The Environmental Regulations branch of the Project focuses on the regulations contained in 40CFR. These regulations cover topics ranging from hazardous waste to drinking water.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
The REGNET research project aims to develop a formal, but practical infrastructure to enhance access and retrieval of government regulations as well as provide support for the users, framers and critics of the regulations. It is well recognized that the complexity, diversity, and volume of Federal and State regulations are detrimental to business and also hinder public understanding of government. We believe that the means to improve the situation is to understand the regulatory issues, and then develop appropriate IT tools that can support the interaction and collaboration among the various parties involved.
In the distributed information service framework proposed for REGNET, governmental regulatory information will be made available on-line for use by the users and regulatory policy bodies. Multiple formats, that build on each other, will be developed. The infrastructure includes textual repositories as a base and, more importantly, tools to locate, merge, compare, and analyze the information. The successive levels of the REGNET application infrastructure will develop and exploit more refined representations in an intelligent way. The objective is to progressively improve the communication and computational resources that will allow compliance checking of regulations. Five phases are planned, allowing gradual development and insertion of more advanced information science and effective computing technologies, while encouraging early utilization and feedback: (1) textual parsing and storage, (2) semi-structured, indexed storage, (3) means to resolve semantic ambiguities, (4) cross-referencing appropriate for automated retrieval of relevant documents, and (5) on-line compliance checking of governmental regulations. New network access, search and analysis techniques will be developed to help disseminate regulatory data and allow finding and comparing multiple sources of related information, including legal cases and interpretative documents. We hope that results from early phases will be used by other researchers as well, since this field has such a broad potential applicability.