This study – titled “Information Technology and Public Commenting on Agency Regulations” appears in the first issue of Regulation & Governance, a new journal of Wiley-Blackwell. Professor Steven Balla and Benjamin Daniels of George Washington University tested, for the first time, the assumption that the information age will bring forth a new age of enriched democracy over government regulation.
Regulatory agencies have historically been receiving public feedback on proposals via written comments that were either mailed or hand delivered to agency headquarters – making it difficult for most citizens to gain access to, or have an awareness of, available materials. The onslaught of the information age brought renewed hope among regulatory observers that the Internet would bring agency policymaking closer to the public – enabling greater citizen involvement.
The Balla and Daniels study compares hundreds of rulemakings before and after one of the world’s first systems for electronic commenting was introduced in the United States in 1998 – before concluding that levels of participation were almost identical across both periods, indicating that the advent of the Internet has not changed the public’s participation patterns in rulemaking.
Professor Balla said, “Paper processes have been automated, yes. But this automation does not appear likely to significantly increase, for good or for bad, the public’s engagement in rulemaking – a very important mode of policymaking.”
Professor Balla concluded that “public involvement in rulemaking is not likely to become vastly more prevalent in the information age, confounding both hopes of democratization of the process and fears of costly and harmful mass participation.”
This study is published in Regulation & Governance. Media wishing to receive a PDF copy of the article referenced should contact Alina Boey, Public Relations Asia at 613-8359 1046.
About Regulation & Governance
Regulation & Governance aims to serve as the leading platform for the study of regulation and governance by political scientists, lawyers, sociologists, historians, criminologists, psychologists, anthropologists, economists, and others. Research on regulation and governance, once fragmented across various disciplines and subject areas, and has emerged at the cutting edge of paradigmatic change in the social sciences. Through the peer-reviewed journal Regulation & Governance, we seek to advance discussions between various disciplines about regulation and governance, promote the development of new theoretical and empirical understanding, and serve the growing needs of practitioners for a useful academic reference. Published quarterly, Regulation & Governance will be essential reading for academics, regulators and regulatory experts throughout the world. It will provide a forum for original research, debate and refinement of key ideas and findings in one of the most important fields of the social sciences.
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