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A preamble is the part of a rulemaking document, usually published in the Federal Register, that explains the reasons for the regulatory action of a Federal agency. The preamble of a proposed rule contains information about the bases for the proposal, possible hearings, contact people, comment dates, and related materials that are available to the public. The preamble of a final rule contains the statement of "basis and purpose" of a regulation as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. This also normally includes the agency's response to comments filed by the public.

A preamble is not a part of the regulatory text, and therefore does not appear in the Code of Federal Regulations. A preamble is not legally enforceable, but it is an important aid in gaining an understanding of why an agency is acting or refusing to act. A preamble is also part of the "informal record"--the material that would be reviewed by a court to determine if an agency has acted in an arbitrary or capricious manner.

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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