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New “Submit a Formal Comment” Feature!

We’re excited to announce the release of our newest feature – the ability to comment on a document without leaving FederalRegister.gov. We’ve been working with the team at Regulations.gov to make this possible and are excited to share it with you all.

Previously, whenever you clicked the ‘Submit a Formal Comment’ button on a document we would send you to the Regulations.gov site to complete your comment. Now, when you click that button we will load the comment form from Regulations.gov and present it to you in the context of the document. Working together with Regulations.gov we are seeking to expand your access to the rulemaking process and we believe this is the logical next step in this process.

Comment Form Screenshot 2

With the launch of this new feature we also wanted to provide a brief overview of how the commenting process works. Before we jump into the details, here’s a brief summary.

 

Summary

The commenting process allows the public to take part in the rulemaking process – however the agencies assessment of these comments is not simply a count of how many for and how many against. FederalRegister.gov now provides not only the ability to comment directly from FederalRegister.gov but also the ability to be notified when your comment is publically available and to receive notifications when future documents mention the document you commented on, helping you stay informed throughout the process. The Office of the Federal Register serves as the publisher for other agencies rulemaking documents and as such cannot provide guidance on substantive questions about a document.

 

The Federal Rulemaking Process

The Federal Register plays an important role in the Federal rulemaking process but that role is limited. The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) serves as the publisher for other agencies rulemaking actions. In this role, OFR does not and cannot answer substantive questions about a document published in the Federal Register. Our role is to ensure that documents are published timely and accurately such that the public can participate in the rulemaking process.

A Federal agency can begin the rulemaking process for any number of reasons, including: receiving a petition from an individual, interest group, or industry group; pro-actively reviewing its own regulations; or being ordered to by a court decision.

The rulemaking process can start in a number of different places – including but not limited to – a request for information, asking for comments on a petition submitted to the agency, and the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

Most Executive branch agencies will accept comments via email or on Regulations.gov – and, with the launch of our new commenting feature, through FederalRegister.gov (where we send the comments to Regulations.gov on your behalf). As part of the rulemaking process, they will use Regulations.gov to manage the information within a docket. Some agencies will also add any comment they receive via email to that docket so that anyone interested can see the complete collection of public comments.

Not all agencies use Regulations.gov, but for those that do, they include the docket number in the document they give us to publish and we use the Regulations.gov API to load the information related to that docket on FederalRegister.gov (including the comment form we now present to users).

FederalRegister.gov does not collect or manage any comments. When you submit a comment from our new commenting feature, we send that information onto Regulations.gov via their API and do not store the comment on our site. If you are a registered MyFR user, we store your comment tracking number for your convenience (but none of the information contained within your comment).

Once a comment is submitted to an agency, staff at that agency will review each comment for any personally identifying information (such as social security numbers) and for any inappropriate language. Agencies may choose to not make such comments publically viewable or may choose to redact information as needed. Depending on agency policies, submitted comments may be approved in an ongoing, ‘rolling’ basis or all together at the end of the comment period. If you created a comment via FederalRegister.gov and choose to be notified when your comment is publically available, you will receive an email when this takes place on Regulations.gov.

While agencies must assess and respond to substantive comments they receive through the rulemaking process, the assessment is not simply how many for and how many against. Agencies will review any new issues raised and respond to substantive comments often grouped by concern. Their responses most often appear in the final rule or, if appropriate, in a supplemental NPRM.

If new issues are raised that the agency thinks important, the agency can issue a supplemental NPRM, incorporating those issues and asking for more comments. The agency could also decide to not proceed with the rulemaking at all. If they decide not to continue, they may take no action or they may publish a document in the Federal Register formally withdrawing the proposal. These are all agency decisions that the Office of the Federal Register is not a part of.

Because of the fluidity of the rulemaking process, each step may take a different amount of time and steps may be repeated. As a result, it can be difficult to know when follow-on documents are going to be published. Part of our new feature launch includes the ability to choose to be notified when a future document mentions the document you commented on. This subscription can be managed just like all your subscriptions on FederalRegister.gov and you can choose to stop receiving these notifications at any time.

 

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40 Responses to New “Submit a Formal Comment” Feature!

  1. I have learn several good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how a lot effort you put to make this sort of great informative web site.

  2. Pingback: Grant Simply | Collecting comments, bulking up for health IT and waiting for a crisis

  3. Thanks for this usefull article about the commenting process.

    Greetings

  4. You may wish to be aware that while the submit a formal comment button loads and works perfectly while using chrome, it doe not appear at all when I load the same page in the latest version of Internet Explorer

  5. Thank you for Regulations.gov with commen this post.

  6. Thank you so much for useful information. Really appreciate it.

  7. It will be possible, under your permit for single article, to publish it on our site when it could be of general interest alose in Italy ?
    Regards

  8. This is great news and a valuable feature to the public. The steamlined process for leaving a comment should lead to more valuable input! Thanks for this!

