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Public Comment

Page history last edited by Lucas Cioffi 10 years, 7 months ago

Issue/Topic:  Public Engagement and use of Mass Email for Public Comments 


From the Open Government Directive Workshop, January 11, 2010 at the US Department of Transportation


Session Number – Space/Location Letter 1- B 

Convener: Daniel Bennett, eCitizen Foundation 

Notes-taker: Bryan Martin Firvida 


Tags” for the session - Open Government Topics discussed:

Email, Public Comment, eadvocacy,  


Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:


  • BLT – (Business, Legal, and Technical) issues – need to understand the process for comments and rulemaking:
    • The public comment period and process differs from the Legislative and Executive branches.  In the Legislature, there are no rules what they do with public comments; completely at the
  • Agencies need to understand the impact of mass emails on the public comment process
  • An email that looks different, may look better during the review process.  Although the fact that someone put effort in drafting, there’s no reason to place additional import to that comment
  • First myth – if you write it differently, it matters – not necessarily true. Congress isn’t reading emails, but may be relying on IQ (Internet Quorom) to aggregate and review the trending and comments
  • Second Myth – Congress cares about all communication – not true; they care about comments from their district.
  • Daniel has developed topic codes; which allows groups to have their messages aggregated to help them self-identify the campaign;  Topic Code allows people to self identify. The topic code becomes a URL, and participants of the campaign use the URL/topic code in the message
  • Commenters should include URL of law, URL of the campaign site
  • Has the prevalence and success of online commenting actually made it more difficult for non-advocacy oriented emails to get read?  Has the success/ease of online communication actually discouraged the value of comments received?
  • Best case scenario: 100,000 messages sent in;99,000 through a campaign – 1,000 are personal written comments – the use of a topic code would allow the offices to spend more time with those 1,000 messages
  • Topic Tags have been incorporated into IQ
  • Agencies, Department/Offices, members of Congress can create and use their own topic code (example: www.dot.gov/publiccomment/carseatsafety2010 or house.gov/member/topicoftheday
  • Everyone needs to be involved in the decision making process, from IT to Management to Legal
  • Working with the “Get it Done Gang” to establish a pilot project to implement and utilize


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