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So I stumbled across this delightful sounding concept while looking at FAR updates and thought, Oh boy, someone is trying to really help out small businesses figure out what they need to do to comply with the regs. Then I started looking around and I must say I couldn't see any difference between the "Small Entity Compliance Guide" and what I have always seen in a DAC. Is the Small Entity Compliance Guide just a way, as we would have said pre-internet, a way to kill more trees? What am I missing here?

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The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-121, Sec. 212, established the requirement for agencies to publish small entity compliance guides, as follows:

SEC. 212. COMPLIANCE GUIDES.

(a) COMPLIANCE GUIDE.—For each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis under section 604 of title 5, United States Code, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as “small entity compliance guides”. The guides shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. The agency shall, in its sole discretion, taking into account the subject matter of the rule and the language of relevant statutes, ensure that the guide is written using sufficiently plain language likely to be understood by affected small entities. Agencies may prepare separate guides covering groups or classes of similarly affected small entities, and may cooperate with associations of small entities to develop and distribute such guides.

COMPREHENSIVE SOURCE OF INFORMATION.—Agencies shall cooperate to make available to small entities through comprehensive sources of information, the small entity compliance guides and all other available information on statutory and regulatory requirements affecting small entities.

(c ) LIMITATION ON JUDICIAL REVIEW.—An agency's small entity compliance guide shall not be subject to judicial review, except that in any civil or administrative action against a small entity for a violation occurring after the effective date of this section, the content of the small entity compliance guide may be considered as evidence of the reasonableness or appropriateness of any proposed fines, penalties or damages.

The requirement was amended by the Small Business and Work Opportunity Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-28, Sec. 8302, as follows:

SEC. 8302. ENHANCED COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (5 U.S.C. 601 note) is amended by striking subsection (a) and inserting the following:

“(a) COMPLIANCE GUIDE.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—For each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a final regulatory flexibility analysis under section 605( of title 5, United States Code, the agency shall publish 1 or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule and shall entitle such publications ‘small entity compliance guides'.

“(2) PUBLICATION OF GUIDES.—The publication of each guide under this subsection shall include—

“(A) the posting of the guide in an easily identified location on the website of the agency; and

distribution of the guide to known industry contacts, such as small entities, associations, or industry leaders affected by the rule.

“(3) PUBLICATION DATE.—An agency shall publish each guide (including the posting and distribution of the guide as described under paragraph (2))—

“(A) on the same date as the date of publication of the final rule (or as soon as possible after that date); and

not later than the date on which the requirements of that rule become effective.

“(4) COMPLIANCE ACTIONS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Each guide shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule.

EXPLANATION.—The explanation under subparagraph (A)—

“(i) shall include a description of actions needed to meet the requirements of a rule, to enable a small entity to know when such requirements are met; and

“(ii) if determined appropriate by the agency, may include a description of possible procedures, such as conducting tests, that may assist a small entity in meeting such requirements, except that, compliance with any procedures described pursuant to this section does not establish compliance with the rule, or establish a presumption or inference of such compliance.

“(C ) PROCEDURES.—Procedures described under subparagraph (ii)—

“(i) shall be suggestions to assist small entities; and

“(ii) shall not be additional requirements, or diminish requirements, relating to the rule.

“(5) AGENCY PREPARATION OF GUIDES.—The agency shall, in its sole discretion, taking into account the subject matter of the rule and the language of relevant statutes, ensure that the guide is written using sufficiently plain language likely to be understood by affected small entities. Agencies may prepare separate guides covering groups or classes of similarly affected small entities and may cooperate with associations of small entities to develop and distribute such guides. An agency may prepare guides and apply this section with respect to a rule or a group of related rules.

“(6) REPORTING.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, and annually thereafter, the head of each agency shall submit a report to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the Senate, the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives, and any other committee of relevant jurisdiction describing the status of the agency's compliance with paragraphs (1) through (5).”.

For examples of more comprehensive small entity compliance guides, visit the sites below:

http://citygro.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Small-Entity-Compliance-Guide.pdf

https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/SmallEntity/index.html?redirect=/SmallEntity/

http://www.sec.gov/info/smallbus/secg/regulation-a-amendments-secg.shtml

I can only speculate as to why the guides in Federal Acquisition Circulars provide so little information. Perhaps the FAR councils think that the information in the FACs themselves provide adequate guidance, but I don't know.

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Yea, I looked at the statutes. You are probably right, the FAR councils probably figured the existing notices met the statutory requirements.

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