A Mechanism for Communicating With Administration Officials Subsequent to the Close of the Public Comment Period
An IPD is an Interactive Public Docket.. The purpose of an IPD is to break the government’s monopoly over what is contained in a regulatory docket.
More specifically, the docket for a regulatory proceeding and access to it by the public is very limited. Presently the regulators are the sole determinant of what papers used in the pre-Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) stage goes into the docket; the regulators are also the sole determinant of what papers go into the docket subsequent to the close of the public comment period. The public can only affect the content of the docket in a limited time period of say, 60 to 90 days, out of a period of one or more years need to complete a rulemaking.
Nonetheless subsequent to the close of the public comment period the agency receives input from staff and government contractors on a continual basis, particularly in rulemakings having a post comment period of a year or more.
The IPD capitalizes on this dynamic by having an online docket which is available for public input on a 24/7 basis. The public can not only add material at any date but it can also comment on comments made by others. An important characteristic of an IPD is that it is extremely transparent and the public can make comments on the material contained therein. Consequently all information transmissions from CRE to regulators through the use of an IPD are available to the public.
Not only can regulatory agencies read IPD’s but they are also permitted to upload material from an IPD and insert it into the docket. EPA also recognizes that information on the IPD can be submitted to the agency by a third-party. EPA recognizes this inherent right and states in its notices that: “Comments received after the close of the comment period will be marked “late”. EPA is not required to consider these such comments.”
Why then would federal agencies view IPD’s? Agencies review IPD’s because they are often the best source of new information generated subsequent to the close of the public comment period.
IPD’s can also be used to vent government-sponsored studies and studies performed by third parties, the purpose of which is to identify and disclose their strengths and weaknesses. In this instance an IPD dedicated to a specific program is the newspaper used to garner support from federal officials, the press and Congressional staff for the positions advocated by CRE. Such venting could also be used as the basis for filing either a Data Quality Petition or Data Quality Alert pursuant to the Data Quality Act.
The consideration and ultimate acceptance of the material on an IPD by federal regulators and their regulatory overseers depends in large part on the recognized regulatory expertise and federal credentials of the managers of the organization which hosts the IPD.
The impact of an IPD is determined in large part by the recognition it receives from credentialed third parties.