Understanding commenter influence during agency rule development

Keith Naughton, Celeste Schmid, Susan Webb Yackee, Xueyong Zhan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


We provide the first empirical assessment of commenter influence during the rule development stage of administrative rulemaking. We argue that public commenters play a critical agenda-setting role during rule development. To test this proposition, we analyze data from 36 Department of Transportation rules and almost 500 comments. Each of these rules began with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking-a procedure that allows us to track the formal participation of interested parties during rule development. Our analyses are supplemented by face-to-face interviews with agency officials. We find a strong agenda-setting role for early commenters-both in terms of affecting the content of future regulations and in thwarting unwanted regulations. We conclude that " early-bird" commenters are well positioned to frame public policy debates as rules move through the regulatory process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-277
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Policy Analysis and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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