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Each day Federal agencies publish numerous documents in the Federal Register, including proposed rules, final rules, public notices, and Presidential actions. The print-based, official edition of the Federal Register displays information in a dense format (3-column PDF) that makes it difficult to read, or to process regulatory data in meaningful and innovative ways. The Office of the Federal Register (we) posts this unofficial, HTML (XML-based) edition of the Federal Register on FederalRegister.gov to overcome the technical limitations of the official PDF edition and to demonstrate how an alternate  version can effectively convey regulatory information to the public. This HTML version is presented in a unique web journal format known as “Federal Register 2.0,” or “FR2.” In the future, this site will be presented to the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register for their determination as to whether it should be granted official status under 1 CFR 5.10.

Key Features of this Site:

 

Document Format

On this website , we display documents published in the Federal Register in a web journal format, using HTML display and numerous hyper-text links to pertinent information referenced in Federal Register documents.

Topical Sections

Federal Register documents are organized into six main topical sections, characteristic of a web journal (Money, Environment, World, Science & Technology, Business & Industry, and Health & Public Welfare). Selected and crowd-sourced articles are featured on these pages based on user interest, agency input, and the OFR’s editorial judgment. Use the “Sections” pull-down at the top of any page to see highlighted documents and suggested searches.

Legal Note: The topical sections are user aids and provide navigational tools for readers. The process of sorting documents into these sections has no legal significance or legal effect on any aspect of the agency issuances.

Suggested Searches

Each topical section contains suggested searches designed for users to quickly delve into various areas of interest. These may be “trending topics” or “evergreen” regulatory actions and notifications that appear routinely and frequently and are of particular interest to certain users.

  • Trending topics are items such as Dodd-Frank regulations, health care reform, education initiatives, and energy efficiency. Evergreen topics include frequently published items such as information collection notices, endangered & threatened species findings, oil and gas leasing documents, and fishery management decisions.
  • At any given time, a “routine” topic can become vitally important and timely, such as the “Disaster Declarations & Assistance” search. Some items, such as Social Security Rulings, are not published often but they can be difficult to find, and may be essential to gaining a full understanding of the law and regulations that govern this entitlement.
    • Accuracy: We strive to refine the suggested searches to minimize irrelevant items. For example, international economic sanctions are very different from the kinds of sanctions domestic law enforcement agencies publish in the Federal Register. Although we try to exclude off-topic items from a suggested search, we cannot eliminate all irrelevant documents due to the way the search engine interprets key words and phrases. Our search parameters may also exclude some documents that would be relevant to the topic. If a search is not accurate enough for your purposes, you can customize our “canned” search results to fit your true area of interest.

Table of Contents

The “Current Issue” link on the home page takes users to the daily Federal Register table of contents.  The table of contents page also offers a calendar tool or a direct date entry box to view tables of contents of prior issues back to 1994.

Agency Pages

Each major agency has its own “home page” with a description of its mission and selected information, such as comment periods opening and closing, “Significant Rules” as defined by E.O. 12866, and collections of the most recent documents and public inspection postings.

Topics Index

The “Topics” pages contain key terms selected by agencies from the Federal Register Thesaurus. These terms are published in rules and proposed rules (not general notices), and relate to CFR parts. Users may select any of the topics to display all documents that include the chosen topic. You can access Topics pages by clicking on the “Browse” pull-down tab that appears at the top of every page.

Search Tools

This site has a basic search tool and an advanced search. The basic search box appears on every page. The “Search” pull-down tab at the top of pages shows various search options:

  • Basic: The basic search is accessible from the top navigation bar.  Basic search offers Boolean options and several other search techniques.  See the basic search help page for more information.
  • Citation: Retrieval by citation is available in the basic search box. For example, enter: 75 FR 12345 or 75 Fed. Reg. 12345 in the search box (with or without periods).
  • Advanced: The advanced search permits users to narrow results by date, agency, document category, docket ID, Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), CFR part, and geographic location.
  • Events: The basic and advanced search pages include an “Events” tab that limits searches to comment period opening and ending dates, final rule effective dates, and public meeting and hearing dates.
  • Unified Agenda: The basic and advanced search pages include a “Unified Agenda” tab that limits searches to material extracted from the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. Users can read Unified Agenda abstracts for the regulatory history of Federal Register documents deemed to be significant under E.O. 12866, and follow links to the text of those documents.
  • Public Inspection: You can search for information within the current day’s public inspection documents.  To search for previous days’ public inspection documents that have been published in the Federal Register, use the basic Federal Register “Article Search” or the “Advanced Article Search.” Then look for the link to the public inspection version in the sidebar on the right side of the Federal Register article.

