The term "guidance document" includes any statement of agency policy or interpretation concerning a statute, regulation, or technical matter within the jurisdiction of the agency that is intended to have general applicability and future effect, but which is not intended to have the force or effect of law in its own right and is not otherwise required by statute to satisfy the rulemaking procedures specified in the Administrative Procedure Act (section 553 or section 556 of title 5, United States Code). FHWA's policy on guidance is intended to increase the quality and transparency of agency guidance practices and the significant guidance documents produced through them.
It is FHWA's policy to ensure all guidance documents are lawful, reasonable, consistent with Administration policy, understandable, and readily accessible to the public. Guidance is not legally binding in its own right and will not be relied upon by the Department as a separate basis for affirmative enforcement action or other administrative penalty. Conformity with guidance documents (as distinct from existing statutes and regulations) is voluntary only, and nonconformity will not affect rights and obligations under existing statutes and regulations.