The Federal Register: Improving Visitors’ Search Experience on Agency Websites

The Office of the Federal Register’s mission “informs citizens of their rights and obligations, documents the actions of Federal agencies, and provides a forum for public participation in the democratic process.”

As the winner of the Bright Idea Award, FederalRegister.gov is clear and easy to use, but most citizens rarely frequent it. More frequently they start searching for information on Google or on agency websites, where it is more difficult to discover pertinent rules and regulations. Search results on regulatory agency websites, by default, don’t include Federal Register documents since they’re published elsewhere.

That’s why DigitalGov Search recently rolled out a new feature to display relevant Federal Register rules and regulations as instant answers within the search results on agency websites.

Filling the Information Gap

DigitalGov Search seeks to provide immediate answers to the public’s search questions. In addition to the Federal Register documents, we’ve incorporated results to provide instant answers from other specialized government websites, such as USAJobs, included MedlinePlus health information, and agencies’ Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

Regulatory agencies that use our service—such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and Occupational Safety & Health Administration—benefit by more easily sharing newly published notices, rules, and regulations with the public.

I love the new Federal Register feature box that shows me additional results from my search query from the Federal Register. It’s like having two searches in one! The “More documents on FederalRegister.gov” link also passes my query directly to the Federal Register API so I can move seamlessly to the FR site to continue my research. This is very helpful.

— Robert Rand, Securities and Exchange Commission

See the SEC.gov sample search results page below, which shows inline results for three recently published notices related to NASDAQ.

Securities and Exchange Commission search results page

How It Works

When searching for a term on an agency’s website, the visitor will see results specific to their query and the agency they are searching. Federal Register documents open for comment periods are shown first so the public can participate in the regulatory process.

DigitalGov Search leverages the Federal Register API to expose relevant material to searchers and enable the public to participate in the democratic process.

As a new feature, Federal Register results are only available on our redesigned page. To learn more about DigitalGov Search be sure to attend our upcoming webinar covering Social Digital Search on September 30th.

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