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Regulations.gov is a website used by over 300 participating federal agencies to solicit and receive comments on proposed rules, published in the Fed. Reg. Submitted comments are available for everyone to view. Agencies then take the public's comments into consideration before publishing a final rule in the Fed. Reg., before final codification in the CFR.
Unfortunately, not all federal agencies participate in Regulations.gov. Of the nonparticipating agencies, there are several worth noting such as the FCC and SEC.
Also unfortunately, agencies that use Regulations.gov sometimes create multiple dockets for the same rulemaking.
Like the Federal Register, Regulations.gov serves a dual function of current awareness as well as a regulatory history resource. It is primarily a current awareness tool in the sense that you can find rules currently under consideration and comments submitted from interested parties around the country, as well as submit your own. To this end, Regulations.gov offers certain current awareness tools such as RSS feeds and Twitter account.
Regulations.gov also acts as a kind of historical repository of the rulemaking process. In the course of a research project, you may encounter a regulation that you need to understand better what the agency was thinking during its drafting. Turn to Regulations.gov to find the comments that form part of the regulatory history of a rule.
Find a proposed regulation: Search by document ID or keyword in the search area on the homepage. There is also an advanced search option offering additional methods.
Submit a comment: You can comment on regulations as long as they are "open for comment."
Find a comment: You can search using a Comment Tracking Number or by keyword, such as the name of the person whose comments you are looking for.
Sign up for current awareness tools: These tools include email alerts that you can sign up for about a specific regulation or RSS feeds that you can subscribe to by agency of newly posted FR notices.
For more information, check out Regulations.gov's help section.
Regulations.gov has useful search parameters, a help guide, and useful current awareness tools. The main downside to Regulations.gov is lack of comprehensiveness. There are several nonparticipating agencies, including the FCC and SEC and it is not clear that the site necessarily includes all submitted comments from the agencies that do participate.
Listed below are a selection of efforts for making the rulemaking process more accessible to the public.