EPA questions GAO's audit

Kim Nelson

Henrik G. de Gyor

Environmental Protection Agency officials are questioning the timing of a General Accounting Office report criticizing the rollout and progress of the EPA's E-Rulemaking project.

'I've never seen an audit like this in the first two weeks to two months of a site rollout,' said Kim Nelson, EPA's CIO. 'This would be more appropriate in one or two years from now because systems roll out over a period of time.'

In the report, Electronic Rulemaking: Efforts to Facilitate Public Participation Can Be Improved, auditors said Regulations.gov did a better job than most agency docket systems in letting citizens find rules but lacked functionality to attract a broad base of users.

EPA officials do not deny that the portal is slow to attract users. Since January, when EPA launched the system, visitors have posted about 1,000 comments, said Oscar Morales, E-Rulemaking's project manager. But Morales said there has been little marketing of the site, and agencies have been slow to use it.

'We heard from experts that this is a typical scenario for this type of a government Web site,' he said. He added the site has received about 1 million hits since January and averages about 6,000 visits per day.

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