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General Information on Regulations.gov
The Rulemaking Process
Using the Regulations.gov Web Site
Viewing Document Formats
Submitting Comments and Filing Submissions
General Information on Regulations.gov
A Federal regulatory clearinghouse, Regulations.gov was officially launched in January 2003 as the first milestone of the Federal E-Government eRulemaking Initiative. This U.S. Government Web site encourages public participation in the federal decision-making by allowing you to view and submit comments and documents concerning federal regulations, adjudication, and other actions. Regulations.gov provides one-stop, online access to every rule published and open for comment, from more than 160 different Federal agencies.
Regulations.gov has created universal access to the Federal regulatory process by removing barriers that previously made it difficult for the public to navigate the expanse of Federal regulatory activities. Regulations.gov is the first one-stop Internet site for the public to submit comments on all Federal rulemakings. It is also the first site that allows the public to submit comments via the Internet to virtually all Federal Agencies.
The new generation of Regulations.gov, the eRulemaking Initiative's Federal Docket Management System (FDMS), launched in the fall of 2005, enabled the public to access entire rulemaking dockets from participating Federal Departments and Agencies. FDMS is a full-featured electronic docket management system that builds upon the capabilities of the original Regulations.gov and gives Federal rule writers and docket managers the ability to better manage their rulemaking and non-rulemaking activities. With this system, Federal Departments and Agencies can post Federal Register documents, supporting materials, and public comments on the Internet. The public can search, view, and download these documents on FDMS' public side, Regulations.gov.
In developing the new system, the eRulemaking Initiative engaged participating Agencies in detailed system requirements-gathering, design, planning, and review. This collaborative approach ensures that the system functionality meets each Agency's specific business requirements and supports their interactions with the public.
Please note: While the new Regulations.gov enables Agencies to post rulemaking and non-rulemaking dockets on the site, it is up to each Department or Agency to determine what information is made available on the site.What information is found on Regulations.gov?
Users can access all Federal Register documents open for comment across the Federal government on Regulations.gov. In addition, the public can find, view, and comment on additional rulemaking and non-rulemaking documents. Many Departments and Agencies are now using Regulations.gov to post their complete dockets (i.e., collections of documents commonly including, Federal Register documents, supporting and related materials, and public submissions) on the Web site. While Regulations.gov enables Agencies to post rulemaking and non-rulemaking dockets on the site, it is up to each Department or Agency to determine what information is made available on the site.
Although Regulations.gov is a central repository of rulemaking dockets, not all agencies have the same needs for the system. The purpose of the Web site is to provide easy access to individuals and businesses who want to learn about regulations that may affect them. However, government agencies on Regulations.gov administer different programs, must comply with different rules, and have different policies for making informatiotn available. Therefore, agencies have some discretion in determining how they make information available to the public on Regulations.gov.How does Regulations.gov work?
Regulations.gov transforms the way the entire government solicits comments from the public by presenting rules that are open for comment through a transparent and accessible forum. The Web site posts an electronic rendition of every proposed rulemaking document and provides visitors with a variety of means to search for and retrieve those documents, including a full text search capability. The site also allows visitors to easily submit a comment on any open rulemaking or file a submission on other actions, which is then forwarded to the appropriate agency. Regulations.gov uses state-of-the-art technology to manage the volume of data that passes through its servers each day. Regulations.gov is updated daily by the National Archives and Records Administration using electronic versions of the same Federal Register documents printed every business day to ensure that regulations open for comment are available for public access. In addition to federal regulations, Departments and Agencies can also make available other non-rulemaking documents such as adjudication and other actions on Regulations.gov.Where can I find information on navigating and using Regulations.gov?
The menu bar on the left side of the home page provides users with information on how to navigate and use Regulations.gov. From the menu items you can find tips on using the site, Frequently Asked Questions, a User Guide, glossary, and information on the site features.
