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Informal rulemaking, also called "notice-and-comment rulemaking" and "553 rulemaking," is the rulemaking process set out in section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The vast majority of Federal regulations are issued using this process. In its most simple form, it involves: (1) publishing an NPRM in the Federal Register; (2) inviting public comment; (3) considering the public comment; and (4) publishing a final rule in the Federal Register. The informal rulemaking process is intended to be a legislative-like process in which the rulemaker, like a legislator, gives the public an opportunity to influence the making of a regulatory decision. Under the APA, any "interested person" may submit comments. Thus, each informal rulemaking action has the potential to be like a national town hall meeting; anyone who wants to may participate. Informal rulemaking is to be distinguished from the rarely used formal (trial-type) rulemaking. (See Formal Rulemaking.)

According to the APA's informal rulemaking procedures, an agency has discretion when deciding whether or not to hold an oral hearing. (Sometimes an agency's own statute requires it to hold hearings in certain rulemaking matters.) (See Hybrid Rulemaking.) If an agency decides to hold a hearing, the agency has further discretion to set the ground rules for the hearing. The hearing may be a very informal legislative-like one at which people read or state their views for the record, or it may be very formal with sworn witnesses and cross-examination.

This glossary was first compiled by The Regulatory Group, Inc., for its training courses more than 20 years ago. It is constantly being amended and revised to stay current with the developments in the Federal regulatory process. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts or suggestions on how this glossary can be further improved.
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