Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2013

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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Public Partnerships Making it Easier to Comment on Proposed Rules Developments in e-docketing. by MR. JIM MCLEOD Attorney Advisor U.S. Coast Guard OfÀce of Regulations and Administrative Law "I wish I had thought of that." Nobody wants to hear a government ofÀcial say this about a binding regulation he or she just issued. Fortunately, the notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements in the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) help us avoid this scenario. Background The APA, enacted in 1946, requires agencies to permit the public to submit written comments on proposed regulations. Sometimes the Coast Guard goes beyond this requirement and holds public meetings to provide an opportunity for oral presentations and other interaction. regulations at public hearings and allowed individuals to submit written comments by mail.1 In fact, until the 1990s, mail or hand delivery were the only two methods available to the public to submit written comments. DOT Pioneers E-Rulemaking In 1967, the Coast Guard moved to the Department of Transportation (DOT) from the Department of Treasury. In the 1990s, DOT started using Internet technology to make commenting easier on rule proposals, make dockets available online, and allow for online comment submission. Even so, as late as 1997, 11 DOT rulemaking components (including the Coast Guard) maintained a During the 1950s, the Merchant Marine Council (one public docket room, and three of the components of the Marine Safety and Security Council's predeshared a common facility.2 In the 1990s, a person had cessors) invited the public to comment on proposed to visit Coast Guard headquarters to view a Coast Guard rulemaking docket — unless the docket was small enough to mail. Mr. Michael Vitt, a member of the 33 CFR § 1.05–15 Public participation. Towing Safety Advisory Committee, recalls what it was like to visit Coast The Coast Guard considers public participation Guard headquarters and sort through essential to efective rulemaking, and encourages boxes of documents. "You had to dig the public to participate in its rulemaking process. for the more substantive or reasoned comments." 50 Proceedings Winter 2012 | Spring 2013 www.uscg.mil/proceedings

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