The Secretary shall obtain public involvement in the development of proposed regulations for this subchapter. The Secretary shall obtain the advice of and recommendations from individuals and representatives of the groups involved in student financial assistance programs under this subchapter, such as students, legal assistance organizations that represent students, institutions of higher education, State student grant agencies, guaranty agencies, lenders, secondary markets, loan servicers, guaranty agency servicers, and collection agencies.
The Secretary shall provide for a comprehensive discussion and exchange of information concerning the implementation of this subchapter through such mechanisms as regional meetings and electronic exchanges of information. The Secretary shall take into account the information received through such mechanisms in the development of proposed regulations and shall publish a summary of such information in the Federal Register together with such proposed regulations.
After obtaining the advice and recommendations described in subsection (a)(1) and before publishing proposed regulations in the Federal Register, the Secretary shall prepare draft regulations implementing this subchapter and shall submit such regulations to a negotiated rulemaking process. Participants in the negotiations process shall be chosen by the Secretary from individuals nominated by groups described in subsection (a)(1), and shall include both representatives of such groups from Washington, D.C., and industry participants. The Secretary shall select individuals with demonstrated expertise or experience in the relevant subjects under negotiation, reflecting the diversity in the industry, representing both large and small participants, as well as individuals serving local areas and national markets. The negotiation process shall be conducted in a timely manner in order that the final regulations may be issued by the Secretary within the 360-day period described in section 1232(e) of this title.
All regulations pertaining to this subchapter that are promulgated after October 7, 1998, shall be subject to a negotiated rulemaking (including the selection of the issues to be negotiated), unless the Secretary determines that applying such a requirement with respect to given regulations is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest (within the meaning of section 553(b)(3)(B) of title 5), and publishes the basis for such determination in the Federal Register at the same time as the proposed regulations in question are first published. All published proposed regulations shall conform to agreements resulting from such negotiated rulemaking unless the Secretary reopens the negotiated rulemaking process or provides a written explanation to the participants in that process why the Secretary has decided to depart from such agreements. Such negotiated rulemaking shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1), and the Secretary shall ensure that a clear and reliable record of agreements reached during the negotiations process is maintained.
The Federal Advisory Committee Act shall not apply to activities carried out under this section.
There are authorized to be appropriated in any fiscal year or made available from funds appropriated to carry out this part in any fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section, except that if no funds are appropriated pursuant to this subsection, the Secretary shall make funds available to carry out this section from amounts appropriated for the operations and expenses of the Department of Education.