Thursday, July 29, 2010

Federal Register 2.0

A completely new digital version of the venerable daily newsprint publication was launched on July 26, 2010, the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Federal Register Act., or FR 2.0, is intended to be more-user friendly and interactive, with a look-and-feel more like a web news site ("Federal Register: The Daily Journal of the United States Government"). The current issue is organized by general topic - Money, World, Business & Industry, Environment, Science & Technology, and Health & Public Welfare – and by type of document – Notices, Proposed Rules, Final Rules, and Presidential Documents.

There are browse features and search features, and each agency has its own page, but there are also pictures and social networking icons – truly a change from the past!

The redesign is also part of the Obama administration’s Open Government Directive, so the goal is to make the information more accessible and feedback easier. Email addresses are active, and links to are provided (along with instructions on submitting comments).

An interesting feature is plain language abstracts, which are essentially summaries written by the agencies (that are in themselves supposed to be in plain language, but can still be a little technical and dense).

FR 2.0 is currently unofficial. The content, taken from the daily XML-based edition of the Federal Register (FR), is not an official, legal edition. The PDF hosted on the Government Printing Office’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) is the authenticated official version (along with the print of course). For each document on FR 2.0, there is a link to the official, authenticated PDF. This may change in the future, though, as evidenced from this statement from the Legal Status & Disclaimer: “This prototype edition of the daily Federal Register on will remain an unofficial informational resource until the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register (ACFR) issues a regulation granting it official legal status.”

The front page states this is an experimental beta site, and comments and suggestions are welcome.

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