Early-bird commenters well-positioned to frame public policy

April 22, 2009

A new study in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management demonstrates that public commenters who participate during the early phases of regulatory policymaking play an important agenda setting role. Results suggest that these "public" participants—who are often interest groups—can help shape the content of regulatory proposals as they move through the regulatory process and may thwart unwanted regulations.

The study finds the first systematic quantitative evidence of the importance of early participation by the public in regulatory development. Public commenters who participate early in the process do influence the regulatory direction of the policymaking process.

The findings are also important, given recent government rhetoric surrounding the need to re-regulate or tighten regulation across several sectors, including the banking and finance sectors.

"This research suggests the great need for additional systematic knowledge regarding the politics of regulatory development and rulemaking," the authors conclude.

Keith Naughton and Celeste Schmid of the University of Southern California, Susan Webb Yackee of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Xueyong Zhan of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics analyzed data from 36 Department of Transportation rules and almost 500 comments to see if commenters play a critical agenda-setting role during rule development.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell

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