Statement #7: Views of the Administrative Conference on Proposals Pending in Congress to Amend the Informal Rulemaking Provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act

Publication Date
June 18, 1982

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The Administrative Conference has reviewed the major regulatory reform proposals pending in Congress: H.R. 746, the Regulatory Procedure Act of 1982, reported by the House Judiciary Committee on February 25, 1982, and S. 1080, the Regulatory Reform Act, passed by the Senate on March 24, 1982.  These bills would substantially revise the provisions of the APA governing informal rulemaking, 5 U.S.C. 553.  Our views on the following proposed revisions of section 553 are set forth below.

1. Notice of proposed rulemaking.  The Conference believes the detailed notice requirements of amended section 553(b)(1)(F), in section 3 of the Senate bill, are unduly burdensome as general requirements in rulemaking.

The Conference recommends enactment of the provision in section 3 of the Senate bill that would amend section 553 to require publication of a new notice of proposed rulemaking and an opportunity for comment thereon, whenever the provisions of the rule the agency plans to adopt are so different from the provisions of the original proposal that the initial notice no longer fairly apprises the public of the issues ultimately to be resolved in the rulemaking.

2. Opportunity to present comments.  The Conference has no objection to enactment of the provisions in the House and Senate bills that would establish a minimum comment period in rulemaking under section 553, provided that the "good cause" exception in section 553(b) is retained.

The Conference recommends that an opportunity for oral presentation of data and views should not be a mandatory requirement in rulemaking under section 553 even if the requirement is limited, as in the Senate and House bills, to "major" rulemakings.  The Conference has recommended, in Recommendation 76-3, that in appropriate circumstances agencies should utilize oral presentations in informal rulemaking, but agencies should have discretion to decide when and to whom the presentations are made.

3. Cross-examination.  The Conference recommends that Congress not enact the provisions in the Senate and House bills that would require cross-examination to be permitted in rulemaking under section 553, even though the bills would only require use of cross-examination as a "last resort" procedure.  The Conference has previously recommended, in Recommendation 76-3, that agencies should give interested persons an opportunity to indicate issues of specific fact for which they contend cross-examination is appropriate, and that if cross-examination is permitted, it should be strictly limited as to subject and duration.

4. The requirement of a rulemaking file.  The Conference recommends that Congress amend the APA to provide that, in rulemaking under section 553, an agency shall maintain a public rulemaking file beginning no later than the date on which the notice of proposed rulemaking is published.  At a minimum, the agency should be required to place in the public rulemaking file, promptly upon receipt or production, the following materials: (1) all notices pertaining to the rulemaking; (2) copies, or where impractical a reference to or index of, all factual material upon which the agency substantially relied in formulating the proposed or final rule, unless the material is by law exempt from disclosure; (3) all written comments submitted by interested persons during the rulemaking; and (4) any other material required by statute or agency rule to be made public in connection with the rulemaking.

5. Opportunity to comment on material in the rulemaking file.  The Senate bill provides that an agency may not substantially rely upon factual material that was not placed in the rulemaking file in time to afford the public an adequate opportunity to comment on the material.  The Conference opposes enactment of a statutory provision to this effect because the practical effect of such an inflexible requirement would be to encourage nonsubstantive challenges to final agency rules.  The Conference, however, does reaffirm the principle, stated in Recommendation 76-3, that agencies provide an appropriately limited additional opportunity to comment when material placed in the rulemaking file, including comments filed in the proceeding, presents new and important issues or serious conflicts of data.

6. Statement of basis and purpose.  The Conference recommends enactment of the provisions in the House and Senate bills that would amend section 553 to add a requirement that the statement of basis and purpose accompanying a final agency rule include a response to all significant issues raised in the public comments received by the agency during the comment period established for the rulemaking.



47 FR  30715 (July 15, 1982)

__ FR _____ (2013)

1982 ACUS 486 (vol. II)