Friday, October 23, 2009

The FCC Releases an Improved Electronic Filing System: ECFS 2.0

This is a super-wonky item, but I am truly excited. This morning, the FCC went live with a new version of its Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Anyone who has worked on policy issues that touch the FCC is probably familiar with this system. Any time the Commission solicits comments on an issue, ECFS is used for filing and lookup. ECFS is the venue for a great deal of data and debate on the core issues of communications policy in the United States. However, the earlier version of ECFS didn't allow very sophisticated searching, direct-linking to search results, RSS feeds, or the like. As such it was often a pain to get a sense of what was on the record or to follow a particular issue or docket.

These limitations were nothing, of course, compared to the physical limitations that existed before ECFS 1.0 (and, thankfully, before I ever had to work on FCC issues).

In the era of ECFS 1.0, I actually spent many hours building a system for automatic download and RSS-ification of dockets. However, this was an extremely painful process, fraught with errors. ECFS 2.0 introduces a series of improvements, which are detailed in the following video of this morning's FCC presentation. Good job FCC! I'm sure we'll have suggestions for improvements, but this is a huge step forward.

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