Title

Weak Democracy, Strong Information: The Role of Information Technology in the Rulemaking Process

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Techno-optimists advocate the application of information technology to the rulemaking process as a means of advancing strong democracy -- that is, direct, broad-based citizen involvement in regulatory policy making. In this paper, I show that such optimism is unfounded given the obstacles to meaningful citizen deliberation posed by the impenetrability of current e-rulemaking developments, the prevailing level of citizen disengagement from politics and policy making more generally, and most citizens’ lack of the requisite technical information about and understanding of the issues at stake in regulatory decision making. As such, a more realistic goal for the application of new technology to the regulatory process is to expand the information base available to regulatory decision makers through increased interest group pluralism. Instead of creating conditions of strong democracy, information technology can expand the involvement and access of informed, knowledgeable, and affected parties to the rulemaking process, a weaker form of democracy that nevertheless can provide better information for government officials.

Date of Authorship for this Version

February 2007

Keywords

Information Technology, Regulation, Democratic Theory