Categories: Regulatory Issues

Using the Federal Register to Understand Regulatory Issues

TASA ID: 383

Using the Federal Register to Understand Regulatory Issues

If you have ever worked a case that involved federal regulatory issues, this article is intended to make your life easier as you review and digest a typical federal regulation.

Just about every industry in the United States falls under specific regulations.  The federal agency that has jurisdiction over a particular industry will issue its rules and regulations in the Federal Register, which follows the United States administrative law.  In 2009, there were over 69,000 pages published in the Federal Register in the form of notices, i.e., advanced notice of rulemaking, notice of rulemaking, final rules, notice of meetings, etc.   My background is in pipeline safety at both the federal and state levels, so I will use the regulations relative to the pipeline industry as examples throughout this article. This information, however, could also apply to OHSA regulations and EPA regulations, just to name a few.

When you have a case that involves an issue related to a specific requirement of one of the numerous regulations, you may find it necessary to review and analyze the regulatory history related to that requirement.  You cannot simply read the language of the relevant regulation and fully understand the intent.  In the pipeline industry, pipeline system operators must follow specific regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 49.  More specifically, for natural gas, the regulations are found in Title 49 CFR, Part 192, and for petroleum pipelines, Title 49 CFR, Part 195.

The federal agency responsible for pipeline safety is the Office of Pipeline Safety, which is part of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), located within the United States Department of Transportation.  The current pipeline safety regulations, as well as all Federal regulations in electronic format, may be found at .

When a case involves a regulatory requirement one typically looks at the language of the specific regulation.  That, however, is only the starting place.  If you are unfamiliar with the subject matter of that specific requirement, you must determine the intent of the regulation to fully understand and apply its impact.  To find out what the intent is, you must go to the "Final Rule" that created or revised the specific regulation.  One way to do this is to go to the Federal Register.  Many previous Federal Registers can be found online at .  At this website, you will be able to quickly search through prior Federal Registers dating back to 1994.

As an example, look at the following regulation taken from Part 195.

§ 195.214   Welding procedures.

(a) Welding must be performed by a qualified welder in accordance with welding procedures qualified under Section 5 of API 1104 or Section IX of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code (incorporated by reference, see §195.3) . The quality of the test welds used to qualify the welding procedure shall be determined by destructive testing.

(b) Each welding procedure must be recorded in detail, including the results of the qualifying tests. This record must be retained and followed whenever the procedure is used.

[Amdt. 195-38, 51 FR 20297, June 4, 1986, as amended at Amdt. 195-81, 69 FR 32897, June 14, 2004]

The last line of this regulation contains the critical information, "Amdt. 195-38, 51 FR 20297, June 4, 1986."  This means that the regulation was revised by Amendment 195-38.  The 195 indicates the amendment was of the petroleum pipeline regulations and was the 38th revision as of that date.  The Federal Register citation is 51 FR 20297, which tells you that in Volume 51, for 1986, page 20,297 of the Register contains the final rule which revised this regulation.  In addition, you can also go to the June 4, 1986 copy of the Federal Register to locate this final rule. 

Also note that there is another reference to revisions made to this same regulation.  This regulation was again revised by Amdt. 195-81, 69 FR 32897, June 14, 2004.   This was the 81st revision to Part 195, which was published in the Federal Register on June 14, 2004 on page 32,897.  This could be very critical if the scope of a case you are working on concerns action or circumstances that occurred at a time period where the requirements may differ from what is currently required.

The strongest advice I can give you as you review the regulation is NOT to look only at the language of the regulation itself.  In fact, if you are looking at previous revisions to a specific regulation, the last thing to look at is the language of the final regulation.  You should first go to the preamble material contained in the final rule.  This material will tell you why the revision was needed, what initiated the revision, the intent of DOT in making the revision, and the impact of the change on the industry.

The development of a regulation and/or revision to an existing regulation follows a specific rulemaking process.  The revision may start with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) or more typically, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).  The Federal Register will tell you which type of notice you are viewing.  The purpose of either one of these notices is to lay out the background and conditions that brought about the proposed revision.  There is usually a time period in which all affected or interested parties may submit comments.  It is very informative to look at the comments that have been submitted.  You can do this by going to .  These comments will help you gain further insight into the intent and effect of the revision to the regulation.  You may even find that your client may have submitted comments that could be beneficial to your case.  The information you will need to start your search can be found in the lead-in to the Federal Register notice.  The following is an example of a recent final rule to a pipeline issue.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials
Safety Administration
49 CFR Parts 192 and 195
[Docket ID PHMSA-2007-27954; Amdt. Nos.
192-112 and 195-93]
RIN 2137-AE28
Pipeline Safety: Control Room
Management/Human Factors
AGENCY: Pipeline and Hazardous
Materials Safety Administration
ACTION:Final rule.

