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Background on Guidance

Overview

The term “guidance” is often used to refer to nonlegislative rules – that is, interpretations and policy statements.  Guidance documents can be generally applicable – that is, they are intended to provide interpretations or policy statements that are applicable to the general public.  They can also apply only to a particular party or parties.  For example, they may respond to a request from a regulated entity who seeks guidance on how to act under a specific set of facts that the entity provides.  Whether generally applicable or only applicable to a particular party, guidance documents are not legally binding on the public.  Under the Administrative Procedure Act's broad definition of “rule” in 5 U.S.C. § 551(4), guidance would also be a “rule.”  For ease of reference, and to be consistent with the breakdown in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin referred to on this webpage, unless otherwise indicated, further references to “rule” will be to a "legislative" rule.

The following documents contain requirements or information on agency use of guidance documents:

More Guidance Sections

Last updated: Wednesday, May 15, 2019