Indian Affairs | Regulations and Information Collection
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Regulations and Information Collections

What are regulations?

Regulations are rules, laws, or orders documenting what may or may not be done, or how something must be done. Congress provides agencies the authority to issue regulations, and at times Congress requires agencies to issue a regulation. Final regulations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and remain in effect until it’s modified by publication of another rule. The CFR is divided into 50 titles representing areas subject to Federal regulation. Each title contains chapters, which usually refer to the issuing agency, and each chapter contains parts. Each CFR volume is updated once per calendar year and issued on a quarterly basis. Given the update schedule of the CFR, any changes or amendments since the last time each CFR title was updated can be checked by going to the List of Sections Affected (LSA). To learn more about the CFR, click here:Code of Federal Regulations.


How are regulations created?

The Administrative Procedures Act governs the Federal regulation process, known as “rulemaking.”Once an agency determines that a regulatory action is necessary, it develops and publishes a proposed rule in the Federal Register (also referred to as a notice of proposed rulemaking), requesting comments from the public on the proposal. Once the agency considers and addresses the public’s feedback, a final rule is published in the Federal Register with the date upon which the rule (regulation) becomes effective. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is also involved in the review process, and Congress may review new regulations issued by Federal agencies as well.


How can I participate in the rulemaking process?

The public is strongly encouraged to participate in the Federal rulemaking process. The best way to do this is to view the Federal Register (link provided below) to find out more about notices seeking public comment, and to submit your comments directly to the agency during the proposed rulemaking stage. You should submit your comments through the Regulations.gov website (link provided below).


Where do I find regulations specific to IA?

The CFR title most relevant to Indian Affairs is Title 25-Indians.This Title addresses all Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and other Indian Affairs programs. All parts of title 25 can be viewed at:www.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/cfrassemble.cgi?title=200925.


How does Indian Affairs develop or revise regulations?

RACA works with the program offices, DOI leadership, and the Office of the Solicitor to identify and prioritize necessary regulatory changes. Once the need for a regulatory change has been identified, RACA coordinates with Departmental subject matter experts to develop an initial draft. RACA may also reach out to tribal subject matter experts at this point.

Once an initial draft is developed, RACA further engages the tribes through formal tribal consultation meetings or discussions. RACA works with the Department’s subject matter experts to revise the draft regulation to address tribal input, and then publishes a proposed rule in the Federal Register to solicit public comment. At this point, RACA may coordinate additional tribal consultation meetings and/or host public meetings. Again, working with subject matter experts, RACA addresses the comments received during the public comment period, and ultimately publishes a final rule in the Federal Register.


What role does OMB play?

OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) may review agencies’ proposed and final regulations for two different purposes:(1) to review “significant” rules under the process outlined in Executive Order (EO) 12866 (“Regulatory Planning and Review”); and (2) to review agency efforts to collect information from the public based on specific guidance issued in the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). OIRA’s review of draft regulation is limited to 90 days, with a few exceptions. OIRA provides agencies with specific guidance and “best practices” for conducting regulatory analysis as part of their regulation drafting process.


What is an “information collection”?

The Federal Government collects a wide range of information from the public to carry out its day-to-day functions. The U.S. Census is an example of a vast information collection undertaking using questionnaires. “Information collections” can be in any format, including but not limited to verbal requests, general regulatory requirements, administrative forms, questionnaires, surveys, and other instruments, and also include record-keeping and reporting requirements.

To ensure that the Government’s requests for information are not unduly burdensome on the public, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requires agencies to justify each information collection to OMB. The agency’s justification explains how the information collection will maximize the public benefit and utility of the information collected and minimize the burden imposed on the public to collect that information. Agencies must estimate potential burdens on the intended recipients of the request, seek public comment through notices in the Federal Register, and submit clearance requests to OMB for review and approval. OMB approval for an agency’s data collection instrument can last up to a maximum of three years; OMB grants a control number for the collection instrument as its evidence of approval.


Are information collections always associated with new regulations?

Information collections are not always associated with new regulations; conversely, not all new regulations include information collections. Regulations often articulate when information is collected in support of a program’s mission, so RACA reviews each new or revised regulation to identify information collections. However, agencies may conduct information collections in the absence of regulations through implementation of statutory authority. An example is an information collection associated with the solicitation of grant applications from the public.


How do I find out whether an information collection has been approved by OMB?

OMB and the General Services Administration’s Regulatory Information Service Center produce a website called “Reginfo.gov” that provides public access to current and historical data on all information collection reviews conducted by the OIRA.


What is RACA’s role in information collection?

RACA coordinates the information collection clearance process for IA. This includes working with the program offices to identify and tailor information collections to impose the least amount of burden possible on the public in obtaining the information necessary to meet the program’s mission. RACA coordinates with the Department Information Collection Clearance Officer and OMB to obtain approvals for information collections.