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REGWRITER ALERT: Proposed New Format and Publication Requirements for the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations

November 3, 2014

On October 28, 2014, last Tuesday, the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register published a proposed rule to revise its regulations regarding the official requirements for the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations (79 FR 64133). This is the first major revision to the regulatory publication requirements since 1972. Through the proposed amendments the Committee seeks to "clarify certain policies and to reflect current procedures and technological advances." All regulatory agencies should review this proposal since the changes would affect all Federal Register documents. Comments are due by December 29, 2014.

Below are just a few of the topics covered in the proposed rule.

New Document Category

"[T]he Committee is proposing to add a new category to the daily Federal Register ... and revise the list of documents types that publish in the Rules and Regulations category of the daily Federal Register. Certain types of documents that are currently required to be published in the Rules and Regulations category would be published in this new category of the daily issue, which would be called ''Regulatory Notices.'' The Regulatory Notices category would include documents containing Regulation Identifier Numbers (RINs) that do not amend the CFR; Paperwork Reduction Act notices; statements of organization and function; and announcements of public meetings, Sunshine Act notices, other meeting notices that are related to specific agency regulations and rulemaking actions; and general policy statements concerning regulations."

No Notice & Comment for Future Amendments to Format Requirements

"The Committee also proposes to revise §§ 5.10 and 8.6, which discuss the official formats of the Federal Register and the CFR. ... Setting out the official formats within the CFR makes it difficult to keep pace with the rapidly changing technological developments in publishing. ... The Committee has determined that it may announce official formats in a published Notice rather than codify them in the CFR, and that it may do so without seeking public comment."

Official Version of the CFR To No Longer Include Upcoming Effective Dates

"Currently, § 8.3(c) requires that all rule documents amending the CFR be included in the annual soft-bound version of the CFR, even if the amendments to the CFR are not yet effective. ...Now that there is an unofficial Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR) that displays the current text of the CFR and links readers to pending Federal Register amendments, users have less need for future-effective amendments in printed editions."