GSA Launches Updated Regulations.gov to Improve the Integrity of Public Commenting
February 17, 2021
Site enhancements maximize operability and speed, supporting a consistent, high-quality user experience
WASHINGTON — The U.S. General Services Administration today announced a new version of Regulations.gov launching February 18, 2021. Regulations.gov is a federal shared service that provides the public with one-stop access to regulatory and deregulatory actions for over 200 federal agencies, including the ability to electronically submit comments.
“GSA’s goal is to make it easier for the public to participate in the regulatory process,” said Office of Government-wide Policy Associate Administrator Krystal Brumfield. “The new Regulations.gov re-envisions the public site, with enhanced search capabilities, a simplified commenting process, and mobile-friendly interface.”
The new site significantly improves the integrity of the commenting process. The site includes reCAPTCHA, which only permits “real people” to access the site. A comment application programming interface (API) will allow authorized entities to post bulk comments, allowing advocacy or membership organizations to more efficiently submit large volumes of comments on behalf of their constituencies. The identities of those using the comment API are verified by GSA through a commercial provider of identity validation services, to assure such entities “are who they say they are.”
The new comment API will also introduce transparency and accountability into the source of automated comments. In the former environment, the source of comments was not discernable in any way and many came from bots. In the new environment, in the event there is suspicion about a comment being submitted under a false identity, a comment submitted through the API can be traced back to the entity using the API.
Regulations.gov will continue to offer the public the opportunity to submit individual comments anonymously.
“The new commenting API coupled with reCAPTCHA will help the federal government to not only reduce fraudulent comments but also introduce transparency into the organizations who are submitting bulk automated comments. Right now we simply don’t know the source of these comments, and so we don’t know which ones come from bots and which ones come from real people,” said Office of Government-wide Policy Deputy Associate Administrator for Regulation Management Virginia Huth. “GSA is providing a more secure, reliable, and stable way for submitting large volumes of comments while deterring real or perceived threats to the integrity of the rulemaking process.”
The site has been in testing mode at beta.Regulations.gov since July 2019.
The Comment API documentation and GSA contact information are available at: https://open.gsa.gov/api/regulationsgov/.
GSA welcomes any comments and suggestions via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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About GSA: GSA provides centralized procurement for the federal government, managing a real estate portfolio of more than 370 million rentable square feet nationwide and overseeing approximately $68 billion in annual contracts. GSA’s mission is to deliver value and savings in real estate, acquisition, technology, and other mission-support services across government, in support of the Biden-Harris administration’s four priorities of climate change, COVID response, economic recovery and diversity, equity and inclusion. For more information, visit: www.gsa.gov and follow us at @USGSA.