal penalties."

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.