I think that www.regulations.gov is a great first step at making rulemaking more accessible to the general public. In its current form, however, I think the site and the documents are probably only navigable by people who have above average knowledge about either the agencies or the rulemaking process. I tried to approach the site today as if I were someone who had just heard about a rule, perhaps in passing on the news. Thus I searched for Texting, Airline Passenger Rights, EOBR, and Air Travel Accessibility. These searches respectively brought back 611, 5495, 956, and 2174 documents. While it is true that you can filter these results by either agency, document time, or a number of other criteria, all of these options assume a base level of knowledge that I am not entirely convinced that every American has. Perhaps, there could be a section with basic definitions. Or, perhaps for the rules that are likely to generate substantial interest in particular communities, there can be a way to search so that the rule or proposed rule is the first hit to come up when you search for a word like “texting.” I think that small changes like these would go a long way in making the site much more accessible and use friendly.
Idea No. 413