Skip to page content
United States Department of Labor
Bookmark and Share

How to Participate in the Rulemaking Process

Rulemaking and Regulations

"Rulemaking" is the term used when a government agency creates, modifies, or deletes rules in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Rules are government agency statements (or parts of government agency statements) that either:

  • Implement, explain or prescribe law or policy, or
  • Describe an agency's organization, procedure, or practice requirements.

Below are links to various sources of information on the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) rulemaking activities and regulations.

Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations (Regulatory Agenda) — A list of all regulations expected to be reviewed or developed in the next year; usually published each April and October in the Federal Register; the Fall Agenda also includes the Department's Regulatory Plan, which has additional information on its most significant regulatory activities.

Federal Register Documents — Public regulations and legal notices issued by DOL agencies; includes text of all proposed rules, final rules, and notices published in the Federal Register.

DOL Procedures for Compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 13272 — The purpose of the procedures is to help agencies understand and meet the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act and E.O. 13272, Proper Consideration of Small Entities in Agency Rulemaking.

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) — All current regulations pertaining to DOL programs organized by CFR chapter and responsible DOL agency.

Major Laws, Executive Orders, and Regulations Enforced by DOL — Provides easy-to-access information on how to comply with federal employment laws, regulations, and Executive Orders administered or enforced by DOL for employers, workers, job seekers, and retirees.

Employment Law Guide — Requirements of major Department of Labor laws and help for employers in determining which requirements apply to their businesses or workers.

Research and Evaluation Inventory and Documents Library - This library includes an inventory of all completed and planned research and evaluation projects as well as links to programmatic and policy documents produced by DOL agencies.

Instructional Videos from

What Are Requlations?

How to Comment on a Regulation

Glossary of Rulemaking Terms

Request for Information (RFI) — An RFI is one among many possible tools used by an agency to help it develop a proposed rule.  Use of an RFI is entirely optional.  Agencies generally use RFIs when they want public input on whether a new rule or changes to an existing rule are needed, and comments on what course the agency should take should it decide to move forward.

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) — An ANPRM is one among many possible tools used by an agency to help it develop a proposed rule.  Use of an ANPRM is entirely optional.  An ANPRM generally describes the regulatory action an agency is considering and the underlying issues, and solicits public comments.  Agencies frequently use an ANPRM when it is necessary or advisable to obtain a broad spectrum of public comments and information in the initial steps of regulatory action.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) — An NPRM informs the public that the agency is proposing a new rule or a revision to an existing rule and provides the public with a period of time to comment on the proposed rule.   The NPRM usually provides the proposed regulatory text.  It also generally includes an explanation of the basis and purpose of the proposed rule and the issues involved in the rulemaking.

Interim Final Rule — An Interim Final Rule is a rule adopted without prior public input that is made effective immediately, but then invites post-promulgation comment.  Such rules rely on exceptions — usually the “good cause” exceptions — to the Administrative Procedure Act’s rulemaking requirements as a basis for not engaging in prior notice and comment proceedings, or eliminating the otherwise-required 30 day delay prior to effectiveness.  The rule is generally accompanied by a preamble that explains the basis for the rule and contains a variety of analyses required by statutes and executive orders.

Direct Final Rule — This approach is used in limited circumstances where an agency believes that a rule is noncontroversial and unlikely to receive adverse comments.  An agency simultaneously publishes a Direct Final Rule and an NPRM in the Federal Register with a statement that the rule will be effective as a final rule as of a particulardate unless an adverse comment is received.  If an adverse comment is filed, the agency would withdraw the final rule and continue with the proposed rule under normal notice and comment procedures.

Final Rule — A Final Rule is published in the Federal Register to provide public notice, and is generally accompanied by a preamble that explains the basis for the rule, responds to comments received on the NPRM, and contains a variety of analyses required by statutes and executive orders.  The term “Final Rule” includes Direct Final and Interim Final rules.  Final rules generally take effect 30 days after publication.

Comment Period – The Administrative Procedure Act requires that federal agencies give the public an opportunity to participate in rulemaking.  In notice-and-comment rulemaking, the public is given a set period of time to submit written comments on a rule.  The time allotted for agency receipt of public comments is referred to as the comment period.  Federal agencies typically invite public comments on RFIs, ANPRMs, NPRMs,   Direct Final Rules and Interim Final Rules.  While the Administrative Procedure Act sets no time frame for the comment period, Executive Order 12866 provides that generally a comment period should be no less than 60 days.