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CRS – Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking

Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the Federal Register. Maeve P. Carey, Analyst in Government Organization and Management. May 1, 2013

  • Federal rulemaking is an important mechanism through which the federal government implements policy. Federal agencies issue regulations pursuant to statutory authority granted by Congress. Therefore, Congress may have an interest in performing oversight of those regulations. Measuring federal regulatory activity can be a useful way for Congress to conduct that oversight. The number of federal rules issued annually and the total number of pages in the Federal Register are often referred to as measures of the total federal regulatory burden. Certain methods of quantifying regulatory activity, however, may provide an imperfect portrayal of the total federal rulemaking burden. For example, the number of final rules published each year is generally in the range of 2,500-4,500, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Some of those rules have a large effect on the economy, and others have a significant legal and/or policy effect, even if the costs and benefits are minimal. On the other hand, many federal rules are routine in nature and impose minimal regulatory burden, if any.”
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