Formal Rulemaking


According to section 551 of the Administrative Procedure Act, Rulemaking is “an agency process for formulating, amending, or repealing a rule.” A rule in turn is “the whole or a part of an agency statement of general or particular applicability and future effect designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy”.

Rulemaking processes are generally designed to ensure that

  • the public is informed of proposed rules before they take effect;
  • the public can comment on the proposed rules and provide additional data to the agency;
  • the public can access the rule making record and analyze the data and analysis behind a proposed rule;
  • the agency analyzes and responds to the public’s comments;
  • the agency creates a permanent record of its analysis and the process; and
  • the agency’s actions can be reviewed by a judge or others to ensure that the correct process was followed.

In administrative law, rulemaking refers to the process that executive and independent agencies use to create, or promulgate, regulations.   Formal rulemaking is a rulemaking by a government agency that is on the record after an opportunity for an agency hearing in accordance with the formal procedures set forth in sections 556 and 557 of the Administrative Procedure Act.  Formal rulemaking is usually only done where specifically required by the legislation mandating the agency action.