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). Learn more about the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

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 Government 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 Indian Affairs?

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. View All Parts of Title 25.

How does Indian Affairs develop or revise regulations?

RACA works with the program offices, Department 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.

Indian Affairs employees seeking more specific guidance on the rulemaking and Federal Register process should go to RACA's internal webpage via SharePoint here: https://doimspp.sharepoint.com/sites/doi-asia-raca.