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Be aware: semi-annual regulatory agenda is 1,700-pages online, 483 pages in print

Where are those rules? Be careful where you search to be sure you have found the correct and complete source.  While there are some kinds of information (e.g., phone books) that are just easier to use online than in print (and the semi-annual regulatory agenda may be one of them), just putting them online may create new access problems (for those who don’t have online access) and preservation problems (will these be saved and unaltered and by whom at what cost?).  They may also present new problems of discovery when it is not easy to determine which of many versions is the complete one or the current one or which search produces the correct result.

And don’t forget that one of the main motivations behind this switch is that the government wants to save money — not expend more on preservation.  GovExec.com  says the shift to online publication of the Unified Agenda will "save" the government $800,000 (Agencies put regulatory plans online by Elizabeth Newell, December 11, 2007).

Until now, the Federal Register, the government’s daily accounting of rules, printed the entire agenda in several bound volumes. It has been available online since 1995. Its search system, connected to the U.S. Government Printing Office, was challenging for some users….

The migration to http://www.reginfo.gov saves money and makes rulemaking more available to the public, administration officials said….

The agenda is available on two other government sites. The Federal Register is still required to print two categories of rules, offering the partial agenda and plan in print and at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/ua/index.html.

The other site is http://www.regulations.gov, the electronic docket for commenting on rules.

OMBWatch notes that "Since the Unified Agenda has gone paperless, you will also be unable to find entries in the PDF version of the Federal Register on the Government Printing Office website" (Agencies’ Regulatory Plans Available Online,  December 12, 2007)


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