The rule making process consists of the following four steps.
1. The agency publishes proposed rules.
2. Members of the public are given the opportunity to comment on those rules.
3. The rules may be revised based upon the public’s comments.
4. The final rules are enacted.
The document where these rules are published is known as the Federal Register. The Federal Register is a publication put out by the Government Printing Office that contains all of the proposed and adopted rules and regulations of the federal agencies.
As discussed earlier, there may be administrative agencies within the legislative and judicial branches of government. For instance, the General Accounting Office is an independent administrative agency created by Congress and charged with investigating all matters related to the receipt, disbursement, and use of public money. At the state level within the judicial branch of government, there may be an administrative agency, known as the state bar, charged with the responsibility of administering and supervising the legal profession. As an administrative agency within the judicial branch of government, a state bar is subject to the control of the highest court of that state.
The regulations that are adopted by administrative agencies have the effect of law. They are designed to expand on laws created by legislative bodies. The legislative bodies that enact the statutory law try to be as precise as possible in terms of writing the statutes. However, the statutes are often somewhat general because the legislative body simply does not have the expertise or, in some cases, the time to enact statutes that deal with all of the nitty-gritty issues that may arise within that subject area. The administrative agencies generally have the expertise and the time to publish regulations that are much more precise and that deal with the nitty-gritty issues that the agency confronts.
The regulations that are adopted by administrative agencies have the effect of law.
The regulations published by the administrative agencies are designed to be an explanation and an elaboration of the statutes that the agency is charged with enforcing. Theoretically, there should never be a situation in which there is a conflict between what the statute says and what the regulations set forth by the agency say. If there were such a direct conflict, then the statute would be controlling. The regulations are designed to flesh out the statutory scheme. You may think of the statutes as being the skeleton and the regulations as being the meat on the bones.