Agency moves toward social media for regs

A small federal agency is moving forward with recommendations for regulators to use social media when they write new rules.

The Administrative Conference of the U.S., which is tasked with improving the government’s internal processes, made revisions to its draft recommendations at a meeting on Thursday.

The recommendations are part of the government’s effort to take advantage of the new media, which could allow regulators to get input from broad new swaths of the public.  

“The accessible, dynamic, and dialogic character of social media makes it a promising set of tools to fulfill the promise of e-Rulemaking,” the agency said in the draft report.

To write regulations, agencies usually go through a sometimes lengthy process that provides time for the businesses, interest groups and the rest of the public to weigh in. 

While that commenting process was originally conducted on paper, it has now largely moved online. Currently, all federal agency rules available for public comment are on the Internet at regulations.gov.

Still, the rule-making process “remains otherwise recognizable and has undergone no fundamental transformation,” the agency noted in the draft report.

It recommends that agencies consider using social media before they begin the formal rule-making process to understand current market trends and gather basic information. Online tools might also be useful to review old regulations that might be out of date, it said. 

The recommendations are “intended to encourage innovation and facilitate the experimentation necessary to develop the most effective techniques for leveraging the strengths of social media to achieve the promises of e-Rulemaking," according to the draft report.

The Administrative Conference of the U.S. is planning to discuss the recommendations at its Nov. 13 meeting in Washington.