Commenting on federal regulations may not feel like an exciting form of activism, but citizens can actually play important roles in shaping the behavior of our federal agencies. Download the new RegInfo Mobile app to learn more about federal regulations currently under discussion. Then go to Regulations.gov to leave comments on regulations which are open for public review (unfortunately this function isn’t built into the app yet). The example below is from the FDA, but this is equally important for agencies like the EPA and Justice Department.
The FDA encourages public comment on the agency’s proposed rules because the public has a vested interest in the products it regulates, and because the input provides critical insight into the effects of the regulation on the public. The comments often present the “real world” concerns of those who use the products.
For example, several years ago nutritionists, bread manufacturers, and consumer groups provided comments on which ingredients Americans wanted–or didn’t want–in white bread. The FDA adopted the standards only after taking into account the public’s comments and recommendations. The FDA allows ample time for public input and carefully considers these comments when it draws up a final rule. “People don’t always understand that FDA’s decisions in response to comments aren’t just based on the number of comments, or ‘majority rules,'” says Edwin V. Dutra Jr., director of the FDA’s Regulations Policy and Management Staff. “When a consumer sends in a comment based on sound grounds, that comment can definitely make a difference in the agency’s decision-making.”