Introducing the Regulatory Advocacy Glossary;

Examples of Acronyms in Action 

You may find the glossary useful if you have questions about the nuts and bolts of setting up a meeting with an agency. Or the difference between an NPRM and ANPRM. Or what all these acronyms even stand for!

As we’ve developed the resources on this site, we’ve received questions about some of the terms we use to describe regulatory advocacy. We’ve created a glossary  to explain what we mean (and we link to it on the Quick Guide to Regulatory Advocacy). 

You may find the glossary useful if you have questions about the nuts and bolts of setting up a meeting with an agency. Or the difference between an NPRM and  ANPRM. Or what all these acronyms even stand for!

This glossary is a living document. As we identify new terms that need clarification, we’ll be working to add them. Please reach out if you think of something you’d like to see added to the glossary or you see something we’ve gotten wrong.

Why Should I Care About SBREFA?

The glossary explains why SBREFA (Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act) shows up in the pre-rule stage along with the more familiar RFI (request for information) or ANPRM (advanced notice of proposed rulemaking). The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) requires the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to take certain steps before issuing a rule that is likely to have a significant impact on a substantial number of small businesses.  Those steps include preparing materials about the proposal and reviewing those materials with a panel of small business representatives. After the panel review, a report on the panel’s recommendations is made public. The panel report must be made public, usually in conjunction with the release of the proposal.

These three agencies differ in what they make public when, but all three have mechanisms that allow for some public review of the agencies’ thinking at this pre-rule stage. Engagement at the pre-rule stage is particularly powerful and can help shape the proposal. Advocates can engage during the SBREFA process even if they don’t represent small businesses, whether by reviewing SBREFA panel materials, listening to the SBREFA panel meetings, or asking questions of the agency about the SBREFA process and opportunities for public engagement. The panel report can provide a particularly clear roadmap to likely business opposition to the rule.

An Example:  Do You Care About Financial Inclusion?  Comment by December 14th!

Right now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is preparing for a SBREFA panel later this month  on its implementation of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act. It has published both the outline of the proposed rule it is providing to the SBREFA panel and a  high-level summary of that outline, along with other materials. Anyone can review them and comment on them. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) has already published an initial summary of the outline, headlined, “ A Step in the Right Direction, But Improvements Needed.

This rulemaking has particular significance for our historical moment. Small business development can buffer Black and Brown communities against discrimination and serve to build wealth in the face of centuries of financial exclusion, but only if credit is available on non-discriminatory terms. Entrepreneurs of color are often discouraged from even applying for a loan. One study on the Paycheck Protection Program, using matched-pair testers, found that none of the tested banks encouraged any of the Black female testers to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan.\

Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act: Making Visible Racial and Gender Discrimination in Small Business Lending

Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act was meant to make visible the discrimination against small business owners based on gender or race. Section 1071 requires financial institutions to collect data on application for credit from women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses. It also requires annual reporting to the CFPB. This data would let us see where and how discrimination is occurring. Data would help us fashion a remedy and hold discriminatory actors to account.   

The outline contains proposals the CFPB is considering to implement Section 1071, many of which could significantly impact its efficacy in protecting business owners from racial or gender discrimination. For instance, while the definition of a covered lender under 1071 is relatively broad and inclusive, the CFPB is considering exempting financial institutions “from any collection and reporting requirements based on either or both a size-based and/or activity-based threshold.” Should we be concerned about predatory behaviors by smaller lenders? What evidence do you have either way to raise to the CFPB?  

The comments submitted on the outline, as well as comments from the small business representatives at the panel, will form part of the rulemaking record.  They will influence what rule the CFPB proposes.


We hope this detour has helped make clear some of the power regulatory advocacy has for racial and economic justice.  The glossary is just one of our tools to help with making your regulatory advocacy easier and more effective.  Please check out all our regulatory advocacy tools and let us know what you think.


– Sarah and Diane


Introducing a Quick Guide to Regulatory Advocacy

Read the Quick Guide

What should advocates consider when developing a regulatory advocacy strategy? How can advocates maximize their impact?  Does it matter where a rule is in its life cycle, from pre-rule to proposed rule to final rule?  Our new quick guide to regulatory advocacy helps you map out your approach and choose the tools best suited to where you are in the process and what your goals are.

CRREA Project Recommendations

No matter what your goals are or where you are in the rulemaking process, we have a few recommendations:

  • Because agencies are required to consider evidence and weigh the costs and benefits of their rules carefully, lead with facts and information, rather than opinions or arguments.
  • While it is not always necessary to reference the law, tying in the agency’s statutory mandate can be very powerful, whether the statute that created the agency (like the Dodd Frank Act and the CFPB) or a statute that delegates legislative authority for a specific rule.
  • Finally, ask questions. You might illuminate what additional information from you an agency would find valuable or use an isolated observation to prompt the agency to conduct further investigation into a potential pattern.