The important information needed for a search is the Docket ID.  In this example, PHMSA-2007-27954 is the ID number.  I noted when I ran a trial on my links contained in this article that there were almost 200 separate comments and entries in this particular docket.  That could be a treasure trove of information for your case.

You must also be aware of the "effective date" of the final rule.  This information is found early in the body of the rule.  If this final rule is a revision of an existing regulation, you may need to go back and view the previous language, to identify the language in effect at the time that is relevant to your case.  The final rule will reference any previous activities in the rulemaking process, and it may be beneficial to follow this regulatory trail back to the initial regulation.

For a more in-depth study on using the Federal Register, you may go to the National Archives at for a very good tutorial.

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA.

Bookmark and Share
Previous Pros and Cons from a Mortgage Professional: Should You Make an “All Cash” Offer
Next Identifying Record Fraud
Tasa ID383


Let Us Find Your Expert 

Note: This form is to be completed by legal and insurance professionals ONLY. If you are a party in a case that requires an expert witness, please have your attorney contact TASA at 800-523-2319.


Search Experts

TASA provides a variety of quality, independent experts who meet your case criteria. Search our extensive list of experts now.

Search Experts


  • I think it's always good to have access to experts when [TASA] make[s] the process so easy."

    Scott McIntosh, Lewis McIntosh & Teare, Royersford, PA

  • As a busy practitioner, managing a sizeable caseload, I can use all of the help available to me. If I can outsource a task, particularly one as important as securing a qualified expert, I will jump at the opportunity. I use TASA in nearly every case where I need to find an expert witness, be it an engineer, an architect, an economist, etc. They have thousands of qualified experts to refer in virtually any field. Best of all the process is extremely simple. When I need an expert I simply contact TASA, whose knowledgeable representatives ask you targeted questions about your case, your legal theories, and your goals, in order to find the right expert for your case. I usually receive CVs and calls from the potential expert within hours. If you find the originally selected person is not a good fit – for whatever reason – TASA will work with you to find the right person. I would happily recommend this service to any attorney."

    Patrick K. Gibson, Gibson & Perkins PC, Media, PA

  • Ms. Darlie I. McDonald RN was awesome on the witness stand, and we prevailed in our case to the tune of  [a] (highly unusual [amount] for a medical malpractice [case] in our area).  I'd highly recommend her."

    Shane Reed, Shane A. Reed Law Office, Jacksonville, OR

  • I appreciate your inquiries and offers of assistance as well as the consistently high-quality, well-organized, and erudite TASA webinars, which invariably have excellent presenters."

    Maurice S. Kane, Cummings McClorey Davis Acho and Associates PC, Riverside, CA

  • Steven Kursh was an outstanding technical expert on our ecommerce IP lawsuit. He completed a massive amount of work on extremely complicated material, in a very short period of time. His work product was first rate and I think he would have done a terrific job if the case proceeded to trial. He is very articulate and helped us. I only wish we had gotten him involved sooner in the litigation."

    Daniel J. Brown, Reiss Sheppe LLP, New York, NY

  • I thank you all for the response to my request for an expert witness...Both Mr. Scott and Mr. Bianchi appear to be well-qualified for this case, but we have hired another expert. As always, I was impressed by TASA's ability to produce exceptionally well-qualified candidates with great speed."

    John Thomas Dzialo, The Law Offices of John Thomas Dzialo, Santa Ana, CA

  • Thank you for your quick response and the names of the two proposed experts. The situation that gave rise to our search for these experts has resolved and we will not need to retain them. However, we will continue to keep TASA in mind as these needs arise from time to time as your breadth of coverage for experts of all types is unparalleled, in my experience."

    Bart W. Brizzee, County of San Bernadino, San Bernadino, CA

  • I have used TASA for the last five years for locating an expert for many personal injury cases. On each and every occasion, TASA was able to find me more than one qualified expert. With such a variety of experts, I was able to select one who met my client's needs in prosecuting these claims. I found the experts TASA referred not only qualified, but available on a moment's notice. Your fees are reasonable and fair, and I will continue to use TASA for the remainder of my career."

    Robert Oushalem, Esq., The Law Office of Robert Oushalem, San Jose, CA

  • I recently used TASA for the first time to locate an expert to testify in a case requiring rather unusual expertise and where there were no applicable regulations or standards for guidance. TASA referred an expert in California who was everything a lawyer looks for in a forensic expert. He was promptly available for consultation, efficiently prepared for deposition and trial and very persuasive and credible with the jury. TASA's administrative services and assistance in locating this expert were excellent, and we would certainly use both the expert and TASA in the future."

