Every year proposed US federal agency rules are published in the Federal Register
so that interested members of the public may read and comment on the proposed rule before it goes into effect. Recently, the Internet has begun to show the potential to change and help democratize this process. The Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) Proposed Rule on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) (discussed in the November 28, 1997 Scout Report
), was one example. The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service's Organic Program Proposed Rule is another. Instead of searching through the cumbersome volumes of the FR
, reading the rule, and then commenting on it, Internet users are now beginning to be able to go to the agency site, read the rule, broken up into its parts, and submit interactive comments on any of those parts. At the site other users can easily access those comments. In this way, the Internet can be used to help foster the democratic process--interested users can see this in action at these two sites. Note that the comment period on the National Organic Program Proposed Rule ends March 16, 1998, and that registration is necessary before commenting at the USDA site.