Extracted Tables of Contents in Documents

To enhance navigation within Federal Register documents , we process major headings from the material to create internal tables of contents that link to the text in the body of the item.

Legal Note: The internal tables of contents in Federal Register articles are navigation tools, processed from the headings within the legal text of Federal Register documents, and repeated just below the Summary. The  repetition of headings to form internal navigation links has no substantive legal effect.

Summary and Key Information Sidebar

To improve the readability of documents, we place the “Summary” in a prominent position. We position key information from Federal Register headings and identifying data in a sidebar on the right side of the page. This “Key Information Sidebar” includes Publication Date, Action, Dates (effective dates, comment dates, applicability dates, meeting dates, etc.), Comments Close Date, Entry Type, Page Span, CFR Citation, Agency Docket ID, Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), and Federal Register Document Number.

Legal Note: All the information displayed beneath the bold headings in the Key Information Sidebar is published in the headings, text, or running heads of the printed Federal Register, with the exception of the “Shorter URL.”

Unified Agenda and Regulations.gov Links

For the convenience of our readers, we also link FederalRegister.gov material on this site with other major Federal regulatory websites. These data connections add context to rulemaking actions and related documents by showing the complete lifecycle from initial regulatory planning and docketing, through the proposed rule stage(s) and the posting of public comments and supporting material, to the end-point of final rule publication and effective date.

Unified Agenda
  • Federal Register rulemaking documents may contain an excerpt of the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) and display a “Regulatory Timeline,” (with data pulled from Reginfo.gov). The Unified Agenda is published every spring and fall to provide uniform reporting of data on regulatory and deregulatory activities under development throughout the Federal Government, covering approximately sixty departments, agencies, and commissions. Visit their “FAQs” page to learn more about the Unified Agenda and the regulatory review process.
  • The Unified Agenda is re-issued approximately every six months.  In some cases, the abstracts and the designation of documents as “significant” under E.O. 12866 may not be current. When the Unified Agenda is re-issued, FederalRegister.gov extracts new information to bring the abstracts up to date.
Regulations.gov
  • Items open for comment display a due date banner, and a green button to “Submit a Formal Comment,” which links users to the relevant page of the centralized Federal docket site for submitting and viewing comments on rulemaking and non-rulemaking actions (Regulations.gov). If an electronic docket is not available on Regulations.gov, our comment link jumps readers to the comment submission information in the Federal Register article. When Regulations.gov reprocesses its data, our links to the Regulations.gov site may not function for a period of time. If our green “Submit a Formal Comment” button does not work or docket information appears to be missing, the agency’s docket may not be ready for use, or the agency may have chosen to collect comments in another way.
  • The “Regulations.gov Docket Info” sidebar to the right of Federal Register documents identifies the public comment docket, and links to the docket folder, the comments received, and any supporting materials contained in the docket.
  • We show a running count of comments received in electronic dockets. Our comment count is based on the information currently available from Regulations.gov. Agencies may require several days to get a new docket established. Once a comment is received, the appropriate agency must process it before it is posted to Regulations.gov. Given the fact that certain documents may generate thousands of comments, processing may take several weeks before a comment can be viewed online.
  • Some “non-participating agencies” do not have Regulations.gov comment dockets; they may post comments on their agency web site. Some participating agencies may not post all comments received, particularly those submitted in paper form. For more information on Regulations.gov comment dockets and the features of that site, please visit their FAQs page.

Legal Note: The due date banner, “Submit a Formal Comment” button, and sidebar links to Regulations.gov electronic docket pages are user aids; they are not included in the legal text of Federal Register articles. Similarly, the Unified Agenda timeline, abstract, and links to Federal Register articles in the Unified Agenda abstract are user aids; they are not included in the legal text of the Federal Register. We strive to maintain integrated links to Regulations.gov dockets for the convenience of our users. If a link from the FederalRegister.gov website to Regulations.gov is missing or malfunctioning, users should not draw any substantive conclusions about the status of that rulemaking or proceeding. We try to correct linking errors as soon as possible for your convenience.

Linked Legal References

OFR and GPO link the references in Federal Register material with the other primary legal information resources that appear on GPO’s Federal Digital System and other official sites. The extensive system of hyperlinks expands access to the key documents of our democracy for the people and communities served by the U.S. Government.

  • CFR Links: When you click on a link to the CFR, you get a choice — go back in time to the annual CFR book that was available at the time the document was published, or view the currently updated CFR as it appears today via the e-CFR. When it is a close call as to which of the annual editions of historical CFR books would be most useful, we offer another choice — pull up either of the two annual books that were generally available before or after a rule or proposed rule was issued.

