Web Site Encourages Public Input

Federal rule-making site enables anyone with Internet access to read up on federal regulations and submit comments

By Joan Szabo

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Here's one Web site you'll want to add to those you frequently visit, Recently launched by the U.S. government, the site is designed to open the federal rule-making process to more citizens and small-business owners.

The White House wants anyone with Internet access to be able to find federal regulations that are open for comment, read them and submit their views. More than 4,000 new rules a year come out of approximately 160 federal agencies implementing laws passed by Congress.

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the portal will let you find, view and comment on a rule in three clicks. The user selects an agency and regulation by keyword, and the system provides a comment box where users can input up to 4,000 characters or attach a document containing comments. Once entered, comments will be shipped electronically to the agency involved. When you submit comments on regulations, federal agencies must take your views into account and justify their regulatory actions, says OMB.

What's lacking? At the moment users can't see other people's comments or background information on proposed rules. Another feature that may eventually be developed is offering electronic notification of rules of interest to individual computer users. For now the government is busy standardizing a wide assortment of docket systems that federal agencies operate. Check out the site and get your comments in on those regulations of importance to you.

Great Falls, Virginia, writer has reported on tax issues for more than 15 years.

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