Conference to advise agencies on e-rulemaking
Independent federal agency offers proposals on reading, reviewing and flagging online comments
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Jun 13, 2011
Federal agencies using electronic rulemaking should consider using
content analysis software to organize and review public comments
submitted online, according to a proposed recommendation from the
Administrative Conference of the United States set to be voted on in a session held June 16 and 17.
The conference is an independent federal agency charged with making
nonbinding recommendations to improve agencies’ administrative
procedures, typically through applying science and consensus building.
The agency is considering more than a dozen proposals
for its upcoming voting session, including advice on e-rulemaking, public
comment collection, video teleconferencing and contractor ethics.
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Regarding e-rulemaking, the conference suggests that agencies take
advantage of specialized software to help categorize and evaluate public
Agencies should “consider whether, in light of their comment volume,
they could save substantial time and effort by using reliable comment
analysis software to organize and review public comments,” the
conference states in its e-rulemaking recommendations.
The software would help identify whether public comments were
identical, or nearly identical, to other comments submitted. In those
cases, agencies are not required to have a person review each of those
identical comments, the conference added.
The conference also is considering proposals to allow the public to
flag potentially inappropriate comments submitted on e-rulemaking
dockets, and to allow commenters to indicate whether their comments include
confidential information or trade secrets.
All "physical objects" submitted by the public as part of the
official comment period also would be documented electronically with a "descriptive entry or photograph," the proposal states.
The conference also is considering recommending that agencies publish
a document explaining what types of comments are most beneficial and
listing best practices for submitting comments.
The agency also will review a proposal suggesting that federal
offices consider greater use of videoconferencing, along with a
proposal that the Federal Acquisition Council develop model language for
federal contracts that could be at risk from contractors’ personal
conflicts of interest.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.