OMB seeks comments on guidance policy

Draft bulletin for good guidance practices

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The Office of Management and Budget is seeking public comment before updating a bulletin regarding the best ways to implement regulatory policies in every federal agency.

The OMB is seeking comments by Jan. 9, 2006, on ways to increase the quality and transparency of these policies. The documents, known as guidance documents, are prepared by an agency and describe an agency’s interpretation of a policy on a regulatory or technical issue. They are designed to inform the public and provide direction to agency staffs.

As government policy has become more complex, the need for good guidance practices has increased. Agencies need to establish clear and consistent practices for developing, issuing and using guidance documents, the OMB notice states.

“As the scope and complexity of regulatory programs have grown, agencies increasingly have relied on guidance documents to inform the public and to provide direction to their staffs,” according to the OMB.

For example, the OMB notice states that the Food and Drug Administration issued a document explaining its good guidance practices, and then Congress made it a law. FDA subsequently conducted a survey of its employees that found the policy had been effective in standardizing the agency’s procedures for developing and issuing guidance documents.

OMB also requires that all guidance documents are available online and in hard copy. In addition, OMB said an agency’s guidance document development process should be as open as possible.

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