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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established guidelines federal agencies should follow when creating and disseminating important guidance. The term "guidance" is often used to refer to non-legislative rules - interpretations and policy statements. Guidance documents can be generally applicable - that is, they are intended to provide interpretations or policy statements that are applicable to the general public. They can also apply only to a particular party or parties. For example, they may respond to a request from a regulated entity who seeks guidance on how to act under a specific set of facts that the entity provides. Whether generally applicable or only applicable to a particular party, guidance documents are not legally binding on the public.

The following documents contain requirements or information on agency use of guidance documents:

OMB "Final Bulletin for Agency Good Guidance Practices"
and Related Amendments to E.O 12866

  • Guidance Bulletin. On January 18, 2007, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a Bulletin (M-07-07) establishing requirements for the development, issuance, and use of significant guidance documents by Executive Branch departments and agencies. It "is intended to increase the quality and transparency of agency guidance practices and the significant guidance documents produced through them."
  • Executive Order (E.O.) 13422. The President also signed E.O. 13422 on January 18; it amended E.O. 12866 ("Regulatory Planning and Review") to, among other things, add requirements concerning guidance documents to complement the OMB Bulletin.
  • Implementation Memorandum. On April 25, 2007, OMB issued a memorandum providing additional guidance on both the bulletin and the amendments to E.O. 12866 (M-07-13, "Implementation of Executive Order 13422 (amending Executive Order 12866) and the OMB Bulletin on Good Guidance Practices," which included an April 25 memorandum from the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) on the same subject.

Types of NHTSA Guidance

To enable the public to better understand the various types of documents that NHTSA issues that could provide information on our interpretation of, or policy concerning, our rules, statutes, or technical issues and the extent to which the public may rely on them, we have prepared the following descriptions.  The following examples of NHTSA guidance are approved by appropriate agency officials in accordance with procedures approved by the head of the agency, and they may be relied on by the party or parties to whom they are provided:

  • Preambles. Preambles to final rules promulgated by the agency. They are issued at the time of, and as part of, the final rule signed by the head of the agency or another senior official with delegated authority from the agency head.
  • Generally Applicable Interpretations or Policy Statements Issued or Approved by the Agency Head (or designee). These are normally published in the Federal Register or posted on the agency's website.
  • Letters to Specific Individuals or Entities. These letters respond to requests from individuals or entities and provide an interpretation of particular regulatory or statutory provisions. These letters represent the definitive view of the agency on the questions addressed and may be relied upon by the regulated industry and members of the public. However, the agency strongly cautions that these letters are based on specific facts that are critical to the agency's interpretation. NHTSA posts these letters on the agency's website.
  • Oral Guidance Statements by Senior Agency Officials. If there is a record of such statements, such as prepared statements from senior officials testifying at a Congressional committee hearing, the statements are posted on the agency's website.
  • Grant Guidelines. These documents provide information about the agency's grant program criteria. They are published in the Federal Register for notice and comment and/or posted on the agency's website.
  • Compliance Guides. Generally, compliance guides restate or summarize statutory and regulatory requirements to provide assistance to the public or regulated entities.


In accordance with the OMB guidelines, the following is a list of the agency's significant guidance documents, within the meaning of Executive Order 13422 and the OMB guidelines:

Document Name

ID Number
(if any)

Docket No.
(if any)

Issuance, Revision, and Withdrawal Dates

Incentive Grants to Support Increased Safety Belt Use Rates Section 406 Implementing Guidelines



 January 25, 2006

* The agency continues to review our guidance and will post any that is determined to be significant on this site. If you are interested in submitting comments on NHTSA's significant guidance documents, please follow the instructions on DOT's webpage, "Public Feedback on Guidance Documents".


Pursuant to the OMB Bulletin, we have also designated a specific office to receive and address public complaints that we are not complying with the OMB Bulletin or that we are treating a significant guidance document as a binding requirement. This office will respond promptly and appropriately to any complaints.

If you have concerns about the agency's compliance with the OMB Bulletin, please contact

Office of the Chief Counsel
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building
Washington, D.C. 20590
(202) 366-9511

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)