The Regulations.gov is a great place to locate information on the development of Federal regulations (e.g Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and Environmental Protection Agency) issued by the United States government. This site provides helpful information regarding various rules, proposed rules, and public comments on regulatory issues that affect the entire society. Regulations.gov is managed by the eRulemaking Program Management Office with the assistance of several federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency. The eRulemaking Program was created in 2002 as an E-Government project. Additionally, Regulations.gov aims to promote more efficient and effective rulemaking through public involvement.
Let’s research whether the Bureau of Prison has enacted or proposed any new rules that deal with overcrowding and housing conditions in federal prisons. First, we need to click the Advanced Search link located in the middle of the page, just below the main search box. When using the “Advance Search” field, there are options to limit your search results to keywords, document types, and by agency or docket. A keyword search is search based on a general topic and common words used in the rule or topic. The document type option allows the user to limit the search result document to public submission, notice, rule, proposed rule and/or other supporting and related material.
Let’s now run a keyword search by typing “housing condition” in the text box. Scroll down to middle of the page and in the “By Agency” box, type “Federal Prisons Bureau.” This section encompasses an auto-fill feature that allows the user to limit the agencies results as the text is being typed. Then click, search. When searching by agency filed, we can search particular agencies to locate documents in a particular area of law.
After the page redirects, you will see a list of two proposed rules, one enacted rule, and three public submissions. The page is displayed by title, document type, agency, document identification, and posted date. Using the option field located at top left of page, you can sort your results by display topic, filter the result by other agencies, by category, or by comment status.
By clicking on an enacted rule, you can review the comments, the summary of rules, and the contents of the new rules. By clicking on the Proposal Rule, you can review the notice of proposal changes, the deadline, the procedure for submitting comments, and the summary of proposal changes. The Public Submission is a detailed list of comments submitted by the community.
After reviewing the regulation of interest, you can provide comments to a document that is open for comments. To do so, click the “Submit a Comment” link either on the Search Results page or Document Details page.
After click the “Submit a Comment” link, a web form will open and allow you to enter your contact information and submit a comment. The comment will be sent directly to the particular agency.
After submitting your comment, a comment tracking number will be issued. This number can be used to quickly search for and locate your comment once it has been posted to Regulations.gov. This number is also permanently tied to your comment. (Note: Since the Federal Prison Bureau comments for housing condition have closed, the section above is an illustration on how to submit a comment.)
~Brian Tyson, L’12~