The Federal Register's Archives Go Digital


The plan is to digitize more than 14,500 issues, currently only viewable in hard copy.

The Federal Register is moving 1.8 million pages -- covering government regulations from the era of the New Deal to Bill Clinton's first term -- into cyberspace.

The Federal Register and the Government Publishing Office have recently joined forces to digitize the register’s documents created between 1936 and 1994. They plan to complete the project by next year.

Today, the public can only view Federal Register documents online if they were released within the last two decades. The Federal Register and GPO have wanted to transfer the rest of these documents online for some time, but only now have the resources to do so, said Oliver Potts, director of the Federal Register, in an email to Nextgov.

“It makes federal rulemaking more accessible and searchable,” he said. “It allows free access to historical government information."

The Federal Register includes daily notices about proposed rules and executive orders. Its last big digital upgrade came in a 2010 website redesign.

The office began digitizing its documents at the beginning of October, according to its website. The process includes hand packing and cataloguing each issue as well as checking for defects and replacing certain documents.

The agencies’ team has started by digitizing documents from the 1990s and plan to work their way back in time, moving by decade, Potts said.

There are about a dozen staff members working on this project.