federal rule

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read and write about a federal rule. In April 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed
requiring restaurants to provide nutrition information on items appearing on their menus. (All packaged goods
now contain the familiar labeling that tells you how many calories, grams of fat, grams of sugar, and so on
are in the food.) This rule is a “proposal,” meaning that the FDA is publishing the rule in a draft form,
explaining what they have in mind in great detail, and requesting comments from the public. The proposal (or
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – NPRM) is entitled, “Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items
in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments.” It was published on April 6, 2011 in the Federal
Register, Volume 76, No. 66, pages 19192 – 19236.
This NPRM is fairly long (as you will see when you start reading it). However, it is clearly
organized, and parts of the rule you will find repeated. The proposal gives the public until June 6, 2011 to
comment, but this time period was extended to July 5, 2011. The comment period is now closed. FDA is
preparing the rule to issue it in an official, final form, but that has not happened yet.
Assignment
You are an overworked and underpaid analyst for Congressman, Jack I. M. Sogreat. This rule affects all of
his constituents some of whom own and operate restaurants and almost all of whom go to restaurants. It is
also of interest to health professionals across the nation, consumers, and both mom-and-pop and chain
restaurants. The Congressman does not have time to read or study the rule and is relying on you to do that
for him in a 5 to 7 page paper that he can read on the plane back to Washington.
The Congressman requires all his staff to use a strict format when presenting information to him. That
format is as follows:
Memorandum for Congressman Sogreat
Subject: FDA proposed rule: Nutrition Labeling of Menu Items in Restaurants
Issue: [A short statement of the issue. 1 or 2 sentences. Begin your statement with, “In this NPRM, the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes to….]
Statutory Authority: [A short description of the provision of the law that gives FDA its authority to
regulate.
Background: [A description of the problem this rule is designed to fix;
background or historical information about the relevant statues, relevant
scientific research, and what, if anything, the government has done
previously about the problem. About 1 1/2 pages]
The Proposal: [Summarize the basic requirements of the rule – what the agency is proposing to require (i.e.,
who must do what). About 1 page]
Pros and Cons: [Describe the major arguments offered by FDA in support of its decision (the benefits) as
well as the major down-sides (costs) of the rule. Use specific public comment to buttresses your discussion.
Also refer to the benefit-cost analysis in the rule. About 2 pages]
Recommendation: [The Congressman is going to write a letter to FDA commenting on this proposal (even though
his comment is late). He wants to know whether he likes this rule or not and why. He expects you to provide
him with a short, concise recommendation and analysis explaining your recommendation. Try to do this without
using the pronoun “I.”
You could recommend that he support the rule for x and y reasons. You could recommend that he support the
rule with qualifications (e.g., the rule is ok, but for a, b, and c). You could recommend that he voice
serious concerns about the rule. The agency is still working on the rule, so it has not yet become a final
and thus official agency position. Thus, the Congressman has considerable latitude for his comments.
However, he does not want to look stupid and is relying on you to make him look good. 1/2 to 1 page]
Additional page: The Congressman wants you to draft the letter he will send to Katherine Sebelius, the
Secretary of HHS. You are to draft a short letter (approximately 2/3- 1 page) for his signature that
reflects your recommendation above – the Congressman will either compliment or criticize the agency for its
decision and give his reasons. Remember that it is the Congressman, not you, who is speaking in the letter.
Consequently, the “I” you use in the draft letter will be the Congressman, not you.
This letter should follow the text of your paper, but does not count in the 5-7 page limit. Address
it to: The Honorable Katherine Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Service.
Final page: Reference List. See Turabian, p. 402 Figure A.16 – your Reference List should look exactly like
this example. Figure A.11 in Turabian is an example of correct use of in-text citation.
Your paper must contain in-text citations in the Turabian style and a reference list at the end
Remember that the congressman is a busy, busy man. He is counting on you to tell him exactly what he needs to
know, and no more. Your memo to him must be clear, concise, and accurate. He may be appearing on the House
floor later, with your memo in hand, making a public statement about the FDA rule. What you tell him about
it had better be right. Also, your letter must represent him well – it must be polite, substantive, and
accurate. He does not want to look like a fool in writing.
How to find the documents
1. To find the rule, supporting documents, and public comments, go to <regulations.gov> and click on the
site. In the upper center of the page will be a large search box. Put in the following code, which
identifies this rule: <RIN 0910-AG57> and click search. This will take you to a page/chart listing many
items related to the rule you are interested in. The 3rd item will be the rule, identified with its title
on the left of the row of info, followed by “proposed rule” and “FDA.” At the far right will be a box
labeled, “Open docket folder.”
Click on the title of the rule to access it. On the page that comes up, click “PDF” to get the rule as it
appeared in the Federal Register. This is the version you should read, in all its glory. It is heavy going.
Do not leave this until the last day or two. The rule document will provide you with virtually everything
you need to know about the rule.
In addition, I would like you to read at least 10 public comments. Back on the rule’s main page of items
related to this rule, scroll down about 10 items until you start to see entries labeled “Public Submission.”
The first one should be from Sarah Marie Monnette. Click on her name, and her comment will appear in a box at
the bottom of the page. In some cases, the commenter has included comments as an attachment. In this case,
click on the commenter’s name; on the next page scroll down to the box labeled “attachment,” then click on
the PDF icon in the upper right corner of the attachments box. This will take you to the comment itself.
I would also like you to read a letter signed by a number of Congressmen. It can be found by going back to
the original page and item for the April 6th version of the rule, and clicking the far right box, “Open
docket folder.” On the page of “Supporting and Related Materials,” go down 5 items to one labeled “Other”
and “Congress of the United States comment.” Click on the title and read what these Congressmen have to
say.
Finally, I would like you to look for Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congressional Research
Service (CRS) reports on this subject. You can google these organizations and search with key words.
Citation and Reference List Style For Public Documents
see Turabian, sec. 19.9, 271
1. Statute: The Endangered Species Act of 1973. Public Law 93-205. 93rd Cong., 1st sess. December 28.
Parenthetical Cite: (Endangered Species Act of 1973[hereafter ESA], sec. xxx.)
2. Regulation: Food and Drug Administration. 2011. Food Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu
Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments. Proposed Rule. Federal Register 76 no. 66 (April
6): 19192-19236.
Parenthetical Cite: (Food and Drug Administration [hereafter FDA] 2011, [page]
3. Public Comment: Food and Drug Administration [hereafter FDA]. 2011. Comment by Marjorie Snowflake,
Docket No. FDA 2011-F-0172-00xx. [[the final 2 digits of the docket number can be found on the menu page
where you have found the rule and comments. For example, the number for the rule itself is ….-0001]] Food
Labeling: Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments.
Proposed Rule. ([date of comment itself]).
Parenthetical Cite: (FDA 2011. [Name of commenter]: [page number if needed])
4. Documents on-line
For public documents available on line: if what you view is a pdf document, you do not need to include a URL.
If it is not in pdf format, however, you must include a URL and the date that you accessed the document.
5. GAO : U.S. Government Accountability Office. 2000. Federal Lands: Agencies Need to Assess the Impact of
Personal Watercraft and Snowmobile Use. GAO/RCED-00-243. [URL and access date if document is not in pdf
form.]
6. CRS or other reports with an author: Congressional Research Service. 2009. Decline of Snowmobiling in
Yellowstone National Park, by Vladamir Putin.
 
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