May 12, 2009
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Overview of
Technology Used
Impact on Federal Agencies and the Public
Further Information

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Overview of, the public face of the Federal E-Government eRulemaking Program, facilitates public participation in the Federal regulatory process by improving the public's ability to find, view, and comment on Federal regulatory actions.

After Congressional bills become laws, Federal Departments and Agencies are responsible for enforcing those laws through regulations. Departments and Agencies develop regulations through the Federal rulemaking process, most commonly through a notice-and-comment process. In general, Departments and Agencies publish proposed rules that are open for public comment, and after a specified timeframe, the Department or Agency publishes a final rule based on public comments and other information. users can find Federal proposed and final rules published every business day by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in the U.S. government's Federal Register, and submit comments through the web site to the Agencies on proposed rules that are open for public comment.

The web site also houses other types of federal information. In addition to Federal regulations, many Departments and Agencies use to post other types of documents open for public comment, such as Agency significant guidance. Certain Federal agencies also allow the public to initiate an action by filling a submissive via allows the public to communicate with a broad spectrum of Federal agencies whose regulations touch countless aspects of their daily lives. More than 160 partner Departments and Agencies participate in the eRulemaking Program, one of the most far-reaching Federal E-Government programs.

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History removes logistical and institutional barriers that previously made it difficult, if not impossible, for a citizen to navigate complex and far-reaching Federal regulatory activities. was a groundbreaking achievement on the road toward citizen-centered government and is transforming the regulatory development process across Federal Agencies.

The eRulemaking Program launched the first generation of in January 2003 to provide the public with one-stop Web access to all proposed federal regulations and to give the public the ability to submit comments on all federal agencies rulemakings.

The eRulemaking Program released a new version of in September 2005, greatly expanding public access to rulemaking information. The new system, called the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS), serves as a secure, robust electronic rulemaking repository, enabling Departments and Agencies to post rulemaking and non-rulemaking documents (e.g., Federal Register notices, supporting analyses, and comments) for public access and comment. Public users can view and download any of these documents. They can also comment on rulemakings and non-rulemaking documents that are accepting comments. The public can bookmark documents and dockets of interest and sign up for email notifications as new documents are added to the system.

For Agencies, FDMS provides secure login, e-Authentication single sign-on, role-based access control, e-mail notification, configurable workflow management, electronic records management (meeting the DOD 5015.2 standard) and a system integrated with the digitization and ingestion of paper documents.

FDMS /, with its user-friendly interface, empowers and encourages all segments of the public with access to a computer and the Internet - whether at home, at work, or at a local library - to participate in Federal decision-making. This access is revolutionizing the way the government writes rules, solicits comments, and involves the public in its decision-making by moving from paper-based processes to new e-government innovations that will lead to more efficient interactions between government and the public.

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Technology Used

The Federal Docket Management System incorporates a centralized IT architecture using Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) technology to maximize reuse. FDMS is a secure, robust electronic content management application. It is built on industry-leading Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) products (e.g., Documentum, Oracle), which offer multiple levels of role-based access controls and user identification and authorization functionalities. FDMS is fully compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) information security regulations and guidelines. FDMS is E-Authentication enabled.

The FDMS design incorporates best practices for IT development, architecture, and technology to ensure that it has the functionality and flexibility to meet the needs of Federal agencies. The system incorporates "best-of-breed" capabilities from existing systems and uses state-of-the-art technology to manage the even larger volume of data that it will process and display. In addition, the system interfaces with existing information systems at the Government Printing Office and the Office of Federal Register to automatically import Federal Register documents.

eRulemaking developed a technical solution that minimized costs and operational complexity yet is sufficiently flexible to accommodate unique Agency business processes. In February 2004, the eRulemaking Executive Committee decided that FDMS would be based on a central IT solution to maximize cost containment, security, and simplicity in operations. Over the course of a year, a workgroup comprised of more than 100 people across 25 Federal Agencies collaboratively defined the requirements, functionality, and design of a centralized FDMS, ensuring that each Agency retains ownership and control of the data contained in the system and determines access rights. In a recent analysis of the design of FDMS and management of the Initiative, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the eRulemaking Program fulfilled 28 out of 30 key management practices. GAO officials noted that "E-Rulemaking officials extensively collaborated with rulemaking agencies and most officials at the agencies we contacted thought the collaboration was effective."

FDMS makes use of Documentum's metadata and file system in support of the operation and retrieval of information within the FDMS repository. FDMS utilizes Oracle components to maintain and support identity management, exchange services, user interfaces, system management services, core services, workflow and collaboration processes, creating/managing/revising content, developing and publishing rules, and comment management, as well as data management services. In addition, a fully integrated Kofax scanning solution provides information capture and document conversion solutions, providing a robust application for Federal agencies.

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Impact on Federal Agencies and the Public

Rulemaking is a core business process for many Federal agencies and involves a large stakeholder community comprising regulated businesses and governments, concerned citizens, educators and academic researchers, the press, and public and private interest groups.'s client base is the U.S. population, along with foreign nationals and governments who are affected by Federal rulemakings. Traditionally, average citizens have had to rely on parties such as trade and professional associations, lobbyists, and interest groups to monitor and comment on proposed regulations. is making it easier for the public to participate directly in the regulatory process by enabling individuals, businesses, educators, interest groups, and state and local government officials to easily search, view, and comment on hundreds of Federal regulations through a single Internet site.

As of January 2008, over 90% of the Federal government's regulatory information is accessible on More than 160 Federal entities have implemented FDMS. The public can access more than 1.5 million documents from Over 4,000 Agency staff have been trained and are registered users of the application.

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eRulemaking is one of the most highly lauded E-Government initiatives, receiving more than a dozen major technology and information access awards.

  • 2008 Web Managers Best Practice Award Finalist by the Federal Web Managers Council
  • 2007 Innovations Award Winner by Government Computer News
  • 2007 Intergovernmental Solutions Award by the American Council for Technology
  • 2007 Excellence.Gov "Top Five" Winner, named by the Industry Advisory Council Collaboration and Transformation Shared Interest Group IAC press release
  • 2006, 2005, 2004 Award finalist, Industry Advisory Council eGovernment Shared Interest Group
  • 2006 Intergovernmental Solutions Award finalist, American Council for Technology
  • 2005 finalist and 2006 semi-finalist for the Ash Institute Innovations in American Government Award
  • 2004 AFFIRM Service to the Citizen Award
  • 2004 Public Access to Government Information Award, American Association of Law Libraries
  • 2003 Grace Hopper Government Technology Leadership Award
  • 2003 E-Gov Government Solutions Center Pioneer Award
  • 2003 Robert J. Colborn, Jr. Innovation Award, Administrative Codes and Registers of the National Association of Secretaries of State
  • 2003 Citizen Service Team "SecurE-Biz Leadership" Award
  • 2003 FOSE Showcase of Excellence Award finalist

eRulemaking's fosters a more inclusive form of government, promoting the key tenets and principles of eDemocracy - using information technology to enable every citizen to more effectively participate in his or her government.

A major industry consulting firm, the Gartner Group, noted that eRulemaking "...takes e-government in a new direction." Further, Gartner wrote that it is "a major step toward e-democracy, beyond the e-service strategy favored in previous e-government initiatives around the world."

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Further Information

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