Electronic Public Inspection Desk


Here’s some good news. The Office of the Federal Register within the National Archives provides access to the official text of federal laws, presidential documents, and administrative regulations. For 72 years, the office has produced the Federal Register, the so-called “official gazette of the U.S. government,” giving notice of administrative rules and presidential documents.

The office has now launched its Electronic Public Inspection Desk, which places Federal Register documents online. “Every Federal business day,” as their press release states, “anyone with access to a computer now can read critical documents governing Federal regulations relating to business, health, and safety as soon as the documents are placed on file.” Plus, the Web site allows the public access to all documents that will be published in the next day’s edition of the Federal Register as early as 8:45 a.m. (EST). That’s what I’d call very timely disclosure. Prior to this encouraging development, viewing the documents required visiting in person the Office of the Federal Register in Washington, D.C.

As the office notices, this development is really good timing, considering all the last-minute rulemaking that the Bush Administration is conducting. We can use this new tool to watch the rules being made in virtual real time.