EPA teams focus on efforts to improve data handling

'The E-Docket system is helping us stay ahead of the curve in terms of GPEA.'

'EPA's Constance Downs

J. Adam Fenster

With the deadline for the Government Paperwork Elimination Act looming next month, the Environmental Protection Agency has governmentwide efforts under way to help it meet the mandate of making all transactions electronic.

EPA's electronic docketing, archiving and rule-making initiatives will cover many transactions at the agency that Congress ordered be made available electronically by Oct. 21. Even so, the agency likely will have a lot work to do after the GPEA deadline passes because the Office of Management and Budget has estimated that come next month only about 26 percent of EPA transactions will comply with GPEA.

'The E-Docket system is helping us stay ahead of the curve in terms of GPEA,' said Constance Downs, the project's manager. Downs and other agency records officials spoke at a recent meeting of the National Capital Chapter of the Association for Information and Image Management at EPA headquarters.

The agency is moving forward on developing the docket system it launched in March of last year, she said.

E-Docket lets the public view and submit comments on EPA dockets electronically. 'We also have an intranet site so EPA staff can see materials before they become public,' Downs said.

Meanwhile, the agency also is poised to select software for its records management pilot.

EPA is the lead agency for the enterprise segment of the National Archives and Records Administration's Electronic Records Management Initiative, one of the 25 Quicksilver e-government projects.

'We were asked to lead this initiative because we were just starting down this road' of an enterprisewide project, said Chris O'Donnell, the agency's records officer.

Shows the way

EPA will issue a guide for evaluating electronic records investment proposals, another for producing agency-specific requirements, a pilot planning guide and an analysis of lessons learned, she said.

'Enterprisewide electronic records management is an effort to create a repository for information, documents and records,' O'Donnell said. 'It will help us respond to requests for information.'

The e-records initiative will help EPA meet legal requirements, keep track of documents, improve the reuse of materials and minimize the cost of maintaining records, O'Donnell said.

EPA has developed functional requirements for its records management system and evaluated more than 200 commercial products, O'Donnell said.

On the rule-making front, EPA has launched www.regulations.gov, a site where the public can view, search and print out regulatory actions.

As leader for this Quicksilver project, EPA is working with a team of agencies to build 'an electronic dashboard or cockpit for regulation writers,' said John Moses, deputy director of EPA's electronic rule-making program.

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