The Rulemaking Process
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for final regulations, proposed regulations, and other notices of Federal Departments and Agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders and other Presidential Documents. The Federal Register also provides the public with access to a wide range of Federal benefits and opportunities for funding. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Office of the Federal Register, prepares the Federal Register for publication in partnership with the Government Printing Office (GPO), which distributes it in paper, on microfiche and on the World Wide Web. For additional information on the Federal Register, click here http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.What is the CFR?
The CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) is an annual codification of the general and permanent regulations published in the Federal Register by the Federal Departments and Agencies of the Federal government. Electronic and paper publications of the CFR are available through www.gpoaccess.gov.What is a Rulemaking?
Rulemaking is the name given to the process followed by Federal Departments and Agencies to formulate, amend, or repeal a regulation. A Federal regulation is generally an authoritative requirement issued by a Federal Department and Agency that implements a statute and has the force of law. The rulemaking process generally consists of a proposed rule stage and a final rule stage. For most categories of rulemaking, the Department or Agency provides notice of a proposed regulation and any person or organization may review this document and submit comments on it in writing. The period during which public comments are accepted varies, but is usually 30, 60, or 90 days.
As part of the rulemaking process, the Department or Agency is required to consider the public comments received on the proposed regulation. When the Department or Agency publishes the text of the final regulation in the Federal Register, it generally incorporates a response to the significant issues raised by those who submitted comments and discusses any changes made to the regulation as a result.What is a Docket?
A docket serves as the repository for documents or information related to an Agency's rulemaking activity. Agencies most commonly use dockets for rulemaking actions, but dockets may also be used for various other non-rulemaking activities.
The docket generally consists of the materials specifically referenced in the Federal Register document, any public comments received, and other information used by decision-makers or otherwise related to the Agency rulemaking activity, such as supporting analyses. When an Agency announces a rulemaking action in the Federal Register, the Agency may create a docket to accumulate materials throughout the rulemaking's lifecycle. Some Agencies maintain their dockets electronically with access via the Internet, while other Agencies retain hard copies of materials submitted to their docket.
Regulations.gov contains the rulemaking dockets of select participating Departments and Agencies. If you wish to view the docket for a particular rulemaking of a non-participating Department or Agency, the Federal Register publication for that rulemaking will describe the methods through which the docket can be viewed. Any comments you submit to an Agency may be made available for public inspection, copying, and dissemination via the paper and/or electronic docket.
Using the Regulations.gov Web Site
For detailed instructions on how to use the features on Regulations.gov, click on the Help menu item located on the main navigation (tan) bar on any screen. The Help menu includes a link to the User Guide, that will display relevant information related to the section of the application you are in. Please see the User Guide or Help for additional information. The Help button is included on every Regulations.gov screen.
If you need additional assistance using Regulations.gov, please call 1-877-378-5457 (1-877-ERUL-HLP). Help Desk hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. You may also use the online submission form at any time by clicking on the contact us button at the bottom of any Regulations.gov screen.How can I find regulations and other documents that are open for comment on this Web site?
You can find documents that are open for comment or for which you can file a submission by typing in a keyword, docket or document ID in the section "Comment or Submission" on the Home Page. A number of easy searches are available on the Regulations.gov Web site under the "More Search Options" page, where you can find links to the following pre-defined searches to access Federal rules open for comment:
In addition, you are able to narrow down any search result by clicking on any of the items on the left side of the search results page. To find documents that are open for comment, look for the selection of items under "Comment Period."How can I find regulations that are no longer open for comment (i.e., closed dockets and documents)
You can find regulations that are no longer open for comment by selecting the "All Documents" radio button on the Regulations.gov home page. You can refine your search by entering additional search criteria for Agency, Document Type and/or a category keyword or ID.
The Advanced Search function can be used to perform detailed docket or document searches for rulemaking materials made available by Agencies participating in the next generation of Regulations.gov.
Any combination of the search criteria can be used when searching for a rule. If no matches for the search criteria selected are found, the user will receive a "No results found" message.
For detailed instructions on how to perform searches on Regulations.gov, click on the Help> menu item located on the main navigation (tan) bar on any screen.How do federal Departments and Agencies use Regulations.gov to make government information available to the public?
