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

August 18, 2010

A Letter from the Managing Editor of the Federal Register

Document Submission Format

Summary

As of October 1, 2010, the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) will no longer accept Federal Register documents tagged in standardized general markup language (SGML). Going forward, the OFR will accept only MS Word submissions. This change will help implement the Federal Register system's transition to web-based publication technologies.

Background

The purpose of the SGML tagging program was to produce print-ready files for publication in the printed edition of the Federal Register. Agencies that created SGML files received an additional discount beyond the discount given for word processed files. As OFR and GPO transition to use of extensible markup language (XML) and a web-based publication system, it is counterproductive to continue to accept SGML files. GPO's new Federal Digital System (FDsys) uses XML to manage documents and to provide search and browse functions. SGML documents add no value to the publication system because GPO now has the technology to automatically convert MS Word documents directly into structured data files, without agency pre-tagging. SGML tags also create impediments to viewing documents posted for public inspection on OFR.gov, and hamper implementation of the OFR's program for accepting digitally signed documents in lieu of paper originals.

BENEFITS

On the whole, agencies will benefit from standardizing submissions in MS Word format. Eliminating the SGML discount will produce modest savings of about 2.5 per cent in Fiscal Year 2011 for the great majority of agencies that already submit their documents in MS Word form.

In addition, discontinuing SGML submissions will improve the usefulness and accuracy of our online publications. Converting print-based SGML files to XML creates anomalies in the publication data. By using MS Word to create structured data, we can increase the accuracy and consistency of FDsys search results. XML is also the foundation for new OFR/GPO applications that serve the President's Open Government initiative, such as "Federal Register 2.0", an unofficial prototype, released July 26, 2010. As FDsys and the XML workflow mature, OFR and GPO hope to produce more savings for agencies, and ensure that the XML data in our online editions is reliable and consistent.

CONTACT

If you have questions about the OFR's policy on document submission format, including matters relating to use of MS Word software, please contact our Information Services & Technology Staff at 202-741-6020 or fedreg.info@nara.gov.

To view the FY 2011 rate schedule for publishing material in the Federal Register, see GPO's Circular Letter No. 777, dated July 2, 2010.

For questions on the pricing structure of Federal Register submissions, you may contact the GPO's Office of Official Journals of Government at 202-512-2100.

Thank you.

Michael L. White, Managing Editor
Office of the Federal Register

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