Statement of Regulatory Priorities

The mission of the Department of Justice is to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law, to ensure public safety against foreign and domestic threats, to provide Federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime, to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior, and to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. In carrying out its mission, the Department is guided by four core values: (1) equal justice under the law; (2) honesty and integrity; (3) commitment to excellence; and (4) respect for the worth and dignity of each human being. The Department of Justice is primarily a law enforcement agency, not a regulatory agency; it carries out its principal investigative, prosecutorial, and other enforcement activities through means other than the regulatory process.

The regulatory priorities of the Department include initiatives in the areas of civil rights, criminal law enforcement and immigration. These initiatives are summarized below. In addition, several other components of the Department carry out important responsibilities through the regulatory process. Although their regulatory efforts are not separately discussed in this overview of the regulatory priorities, those components have key roles in implementing the Department's anti-terrorism and law enforcement priorities.

Civil Rights Division

The Department is including five disability nondiscrimination rulemaking initiatives in its Regulatory Plan: (1) Implementation of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 in the ADA regulations (titles II and III); (2) Implementation of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 in the Department's section 504 regulations; (3) Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations: Movie Captioning and Audio Description; (4) Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Governments; and (5) Accessibility of Web Information and Services of Public Accommodations.

The Department's other disability nondiscrimination rulemaking initiatives, while important priorities for the Department's rulemaking agenda, will be included in the Department's long-term actions for fiscal year 2016. As will be discussed more fully below, these initiatives include: (1) Accessibility of Medical Equipment and Furniture; (2) Accessibility of Beds in Guestrooms with Mobility Features in Places of Lodging; (3) Next Generation 9-1-1 Services; and (4) Accessibility of Equipment and Furniture. The Department will also be revising its regulations for Coordination of Enforcement of Non-Discrimination in Federally Assisted Programs, as well as revising regulations implementing section 274B of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

ADA Amendments Act. In September 2008, Congress passed the ADA Amendments Act, which revises the definition of "disability" to more broadly encompass impairments that substantially limit a major life activity. On January 30, 2014, the Department published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing amendments to both its title II and title III ADA regulations in order to incorporate the statutory changes set forth in the ADA Amendments Act. The comment period closed on March 31, 2014. The Department expects to publish a final rule incorporating these changes into the ADA implementing regulations in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015. The Department also plans to propose amendments to its section 504 regulations to implement the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.

Captioning and Audio Description in Movie Theaters. Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations to take "such steps as may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is treated differently because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the covered entity can demonstrate that taking such steps would cause a fundamental alteration or would result in an undue burden." 42 U.S.C. section 12182(b)(2)(A)(iii). Both open and closed captioning and audio recordings are examples of auxiliary aids and services that should be provided by places of public accommodations, 28 CFR section 36.303(b)(1)-(2). The Department stated in the preamble to its 1991 rule that "[m]ovie theaters are not present open-captioned films," 28 CFR part 36, app. C (2011), but it did not address closed captioning and audio description in movie theaters. In the movie theater context, "closed captioning" refers to captions that only the patron requesting the closed captions can see because the captions are delivered to the patron at or near the patron's seat. Audio description is a technology that enables individuals who are blind or have low vision to enjoy movies by providing a spoken narration of key visual elements of a visually delivered medium, such as actions, settings, facial expressions, costumes, and scene changes.

