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Federal Register Tops 70,000 Pages, Headed for a Major Record

There’s no measure of regulation worse than counting Federal Register pages. But on the other hand, the bureaucracies aren’t exactly bending over backward to disclose costs and burdens of their rules.

So it’s noteworthy that today, the day after Columbus Day, the 70,000-page line was crossed earlier than ever, with the print edition of today’s October 11, 2016 Federal Register hitting 70,318 pages.

Let’s put this in some perspective.

The all-time record-high Federal Register was 81,405 pages in 2010. In fact, six of the seven all-time high federal register page counts have happened under the Barack Obama administration.

Back in the 1980s, the all-time-high record for the Federal Register was 73,258 at year-end 1980. We’ll top that sometime next week, and it’s not even Halloween yet.

In the 1990s, the record was 71,161 in 1999.  The bureaucracies will top that before this weekend.

For a bit more recent perspective:

Indeed, in 2010, the year of the all-time-record count of 81,000 pages, the count “today,” the day after Columbus Day, was 62,674, over 7,000 fewer than now.

So this year is set to be a massive record-breaking year in terms of rulemaking, at least according to Federal Register heft. It is quite likely the Federal Register could top 90,000 pages. My colleague’s current projection is 89,416.  

I track the Federal Register, rule counts, significant rules, “notices,” executive orders and memoranda here each week. Below, you can see the Federal Register page count since 1980.

Federal Register Page History

1980-2016

1980    73,258

1981    57,736

1982    53,104

1983    53,018

1984    48,643

1985    50,502

1986    44,812

1987    47,033

1988    50,616

1989    50,501

1990    49,795

1991    57,973

1992    57,003

1993    61,166

1994    64,914

1995    62,645

1996    64,591

1997    64,549

1998    68,571

1999    71,161

2000    74,258

2001    64,438

2002    75,606

2003    71,269

2004    75,675

2005    73,870

2006    74,937

2007    72,090

2008    79,435

2009    68,598

2010    81,405

2011    81,247

2012    78,961

2013    79,311

2014    77,687

2015    80,260

2016    70,319 on October 11, 2016. Projection, 89,416.