The Spectacle Blog

Federal Register Hits 75,000 Pages

By on 12.2.10 | 9:43AM

The Federal Register is a daily digest where the federal government announces proposed and final regulations, announces agency hearings, and posts certain presidential documents. This year's edition passed the 75,000 page mark yesterday. An average weekday sees 327 pages of federal doings, um, registered.

This year's Register is already over 5,000 pages longer than last year's, which had an unadjusted page count of 69,644 (some pages are left intentionally blank; the adjusted page count was 68,598).

There are still 20 working days left in the year. Assuming 250 working days, the 2010 Federal Register is on pace for an unadjusted page count of 81,560 pages. That would be the third-most of all time in the Federal Register's 75-year history.

The record was set in 1980 with an impressive midnight flurry from the Carter administration's final year. The Clinton era also ended with a bang, pumping out 83,294 unadjusted pages in 2000. The inaugural 1936 Federal Register, published at the height of the Roosevelt administration, was 2,620 pages.

The number of blank pages in the Federal Register varies from year to year, though it is trending down as technology improves. Adjusted page counts make for an apples-to-apples comparison. By this measure, President Bush made Carter and Clinton look like pikers.

His 2008 exeunt set the all-time record with 79,435 adjusted pages of new regulations, notices, and government doings. George W. Bush was nothing if not a friend of big government. He beat Clinton's final flourish by 5,000 pages and Carter's by 6,000.

President Obama's zeal for big government may exceed even Bush's. He could beat the record for adjusted page count this year, and he isn't even leaving office, which is usually when page counts are highest. One wonders how many pages of midnight regulations his administration will publish when it ends in 2013 or 2017.

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