United States               Forest            Washington        14th & Independence SW 
Department of             Service            Office                P.O. Box 96090
Agriculture                                                                  Washington, DC 20090-6090

Mr. William Thomas
P. O. Box 27217
Washington, D,C. 20038

Reply To: 1010-2

Date: April 24, 1990
Dear Mr. Thomas:

This responds to your letter of April 10, which I received on April 19. The day before, I was notified by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that they were receiving comments from Rainbow Family members in response to the Department of Agriculture's Paperwork Reduction Act notice on the information requirements in the draft proposed rule. At that time, I learned to my chagrin that once the Paperwork Act notice is published, the public may obtain a copy of the entire proposed rule, not just the portion dealing in information requirements. I am embarrassed that I did not know this, but I didn't, and, as a result, I can see why you think I have been misleading in my comments to Jim Johnson when he was calling on status.

E.O. 12291 requires OMB review of any substantive agency rule prior to its publication in the Federal Register. Until that review is completed, the rule is considered predecisional and is not available for public review and comment. Because I did not realize that the Paperwork Act notice allows the public access to the entire draft rule, I was informing anyone who inquired about the group uses rule that it could not be reviewed until it was published.

Fortunately, Jim Johnson called me late Thursday afternoon (4/19), and I was able to explain to him what I had just discovered and to apologize for appearing to deny him access to the rule, which he had a legal right to obtain. I assured him, as I now assure you, that this was not intentional on my part. The error occurred because I was not as familiar with the relationship between the Paperwork Reduction Act process and the regulatory review process as I should have been. In short, I goofed.

OMB still has not completed its review of the rule. In addition, we were asked to obtain Department of Justice review of the rule, and that review not completed either. At this point, I cannot predict when the reviews will be completed or when we will be able to publish the proposed rule.

In all my communications with members of Rainbow Legaliaison, I have been forthright and acted in good faith. Unfortunately, out of ignorance of the paperwork Reduction Act, I appeared to be misleading. I regret this very much, and I hope that you will accept the error for what it was--an honest mistake.

Regulatory Officer

cc: Rainbow Legaliaison
Caring for the Land and Serving People FS-6200-28b(488)

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