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F&W ECOL 515: Natural Resources Policy (Spring 2021) : Regulations.gov

Regulations.gov

Note: the new version of Regulations.gov is supposed to go live on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

Regulations.gov  is a federal government database that allows the public to track and participate in the federal rule-making process electronically.  Two especially useful functions for the purposes of this class are:

  • Search and retrieve all publicly available regulatory materials, including posted public comments, supporting analyses, proposed rules, rules, and Federal Register notices
  • Submit a comment on a regulation or on another comment

Date coverage:  Regulations.gov went live in January 2003.  It contains some content published before 2003.

Types of content included

  • Dockets: folders for documents or other information related to an agency's rulemaking or nonrulemaking activities.
  • Documents: Beth the librarian thinks these will be the most useful for your assignment. They include:
    • Proposed rules
    • Rules
    • Notices (describe official actions and functions that May affect the public or provide important information but do not amend the Code of Federal Regulations).  Examples of notices include
      • Environmental impact statements
      • Decisions and orders applicable to particular entities
      • Procedures for filing applications and petitions
      • Issuance or revocation of licenses
      • Delegations of authority, statements of agency organization
    • Supporting materials
  • Comments: Not all comments are posted:  "Agencies review all submissions, however some agencies may choose to redact, or withhold, certain submissions (or portions thereof) such as those containing private or proprietary information, inappropriate language, or duplicate/near duplicate examples of a mass-mail campaign."

 

Search tips

  • Enclose phrases in quotation marks.  Example: "national forest"
  • Results are grouped in three categories. Each category has a tab at the top of the results list.
    • Dockets
    • Documents, which are displayed by default, and are usually the most useful results for your assignments
    • Comments
  • When looking for general documents on a topic, Beth the librarian recommends filtering results in the “documents” tab to
    • Notice
    • Proposed rule
    • Rule
  • To filter search results by a date range or specific date,
    1. Click custom dates under Posted (date a document was published) or Comments Due on the left.
    2. Enter a date range in the pop-up box.
    3. Click apply in the bottom left of the pop-up box.
  • Regulations.gov refers to agencies, commissions, and sub-agencies (for example, Fish & Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers) as "agencies."
  • To filter search results by agency that published a document, click the button next to an agency name under Agency on the left. Only the agencies with the most results appear by default; to select additional agencies
    1. Click see more at the end of the list of agencies.
    2. In the pop-up box that appears, click in the search box.
    3. Start to type in part of the agency name. Agency names containing those letters will appear below.
    4. Click the boxes to the left of the agencies you want to limit to.
    5. Click apply in the bottom left of the pop-up box.
  • Results are displayed in order of relevance ("best match").  To change this, click the box to the right of sort by (near the top right of the results list) and select a different sort order.