1. What is RegulationRoom?

    What is RegulationRoom? Here you get a real voice in government decisionmaking--and are part of research that improves public participation.

Regulation Room and its sister sites are part of a multi-year study of how the Internet and other new technologies can help people understand and participate effectively in important government policy decisions. We are also studying how to help governments use public input to make better decisions. For more details, see Research and Publications.

The project is run by CeRI (Cornell eRulemaking Initiative). CeRI is a research group of Cornell University faculty and students from computing and information science, communications, law, and conflict resolution. Learn more about the researchers.

We work to bring new voices and useful new perspectives into the commenting process by overcoming three barriers to effective online civic engagement:

  1. Lack of awareness: Many individuals and groups do not know when rulemakings/policymakings that affects them are going on, or understand why they ought to participate.
  2. Information overload: The volume and the linguistic, technical and legal complexity of agency documents vastly exceed what many would-be participants can, or will, read and comprehend.
  3. Low "participation literacy:" Lack of understanding of the nature and importance of rulemaking/policymaking, and how to participate effectively in the process. New participants often do not realize that outcomes are not determined by majority preferences, but rather by analysis of relevant factual information and policy arguments; hence, they do not understand how to participate effectively. See more on effective commenting.

CeRI cooperates with various federal agencies to select and present the proposed rules and other consultations that are available on RegRoom. Cornell, on behalf of CeRI, enters into Memorandums of Understanding with agencies it works with. Discussions on RegRoom are moderated by CeRI students and faculty or other nongovernmental researchers collaborating with CeRI. The federal agencies with whom CeRI works collaborate in the research in order to learn about the most effective Web 2.0 strategies for increasing public understanding and participation, but all content and operation are the sole responsibility of CeRI.

The platform is a socio-technical participation system. The initial Regulation Room (regulationroom.org), was developed on a customized version of the WordPress multi-user platform; it offered several customized WordPress plugins including Digress.it, the application that allows for targeted commenting. The site was modified after each consultation to incorporate what was learned about facilitating public participation. We are currently on its 6th design generation, which has been renamed RegRoom (with child rooms – regulationroom, planningroom, etc.). This was a major redesign that includes moving to the Drupal open source content management platform.

Learn more about the technology and history of the project.