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Formal rulemaking
Trial-like, on-the-record proceedings for developing regulations.

Informal rulemaking
Process by which agencies develop regulations internally and then share the results with the public by publishing proposed and/or final rules in the Federal Register. Informal rulemaking may involve the solicitation and consideration of public comments consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act. The issuance of "guidance" to interpret regulations may also be considered part of informal rulemaking.

Notice-and-comment rulemaking
Common procedure under which a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register and opened to comment by the general public. Rules exempt from "notice-and-comment" requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act include those related to military or foreign affairs. Notice-and-comment rulemaking is a subset of informal rulemaking.

After Congress approves bills and the president signs them into law, the Executive Branch is responsible for enforcing those laws through regulations. Rulemaking, the process by which regulations are developed, is complex and involves a wide variety of decision makers and stakeholders inside and outside of government.

Rulemaking may be formal or informal. Informal rulemaking is far more common. The bulk of the work in informal rulemaking is done during what is commonly known as notice-and-comment rulemaking. Click on the links below to find out more.

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