About EPA Dockets
Notice: Due to public health concerns related to COVID-19, the EPA Docket Center and Reading Room are closed to the public with limited exceptions. Read more about the closure.
What is a Docket?
A docket is a collection of documents made available by an agency for public viewing. Often associated with an opportunity for public comment, EPA dockets consist of materials used in a rulemaking or other agency action. These may include documents specifically referenced in the Federal Register, public comments received and other information used by the Agency to explain or support its decisions. Dockets are categorized as being either rulemaking or non-rulemaking dockets.(1)
Rulemaking (sometimes referred to as “regulatory”) dockets document an agency’s efforts to propose, amend, repeal or promulgate a rule or regulation. When Congress passes a law or statute, federal agencies translate those laws and statutes into rules and regulations. Once enacted, regulations carry the force of law as specified by the related statute.
Rulemaking dockets may contain:
- Federal Register Notices
- Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
- Final Rule Notice
- Direct Final Rule Notice
- Proposed rule text
- Supporting documents
- Submitted comments
Non-rulemaking dockets (also known as "general' dockets) contain information on any agency process or action not related to the development of a rule. Non-rulemaking dockets contain varied materials available to the public on agency actions.
(1) The information provided on this page is for general reference only. It does not confer any legal rights or impose any legally binding requirements on EPA or the public.
What is not in a Docket?
Although you can find the documents described above in a docket, some materials that document the agency's internal decision-making process prior to the agency's final decision are not made available for viewing. These materials include:
- Internal documents that capture pre-decisional internal discussions that were deliberative in nature and consist of materials generated prior to the making of a decision such as day-to-day staff notes;
- Briefing papers, action memos and other staff advice and recommendations;
- Confidential attorney-client communications;
- Confidential attorney work-products;
- Draft decision documents;
- Internal EPA memos.
See Rules and Restrictions for more information about materials excluded from public dockets.
Understanding Docket IDs
Dockets, and the documents in them, can be identified by their unique ID code.
Docket IDs have five parts: AGENCY-LOCATION-OFFICE-YEAR-DOCKET NUMBER.
Document IDs have six parts: AGENCY-LOCATION-OFFICE-YEAR-DOCKET NUMBER-DOCUMENT NUMBER.
Descriptions of Docket ID Components
- AGENCY – The federal agency responsible for the docket. All EPA dockets start with “EPA.”
- LOCATION – EPA has a headquarters and ten regional offices. This section will contain either “HQ” or a three-digit code for the region such as “R09.”
- OFFICE – EPA is organized into various programs and offices, each with its own particular focus. This section will contain a two-to five-letter code corresponding to the program/office that developed the docket. Example: Include “OAR” for the Office of Air and Radiation and “OW” for the Office of Water.
- YEAR – Indicates the year the docket was created. Note: The actions described by a docket may include several steps spanning several years.
- Docket ID – A four-digit identifier for each docket.
- Document ID – A four digit identifier for each primary document in a docket. Note: Primary documents may also have their own attachments. Those attachments do not have their own unique identifier; they share the document ID of their primary document.
This docket ID shows that it was created by the EPA in Region 5 by the Office of Air and Radiation in the year 2012. The docket is identified by the number 0991, and the document number is 0017.
This docket ID shows that it was created by the EPA at headquarters by the Office of Pesticide Programs in the year 2014. The docket is identified by the number 0483 and the document is number 0001.