Title: POLICY STATEMENT--Policy Statement Concerning Communications with the Public During Rulemaking [BM-25-MAR-92-03]
Issue Date: 04/01/1992
Agency: FCA
Federal Register Cite: 57 FR 11083


Policy Statement Concerning Communications with the Public During Rulemaking

ACTION: Policy statement.

SUMMARY: On March 25, 1992, the Farm Credit Administration Board revised its policy on communications with the public during rulemaking. The new policy establishes guidelines for private contacts during the rulemaking process. and ensures that any substantive communications are promptly placed in the public rulemaking file.

EFFECTIVE DATE: March 25, 1992.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William L. Larsen, Senior Attorney, Corporate and Regulatory Law Division, Office of General Counsel Farm Credit Administration, McLean, Virginia 22102-5090, (703) 883-4020, TDD (703) 883-4444.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The text of the Board's policy statement concerning communications with the public during the rulemaking process is set forth below in its entirety:

Effective Date: 25-MAR-92.

Effect on Previous Actions: Replaces previous Farm Credit Administration (FCA) Board policy on public communications during a rulemaking, adopted August 22, 1986 and further clarified on November 20, 1991.

Whereas, The FCA Board finds that it is the public interest and consistent with the requirements of the Administration Procedure Act to revise its policy on communications with the public during the rulemaking process.

Therefore, The FCA Board adopts the following statement:

In keeping with the need to ensure an open, freely accessible, and well-informed rulemaking process while balancing the need for impartiality and fairness, the FCA will adhere to the following guidelines governing substantive oral communications between the public and Board members and staff during the course of a related rulemaking.

Unrestricted communications with the public before rulemaking begins may stimulate creative and effective regulatory policy without compromising fairness principles. Therefore, no specific guidelines apply to such communications. However, once the rulemaking has begun with the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking, FCA encourages members of the public to state their views regarding the rulemaking in writing during the public comment period. All such comments receive careful consideration and become part of the public record of the rulemaking. The comments received are placed in a public file at FCA, where they are available for examination and copying during normal business hours. Where appropriate, FCA will also conduct public hearings or open meetings to take testimony or hold discussions on a rulemaking. Such opportunities for oral comment from the public will be announced in advance and the comments received will be reflected in the rulemaking record.

Substantive oral communications during the comment period between Board members and staff and members of the public regarding the subject of an ongoing rulemaking will be reflected in the public record. There are several reasons for this policy. First, there are considerations of openness and fair play. The rulemaking process must be accessible and evenhanded. FCA wishes to avoid any appearance of impropriety or undue influence by an interested party that might be caused by a private communication. Second, if a substantive comment on an outstanding rule proposed is conveyed to FCA in a private communication that does not become part of the public record, other interested members of the public may not have the opportunity to respond to new arguments or facts that the private communication may raise. Finally, FCA wants to assure a complete rulemaking record for future agency reconsideration of the rule or in the event of court review.

FCA staff are always available to explain or clarify proposed rules. If, however, a member of the public seeks substantive discussion with FCA staff of the merits of a proposed rule after its publication for comment, staff will first suggest that the party file a written comment covering the matter to be discussed. If the party has not already filed comments on the proposal, a written comment is particularly encouraged. If new substantive comments are discussed, FCA staff will reduce the substances of such comments to writing and promptly place it in the public rulemaking file. Staff will again urge the party involved in the discussion to file the comments discussed in writing.

From the time after the close of the comment period up to the time of adoption of the final rule, substantive discussions between interested parties and FCA staff pertaining to the proposed rule should be curtailed. In the interest of fairness, if new facts or arguments must be brought to the attention of the FCA, the communications must be in writing and promptly placed by the staff in the public file.

This policy statements does not apply to public communications regarding any rulemaking issue unless and until the matter becomes the subject of a notice of proposed rulemaking. Nothing in this policy statements is meant to affect the ability of FCA to use negotiated rulemakings, open meetings or other types of public forums to augment its rulemaking under section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Dated this 25th day of March, 1992. By order of the Board.

Curtis M. Anderson,

Secretary, Farm Credit Administration Board.

[FR Doc. 92-7486 Filed 3-31-92; 8:45 am]