Counting Regulations: An Overview of Rulemaking, Types of Federal Regulations, and Pages in the 'Federal Register' [July 14, 2015] [open pdf - 387KB]
"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, and 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 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. When available, data are provided on each type of rule. Finally, the report provides 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