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What is the editorial process for what is published in the Federal Register [ www.federalregister.gov ]? Are there requirements for what departments must publish in it, or is it up to each individual department to determine what is newsworthy?

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  • Why would you think that "newsworthiness" is a criterion for inclusion in the federal register?
    – phoog
    Feb 2 '20 at 7:03
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Are there requirements for what departments must publish in it, or is it up to each individual department to determine what is newsworthy?

Federal Register, 1936 to Present

Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 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.


Federal Register 101

The Office of the Federal Register, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, publishes regulations in the Federal Register, the official “newspaper” of the federal government, every work day. The office annually compiles all current regulations into the bound volumes of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

How Was the Federal Register Established?

The idea for a centralized publication system for executive branch documents began during the Great Depression, when Congress began enacting a host of legislation that gave executive branch agencies increased authority to regulate. With this flood of new regulations, it soon became apparent that, because there was no standardized repository, it was difficult for the public and federal agencies to know which regulations were effective and enforceable.

This situation was dramatically highlighted when the Supreme Court decided a case involving an agency that tried to enforce a regulation that had actually been revoked by an executive order. No one—not the government, not the defendants, not the lower courts—was aware that the regulation had been eliminated.

In response, Congress enacted the Federal Register Act (FRA) in July of 1935. The FRA created the Federal Register as the official daily publication for presidential documents and executive agency rule and notice documents and established a central location for filing documents for public inspection.

The documents that the Federal Register Act requires agencies to publish in the Federal Register include:

  • executive orders and proclamations;
  • documents of general applicability and legal effect;
  • documents that impose a penalty;
  • any other documents that Congress requires.

Federal Register Act, 44 U.S. Code § 1505. Documents to be published in Federal Register

(a) Proclamations and Executive Orders; Documents Having General Applicability and Legal Effect; Documents Required To Be Published by Congress. There shall be published in the Federal Register—

(1) Presidential proclamations and Executive orders, except those not having general applicability and legal effect or effective only against Federal agencies or persons in their capacity as officers, agents, or employees thereof;

(2) documents or classes of documents that the President may determine from time to time have general applicability and legal effect; and

(3) documents or classes of documents that may be required so to be published by Act of Congress.

For the purposes of this chapter every document or order which prescribes a penalty has general applicability and legal effect.

(b) Documents Authorized To Be Published by Regulations; Comments and News Items Excluded.

In addition to the foregoing there shall also be published in the Federal Register other documents or classes of documents authorized to be published by regulations prescribed under this chapter with the approval of the President, but comments or news items of any character may not be published in the Federal Register.

(c) Suspension of Requirements for Filing of Documents; Alternate Systems for Promulgating, Filing, or Publishing Documents; Preservation of Originals. In the event of an attack or threatened attack upon the continental United States and a determination by the President that as a result of an attack or threatened attack—

(1) publication of the Federal Register or filing of documents with the Office of the Federal Register is impracticable, or

(2) under existing conditions publication in the Federal Register would not serve to give appropriate notice to the public of the contents of documents, the President may, without regard to any other provision of law, suspend all or part of the requirements of law or regulation for filing with the Office or publication in the Federal Register of documents or classes of documents.

The suspensions shall remain in effect until revoked by the President, or by concurrent resolution of the Congress. The President shall establish alternate systems for promulgating, filing, or publishing documents or classes of documents affected by such suspensions, including requirements relating to their effectiveness or validity, that may be considered under the then existing circumstances practicable to provide public notice of the issuance and of the contents of the documents. The alternate systems may, without limitation, provide for the use of regional or specialized publications or depositories for documents, or of the press, the radio, or similar mediums of general communication. Compliance with alternate systems of filing or publication shall have the same effect as filing with the Office or publication in the Federal Register under this chapter or other law or regulation. With respect to documents promulgated under alternate systems, each agency shall preserve the original and two duplicate originals or two certified copies for filing with the Office when the President determines that it is practicable.

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