Federal Register Will No Longer Be Printed, Obama Says

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The federal government’s daily publication will appear online only.

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In a video message released to launch a new “Campaign to Cut Waste,” President Obama announced last week several government projects that will be targeted for elimination – starting with the print version of the Federal Register.

The Federal Register is the government’s daily publication of record, containing all legally required notices of meetings, proposals, and regulations.

After lightheartedly claiming that “no one reads this thing,” President Obama announced that his administration will be halting the presses because the Federal Register has been available online for several years.

Just last year, for example, the Office of the Federal Register launched a redesigned website to commemorate the publication’s 75th anniversary.

President Obama conceded that eliminating the print version of the Federal Register may not make much of a dent in the federal budget, but he argued that “[n]o amount of waste is acceptable.”  Eliminating the print version of the Federal Register, he said, was “only the tip of the iceberg.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, eliminating the printed version of the Federal Register would only save $4 million a year.

The savings may not even be that much. At a hearing last week for the House Administration Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) testified that the majority of the costs associated with publishing government documents like the Federal Register are incurred in preparing them for printing.

Moreover, it is not clear that the president will be able to halt the presses without approval from Congress. “The Federal Register Act expressly states that documents ‘shall be printed,’” explained Penn Law professor Cary Coglianese.  “Unless the statute is changed, presumably at least a token number of copies will still need to be printed.”

In his video, President Obama outlined several other ways the administration will try to reduce government waste, including by eliminating unnecessary or duplicative websites and selling off unused government property. The president also issued a new executive order directing efforts to find other ways to reduce government waste.