Many Departments and Agencies are now using Regulations.gov to post their complete dockets (i.e., collections of documents commonly including, Federal Register documents, supporting and related materials, and public submissions) on the Web site. While Regulations.gov enables Agencies to post rulemaking and non-rulemaking dockets on the site, it is up to each Department or Agency to determine what information is made available on the site. Therefore, the information on the Regulations.gov docket details screen, document details screen, and comment form is unique for each Department and Agency and conforms to each Department or Agency’s internal policy.
Although Regulations.gov is a central repository of rulemaking dockets, not all agencies have the same needs for the system. The purpose of the Web site is to provide easy access to individuals and businesses who want to learn about regulations and other information that may affect them. However, government agencies on Regulations.gov administer different programs, must comply with different rules, and have different policies for making information available. Therefore, agencies have some discretion in determining how they make information available to the public on Regulations.gov. For additional information on a specific Department or Agency, you can contact www.USA.gov.How do I bookmark a docket or document?
The Bookmarking feature on Regulations.gov lets you easily return to the Docket or Document by saving the URL in your Internet browser as a 'bookmark' (also known as 'Favorites').
To save a bookmark, a Bookmark icon is available at the top of both the Docket Details or Document Details screen. You can add the bookmark to you list of favorites by right-clicking on the Bookmark icon. You can also copy a shortcut or drag the icon to your desktop, a document, or an e-mail to save the bookmark.How do I set up an e-mail notification for a specific docket?
You can receive an e-mail alert every time a new document is added to a specific docket with the new 'E-mail Notifications' feature. You can register to receive e-mail notifications on a specific docket by clicking on the notification icon found on the Docket Search results page or the Docket Details page.
With this feature, you will be e-mailed when a new type of document (i.e., Rule, Proposed Rule, Notice, Public Submission, Supporting and Related Materials, or a document categorized as 'Other') is available in a specific docket. You can choose one or any combination of types of documents for the notification. You can also choose the frequency (daily, weekly, monthly) that you want to receive the e-mails, and the duration of the subscription (up to 12 months).
Registration is easy all you need is a valid e-mail address. You will receive a separate e-mail alert for each docket that you register to receive a notification. In addition, the e-mail will provide a link to manage all of the notifications that have been established under the same e-mail address.
Viewing Document Formats
Regulations.gov displays document files in one of two ways depending on the type of file you select to view. You can open an HTML file in your current browser window or you can open other file programs (e.g., PDF, Word) in a separate application window.
Viewing the Document File in the Current Browser Window (HTML files only)
If you click on the HTML file icon to view a file, Regulations.gov will open that file in the current browser window. The Document ID will be listed at the top of the window. In addition, you have the option to print the file by clicking on the "Print" button at the top of the screen. To go back to the Search Results page, simply click on the "Close" button at the top of your screen.
Downloading the Document File in its Native Application (TXT , PDF , DOC , XLS , etc.)
If you click on a file icon, other than HTML, to view a file, Regulations.gov will open a "File Download" dialog box asking you to either open or save the file. (Certain image files may display in the same window, if your browser is set up as the default application for displaying image files.) If you select "Open", the file will open in another window using the program in which it was created. Your computer must have the registered program with which the file is associated in order to open and view the file. If you select "Save" you will be prompted to save the file to your computer or other storage device. You also have the option to select "Cancel" which will close the "File Download" dialog box and return you to the Search Results screen.
What if I cannot view HTML documents on Regulations.gov because my system does not support IFRAMES or if my software blocks the use of IFRAME tags?
Regulations.gov uses IFRAME tags to display HTML documents without invoking your browser's pop up blockers. Your system may be configured with ad-blocking software that prevents the use of IFRAME tags on your browser.
If you have ad-blocking software, you may want to check your security settings on your software configuration or consult with your software provider for assistance.
If you do not wish to adjust your security settings on your system or software, Regulations.gov offers you the alternative of downloading the HTML file to your computer.
Submitting Comments and Filing Submissions
Once you locate a rule or document that has been posted by the Agency for comment/submission by using one of the search functions on the Regulations.gov site, click on the corresponding "comment" icon in the "Add Comments" column to access the Public Comment and Submission Form where comments and supporting information or other public submissions can be submitted to the Agency on the posted rule or action.
