The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has published an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register announcing that it has developed a specific portal (i.e., the ‘‘232 Exclusions Portal’’) for persons submitting exclusion requests, objections to exclusion requests, rebuttals and surrebuttals to replace the use of the federal rulemaking portal (http://www.regulations.gov) and “streamline the exclusions process while enhancing data integrity and quality controls.” This interim final rule is effective June 13, 2019.
While BIS stated that regulations.gov was readily available to quickly implement the steel and aluminum product exclusions process, “the site was not easily adaptable to the 232 submissions process, particularly as it evolved into a multi-step system and required a significant amount of human data entry.” The 232 Exclusions Portal will allow 232 submitters to view all exclusion request, objection, rebuttal and surrebuttal documents in one web-based system. To use the new portal, submitters must complete a web-based registration before submitting any documents. In addition, external parties will now be able to track submission deadlines in the same portal.
BIS will begin accepting new exclusion requests on the 232 Exclusions Portal on June 13, 2019 and will no longer accept new exclusion requests on regulations.gov. However, objections, rebuttals and surrebuttals must always be filed on the system where the exclusion request was submitted, whether in regulations.gov or in the 232 Exclusions Portal. BIS has published a detailed User Guide for the 232 Exclusions Portal so that parties can familiarize themselves with the operation of the portal before June 13, 2019.
BIS will accept public comment on this interim final rule until August 9, 2019. The comments should address whether BIS’s efforts have addressed earlier concerns with the use of regulations.gov for the 232 exclusions process, as well as comments on the 232 Exclusions Portal and the transition-related provisions. Specifically, BIS encourages comments on which 232 Exclusions Portal features are an improvement, as well as any areas of concern or suggestions for improvement. These comments should be filed via regulations.gov on docket number BIS-2019-0005.