    Theodore Phillips, Miller Hauser Law Group, LLP, Placerville, CA

  • TASA has always given me first-class service, but in a recent matter, TASA found the 'needle-in-the-haystack' expert witness we feared didn't exist. We needed an expert for a very narrow and limited issue in a very narrow and limited industry. Because TASA has an extensive expert witness database, it was able to give us a referral almost on the spot. It's why I always turn to TASA first."

    Kathleen A. Herdell, Law Offices of Kathleen A. Herdell, St. Helena, CA

  • There are numerous companies that provide litigation experts. However, I always choose the TASA Group because of their quick response in finding a qualified expert for my particular case. I have extreme confidence in the TASA Group and will continue to use their services in the future."

    Katie A. Killion, Esq., Chiurazzi & Mengine, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA

  • I spent hours trying to locate an expert in a very technical case involving a defect in a medical device. I could have saved a lot of time by calling TASA first. Within hours, I was supplied with the name of an engineer who had more than 30 years of job training, education and expertise in the precise area involving the device. Bravo TASA!"

    Timothy W. Peach, Partner, Peach & Weathers, San Bernardino, CA

  • We were involved in a case pending for more than five years with seven parties from three states. Three mediations failed before we looked to TASA for an expert. TASA referred an expert who clearly understood the complexity of the project and could effectively support his opinion. If it weren't for his expert advice and deposition testimony, the case would not have settled. Interestingly, the case settled within 90 days from the date this expert began."

    Renee Colbert, Esq., Corporate Counsel, W.G. Tomko, Inc., Finleyville, PA

  • Using TASA to find experts for defending our client in a negligent homicide case ended up being one of the most important decisions we made in trial preparation. The experts they suggested were exactly what we needed for the case. I truly did not expect to find experts that would be such a perfect fit for the nature of case. TASA provided us with highly qualified experts in somewhat narrow fields of expertise. A large percentage of our victory is due to the experts recommended by TASA."

    Marta Farmer, Esq., Carl S. White Law Office, Haver, MT

  • I have used TASA's services since the 1980's and have never been disappointed. TASA is indispensable for locating that hard-to-find expert. TASA representatives have always been courteous and pleasant, with the attitude that they cannot do enough to help. I expect to continue using TASA throughout my career."

    Brad W. Greenberg, Esq., Smyth Law Offices, P.C., Brockton, MA

  • I needed to retain a multitude of scientists from a variety of disciplines for a complex litigation. Initially, I went through a series of interviews with an extremely knowledgeable and professional team of TASA advisors. They were able to find highly qualified experts in the specific fields, all of whom turned out to be superior in qualification and area of expertise to my adversary’s experts. I am a TASA believer!"

    Nooshin Namazi, Partner, Nicoletti Hornig & Sweeney, New York, NY

  • TASA always comes through in the difficult IP cases. Their representatives work with you to refine the search criteria and quickly send you a list of very qualified experts."

    Timothy L. Boller, Principal, Seed Intellectual Property Law Group, PLLC, Seattle, WA

  • Special thanks to our TASA referral advisor for her quick response to our initial request—we were extremely happy with how fast TASA was able to assist us! Your group does excellent work, and it is always my first stop when looking for an expert."

    Susanne K. Sullivan, Senior Attorney, Southwest Airlines Corporation, Dallas, TX

  • When we needed an expert in a patent infringement lawsuit, we turned to TASA. We were looking for a witness qualified in two unrelated technical areas, and TASA worked with us to identify and refine our requirements. TASA performed well, promptly providing us with several excellent candidates to consider, one of whom we retained."

    Joseph T. Miotke, Partner, IP Practice Group, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Milwaukee, WI

  • Our team had a very positive experience with TASA. The Expert was professional, efficient, and certainly an expert in his field. His work and testimony contributed to a winning decision for our client! We will recommend the Expert and TASA whenever appropriate."

    Stephanie Sprague, Esq., CT

  • (The Expert) WAS A PERFECT FIT for my case: qualified, competent, easy to work with, attentive to detail, knowledgeable, smart, communicative, enthusiastic, resourceful—have I left anything out? I highly recommend TASA and would be happy to share my experience with anyone else. Thank you!"

    Michael Porrazzo, Esq., The Porrazzo Law Firm, Mission Viejo, CA

  • The expert was very thorough. TASA was quick to respond with an answer to my request. I have used TASA in the past under various other law firms and have been pleased. TASA continues to live up to expectations and then some."

