Oct. 5 Event: Mass and Fake Rulemaking Comments (ACUS Update)

by Emily Bremer — Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018@emilysbremer

If you’re in the DC area this week, ACUS and the Administrative Law Review are co-hosting an interesting forum on Mass and Fake Comments in Agency Rulemaking.  From ACUS’s Administrative Fix blog, here’s a summary of the subjects to be discussed:

When agencies propose new regulations, the Administrative Procedure Act requires that they provide interested persons an opportunity to submit written data, views, and arguments. These public comments can provide the agency with additional situated knowledge and potential costs, benefits, and limitations associated with their regulatory proposals from a wide-range of individuals, businesses, public interest groups, trade associations, and other diverse entities. Agencies benefit most from comments that provide objective information and analysis that explains the benefits or drawbacks of the proposal while providing supportive data. Agencies additionally often receive “mass comments” in response to their proposals. Mass comments are comments that are nearly identical and often submitted by members of organizations or groups that aim to demonstrate the number of individuals who support or oppose a proposed rule. As agencies have made greater use of e-rulemaking, mass comment submissions have increased, and agencies have experienced new issues, including potentially “fake” comments submitted by bots and individuals using another’s identity. ACUS has adopted several recommendations, including Recommendation 2011-1, Legal Considerations in e-RulemakingRecommendation 2011-2, Rulemaking Comments, and Recommendation 2011-8, Agency Innovations in e-Rulemaking, aimed at helping agencies address comments submitted during their rulemakings, particularly those submitted electronically.

The line-up of speakers is excellent–it should be a great event!  The forum will take place from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm on Friday, October 5 at American University Washington College of Law.  Here’s the full agenda:

9:00 a.m. Registration

9:30 a.m. Introductory Remarks

Matthew L. Wiener, Vice Chairman & Executive Director, Administrative Conference of the United States

9:30 a.m. Keynote Address

Dominic J. Mancini, Deputy Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget

10:15 a.m. Panel: Mass Comments in Rulemaking

Steven J. Balla, Associate Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Public  Administration and International Affairs, George Washington University

Christina E. McDonald, Associate General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Nina A. Mendelson, Joseph L. Sax Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Michael Whiting, IT Lead/Operations Manager, eRulemaking and FOIAOnline, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

MODERATOR: Reeve T. Bull, Research Director, Administrative Conference of the United States

11:20 a.m. Panel: The Rise of Fake Comments in Rulemaking

Cary Coglianese, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Director, Penn Program on Regulation

Cynthia R. Farina, William G. McRoberts Research Professor in Administration of the Law, Cornell Law School 

Edward W. Felten, Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs, Princeton University; Director, Center for Information Technology Policy

Michael E. Herz, Arthur Kaplan Professor of Law, Cardozo School of Law

Matthew S. Miner, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice

MODERATOR: Anthony E. Varona, Vice Dean & Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law

12:35 p.m. Closing Remarks and Lunch, Hosted by the Administrative Law Review

Andrew F. Popper, Ann Loeb Bronfman Professor of Law and Government, American University Washington College of Law

If you’re interested in attending, you can register here.


This post is part of the Administrative Conference Update series, which highlights new and continuing projects, upcoming committee meetings, proposed and recently adopted recommendations, and other news about the Administrative Conference of the United States. The series is further explained here, and all posts in the series can be found here.

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About Emily Bremer

Emily S. Bremer is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame. Before joining the faculty, Professor Bremer taught at the University of Wyoming College of Law, served as the Research Chief of the Administrative Conference of the United States, worked as an associate in the telecommunications and appellate practice of Wiley Rein LLP, and clerked for Hon. Andrew J. Kleinfeld of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her research focuses on administrative procedure and issues at the intersection of public and private governance, with a particular focus on the use of privately developed technical standards in government regulation.

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