This quick guide to regulatory advocacy follows the lifecycle of a rule to illustrate the full menu of opportunities to engage and work with an agency. Geared to the federal level, it is designed to help advocates map out their goals and intentionally use tools that will best influence regulators at each stage of a rulemaking.

Regulatory Advocacy in the Pre-Rule Stage

The pre-rule stage is a particularly powerful place to engage. By engaging at the pre-rule state, community groups and advocates can help set the agency’s agenda. For example, an agency may put out a request for information (RFI) to gather more information about an issue before issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). Comments on an RFI shape how a rule is eventually drafted and whom it protects. The impact at the RFI stage can be even greater than at the proposed rule stage because the agency can still choose to propose or not propose anything it wants. At the pre-rule stage, the agency is not yet constrained to stick to a “logical outgrowth” of what it has proposed in finalizing the rule.

We can see how significant an RFI can be in terms of setting the agenda with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s current RFI on the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). In ten short questions, the CFPB is raising fundamental questions about the future of fair lending. The CFPB asks about the treatment of disparate impact under ECOA, for example, as well as the relevance of the Supreme Court’s Bostock decision to the fair lending protections afforded LGBTQ people. These are questions of wide-reaching importance and are wide open for comment. What we tell the CFPB now will help determine whether and what rulemaking the agency proposes in the future. Our comments now help determine what we get to comment on in the future. The comments may also shape the agency’s approach to supervision and enforcement. (If you want to comment, the deadline is December 1. We have a How to Comment checklist you can use.)

Even before an agency puts out an RFI, though, advocates can reach out to the agency to discuss issues of importance to the advocate and the community she serves. This could be a statute that has been passed but not yet implemented (like the regulation of Property Assessed Clean Energy lenders under the Truth-in-Lending Act) or a concern about implementation of existing regulations. This could be a question about research the agency is doing. For example, the CFPB noted in a blog that it was looking into the “Black-White gap in student loan defaults.” Advocates working on racial equity or student lending might want to inquire what the agency’s research shows and how it plans to address the gap. Arranging a meeting or submitting a letter can draw the agency’s attention to and help frame its understanding of an issue.  With sustained and coordinated effort, pre-rule stage advocacy can move an issue onto an agency’s regulatory agenda.

Thanks for Feedback

We thank Carla Sanchez-Adams, Linda Jun, Sarah Lamdan, Marissa Jackson-Sow, and Kelly Cochran for their invaluable input and feedback on this guide. We know you will have questions or may want to know more about some of the terms, so we’ve created a  glossary to go along with it. We’ll have more to say on that soon. In the meantime, we hope this framework is useful for your advocacy—please let us know your thoughts!

Sarah and Diane



“The Congressional Review Act: The Basics”  

Read the Quick Guide 

We’ve received questions about how a new Congress and president could use the Congressional Review Act to overturn some of the previous administration’s rules.


CRA Basics PDF


As Election Day 2020 approaches, we’ve received questions from regulatory advocates about how a new Congress and president could use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn some of the previous administration’s rules, whether regulatory or deregulatory. There’s good reason to be wondering about this: the CRA’s “lookback” provision may well put rules published now within the next Congress’s reach to overturn using the fast-track procedures available under the CRA. To help answer some of these questions, we’ve developed, “The Congressional Review Act: The Basics.” It covers some of the most challenging issues in the CRA, including:

  • When its fast-track procedures can be used;
  • How far back the CRA can reach; and
  • What rules can be overturned. 

We also touch on different tactical uses of the CRA, such as an omnibus use of the CRA and how it can prevent substantially similar rulemakings in the future. 

Please check it out, and let us know what you think!


Nikka and Diane


Introducing “How to Comment” Quick Guide  

Read the Quick Guide

How to Comment is a one-page guide to the basics of influencing the process and rules you care about by submitting a formal comment.


How to Comment PDF


Federal agencies issue thousands of rules every year, and these affect our lives in even more ways. Luckily for those who want to have a say in rulemaking, agencies are required by law to consider suggestions and concerns you may have about many kinds of rules. This happens through a process called “notice and comment” rulemaking. How to Comment is a one-page guide to the basics of influencing the process and rules you care about by submitting a formal comment. It covers: 

  • How to find a rule to comment on;
  • What to pay attention to when reading a proposed rule;
  • What to put in your comment; and
  • How to submit your comment.

We hope this will be useful in your advocacy. Please check it out, and let us know what you think!


Nikka and Diane