Thursday, September 11, 2008


Erin Z.-R.

Thursday we learned about the "Federal Register Publication System: What It Is and How to Use It”. The Federal Register is “the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents". It is updated daily by 6 a.m. and is published Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. GPO Access contains Federal Register volumes from 59 (1994) to the present.. When a bill is passed and becomes a law or statute, it mandates that a federal executive office or agency writes regulations or rules to enforce the law. Having rules and proposed rules in the Federal Register lets the public know what Federal agencies and offices are planning to do, holding these offices and agencies and offices accountable, and giving the public a chance to comment. It also lets people know of opportunities for funding and Federal benefits (some notices are for Federal RFP and grants). The presentation has a nice comparison of laws and rules and discusses how the Federal Register is laid out.

A few weeks before the seminar Central staff had a question about someone wanting an interpretation of part of a bill that had been passed. I asked our speaker about finding this type of information and he said that it is best to go to the agency which is responsible for enforcing the rules mandated by the law. If it’s not known which agency or office is responsible for enforcing the law or if someone wants more information on the law, it is best to go to the text of the law and see what it mandates and of whom. Once you know this, you should contact the agency’s expert on the subject of the law, education, for example, to find out more about how it will be enforced and its potential impact.

Documents occasionally appear in the Federal Register. These documents describe official actions and functions that may affect the public or provide important information, but don’t amend the Code of Federal Regulations. Examples of documents that have appeared in the Federal Register are grant announcements and funding availability, environmental impact statements, meeting notices. I have a handout which describes the types of notices that appear (presidential documents including executive orders, proclamations, administrative orders and miscellaneous documents), their format, and research tools and finding aids in the federal register.

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is “the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each volume of the CFR is updated once each calendar year and is issued on a quarterly basis. “() The Federal Rules which appear in the CFR have general applicability to the public and current and future effect as of the date specified. They are always published first in the Federal Register as amendments to the CFR. I have a copy of the presentation if anyone would like more information on the CFR’s structure, how rules are codified in the CFR, how the public can participate in rulemaking, and how to use the CFR.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. It operates a hotline that people can contact to report safety hazards. Recordings of safety information and product recalls are available 24 hrs a day. People can also contact the CPSC on their website or by e-mail. CPCS also follows up on reports in the media. It conducts recalls, creates educational and informational programs, collaborates with industry and other stakeholders in the development of safety standards, establishes relationships with counterparts both nationally and internationally, and seeks remedies, fines, etc. CPSC also reaches out to consumers through its Neighborhood Safety Network. This is a program which allows organizations and individuals to register in the NSN database and then receive free safety information to share with its members. Other CPSC resources include publications and a wealth of safety information within its website. People can sign up for recall alerts to learn about recalls faster.

George Barnum spoke about a film he helped create on the history of the GPO. To view the film and/or read the transcript go here and click on “GPO-History Video”.

The last presentation of the day was “Planning the FDLP of the Future: What Shape Will It Take?” The presenter spoke about the principles of government information (access, authenticity, preservation), the mission of the Federal Depository Program and how it is achieved through FDLP’s activities including keeping up with and anticipating change.

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