Federal Register

COVID-19 Procedures

As of Tuesday, April 21, 2020, you must wear a mask to enter the GPO building at 732 North Capitol Street.  The G Street entrance is CLOSED.

We will be updating our FAQs on an ongoing basis.  If you check back and still don't see your question/answer, send it to: fedreg.legal@nara.gov.

Submitting documents  

Office Hours:

8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays

Office Location*:

7 G Street, NW**, Suite A-734
Washington, DC 20401

*Masks now required to enter the GPO building.

**Enter through 732 North Capitol Street, NW.  G Street entrance closed as of April 21, 2020.

We must have a valid, original signature that we can authenticate before we can accept a document for publication.  The only digitally-signed document that meets that criteria is an electronically-signed Word file sent through the webportal.  So, if you can't use the webportal, you must send the paper package.  

Option 1 (preferred method)

Submit document through the webportal

Option 2

Send physical document to our office. Include:

  • Do NOT use USPS; we can no longer receive mail delivery from our mailroom in College Park, MD.

    Do NOT include floppy disks

    3 originals or 1 original and 2 certified copies
  • CD with Word file (.docx) of the document
  • Letter certifying that the document on the disc matches the original

FAQS about:

Special Procedures for Document Submission

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Federal offices in the DC area are generally closed, but the Office of the Federal Register is still operational. 

 

Paper submissions

If you have a paper document, we have a small staff on-duty at 7 G Street, NW, Suite A-734 to receive packages.  The requirements for submitting a paper document remain the same.  But, it may take longer to enter these documents into our system since the majority of our staff is teleworking.

To ensure smooth handling and limit delays, we strongly recommend that your agency use our electronic signature and submission process.

 

Electronic submissions

If you are submitting documents electronically, don't change anything! 

OFR must have an original signature on a document before we can accept if for publication.  If you can't get us the package with the pen-and-ink signature (and disc and certification letter), look into electronically signing the document.  If the person who would normally sign the document isn't able to electronically sign the Word file, see if they can delegate the authority to sign to someone else in your agency who is able to electronically sign.

Documents submitted for publication

OFR can only accept invisible signatures in Word documents submitted through the webportal.  This is for both documents for publication and the special handling letters that accompany them. 

 

Letters to the Director or other units

OFR can accept letters in other electronic formats, depending on how they are sent to the office and who they are from.  However, to reduce confusion, we encourage you to use the invisible Word signature whenever possible.  

No, OFR does not accept documents submitted through email.  We must have an original signature on the document, so if you have an electronically-signed Word file, submit it through the webportal.

Contact OFR Legal (fedreg.legal@nara.gov) before you use either method the first time or if you have additional questions.

 

How to delegate

If the person who would normally sign a document cannot, they can delegate the signature authority to someone who can. 

Your agency can do this formally and notify OFR that general authority has been delegated to either specific people or to a specific position and that delegation will apply to all future documents until revoked.  Or, your agency can do this on a document-by-document basis by adding a signing statement to each document.

OFR requires that the digital signature of the person who actually signs the document (using their PIV card) match the name of the person included in the signature block of the document. So if the Secretary's name and title were originally in the signature block but the General Counsel actually signed the document after a delegation, the signature block must have been changed to reflect the name and title of the General Counsel.

When to delegate 

Your agency can include a delegation statement in the preamble of any document; however, OFR will require either a signing statement or general delegation if the person who actually signs the document does not have inherent authority to make policy or rulemaking decisions for an agency.

Required: The Federal Register liaison position is created by the Administrative Committee of the Federal Register, under 1 CFR part 16, and someone in that position only has authority to communicate with OFR on behalf of the agency.,Someone signing as FR liaison doesn't have inherent authority from their position as liaison to make binding legal decisions for the agency outside the editorial process.  Likewise, an administrative assistant doesn't have any inherent authority to make binding legal decisions.  Thus, OFR requires delegations of authority for these and similar positions.  The delegations can be made through letter (indefinitely or through the end of this crisis) or document-by-document through a signing statement.

Not required: An agency General Counsel or Chief of Staff position has inherent authority to make binding legal decisions on behalf of the agency, so, as far as OFR is concerned, your agency doesn't need any type of delegation for these and similar signatures.  But if your agency needed to make clear for agency purposes why a particular person/position was signing vs someone else, your agency would include the signing language.

Example language

The [agency official] of [AGENCY], [name of agency official, having reviewed and approved this document, is delegating the authority to electronically sign this document to [name of signer], who is the [title of person signing], for purposes of publication in the Federal Register.

Example 1 (DHS)

Example 2 (VA)

There is no change to the revision date/cut-off date for the April volumes; it remains April 1. The OFR continues to produce the daily Federal Register and update the Code of Federal Regulations remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic with our partners at the Government Publishing Office.

 

Digital Signature and Submission 

Technical

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All you (or your agency official) need to electronically sign a document is a PIV card, card reader, and MS Word.  

The person who electronically signs the document for publication does not have to submit it to the OFR.  Anyone with a webportal account for your agency can submit a document.  The person who signs the document just has to get the signed Word file (either through email or a network drive) to someone with a webportal account.

No. OFR cannot accept digital signatures in PDF files for publication.  A document that is scanned and converted to PDF is not an original; it's no different from a photocopy, which is not an original signature.  Further, OFR's document processing systems cannot validate Adobe PDF signatures.  PDF signatures, therefore appear as invalid in the file once on OFR computers and we cannot accept them as original signatures.

Webportal 

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Any Federal agency employee (which excludes contractors) can request a webportal account.  All designated Federal Register liaison officers are pre-cleared for accounts, so requesting an account is as easy as filling out the form at webportal.fedreg.gov.  Non-liaison officers may also request accounts but we will contact the agency liaison officers for approval before we create accounts for non-liaisons.

If you are a Federal Register liaison officer, it will take a few minutes to a few hours to create your account, depending on workload at the time you request the account.  If you are not a liaison officer, it may take longer because we have to get permission from your agency's liaison officer before we can create the account.

Once we create your webportal account, you can immediately start submitting documents. 

There is no limit to the number of accounts an agency can establish.  FR liaison officers are pre-approved for accounts and FR liaison officers can then approve other agency employees (but not contractors) for webportal accounts.

Processing

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No matter who uses the webportal to upload a document for publication, once the document is in our system, we follow our normal review process.  This means that we contact the FR liaison officer designated for that document.

Even if your FR Liaison officer cannot physically sign and scan letters (special handling, correction requests, withdrawals, etc), OFR will still accept digitally-signed letters on agency letterhead.  We strongly encourage your liaison officers to electronically sign a Word file, using the same method required to electronically sign files submitted through the webportal, for consistency.  However, we will also accept electronically-signed PDF documents certified using a visible signature. (Remember, we cannot accept PDF documents for publication and you cannot submit PDF files through the webportal.)

To view the following examples, download and save to your computer before opening:

Unless otherwise approved, formal letters to OFR must come from designated FR Liaison or Certifying officers' government email accounts.  Even if your officer is not the individual who signed the letter, they are still our point of contact with your agency and their government email address servers to authenticate your agency's request.

 

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