Since 1991, there have been many technological advances in the area of closed captioning and audio description for first-run movies. In June 2008, the Department issued an NPRM to revise the ADA title III regulation, 73 FR 34466, in which the Department stated that it was considering options for requiring that movie theater owners or operators exhibit movies that are captioned or that provide video (narrative) description. The Department issued an ANPRM on July 26, 2010, to obtain more information regarding issues raised by commenters; to seek comment on technical questions that arose from the Department's research; and to learn more about the status of digital conversion. In addition, the Department sought information regarding whether other technologies or areas of interest (e.g., 3D) have developed or are in the process of development that would either replace or augment digital cinema or make any regulatory requirements for captioning and audio description more difficult or expensive to implement. The Department received approximately 1171 public comments in response to its movie captioning and video description ANPRM. On August 1, 2014, the Department published its NPRM proposing to revise the ADA title III regulation to require movie theaters to have the capability to exhibit movies with closed movie captioning and audio description (which was described in the ANPRM as video description) for all showings of movies that are available with closed movie captioning or audio description, to require theaters to provide notice to the public about the availability of these services, and to ensure that theaters have staff available who can provide information to patrons about the use of these services. In response to a request for an extension of the public comment period, the Department has issued a notice extending the comment period for 60 days until December 1, 2014.

Web Site Accessibility. The Internet as it is known today did not exist when Congress enacted the ADA, yet today the World Wide Web plays a critical role in the daily personal, professional, civic, and business life of Americans. The ADA's expansive nondiscrimination mandate reaches goods and services provided by public accommodations and public entities using Internet web sites. Being unable to access web sites puts individuals at a great disadvantage in today's society, which is driven by a dynamic electronic marketplace and unprecedented access to information. On the economic front, electronic commerce, or "e-commerce," often offers consumers a wider selection and lower prices than traditional, "brick-and-mortar" storefronts, with the added convenience of not having to leave one's home to obtain goods and services. For individuals with disabilities who experience barriers to their ability to travel or to leave their homes, the Internet may be their only way to access certain goods and services. Beyond goods and services, information available on the Internet has become a gateway to education, socializing, and entertainment.

The Internet is also dramatically changing the way that governmental entities serve the public. Public entities are increasingly providing their constituents access to government services and programs through their web sites. Through Government web sites, the public can obtain information or correspond with local officials without having to wait in line or be placed on hold. They can also pay fines, apply for benefits, renew State-issued identification, register to vote, file taxes, request copies of vital records, and complete numerous other everyday tasks. The availability of these services and information online not only makes life easier for the public but also often enables governmental entities to operate more efficiently and at a lower cost.

The ADA's promise to provide an equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities to participate in and benefit from all aspects of American civic and economic life will be achieved in today's technologically advanced society only if it is clear to State and local governments, businesses, educators, and other public accommodations that their web sites must be accessible. Consequently, the Department is considering amending its regulations implementing title II and title III of the ADA to require public entities and public accommodations that provide products or services to the public through Internet web sites to make their sites accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

In particular, the Department's ANPRM on web site accessibility sought public comment regarding what standards, if any, it should adopt for web site accessibility, whether the Department should adopt coverage limitations for certain entities, like small businesses, and what resources and services are available to make existing web sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Department also solicited comments on the costs of making web sites accessible and on the existence of any other effective and reasonably feasible alternatives to making web sites accessible. The Department received approximately 440 public comments and is in the process of reviewing these comments. The Department will be publishing separate NPRMs addressing web site accessibility pursuant to titles II and III of the ADA. On July 9, 2014, the Department submitted its title II Web Site Accessibility NPRM to OMB for E.O. 12866 review with a goal of publishing the NPRM before the end of the 2014 calendar year. The Department plans to follow with the publication of the title III NPRM in the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.

The final rulemaking initiatives from the 2010 ANPRMs are included in the Department's long-term priorities projected for fiscal year 2016:

Next Generation 9-1-1. This ANPRM sought information on possible revisions to the Department's regulation to ensure direct access to Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) services for individuals with disabilities. In 1991, the Department of Justice published a regulation to implement title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). That regulation requires public safety answering points (PSAPs) to provide direct access to persons with disabilities who use analog telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTYs), 28 CFR 35.162. Since that rule was published, there have been major changes in the types of communications technology used by the general public and by people who have disabilities that affect their hearing or speech. Many individuals with disabilities now use the Internet and wireless text devices as their primary modes of telecommunications. At the same time, PSAPs are planning to shift from analog telecommunications technology to new Internet-Protocol (IP)-enabled NG 9-1-1 services that will provide voice and data (such as text, pictures, and video) capabilities. As PSAPs transition from the analog systems to the new technologies, it is essential that people with communication disabilities be able to use the new systems. Therefore, the Department published this ANPRM to begin to develop appropriate regulatory guidance for PSAPs that are making this transition. The Department is in the process of completing its review of the approximately 146 public comments it received in response to its NG 9-1-1 ANPRM and expects to publish an NPRM addressing accessibility of NG 9-1-1 in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016.

