Did you say that? ‘Unprecedented’ survey seeks info on who said what in federal rule comments

The congressional watchdog is taking a close look at the federal rulemaking process, including by sending a first-ever survey to more than 10,000 rule commenters, the agency said Thursday.

In a release, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it is sending an email survey to the commenters (randomly selected, the agency said) as “part of an effort to better understand how public comments on proposed rulemakings are submitted to federal agencies, and especially the extent to which the comments submitted electronically are actually from those who are listed as having submitted them.”

The GAO called the survey “unprecedented” and that the responses will help form a report to Congress next year on the public comment process.

“The information being gathered has the potential to improve how federal rules are developed,” according to a statement by, Comptroller General of the United States Gene L. Dodaro, who heads the GAO. “It’s crucial to have as many survey responses as possible, and we are very grateful to members of the public who take the time to respond. ”

The congressional watchdog said that, to conduct the survey, it randomly chose a sample of comments submitted to federal rulemakings that accepted comments from 2013-2017. The agency also said it will send a two-question survey asking individuals whether they submitted the comment associated with their email address.

GAO Surveying Thousands on Public Comments to Federal Rulemakings