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DOT’s Flagship Initiative Opens up the Rulemaking Process

Regulation Room Draws 1,200 Users

Regulation Room is an innovative pilot program between the Department of Transportation and researchers from Cornell University’s Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI) that allows the general public to comment on and discuss proposed Federal rules through a transparent and intuitive online social platform.

Regulation Room makes Federal rulemaking more accessible to people not familiar with the legal or technical aspects of the rulemaking process by providing detailed summaries of key provisions in a plain language format with references to the actual rulemaking language. The referenced summaries, created by Cornell law students and researchers, allow meaningful open discussion at multiple levels – from the general public to subject matter experts.

Regulations Get Social

Since the launch of Regulation Room in February 2010, the site has more than 1,200 registered users and 24,000 unique site visits. The most recent discussion on the proposed rule “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections” drew 931 comments from 348 users during the 110-day open comment period. Users need to only provide a username, password and email address to participate in the discussion, but can view all comments without providing any personal information. One exciting feature of Regulation Room is the sharing functionality that allows users to share topics on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter to encourage friends, family and colleagues to participate.

A unique aspect of Regulation Room is that it is solely managed by Cornell professors, and staffed by Cornell law students, requiring no government staffing during the discussion period. Once the comment period closes, CeRI submits a detailed summary report of all comments and discussions to the docket for formal inclusion in the rulemaking process. For a more detailed discussion of the impact of this type of public engagement on rulemaking, please see a law review article authored by Cornell staff entitled Rulemaking in 140 Characters or Less: Social Networking and Public Participation in Rulemaking.

You can find Regulation Room at www.regulationroom.org

For more information about DOT’s Flagship Open Government Initiative please contact the DOT Open Government team at open@dot.gov.

Updated: Thursday, December 11, 2014