Equipment and Furniture. Both title II and title III of the ADA require covered entities to make reasonable modifications in their programs or services to facilitate participation by persons with disabilities. In addition, covered entities are required to ensure that people are not excluded from participation because facilities are inaccessible or because the entity has failed to provide auxiliary aids. The use of accessible equipment and furniture is often critical to an entity's ability to provide a person with a disability equal access to its services. Changes in technology have resulted in the development and improved availability of accessible equipment and furniture that benefit individuals with disabilities. The 2010 ADA Standards include accessibility requirements for some types of fixed equipment (e.g., ATMs, washing machines, dryers, tables, benches and vending machines) and the Department plans to look to these standards for guidance, where applicable, when it proposes accessibility standards for equipment and furniture that is not fixed. The ANPRM sought information about other categories of equipment, including beds in accessible guest rooms, and medical equipment and furniture. The Department received approximately 420 comments in response to its ANPRM and is in the process of reviewing these comments. The Department plans to publish in early fiscal year 2016 a separate NPRM pursuant to title III of the ADA on beds in accessible guest rooms and a more detailed ANPRM pursuant to titles II and III of the ADA that focuses solely on accessible medical equipment and furniture. The remaining items of equipment and furniture addressed in the 2010 ANPRM will be the subject of an NPRM that the Department anticipates publishing in mid-fiscal year 2016.

Coordination of Enforcement of Non-Discrimination in Federally Assisted Programs. In addition, the Department is planning to revise the co-ordination regulations implementing title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which have not been updated in over 30 years. Among other things, the updates will revise outdated provisions, streamline procedural steps, streamline and clarify provisions regarding information and data collection, promote opportunities to encourage public engagement, and incorporate current law regarding meaningful access for individuals who are limited English proficient.

Implementation of Section 247B of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Department also proposes to revise regulations implementing section 274B of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The proposed revisions are appropriate to conform the regulations to the statutory text as amended, simplify and add definitions of statutory terms, update and clarify the procedures for filing and processing charges of discrimination, ensure effective investigations of unfair immigration-related employment practices, and update outdated references. The regulations will also be revised to reflect the new name of the office within the Department charged with enforcing this statute

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

ATF issues regulations to enforce the Federal laws relating to the manufacture and commerce of firearms and explosives. ATF's mission and regulations are designed to, among other objectives, curb illegal traffic in, and criminal use of, firearms and explosives, and to assist State, local, and other Federal law enforcement agencies in reducing crime and violence. The Department is including one rulemaking initiative from ATF in its Regulatory Plan. The Department is planning to finalize a proposed rule to amend ATF's regulations regarding the making or transferring of a firearm under the National Firearms Act. As proposed, this rule would (1) add a definition for the term "responsible person"; (2) require each responsible person of a corporation, trust or legal entity to complete a specified form, and to submit photographs and fingerprints; and (3) modify the requirements regarding the certificate of the chief law enforcement officer.

