Mass, Computer-Generated, and Fraudulent Comments

New ACUS Project
August 20, 2020

Originally published by the Yale Journal on Regulation blog

Last April, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) called for proposals for a new project on “Mass, Computer-Generated, and Fraudulent Comments in Agency Rulemaking.”

The request for proposals (RFP) signaled that ACUS was looking for a team of research consultants to take on the work, in concert with the Conference’s Research Director. Assembling a team for this project makes a lot of sense, because of the variety of issues that this topic presents. I am happy to report that I was one of the researchers selected. The full team:

As indicated in the RFP, the report will address “agencies’ treatment of mass comments (i.e., large batches of identical or nearly identical comments), computer-generated comments, and fraudulent comments (i.e., comments
that purport to come from a source other than the person or entity submitting them) in informal rulemakings.”

For mass comments, the report “will examine the legal and practical issues associated with addressing large numbers of public comments and consider possible alternative mechanisms for ascertaining public opinion.”

For computer-generated and fraudulent comments, the report “will consider the legal and practical issues associated with those classes of comments, including whether agencies are required to consider such comments, whether there are certain types of rulemakings in which such comments are especially likely to pose problems, and whether agencies can and should undertake remedial measures to reduce or eliminate such comments.”

The research team is drafting the report now. You can sign up to follow the project on ACUS’ website (scroll down to “Get Project Notifications”). I’m glad to be part of this team. It’s great to see ACUS pursuing its mission during this pandemic, leveraging online methods of collaboration to keep its work rolling forward.