  9. Great job, bringing different government bodies and functions together and creating a synergy for the benefit of the people.

    I hope in the future, a citizen can take all his dealings with the government, authority and administration online in one interactive, smooth and User Optimized experience.

  10. The channels of communication that I like a lot.

  11. Hope we have all the agencies that make rules apart of the process to insure equal protection under the law .

  12. good to have new features

  13. that awesome nice to see this feature

  14. Good one

  15. Congratulations to the whole team who have worked hard for this success. It’s really nice that you are sharing with us.

  16. The Comment period was extended from 9/2 to 10/2 but I can not find a Submit a Formal Comment Button so here is my comment on:

    Statewide and Nonmetropolitan Transportation Planning; Metropolitan Transportation Planning

    Non motorized transportation (particularly walking and bicycling) should be separated from the transit data base and evaluated as a unique mode of transportation. The fact that walking and bicycling do not add to air pollution problems but do contribute to good health (particularly for children and seniors) can not be quantified under the current Federal Database Information System. Therefore, development of sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and trails can not be documented to be the best solutions for certain local transportation problems like traffic congestion around schools, or traffic congestion in down towns.

    Transportation Issue Chair
    Sierra Club California

  17. you’re truly a just right webmaster. The web site loading speed
    is incredible. It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    Also, The contents are masterwork. you have performed a great job in this topic!

  18. The US Forest Service rule concerning photographs in the UNTIED STATES’ Forests is ridiculous. The National Parks and National Forests are for ALL AMERICANS to enjoy. I find this to be dictatorial, fascist, and in direct violation of our rights as Americans. These are OUR parks not yours. You are simply the custodians as we see fit. You serve at the pleasure of WE THE PEOPLE not for your own self serving interests. Thank you for listening.

  19. Thank you! What percentage of comments will be reviewed and responded to?

  20. This is my first time ever leaving a comment on government website. I am extremely upset that the forest service would require the citizens of our country to buy a permit under “interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40″to photograph a piece of our own country that we the citizens own. What ever happened to the saying of leave nothing but foot prints and take only memories (photos)? Please do not enact this directive.This is destructive to our society as whole and an erosion of our liberties.

  21. Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this blog
    and I’m impressed! Very useful information specifically the last
    section :) I deal with such information much.

    I was looking for this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

  22. I am happy to be (maybe) the first one to comment on this post.

    Notification: I do want to be notified but I couldn´t see the little box (or so) to click a check.

  23. The supporting documents related to notices in the Federal Register that are supposed to be made available on the PRA web page (http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/PaperworkReductionActof1995/PRA-Listing.html) are often delayed well beyond the publication of notices in the Federal Register. I have emailed the Paperwork@cms.hhs.gov/ website on many occasions requesting documents and almost never receive a reply or documents requested. These delays significantly reduce the 60 or 30-day comment period for the public. This problem has been ongoing.

  24. Why viewers still make use of to read news papers when in this
    technological world everything is accessible on net?

  25. This sounds like a great tool and a way to have our voices heard. Thank you for providing great information on this process.

  26. This is a very nice feature. Glad someone finally figured it out.

  27. I would like a synopsis of the future medical programs and any deadlines I should be aware of.

  28. Unfortunately, we do not have authority over any agency’s programs and/or practices.

  29. All comments are reviewed by each document’s individual agencies and are addressed in the final rule.

  30. All comments are processed and reviewed by a document’s issuing agency. When attempts to comment online are unsuccessful, please refer to the commenting instructions in the “ADDRESSES” section of the document.

  31. For assistance with navigating the web site, please send an email to fedreg.info@nara.gov and someone from our support team will respond.

  32. It is possible to subscribe to topics of interest via a federalregister.gov advanced search. For assistance, please email fedreg.info@nara.gov and a member of our support team will help.

  33. All comments on Federal Register documents must be submitted via the “submit a formal comment” button on the document page. This is the only way the comment will be recorded and considered.

  34. Every comment must be reviewed and considered by the issuing agency.

  35. Information appearing in the Federal Register can be reproduced without restriction.

  36. Technical problems with the site should be submitted to our support site at https://federalregister.tenderapp.com/.

  37. I’m glad you add this feature. It would help us to drop a comment quickly and easily.

  38. Thank you for figured it out. Very useful information.

  39. I’m not even sure if this is the place I need to be. Maybe someone can guide me. I have some pretty good information that our school is violating the free school lunch program. I believe people are lieing on the forms and the director is letting it go through so they get more from the government. I work very hard and pay full price. It’s not fair to honest people, and it could hinder other schools. Who would I contact to have the school investigated?

  40. Very well explained! Everything has to have an order.

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