ATF will continue, as a priority during fiscal year 2014, to seek modifications to its regulations governing commerce in firearms and explosives. ATF plans to issue regulations to finalize the current interim rules implementing the provisions of the Safe Explosives Act, title XI, subtitle C, of Public Law 107-296, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (enacted Nov. 25, 2002). ATF also has begun a rulemaking process that will lead to promulgation of a revised set of regulations (27 CFR part 771) governing the procedure and practice for proposed denial of applications for explosives licenses or permits and proposed revocation of such licenses and permits. In addition, ATF also has several other rulemaking initiatives as part of the Department's rulemaking agenda.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13563 "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review," ATF has published a final rule to amend existing regulations and extend the term of import permits for firearms, ammunition, and defense articles from 1 year to 2 years. The additional time will allow importers sufficient time to complete the importation of an authorized commodity before the permit expires and eliminate the need for importers to submit new and duplicative import applications. ATF believes that extending the term of import permits will result in substantial cost and time savings for both ATF and industry.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

DEA is the primary agency responsible for coordinating the drug law enforcement activities of the United States and also assists in the implementation of the President's National Drug Control Strategy. DEA implements and enforces titles II and III of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 801-971), as amended, and collectively referred to as the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). DEA's mission is to enforce the CSA and its regulations and bring to the criminal and civil justice system those organizations and individuals involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances and listed chemicals appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States. DEA promulgates the CSA implementing regulations in title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), parts 1300 to 1321. The CSA and its implementing regulations are designed to prevent, detect, and eliminate the diversion of controlled substances and listed chemicals into the illicit market while providing for the legitimate medical, scientific, research, and industrial needs of the United States.

Pursuant to its statutory authority, DEA continuously evaluates new and emerging substances to determine whether such substances should be controlled under the CSA. During fiscal year 2015, in addition to initiating temporary scheduling actions to prevent imminent hazard to the public safety, DEA will also consider petitions to control or reschedule various substances. Among other regulatory reviews and initiatives, the DEA will initiate the notice of proposed rulemaking titled, "Transporting Controlled Substances Away from Principal Places of Business or Principal Places of Professional Practice on an As Needed and Random Basis." In this rule, the DEA proposes to amend its regulations governing the registration, security, reporting, recordkeeping, and ordering requirements in circumstances where practitioners transport controlled substances for dispensing to patients on an as needed and random basis. Lastly, the DEA will finalize its Interim Final Rule for Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances. By this final rule, the DEA would finalize its regulations to clarify: (1) the criteria by which DEA-registered practitioners may electronically issue controlled substance prescriptions; and (2) the criteria by which DEA-registered pharmacies may receive and archive these electronic prescriptions.

Bureau of Prisons

The Federal Bureau of Prisons issues regulations to enforce the Federal laws relating to its mission: to protect society by confining offenders in the controlled environments of prisons and community-based facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and that provide work and other self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders in becoming law-abiding citizens. During the next 12 months, in addition to other regulatory objectives aimed at accomplishing its mission, the Bureau will continue its ongoing efforts to: streamline regulations, eliminating unnecessary language and improving readability; improve disciplinary procedures through a revision of the subpart relating to the disciplinary process; reduce the introduction of contraband through various means, such as clarifying drug and alcohol surveillance testing programs; protect the public from continuing criminal activity committed within prison; and enhance the Bureau's ability to more closely monitor the communications of high-risk inmates.

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)

On March 1, 2003, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA), the responsibility for immigration enforcement and border security and for providing immigration-related services and benefits, such as naturalization, immigrant petitions, and work authorization, was transferred from the Justice Department's former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, the immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) in EOIR remain part of the Department of Justice. The immigration judges adjudicate approximately 400,000 cases each year to determine whether aliens should be ordered removed from the United States or should be granted some form of relief from removal. The Board has jurisdiction over appeals from the decisions of immigration judges, as well as other matters. Accordingly, the Attorney General has a continuing role in the conducting of removal hearings, the granting of relief from removal, and custody determinations regarding the detention of aliens pending completion of removal proceedings. The Attorney General also is responsible for civil litigation and criminal prosecutions relating to the immigration laws.

