Computationally Assisted Regulatory Participation

58 Pages Posted: 18 May 2017 Last revised: 17 Apr 2018

Michael A. Livermore

University of Virginia School of Law

Vladimir Eidelman

FiscalNote

Brian Grom

FiscalNote

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

With the increased politicization of agency rulemaking and the reduced cost of participating in the notice-and-comment rulemaking process, administrative agencies have, in recent years, found themselves deluged in a flood of public comments. In this Article, we argue that this deluge presents both challenges and opportunities, and we explore how advances in natural language processing technologies can help agencies address the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities created by the recent growth of public participation in the regulatory process. We also examine how scholars of public bureaucracies can use this important new publicly available data to better understand how agencies interact with the public. To illustrate the value of these new tools, we carry out computational text analysis of nearly three million public comments that were received by administrative agencies over the course of the Obama administration. Our findings indicate that advances in natural language processing technology show great promise for both researchers and policymakers who are interested in understanding, and improving, regulatory decision-making.

Keywords: Rulemaking, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Administrative Law, Administrative Agencies, Public Participation

Suggested Citation

Livermore, Michael A. and Eidelman, Vladimir and Grom, Brian, Computationally Assisted Regulatory Participation (2018). 93 Notre Dame Law Review 977 (2018); Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-30. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2970222

Michael A. Livermore (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

Vladimir Eidelman

FiscalNote ( email )

1 Thomas Circle
8th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.fiscalnote.com

Brian Grom

FiscalNote ( email )

1 Thomas Circle
8th Floor
DC, WA 20005
United States

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