Step 1. Submitter Information: Each Federal Agency decides what information it wishes to collect from a person submitting a comment. Each Agency determines which fields are required and which fields will be viewable by other users on Regulations.gov. Information that is required in order to submit a comment is identified by a red asterisk (*) next to the field. Information that will be publicly viewable on Regulations.gov when the Agency publishes the comment is identified by a blue pound sign (#) next to the field.
Step 2. Public Comment or Submission : You can type your comments in the General Comments box provided on the comment form. There is no limit to the number of characters that you can type in this box. You must type something in this box for your comment to be submitted successfully through Regulations.gov.
Attachments: You can attach electronic files with your text comments. To view the file types accepted by Regulations.gov, click the Learn More text. You can attach as many files as you wish. Regulations.gov will show a message when you have successfully uploaded a file. However, you must continue submitting the comment, by clicking on the "Next Step" button, in order for the file to be submitted to the agency.
Step 3. Action: Click on the Next Step button to preview your comment. Here you have the opportunity to review and edit your comment prior to its submission. You can also print the preview of your comment prior to submitting it. Once you are satisfied with your comment, click on the Submit button to complete the process. You will then receive a comment verification note and tracking number. Regulations.gov will show a message when you have successfully uploaded a file.
The Comment Icon is displayed in the 'Add Comments' section on Regulations.gov during the published comment period in the relevant Federal Register document or other action, or if the Agency has extended the comment period. If you would like to submit a comment on a document and the Comment Icon is not displayed, please refer to the contact information in the ADDRESSES block of the Federal Register document (if applicable). You can ask the person listed there if the Agency is still accepting comments on the document.
Each Federal Register document tells you how, when, and where to comment on a proposed regulation in its "Addresses" section. Department and Agency procedures and practices vary, so please refer to the specific Federal Register document before submitting your comment. Some Departments and Agencies may continue to accept only paper comments by mail, or fax, or hand delivery. Do not submit Confidential Business Information ("CBI") to Regulations.gov. Comments submitted through Regulations.gov cannot be claimed as CBI. Comments received through the Web site waive any CBI claim for the information submitted. To submit CBI, follow the directions in the Federal Register document on which you are commenting, or contact the Agency or Department personnel whose name appears in the Federal Register document. For those Departments and Agencies accepting electronic comments, you may submit your comment directly through the Regulations.gov Web site. You should be aware that some Departments and Agencies impose special requirements for the submission of information, such as confidential business information or copyrighted works. For further information, follow with directions in the specific Federal Register document, or contact the specific Department or Agency directly.
Your comments will not be considered until they have been properly received by the specific Department or Agency. You should refer to the Department or Agency issuing the rule to learn the current status of a proposed or final regulation or the special submission requirements for that Department or Agency. You should inquire directly with a Department or Agency to confirm if it has received your comments.How do I file a submission to a Federal agency to initiate an action?
Certain Federal agencies allow the public to initiate an action by filing a submission via Regulations.gov. The agencies listed below have created specific dockets to accept public submissions. To find the docket, enter the docket ID in the search field from the Regulations.gov home page.
Individual submissions are limited to 10MB (10,000KB). To submit files greater than 5MB, compress the attached file(s) using file compression software or submit each attachment separately using multiple submissions.How do I attach a file to my comment or submission?
You can add attachments within the Comment Form in the "Public Comment or Submission" section. Click on "Browse" to look for an attachment stored on your computer or disk. After you find the file you want to attach, click the "Open" button and the name of the file will appear in the blank field in the Attachments section. To confirm that you have found the correct file and to upload it to the system, click "Add Attachment." The system will tell you whether your upload was successful. You must also type something in the General Comment box for your comment or submission (and attachment) to be submitted successfully through Regulations.gov.How else can I submit comments on Federal Register documents?