    Anne Desormier-Cartwright, Esq., Jupiter, FL

  • Your organization found us an appropriate expert witness in less than one day. This was excellent service. The expert you found was excellent and a pleasure to work with."

    William A. Ehrlich, Esq., Allentown, PA

  • (The Expert)…accomplished exactly what we wanted. TASA was very prompt and efficient in locating him. All fees were reasonable."

    J. Michael Lehman, Esq., Bruce, Bruce, & Lehman, Wichita, KS

  • We needed an Internet expert right away to meet a deadline. One phone call to TASA, and in less than a day, TASA called back with a list of 8-10 experts who were exactly what I needed. The TASA expert I chose knew the business and mechanics of the Internet so well—he was a PhD and professor who had written a book on the subject—that he put the fear of truth in the defendant that caused him to settle. When I get the kind of service that I did from TASA, I stick with it and use it again and again."

    Philip Green, Attorney at Law, Green and Green, San Rafael and San Francisco, CA

  • Excellent—in a word. I just do not have the time to hunt for experts. (The Expert) was fantastic. Thank you for providing such a quality service."

    Francesca Carinci, Esq., Steubenville, OH

  • TASA stands for Tops At Serving Attorneys. It’s always rewarding working with TASA."

    Marshall A. Bernstein, Esq., Philadelphia, PA.

  • That was, however, one of the best and most interesting webinars I've seen in the last few years.  Thank you for hosting it and introducing me to such a knowledgeable and caring person." - Referencing the Medicolegal Consequences of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Civilian and Military Populations webinar. 

    Lori Bauer Apodaca, The Law Office of Lori Bauer Apodaca, Los Lunas, NM 

  • I needed a dental malpractice expert to assist me in a complex negligence claim. The very able staff at TASA had no difficulty identifying a knowledgeable professional who rendered a reasonable opinion in support of the case, which aided our client in receiving a fair amount of compensation. I am grateful to TASA for its invaluable assistance!"

    John Hermina, Hermina Law Group, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland & Washington, DC

  • For many years I have relied upon TASAmed to provide excellent medical malpractice experts. As a sole practitioner, I find it reassuring to know that a seasoned expert is just a call away. Usually, TASAmed has found just the right expert in a day or two. The support and guidance I receive from TASAmed is a vital part of my law practice, and I have come to expect both great service and high rewards from my TASA cases."

    Thomas J. Massey, The Thomas J. Massey Law Firm, Fallbrook, CA

  • The caliber of physicians that TASAmed has referred to us is superb. Prior referral groups used the same experts over and over again. With TASAmed I have access to experts all over the United States. I’m not limited to the same experts. The TASAmed staff is easy to work with and very professional, with an established track record. When I call for a medical expert, I’m called back the same day, and I often have an idea of what expert will be contacted before my first call is completed."

    Kari Alexander, Certified Legal Nurse Consultant, Texas

  • We hadn’t been able to find the medical expert we needed, and, frankly, I didn’t think we’d find one in that field. TASAmed was able to find us an expert with the exact expertise and medical experience we needed. Your referral advisor was very helpful and found our expert in one day."

    Kurt Osenbaugh, Partner, Alston & Bird, Los Angeles, CA

  • TASAmed’s service was prompt and efficient in connecting us with the right person. The expert was so cooperative and helpful. With how challenging it is to find a narrow area of medical expertise, it’s extra helpful to have your TASAmed pool to plug into instantaneously."

    Greg Roosevelt, Esq., Law Office of Greg Roosevelt, Edwardsville, IL

  • TASAmed has connected me to credible experts in four medical cases just this year. TASAmed and the referred experts respond quickly, the fees are reasonable, and the referrals are well tuned to the fields I request. Since the experts are already associated with TASAmed, they are comfortable having substantial conversations about the case, both before and after record review."

    Martin A. Cannon, Esq., Cannon Law Offices, Crescent, IA

  • I have used TASAmed a number of times and have always been happy with your give-and-take timeliness. Once I requested a medical expert in a particular field, but, after speaking with your referral advisor, we concluded that an expert in another field would be more effective. That same day, I spoke to two experts the advisor gave me, and I retained one."

    Mark A. Lope, Esq., Lope and Honlihan, Butler, PA

  • Very close to the time of trial, the TASAmed advisor quickly referred me to several experienced ER trauma physicians to review medical records and prepare me for cross-examination. After selecting my expert, I over-nighted records for review, and the doctor found valuable information for my client's defense. Thank you, TASAmed, for this timely, specific, valuable referral."

    Charles Morgan, Esq., Law Office of Charles L. Morgan, Jr., Charlotte, NC