New US Rule-Making Procedures Turn Participation Upside-Down

By Joseph Foti (Posted: June 16, 2009) 

Public participation in the U.S is changing. New procedures for regulatory changes are a positive step for public participation.This article in the Federal Times makes it clear that the entire process for crafting regulations is changing from a “notice and comment” model to a “co-creation” model.

The Administrative Procedures Act (1946), required the agency to notify the public that a rule would be changing and gave the public 60 days to comment on all rules made by federal agencies. This usually means that the government has posted the rules and that the public is allowed to comment on them. Agencies then have the option to respond to or incorporate comments.

Under the new process, the public will have a chance to collaborate on new rules and to propose solutions. While the administration will still have complete discretion about how to proceed, this means that the public will be able to comment at the earliest possible stages of the process.

Participatory administrative procedures, such as “notice and comment” rules, have always been something that we at the Access Initiative have pushed for. At a time when most countries still lack comprehensive participation rules for policy-making, it is good to see what I think will be an exciting experiment by the U.S. administration to make government even more open and transparent.