Each Federal Register action that is open for comment through the Regulations.gov Web site contains specific instructions on how to submit comments for that particular rulemaking action. Presently, all Federal Department and Agencies continue to allow you to deliver your written comments by mail or by hand; check the "Address" section of the Federal Register document for additional details. For those Agencies that accept only paper comments, you may have to print your comment from the Web site and send it to the address specified by the Agency. Some Departments and Agencies also receive comments submitted by fax, e-mail, or directly through their own Internet Web sites.Should I keep a paper copy of my comments or submission?
You may want to keep a paper copy of your comments in case there are problems with submitting the comment electronically or if you wish to have a record of the comment you submitted. If you submit your comments electronically through the Regulations.gov Web site, you may make a copy of your comments by clicking on the "Print" button that will appear after you have completed the comment form, but prior to submission of the comment to the Agency. If you send your comments to a Federal Department or Agency in paper form, you should make an extra copy for your records.Where are my electronic comments or submissions going?
Your comments are transmitted via the Regulations.gov Web site to the Department or Agency that is asking for public comment. All public comments received are then reviewed by that Department or Agency and taken into account when the final regulation is developed.What if I submit a comment and then change my mind or want to correct an error on my submitted comment?
Comments are not retrievable once submitted. Simply re-submit another comment referring to your previous comment, correcting any errors and/or re-stating your position or opinion. The applicable Department or Agency will review all comments submitted within the comment period.How can I verify that my comments or submission has been received by the Department or Agency?
For Federal Register documents with an open comment period, federal Departments and Agencies generally do not acknowledge that they have received specific public comments. However, when a Department or Agency establishes a public docket for a specific rulemaking, public comments are placed in that docket. The Department or Agency will process your comments upon receipt, but the availability of your comments in the public docket will depend on the particular Department or Agency's process. Many Departments and Agencies place public comments in their public docket as they are received.
The electronic comments you submit directly through the Regulations.gov Web site are transmitted to the proper Department or Agency. The Department or Agency receiving your comment is considered the official custodian of the comment. Your comment will not be considered until it has been properly received by that Department or Agency in accordance with the requirements described in the Federal Register document. Users who want to verify that a Department or Agency has received their comment are urged to check directly with that Department or Agency.
Many Federal agencies have the ability to post entire rulemaking and non-rulemaking dockets, including public comments or submissions, on Regulations.gov. When you submit a comment through Regulations.gov to one of these Agencies, a Comment Tracking Number will be included on the "Receipt" screen that you receive when you finish the comment submission process. This Comment Tracking Number can be used to quickly search on and locate your comment once it has been posted to Regulations.gov by the Agency using the Search for Documents function. The Comment Tracking Number will be permanently tied to your comment, and is a unique number that cannot be duplicated.
Please note that the Comment Tracking Number is not available for searching on Regulations.gov until the Agency makes your comment available on Regulations.gov. Each agency has its own policies related to posting of comments and the time period for posting received comments. Please contact the agency if you have a specific question regarding your comment.
Contact information can be obtained from the Federal Register notice for the specific rulemaking action. Please refer to the "Addresses" and "For Further Information Contact" sections of the Federal Register notice.What personal information does this Web site collect?
The Regulations.gov Web site does not collect or permanently store personal information about you. This Web site does collect summary information used for system administration and site security, including the domain name and Internet Protocol addresses from which you are visiting, the type of browser and operating system being used to access the site, the pages you are visiting, the time you spend at each page, and the time and date of your visit. The Web site uses this information to create summary statistics, which are then used for such activities as assessing what information is of most and least interest, determining technical design specifications, and identifying system performance or problem areas.
For purposes of submitting comments, some Federal Agencies may require that the user include a name and address on the comment form. This information is forwarded to the Department or Agency requiring the information and is not permanently stored by Regulations.gov. If the Agency is posting public comments on Regulations.gov, a blue pound sign (#) will indicate what fields on the comment form will be visible to other members of the public.Does this Web site publicly disclose my comments on a rulemaking?
The Federal Department or Agency receiving comments through Regulations.gov may make the comments publicly available in the Department or Agency's rulemaking docket or on the Internet. Some Departments and Agencies are now posting public comments on the Regulations.gov Web site.