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Extended Deadline! Public Comment Period on Federal Register Notice on Incorporation by Reference Open through June 1


New York, Mar 22, 2012

The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) announced today the extension of a public comment period on a petition filed by a group of academics to amend the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA’s) regulations governing the approval of agency requests to incorporate by reference (IBR) materials into the Code of Federal Regulations. The comment period is now open through June 1, 2012.

This issue impacts the standards community in a number of key ways, especially with respect to defining the “reasonable availability” of voluntary consensus standards that have been incorporated into regulation.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has developed a consensus response on behalf of the standardization community [see related news item] and will make its response available to all stakeholders in advance, so they can use it as the basis for their own responses if desired. ANSI encourages individual companies and organizations to submit their own comments in direct response to the notice.

Specifically, the OFR seeks input on the following questions:

1. Does “reasonably available”
    a) mean that the material should be available


      i. For free and


      ii: To anyone online?



    b) Create a digital divide by excluding people without Internet access?


2. Does “class of persons affected” need to be defined? If so, how should it be defined?


3. Should agencies bear the cost of making the material available for free online?


4. How would this impact agencies budget and infrastructure, for example?


5. How would OFR review of proposed rules for IBR impact agency rulemaking and policy, given the additional time and possibility of denial of an IBR approval request at the final stage of the rulemaking?


6. Should OFR have the authority to deny IBR approval requests if the material is not available online for free?


7. The Administrative Conference of the United States recently issued a Recommendation on IBR. 77 FR 2257 (January 17, 2012). In light of this recommendation, should we update our guidance on this topic instead of amending our regulations?


8. Given that the petition raises policy rather than procedural issues, would the Office of Management and Budget be better placed to determine reasonable availability?


9. How would an extended IBR review period at both the proposed rule and final rule stages impact agencies?


Read the original February 27 Federal Register notice.

Read the March 22 Federal Register notice.

AN INTRODUCTION TO STANDARDS: WHY, WHERE AND HOW ARE THEY DEVELOPED?