Federal Register

Participatory Democracy an Essential Part of Maritime Rulemaking

Editor’s note: The following was compiled from several articles related to the Administrative Procedure Act which are available in the Spring 2013 edition of Proceedings Magazine.

Recognizing the 74th Anniversary of the Administrative Procedure Act

On June 11, 1946, the Administrative Procedure Act was signed into law, providing the public the opportunity to submit written comments to agencies regarding proposed regulations. The ability to actively participate in the rulemaking process is an American invention of participatory democracy. One that the Coast Guard relies upon when making decisions that can have wide reaching impacts across the entire maritime community.

The Coast Guard considers public participation essential to effective rulemaking, and encourages the public to participate in its rulemaking process. Public comments inform decision makers about potential problems with proposed regulations, provide real world information about regulated activities, alert the Coast Guard to unforeseen side effects, and can challenge assumptions on which existing policies are based. Commenting also allows the public to express views and preferences and to request public meetings or additional discussion.

Under the Administrative Procedures Act the Coast Guard has a legal obligation to provide for public comment on most proposed rules unless the matter is so urgent or so minor that a public comment period is not appropriate. Coast Guard policy is to provide opportunities for public participation early in potential rulemaking projects. Generally, the Coast Guard will solicit public input by publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments in the Federal Register. 

Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, Supplemental Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, and Interim Rules may provide 90 days, or more if possible, after publication for submission of comments. This time period is intended to allow interested persons the opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process through the submission of written data and views. However, certain cases and circumstances may make it necessary to provide a shorter comment period. Public meetings may also be held to provide an opportunity for oral presentations. The Coast Guard will consider the comments received and, in subsequent rulemaking documents, will incorporate a concise general statement of the comments received and identify changes from a proposed rule based on the comments.

As a courtesy to our audience, Maritime Commons will provide a daily compilation of nationally-relevant Federal Register Notices, or those notices that may impact a large segment of our readers.  To provide your comments for the public record, follow the Federal Register link for each individual notice. In the notice you will find instructions for using an online docket to submit your comments.  To ensure your comments are considered, please be sure to submit them to the online docket.

A compilation of all notices released on Maritime Commons is available for review by clicking on Federal Register under categories on the right side of the blog.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official publications, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These publications remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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