I work at the EPA, and some of our new regulations, such as the air regulation called NESHAP Subpart HHHHHH, affect thousands of small businesses like auto body shops. Those regulations require businesses to send in standard forms such as Initial Notification letters. Right now, we have them send these in on paper, which results in a flood of snail mail letters. It's very time consuming for us to open all that mail, route it to the right person, and then sort or index that paper. Then, all that paper has to be stored somewhere until its destruction date.
We should have this information reported online rather than in hard copy. This would make it easier for 99% of the regulated community (there are still a few without any internet access), and make it immensely easier to process on our end. We could provide better service if we had electronic, organized data rather than drowning in paper.
An online reporting system could be developed as a platform used by all EPA offices. As new regulations come out, their forms could be added to the system. That little bit of upfront work would pay off 10x or 100x in handling paper later.
Having this data in a centralized, searchable place would also enable better enforcement and compliance assistance. If there's a second deadline, we could easily send out an email reminder to everyone who made the first deadline. If we wanted to do inspections in an environmental justice area, we could do a search of businesses in that neighborhood.
EPA is requiring online reporting for the greenhouse gas reporting rule, and I think we should do it with all new regulations. The EPA started in 1970 but it's not 1970 any more.