Page Numbers and Footnotes

Federal Register page numbers within the body of documents are accessible by hovering over the small “page” icons that appear at the beginning of each page (page breaks correspond with the printed/PDF edition). You can also click on the ribbon tabs on the right-hand side of pages to show the page number pertaining to each paragraph.  For access to footnotes, you can hover over it with your mouse or pointing device, keeping the item in context.  Clicking on the footnote reference will jump you down the page to the text of the footnote.

Email Notifications, RSS Feeds, and Social Media Sharing

The site includes tools for sharing documents with associates and communities via email notification subscriptions, RSS feeds, and Twitter and Facebook social networking applications.  You also can send emails of Federal Register documents to associates and communities on a one-time basis (look for the mail graphic next to Twitter and Facebook icons).

  • Subscriptions: To subscribe to notifications look for the light orange “subscribe” button with the RSS and email symbols off to the right side of a page. When you click on the subscribe button, you can select from three RSS options and an email option. If you choose email for notifications, just fill in your email address and click on “subscribe.” You will immediately receive an email with a link to confirm your subscription. You can easily unsubscribe at any time with a click on “unsubscribe” in the email, and another click to confirm. If you choose RSS for notifications, click on one of the RSS applications and follow the RSS provider’s instructions.
  • Subscription Options: You have the option of receiving the Table of Contents of each day’s issue in an email or RSS notification; you can subscribe to the articles in any of our News Sections; you can subscribe to a particular agency’s documents from their Agency page; or to a particular topic from the Topics pages. In many instances, you have the option of limiting notifications to “significant” documents as defined under E.O. 12866. You may also use our subscription service to get notifications of public inspection filings: by agency; by saved search terms; or by the complete set of documents on file each day.
  • Saved-Search Customized Subscriptions: You can create custom email and RSS notifications by subscribing to specific search results. For example, you may want to track Airworthiness Directives issued by the FAA. Enter “Airworthiness Directives” in the search box and click. To exclude other agencies that reference airworthiness documents, choose FAA as the agency in the left column of search results. If you only want to see proposed directives, choose “Proposed Rule” as the document type. Complete the process by clicking on “subscribe.” You will start getting notifications in your email in-box as soon as new documents become available.

Images and Thumbnails

The complete content of Federal Register documents appears on the website, including illustrations and camera copy of manuscript text.  However, we currently have difficulty presenting some equations.  Images are displayed as inline graphics and also appear as thumbnail previews near the beginning of documents. If an image or equation cannot be adequately displayed within the HTML page, we link to the full-page PDF of the document as it appears in the printed/PDF editions.

Statistics and Visualizations

We may use visual representations, such as graphs, charts, and maps, to display statistical information on agency activity and regulatory data.

Public Inspection Documents

The Federal Register Act requires that we file documents for public inspection at our office in Washington, D.C. at least one business day before publication in the Federal Register.  See, 44 U.S.C. 1503 & 1507. The Public Inspection web page on FederalRegister.gov offers a preview of documents scheduled to appear in the next day’s Federal Register issue. The Public Inspection page may also include documents scheduled for later issues, at the request of the issuing agency. This gives the public access to important or complex documents before they publish in the Federal Register.

Legal Note: The legally controlling version of a public inspection document is the official record filed at our office in Washington, D.C. For more information about public inspection documents, see “About Public Inspection.”

Open Source Code

Our commitment to open and transparent Government extends to sharing the underlying code of this website. The various applications and tools on this site are built with open source software. We in turn offer our code and applications to the open source community for public use, without restriction. Each Federal Register document also includes a link to the corresponding raw XML file for free use in other applications.

Feedback and Public Comments

Our “Site Feedback” tool and Federal Register email addresses are only intended for users to submit technical questions and comments on the functionality of the FederalRegister.gov website.  These tools cannot be used to submit comments on rulemaking actions or to petition agencies on public policy issues. We have no authority or ability to process comments on regulations and notices or answer questions on the substance of agency actions.

  • Readers should submit formal comments on rules, proposed rules, and notices to the agency dockets on Regulations.gov or other places identified under the “Addresses” heading in Federal Register documents. Many of the documents posted on this site have a “Submit a Formal Comment” button that takes users directly to the official comment pages on Regulations.gov. Substantive comments on rules and notices mistakenly submitted to FederalRegister.gov as feedback, blog comments, and user help email will not be passed on to the official agency comment docket.
  • The “For Further Information Contact” headings in the Federal Register direct users to agency officials who can answer specific questions.
  • For general questions and comments on government agencies’ policies and actions, please consult USA.gov for a directory of federal and state contacts and frequently asked questions.
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