E-Rulemaking goes for central system

Kim Nelson

Henrik G. de Gyor

The E-Rulemaking team has decided it isn't worth $60 million for agencies to keep their own docket systems and has settled on a centralized approach for a governmentwide online docket system.

The project's executive committee had been weighing a central system against a decentralized approach that would have connected agencies' existing systems to a front-end portal, said Kim Nelson, CIO for the Environmental Protection Agency, the lead agency for the Quicksilver project.

The project team estimated that the cost for the decentralized approach was about $80 million, while the cost for the centralized approach would be about $20 million, she said.

The next step is to test a governmentwide system in the fall that will let users get information and comment on proposed rules and regulations from four or five participating agencies. The plans call for launching the live system early next year.

'Citizens will go to one place to find everything they need about rule-making,' Nelson said this month at the FSI Outlook 2004 conference in Vienna, Va.

EPA is awaiting approval for the centralized approach from the Office of Management and Budget. Nelson said she expects OMB to give the project the go-ahead soon because it supported the approach when EPA was evaluating systems strategies.

Common approaches

'There are a lot of components to rule-making that are common to agencies, and that is why this approach will work,' she said.

Beyond the cost savings, Nelson said a centralized system is less risky and can be done in less time.

'We would have to build a unique interface to each separate back-end system,' she said. 'Any time there was a change, each system would have to be modified and tested. The complexity of all of this increases the risk.'

The project team also estimated it would take three years to build a decentralized system, but only a year for a centralized one.

While waiting for OMB approval, the E-Rulemaking team has begun meeting with agencies to develop a systems requirement document.

'The technology is there for a centralized docket system, but it is the culture of government is standing in the way,' Nelson said.

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