Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the 'Federal Register' [May 1, 2013] [open pdf - 362KB]
"Federal rulemaking is an important mechanism through which the federal government implements policy. Federal agencies issue regulations pursuant to statutory authority granted by Congress. Therefore, Congress may have an interest in performing oversight of those regulations. Measuring federal regulatory activity can be a useful way for Congress to conduct that oversight. The number of federal rules issued annually and the total number of pages in the 'Federal Register' are often referred to as measures of the total federal regulatory burden. […] This report serves to inform the congressional debate over rulemaking by analyzing different ways to measure federal rulemaking activity. The report begins with a brief overview of how agencies issue rules, identifying the most significant statutory requirements, executive orders, and guidance documents that comprise the rulemaking process. The report then provides data on and analysis of the total number of rules issued each year, as well as information on other types of rules, such as 'major' rules, 'significant' rules, and 'economically significant' rules. These categories have been created by various statutes and executive orders containing requirements that may be triggered if a regulation falls into one of the categories. For example, if a rule is designated 'economically significant' under Executive Order (E.O.) 12866, the issuing agency is generally required to perform a cost-benefit analysis and submit the rule for review to OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). When available, data are provided on each type of rule. Finally, the report presents data on the number of pages and documents in the 'Federal Register' each year and analyzes the content of the 'Federal Register.'"
CRS Report for Congress, R43056