The U.S. Open Government National Action Plans promote the Open Government Partnership’s principles of transparency, facilitating access to government services for the public, and citizen engagement. 18F has worked with several agencies to advance the these goals through projects like DATA Act, eRegulations, USEITI, College Scorecard, and the Public Participation Playbook.
A shared service for user-friendly regulations
Federal regulations are often dense and filled with terminology that can make them difficult to read and interpret. Even seasoned government employees can have trouble deciphering these regulations, and gathering public comments on changes is often difficult and time-consuming.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) developed a tool called eRegulations to organize federal regulations and display them in a user-friendly format. This open-source tool helped make CFPB’s regulations more accessible, but not all agencies have the technical staff to modify or deploy the tool.
Using open-source collaboration to expand eRegulations’ reach
18F has helped several agencies adapt eRegulations to suit their needs. We started by working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); because we built on existing code, it took just two months to build, compared to the 14 months it took to build the initial version from scratch.
We’ve since helped several other agencies use the eRegulations platform:
- The Federal Elections Commission has included eRegulations as part of their website overhaul, which makes campaign finance more accessible.
- We helped the Environmental Protection Agency modify their regulations platform, allowing the public to comment down to the paragraph level throughout proposed regulations and share their thoughts contextually.
- We’re helping the Office of Management and Budget make more than 8,000 policy documents more usable by organizing, sort, and displaying them so that agencies have a clearer picture of policy mandates and their effects.
Through all of these projects, the 18F team has expanded the platform so it supports more than just traditional regulations; agencies can now include supplementary materials, such as interpretations of regulations, Q&As, and more.
By expanding on the base platform that CFPB built, 18F has saved time and taxpayer money. And because the project is open source, the work we do is accessible to all agencies using the platform, which makes it easier for them to adopt changes and feature upgrades.
Related blog postsSee all posts about this project
We launched the eRegulations Notice and Comment pilot this summer, and in the process saw some patterns in how our partner agencies write their regulations. In response, the eRegulations team prepared a guide to help agencies write regulations in a more data- and human-friendly format that would be easier to parse — thus saving time and money.
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began asking the public to comment on a new proposed rule that would affect how the EPA tracks hazardous waste as it moves around the country. This rule is also the pilot of the new notice and comment feature of the eRegulations platform.