Public Participation

Did you know that you can participate in the rulemaking process too? Voters hold the ultimate oversight of legislators and presidents who pass laws, and who appoint agency leadership and members of the federal judiciary. But, there is even more that you can do to help improve the regulations that govern society.

As required in the Administrative Procedure Act, all executive agencies are required to publish a proposed version of rules in advance of their final rulemaking which allows any interested parties to add public interest comments onto the official public record. You can even request a meeting with the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs to share your opinions and research into the effects of a particular proposal!

To view the latest in rulemaking activity from the federal government, you can visit several websites:

 Administrative Conference of the United States

"The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) recognizes the value of public participation in rulemaking by requiring agencies to publish a notice of a proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register and provide interested persons an opportunity to comment on rulemaking proposals. Other statutes, including the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and Negotiated Rulemaking Act, describe other means to engage representatives of identified interests in the rulemaking process. In many rulemakings, however, agencies rely primarily on notice-and-comment procedures to solicit public input. Although the notice-and-comment process generates important information, agencies can sometimes benefit from engaging the public at other points in the process and through other methods, particularly as they identify regulatory issues and develop potential options before issuing NPRMs."

By: Steven J. Balla & Susan E. Dudley

"In this report, we lay out the processes through which U.S. regulations are made, implemented, and evaluated, highlighting the instruments through which stakeholders participate in these processes. Our review demonstrates that there are extensive opportunities for stakeholder participation at all stages of the regulatory process. These opportunities, however, are typically oriented toward facilitating the provision of information on the part of stakeholders. Instruments of participation, in other words, do not generally advance stakeholder engagement in deliberative decision making, where deliberation is characterized by reflection on positions held by others and the possibility of changes in one's own preferences as a result of such reflection."

By: Steven J. Balla & Zhoudan Xie

"The US and China appear to have little variation in consultation procedures and participation levels, but major divergence in the level of transparency and the type of stakeholders who participate in government consultation."

By: Steven J. Balla, Alexander R. Beck, William C. Cubbison, & Aryamala Prasad

"This article examines the occurrence and nature of mass comment campaigns in rulemaking at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) between 2012 and 2016. The analysis demonstrates that campaigns of more duplicate or near-duplicate comments occur across issue areas under EPA jurisdictions, and that broad societal constituencies—such as environmentalists—are more active in sponsoring campaigns than specific interests negatively affected by stringent regulations. These findings in some respects confirm and in other respects challenge existing understandings of mass comment campaign participation in administrative rulemaking."

By: Jonathan Schwab

"The advent of the Internet offered potential for significant improvements in transparency and public participation across the Federal government, and for over a decade, the federal government has been working to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities. In 2003, an interagency eRulemaking team released Regulations.gov, a centralized, searchable database of executive agencies’ regulatory actions that allows the public to submit comments on rules as well as view and respond to other comments."