Just had an experience which shows either: (1) my impatience as I get older, or (2) the bureaucratic limits of e-government.
Background: Ken Cook links to a report about a change in standards for organic coffee. The blog he cites includes a post asking where the old policy is. Coffee is always interesting to me, almost as much as bureaucracy, so I go off to try to find the change. From the Salon article I go to the AMS publication (required under FOIA) of the appeal decisions under the national organic program during the most recent period. It contains a (poor) Code of Federal regulations cite (poor in that it omits the "7 CFR " portion) of §205 .403(a)(1). There's no indication of a change.
Now, in researching further, I come across the "E-Regulation" site, http://www.regulations.gov,
which was developed as part of Bush's e-government initiative. But this is the point where bureaucracy comes in: the regulations site is only for the documents published in the Federal Register; the site for the Code of Federal Regulations is the Government Printing Office's CFR access site. I pity the poor civilian who has to follow this.
It's worthy of note that the GPO is not an executive branch agency under the President. They've had initiatives to make government documents available to the public (like depositing copies in "federal depositary libraries") for a long time. Their Access program was around in the 1990's. (What follows is speculation.) Naturally they were in no mode to cooperate with Bush's people, who were johnny-come-latelies. That's if the Bush people even thought of asking GPO to cooperate--they may not have had the knowledge. The Bush people were focused on improving the process of developing regulations and managing the floods of public comments that they very occasionally attract. They were looking at regulations as writers, not as readers.
The result is that there's two overlapping databases--the Federal Register portion of GPO and the regulations.gov site, and no integration between code and changes.
(What about AMS's change--I can't tell, it looks as if their regulations have always required 100 percent inspection, so the "change" may have been a change in implementation, not policy.