Why not a Federally Sponsored Interactive Public Docket Powered by Automated Legal Guidance?

The Administrative Conference of the US (ACUS) issued a defining report on the use of automated tools to address inquiries from the public regarding the content of their legal guidance documents. The aforementioned automated tools include virtual assistants and chatbots and have particular applicability to Interactive Public Dockets (IPD) such as this one.

The ACUS report is titled Automated Legal Guidance at Federal Agencies.

During the public review of this document CRE believes consideration should be given to the following observations:

(1) The size of the Administrative state continues to increase as result in part of the instantaneous communications among individuals therein.

(2) Federal regulators will not only continue to issue guidance documents but they will also continue to utilize complementary mechanisms such as the  reporting  and recordkeeping requirements which are subject to the policies of the Paperwork Reduction Act. A very significant library of “guidance” documents exist for the aforementioned transactions.

(3) Federal agencies will continue to work with extremely limited resources and it is likely that the current drought in human resources dedicated to answering public inquiries will continue for the foreseeable future.

Therefore the dilemma facing federal agencies, the Congress and the public is whether to devote resources to developing the aforementioned automated tools or in the alternative  make available a miniscule number of federal employees to participate in this endeavor.

Some may argue that no information is better than inaccurate information. In our opinion the use of automated tools is in its infancy and will face daunting challenges but nonetheless it should be given serious attention by federal agencies because it is a lot easier to increase appropriations than head count.

The bottom line is that quality or lack thereof at the present time can be rectified with the passage of time with the use of automated tools; on the other hand the passage of time only increases the information deficit in the absence of such tools.

NB   We have previously addressed our readers questions regarding Federal regulatory policy that decrees that guidance is binding on the regulators, subject to a rebuttable presumption to their superiors, but not binding on regulated entities.

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