75 Years of the Federal Register

Federal Register imageThe Federal Register has been around for 75 years! What is it? The “official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.” It was created by the Federal Register Act, P.L. 74-220, on July 26, 1935 (the first issue was produced on March 16, 1936), after a court case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court was found to be based on regulations that no longer were in effect! Clearly, better organization was sorely needed.

The Code of Federal Regulations, revised annually to contain all regulations in effect arranged into subject titles, was authorized in June 1937 by legislative amendment (P.L. 75-158), although it didn’t get its name until the next year. Since 2001 there has been an unofficial version of the CFR updated daily online.

You can read more about the history of these documents from the Office of the Federal Register.

Everyone in the U.S. is affected by agency regulations, whether they know it or not. For example:

Did you know that every year the Dept. of Health and Human Services sets “poverty guidelines” used to determine eligibility for various federal programs like the National School Lunch Program, Low Income Taxpayer Assistance Clinics, Head Start, and more? However, a notice in the August 3, 2010 FR issue reported that the 2010 guidelines were delayed “due to recent legislation” and that the 2009 guidelines would remain in effect until the 2011 guidelines were published (probably in January 2011). But there’s a difference between poverty guidelines and poverty thresholds. The guidelines are administrative version of the thresholds used to determine eligibility for some federal programs, while the thresholds are set by the Census Bureau and used to compile official statistics of the U.S. “poverty population.” In the May 26, 2010, Federal Register the Census Bureau provided notice and solicitation of comments on development of a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which would not replace the thresholds or guidelines but be “designed as an experimental measure that defines income thresholds and resources in a manner different from the official poverty measure.” The first annual SPM is expected to be published in fall 2011.

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UWW’s Andersen Library is a federal depository with many federal, state, local, and international documents on a variety of current and relevant issues available to you in print, microfiche, CD-ROM, and online. Come check out your government at Andersen Library!

About Barbara

I am a Reference & Instruction librarian, head of that department in Andersen Library, an associate professor, and a member of the General Education Review Committee and Faculty Senate. I've been working at UW-W since July 1, 1990.
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