How to Use the Unified Agenda

The Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions provides uniform reporting of data on regulatory and deregulatory activities under development throughout the Federal Government, covering approximately 60 departments, agencies, and commissions. Each edition of the Unified Agenda includes regulatory agendas from all Federal entities that currently have regulations under development or review. Agencies of the United States Congress are not included. Fall editions of the Unified Agenda include The Regulatory Plan, which presents agency statements of regulatory priorities and additional information about the most significant regulatory activities planned for the coming year.

All editions of the Unified Agenda through the spring 2007 edition were printed in their entirety in the Federal Register. Since 1995, the Unified Agenda has also been available online, through the Internet, in a format that was designed to duplicate the features and appearance of the printed copy. Beginning with the fall 2007 edition, the Agenda published in the Federal Register is limited, in general, to agency regulatory flexibility agendas and The Regulatory Plan. Agency regulatory flexibility agendas, which are required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) to be published in the Federal Register, include only those rules that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Each edition of the Unified Agenda contains an "Introduction to the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions," which is provided by the Regulatory Information Service Center. The Introduction gives a complete description of the publication, including an explanation of each of the data fields. The Introduction for a fall edition also describes the contents of that year's Regulatory Plan.

Unified Agenda Components

The agenda of each department or agency that participates in the Unified Agenda consists of a preamble together with individual entries. The entries correspond to the various rulemaking proceedings that are planned or under way at the department or agency. Individual entries contain a brief description or abstract of the rule, a timetable showing any past or projected actions in connection with developing the rule, the level of agency priority, citations of legal authority, a contact person for further information, plus several other fields concerning effects of the rule and related matters.

Prior editions of the Unified Agenda that were printed in full in the Federal Register also contained a table of contents for each department or agency and several indexes that enabled users to find individual entries with specified characteristics. For example, a user could find a listing of all entries with a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses by consulting the Regulatory Flexibility Index. The tables of contents and indexes were also available in the online Unified Agenda.

The current online format for the Unified Agenda, rather than merely duplicating a printed publication, offers users the ability to search in the Unified Agenda database for precisely those entries of particular interest, based on the user's selection of search criteria. Predetermined tables of contents and specialized indexes are unnecessary because a user is able to generate a listing of entries with any specified combination of characteristics. However, the Subject Index to the Unified Agenda, based on the Federal Register Thesaurus of Indexing Terms, has been retained and is accessible from the Main Agenda Page for the current edition and from the Historical Agenda pages for earlier editions. The current online format has been available since the fall 1995 edition.

Regulation Identifier Numbers

Every entry appearing in the Unified Agenda or Regulatory Plan is assigned a Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), in accordance with the requirements for the Unified Agenda set forth in section 4 of Executive Order 12866. RINs help the public to identify and follow the progress of each regulatory action or rulemaking proceeding in the Unified Agenda, the Federal Register, and on the website. Each regulatory action retains the same RIN throughout the entire rulemaking process.

A RIN consists of a 4-digit agency code plus a 4-character alphanumeric code, assigned sequentially when a rulemaking is first entered into the database, which identifies the individual regulation under development. For example, all RINs for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have agency code 1218. The RIN for OSHA's rulemaking on hazard communication is 1218-AC20.

The RIN is the unique identifying feature for each entry in the Unified Agenda, which enables a user to access entries of interest discovered through searches. Because the online Unified Agenda is designed principally as a searchable database rather than as a copy of a printed publication, it no longer has a fixed sequential ordering of entries. Therefore, the sequence numbers used in the editions printed in the Federal Register do not appear at all in the new online format. (The regulatory flexibility agendas and The Regulatory Plan printed in the Federal Register beginning in fall 2007 continue to use sequence numbers to identify the location of individual entries, but those numbers do not appear in the online Unified Agenda.)

How Can I Find an Agency's Agenda Preamble?

On the Main Agenda Page, select Current Agenda Agency Preambles. Then select the particular department or agency. Agencies are grouped under Cabinet Departments, Other Executive Agencies, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (a Joint Authority), and Independent Regulatory Agencies.

How Can I Obtain a Complete List of an Agency's Active Agenda Entries?

On the Main Agenda Page, select the desired agency and click on Submit. The resulting list serves as the agency agenda's table of contents for Active rulemakings. It is arranged in order by subagency (if any), by stage of rulemaking (prerule, proposed rule or final rule), and by RIN. See the Introduction to the Unified Agenda for an explanation of these terms. You may change the order of the list by clicking on the column heads. To view the contents of any individual entry, click on the RIN for that entry. To view the Long-Term Actions for this Agenda, click the Current Long-Term Actions link from the Main Agenda Page, select the desired agency on the subsequent page and click on Submit. To view the Completed Actions for this Agenda, select the Completed Actions from the Unified Agenda menu in the page header, select the desired Agenda publication and click submit, then select the desired agency and click submit.

How Can I View the Contents of an Agency's Agenda Entries?

On the Agenda Search Page, select "Advanced Search" and make your choices on the search screens that follow this selection. Select the desired edition(s) and the desired agency or agencies, and click on "Continue." (For those departments or agencies that have subagencies, you may limit your search to one or more of the subagencies by making a selection in the subagency window.) If you wish to see all of an agency's entries, make no selections on the screen headed "Advanced Search -- Select Additional Fields" and click on "Search." To view the contents of any individual entry listed in the search results, click on the RIN for that entry. To view all of the listed entries, click on "View All RIN Data." Note that there is a maximum number of entries allowed for viewing at one time. If your selection finds a larger number, you will need to revise your selection to view your choice in smaller segments.

How Can I Obtain a Listing of Entries With Specified Characteristics?

Follow the procedure described in the above paragraph, but on the screen headed "Advanced Search -- Select Additional Fields," select your desired responses for one or more fields before you click on "Search." For example, if you wish to see a listing of all economically significant regulations that may have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses, you would check Economically Significant under Priority and check Business under Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required. For fall editions of the Unified Agenda, you will have the ability to limit your searches to The Regulatory Plan. You may also use the Search screen or the Advanced Search screens to find entries with specified words or phrases. On the Advanced Search screen, you must select, at the top of the page, whether to search for Active entries (those regulations in a Pre-rule, Proposed Rule or Final Rule stage), Long-Term Actions or Completed Actions.