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The complexity, volume and diversity of government policies and regulations raises significant burden on both the complying parties and government itself. On the one hand, businesses, civil organizations and other societal entities are required to simultaneously comply with and interpret different and possibly conflicting or inconsistent regulations. On the other hand, government as a whole must ensure policy and regulatory coherence across its various policy domains. While the recent wave of open government initiatives have led to significantly more public access to these documents, features allowing cross-referencing related documents and linking to less formal documents or comments on other media more understandable and accessible to the public are not common if at all available today. As a solution to this challenge, we propose an Open Government-wide Policy and Regulation Information Space consisting of documents that are “semantically” annotated and cross-linked to other documents in the information space as well as to external resources such as interpretations, comments and blogs on the social web.
Our approach is three-fold. First, we identify the requirements for the infrastructure. Second, we eloborate a Reference Architecture identifying the various elements needed within the infrastructure. Third, we show how such infrastructure may be realised as a linked data portal where policies and regulations are published as linked open data. Finally, we present a case study involving environmental policy and regulations; discuss the potential impact of such infrastructure on coherency and accessibility of policies and regulations and concludes with challenges associated with provisioning a linked open policy and regulatory information infrastructure.