GSA Wants Public Feedback on its eRulemaking Modernization Effort

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The agency will accept comments and host two town-hall style meetings to address opportunities and public concerns on a range of related topics.

Almost three months into its new role as managing partner of the federal electronic rulemaking program, the General Services Administration now aims to engage stakeholders on its plans to modernize the government’s eRulemaking management process.

According to a notice set to be published in the federal register Tuesday, the agency will accept comments and host two town-hall style public meetings in early 2020 to gain feedback on its impending efforts to improve and ultimately rejuvenate the government’s federal rulemaking processes and technologies. 

 “GSA’s Office of Regulation Management ... is interested in conducting a dialogue with the public, including industry, special interest groups, academia, researchers, and individuals about challenges and opportunities related to the modernization of the Electronic Rulemaking Management process,” Tobias Schroeder, director of the agency’s eRulemaking Program Management Office, wrote in the document. “The dialogue begins with this public notice and request for comment.”

The Environmental Protection Agency managed the eRulemaking program since 2002, but in July, the Office of Management and Budget announced that GSA would assume the responsibility. On Oct. 1, GSA took on its new role in managing regulations.gov and the Federal Docket Management System. In this capacity, the agency acts as a shared service provider that enables the public to access and review electronic dockets and electronically submit comments on proposed rulemaking and other agency actions. It also provides participating federal agencies with the ability to electronically access and manage rulemaking programs and public comments. 

The agency had its sights set on modernizing the system since OMB first announced the transition. In October, its Principal Deputy Associate Administrator Elizabeth Angerman told Congress that the agency established a new Office of Regulation Management to “enable GSA to create a more integrated and streamlined federal rulemaking program using modernized technology.” And in the solicitation, GSA also adds that its rulemaking modernization strategy is threefold. The agency aims to simultaneously improve information technology and data integration among federal regulatory information systems to support data analytics, introduce innovative approaches to promote public access and transparency and reduce duplication across the federal rulemaking landscape. 

Schroeder asks the public to submit comments on all improvements that should be made and the benefits and costs that will accompany each proposal. The agency also wants the public to share existing research, processes, services, or technologies that support its regulation management efforts. 

“Comments are also welcome on related technology services, including any specific recommendations for how technology can be applied to achieve specific business needs for regulatory management,” Schroeder said in the solicitation. 

The agency will also host two public meetings at its headquarters in Washington—the first on Jan. 30 and the second on March 25—to provide the public with an opportunity to make informal comments and ask questions about the effort. GSA will address a wide range of topics in each meeting. In the first session in January, the agency will explore topics relating to challenges around agency management of large volumes of comments, technologies and policies that can combat fake commenters, and how mass comments compare to smaller numbers of more substantial comments. In the second meeting, GSA will explore issues and opportunities for analysis across many regulations, the technologies and policies that boost data-sharing and interoperability of federal regulatory management systems, as well as those that could increase the public’s access to data for or through commercial applications. 

At each of the sessions, a panel of subject matter experts will speak on the respective topics the agency hopes to address. Interested individuals must submit proposals to serve on the panels by Jan. 10 for the first meeting and March 2 for the second. GSA is also accepting public comments on the matter through April 30.