November 19, 2008
Federal Register Announces Launch of New Electronic Public Inspection Desk
Just in time for post-election regulatory flurry, access expands “Beyond the Beltway”
Washington, DC…The Office of the Federal Register has created an Electronic Public Inspection Desk to provide free worldwide electronic access to public documents. For the first time in the 72-year existence of the daily Federal Register, the documents on file are available for viewing anytime, anywhere. Every Federal business day, anyone with access to a computer now can read critical documents governing Federal regulations relating to business, health, and safety as soon as the documents are placed on file.
To view these documents, go to www.federalregister.gov (link opens in a new window). See “View Documents on Public Inspection" (link opens in a new window) on the left hand side. This new desk grants the public access to documents that will be published in the next day’s Federal Register as early at 8:45 a.m. EST. Previously, such documents could only be seen by viewing the documents physically located at the Office of the Federal Register in Washington, DC.
Citizens across the country no longer need depend upon representatives in Washington, DC, to gain access to this material. The Electronic Public Inspection Desk has leveled the playing field in the competition for access to information. The dream of free access to government information that drove passage of the Federal Register Act and the Administrative Procedure Act has been realized.
This development is perfectly timed for the 2008 Presidential election. Traditionally, after an election the Federal Register experiences a large increase in regulations, and this year is no exception. Now, anyone, anywhere, can monitor this flurry of activity through the click of a mouse. The web site has been particularly useful in providing up-to-the minute access to Treasury Department and Federal Reserve regulations issued in response to the ongoing financial crisis. The newly released 2007 edition of the Privacy Act Issuances is also posted on the web site to provide citizens with broader access to provisions of law that protect personal privacy.
For 72 years, the Office of the Federal Register has carried out its mandate to provide for public inspection of documents before publication in the daily Federal Register. Once a document goes on file at the Office of the Federal Register, the public at large is deemed to have legal notice of its contents. But as a practical matter, only a relative handful of Beltway insiders had the means to go to the physical location of the Office of the Federal Register in Washington, DC, to monitor daily filings on behalf of their clients. Due to these technical, logistical, and financial restraints early access to valuable information was restricted to a select few. Until now.
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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (202) 357-5300.