'USA.gov meets USA Today' launching soon
Video by National Archives
Just as news outlets are adapting to the web, social media and mobile devices, officials are working on a major revamp of the government's daily newsletter in hopes of boosting traffic and audience participation.
The Federal Register is the government's official daily publication of federal rules, regulations, public meetings and requests for comment. First published in 1936 as an 11-page report on new federal regulations, today's editions run hundreds of pages and it's most popular with lawmakers, lawyers, librarians and lobbyists who use it on a regular basis. The Register still publishes weekdays in print, first appeared online in .pdf format in 1994 and jumped to XML format last Fall.
But it will relaunch again in a layout and format similar to a traditional news Web site on July 26, the 75th anniversary of the day Franklin Roosevelt mandating its publication.
"It's like USA.gov meets USA Today," Register managing editor Michael White said Thursday, referring to the government's main information portal and the newspaper that categorizes the news in color-coded, easily identifiable sections.
The Office of the Federal Register teamed with the Sunlight Foundation's Apps for America 2 contest to find private developers willing to help design the new project. Watch the winners, Dave Augustine, Bob Burbach and Andrew Carpenter, talk about the project and explain the new site in the video clip above.
"I really believe that this will open up all kinds of collaboration around non-governmental organizations and just public citizens," Carpenter says.
The site will divide the thousands of federal rules and regs into six main categories: Money, Environment, World, Science & Technology, Business & Industry and Health & Public Welfare. (They plan to add other sections later with the help of crowdsourcing and user feedback.) Though users will still be able to search for daily updates by agency or topics and with a table of contents, Register employees will become defacto news editors by choosing which new rules, regulations and requests for public comment to highlight on the home page based on the day's news and issues trending high on the Web or in Washington discourse.
"We think it will open up the site in a way that the general public wouldn't normally go into it," White said.
The efforts are part of the Obama administration's open government initiative and Register officials proudly noted that they're using open source software and cloud computing to build and maintain the site -- two major elements of the Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 movements.
Like what you see? Thoughts on what the new site should include?
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