In several pending rulemaking actions, the Department is working to revise and update the regulations relating to removal proceedings in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the hearings, including, but not limited to: a joint regulation with DHS to provide guidance on a number of issues central to the adjudication of applications for asylum and withholding of removal; a joint regulation with DHS to provide, with respect to applicants who are found to have engaged in persecution of others, a limited exception for actions taken by the applicant under duress; a joint regulation with DHS to implement procedures that address the specialized needs of unaccompanied alien children in removal proceedings pursuant to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008; a proposed regulation to establish procedures for the filing and adjudication of motions to reopen removal, deportation, and exclusion proceedings based upon a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel; and a proposed regulation to improve the recognition and accreditation process for organizations and representatives that appear in immigration proceedings before EOIR. Finally, in response to Executive Order 13653, the Department is retrospectively reviewing EOIR's regulations to eliminate regulations that unnecessarily duplicate DHS's regulations and update outdated references to the pre-2002 immigration system.

Retrospective Review of Existing Regulations

Pursuant to section 6 of Executive Order 13563 "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review" (Jan. 18, 2011), the following Regulatory Identifier Numbers (RINs) have been identified as associated with retrospective review and analysis in the Department's final retrospective review of regulations plan. Some of these entries on this list may be completed actions, which do not appear in The Regulatory Plan. However, more information can be found about these completed rulemakings in past publications of the Unified Agenda on in the Completed Actions section for that agency. These rulemakings can also be found on The final Justice Department plan can be found at:





Rules of Practice in Explosives License and Permit Proceedings

ATF has begun a rulemaking process that will lead to promulgation of a revised set of regulations governing the procedure and practice for disapproval of applications for explosives licenses or permits. This new set of regulations, 27 C.F.R. part 771 will replace the regulations previously codified at 27 C.F.R. part 71 (2002), many of which are outmoded and need to be revised.


Retrospective Regulatory Review Under E.O. 13563 of 8 CFR Parts 1003, 1103, 1211, 1212, 1215, 1216, 1235

Advance notice of future rulemaking concerning appeals of DHS decisions (8 C.F.R. part 1103), documentary requirements for aliens (8 C.F.R. parts 1211 and 1212),

control of aliens departing from the United States (8 C.F.R. part 1215), procedures governing conditional permanent resident status (8 C.F.R. part 1216), and inspection of individuals applying for admission to the United States (8 C.F.R. part 1235). A number of attorneys, firms, and organizations in immigration practice are small entities. EOIR believes this rule will improve the efficiency and fairness of adjudications before EOIR by, for example, eliminating duplication, ensuring consistency with the Department of Homeland Security's regulations in chapter I of title 8 of the CFR, and delineating more clearly the authority and jurisdiction of each agency.


Separate Representation for Custody and Bond Proceedings

This rule proposes to amend the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) regulations relating to the representation of aliens in custody and bond proceedings. Specifically, this rule proposes to allow a representative to enter an appearance in custody and bond proceedings before EOIR without committing to appear on behalf of the alien for all proceedings before the Immigration Court


Implementation of the International Trade Data System

DEA is continuing to consider possible changes to its existing regulations (e.g., 21 CFR 1312.14, 1312.24) to take account of the submission of import and export permits to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in electronic form.

Executive Order 13609 - Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation

The Department is not currently engaged in international regulatory cooperation activities that are reasonably anticipated to lead to significant regulations.

Executive Order 13659

Executive Order 13659, "Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America's Businesses," provided new directives for agencies to improve the technologies, policies, and other controls governing the movement of goods across our national borders. This includes additional steps to implement the International Trade Data System as an electronic information exchange capability, or "single window," through which businesses will transmit data required by participating agencies for the importation or exportation of cargo.

At the Department of Justice, stakeholders must obtain pre-import and pre-export authorizations from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (relating to controlled substances and listed chemicals), or from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) (relating to firearms, ammunition, and explosives). The ITDS "single window" will work in conjunction with these pre-import and pre-export authorizations.

Pursuant to section 6 of E.O. 13659, DEA and ATF have consulted with CBP and are continuing to study whether some modifications or technical changes to their existing regulations are needed to achieve the goals of E.O. 13659.