Federal Register
Federal Register Bulletin, The Newsletter of the Office of the Federal Register

November 1, 2007

A Letter from the Managing Editor on Electronic Documents

To our Federal Register partner agencies:

The Federal Register has made great strides over the past year on our e-Government initiatives. Our eDOCS system enables us to edit Federal Register documents electronically, from start to finish. We ingest your digitally authenticated e-mail or web submissions, as well as certified disk documents (CD-ROM or floppy disk) attached to paper originals. We can do all of our legal review and editing without any paper mark-up, except for some paper-only documents still submitted by a handful of agencies.

We have run a legacy application for the sole purpose of processing paper documents for several years, which is no longer tenable. In today's business world, all documents are born digital, and should be processed digitally. Yet we still receive 10 to 15 percent of submissions in paper-only form. That slows down the entire Federal Register production process for all the other agencies. To avoid such production bottlenecks, we are instituting a document processing change.

Under our new policy, we will add at least one extra day to the publication schedule for documents submitted in paper-only form, to allow time for conversion to electronic form. This letter serves as general notice to agencies, that paper-only submissions now qualify as technical impediments under 1 CFR 17.7, and will be processed under the deferred publication schedule. Conforming documents, submitted in paper with a certified copy on disk or sent as a digitally signed document, will continue to be published on the regular three day schedule.

In addition to the justification cited above, paper-only submissions hamper our latest e-Government initiative - posting our Public Inspection documents on a web site, coming in 2008. This service will deliver important regulatory information to the public at large, at least a day sooner than before. We must reduce paper-only submissions to a minimum to make this service work for all constituents.

Paper-only submission is also incompatible with continuity of operations requirements. The OFR must have electronic data to sustain essential Federal Register operations from remote locations. At this time, we are not amending Federal Register regulations to require submission in digital form. We will continue to respond to exigencies, where for some reason an electronic file cannot be produced for submission. If your agency prohibits copying to disk for security reasons, contact our Technical Services Staff for digital signature information at 202-741-6020.

Michael L. White
Managing Editor of Federal Register Publications & Services

See the Document Drafting Handbook Supplement 3, as amended, online.

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