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Assignment Questions

Essay on  Federal Bureaucracy

Federal Bureaucracy Assignment

Often, laws passed by Congress are merely frameworks, or outlines telling how a government program is to be basically organized. The details are often left to the agency charged with carrying out Congress’ wishes.

The amount of, frankly, legislative authority delegated by Congress to federal bureaucrats never ceases to amaze your professor although, in fairness, the complexity of many federal programs is far greater than a group of elected officials can be expected to master.

As you have read in your textbook, rules are printed in the Federal Register. Proposed rules are printed in the Federal Register, and comments from the public are invited. After receiving comments and either heeding or ignoring them, the final rule is published some months later.

First, watch this short video (hint: right-click the link and select “open link in new window”) about the Federal Register.

Next, go to the NEW online version of the Federal Register: http://www.federalregister.gov/

This week’s assignment has two parts.

Part I

Look around the site a little and see how it works. Then scroll down to where it says “WHAT’S IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER,” and click on the selection for “FINAL RULES.”

Pick a final rule (not a proposed rule, not a notice, not a bulletin about closing a bridge, etc.) that has been issued within the past two weeks, and follow the link to look at the text. Try to find one where public comment has been received. Use what you’ve found to write a brief essay telling me about the rule, including:

The date and title of the rule, and the issuing agency.
Briefly, what is the rule supposed to accomplish?
Did the agency receive any comments on the proposed rule? What were they? Can you tell if they made any changes based on the comments they received?
What do you think about it?
Part II

Should the federal government restrict the use of cell phones by the drivers of commercial motor vehicles?

Find a specific final rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on December 2, 2011, called “Drivers of CMV’s – Restricting the Use of Cellular Phones” As a proposed rule, this drew around 300 comments from “trucking companies, motorcoach companies, school bus operations, public transportation, highway safety, utility providers, waste haulers, concrete manufacturers, and food suppliers.” Write a paragraph or two explaining what this rule basically does and, in particular, any changes the FMCSA appear to have made based on the comments they received.

Submit this assignment in one file in Microsoft Word. Cite your sources.

Additional Resources You May Use:

Watch this short video about the Federal Register on YouTube (hint: right-click the link and select “open link in new window): http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ADhP0KSmjkQ

The Council for Responsible Nutrition Federal Register Watch tracks rules of interest to the dietary supplement industry.

The CBS affiliate in St. Louis posted this story about the new cell phone rule: http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2011/12/13/cell-phone-use-banned-for-commercial-motor-vehicles/

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran this article about the cell phone rule: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/interstate-truck-drivers-face-cellphone-ban-on-jan/article_c2e61739-c27c-5f8f-ac54-0b5adf902a9f.html

Are truck drivers getting picked on unfairly? http://handsfreeinfo.com/truckers-cell-phones

The Law Librarians Society of Washington, D.C. has a great Federal Register history and research guide.

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