keyword based tagging for public comments | DocketScope

Mastering Keyword-Based Tagging for Public Comments on Proposed Regulations

In rulemaking and public policy, analyzing public comments on proposed regulations is central to making informed decisions. With an ever increasing volume of comments to sift through, regulatory professionals rely on tools like DocketScope to streamline the process. DocketScope’s Bulk Processing function is an especially valuable tool. I have worked on all sorts of projects, including projects with overwhelming numbers of comments. In my experience, keyword-based tagging for public comments makes working on a project much more efficient and saves the review team so much frustration.

A bulk processing rule identifies comments that are the most likely to be substantive, allowing experienced team members or experts to get a jump reviewing and summarizing the comments most relevant to the substance of the proposed rule. Assigning comments based on bulk processes also allows a team lead to assign large numbers of comments with similar topical to a specific reviewer or analyst, allowing them to identify duplicate comments and review the remainder quickly. Finally, keywords highlighted by a bulk process aids reviewers looking at a comment submission by indicating what specific parts of that comment may be relevant to a particular issue.

How to Use Keyword-Based Tagging for Public Comments Analysis


Here are some tips that will help:

1. Understand the Regulatory Context
Before selecting keywords, it helps to review background material to gain a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape and the specifics of the proposed regulations. Identify key issues, stakeholders, and pertinent topics to inform your keyword list. Helpfully, this is often straightforward. Many of the relevant issues can be identified by a simple review of the proposed rule itself, and the major stakeholders will likely have commented on previous rulemakings.

2. Create a Robust Keyword List
Develop a comprehensive list of relevant keywords encompassing variations, synonyms, and specific terms related to the proposed regulations. Include terms associated with industry jargon, affected parties, regulatory agencies, dates, and critical concepts. These are often very specific to the particular rulemaking. For example, for a regulation aimed at providing more information to farmers relative to companies, you might employ something that is specifically used to describe the issue, like “asymmetrical information.”

3. Consider Comment Context
Think critically about how keywords might appear within the context of public comments on proposed regulations. Tailor your keyword list to capture sentiments, concerns, and opinions expressed by stakeholders. This can be as easy as using “agree” and “support”. However, to create more granular searches, you may want to review some of the comments to see what words are commonly used by those raising a particular issue.

4. Utilize Boolean Operators
Employ Boolean operators (AND, OR) strategically to craft precise search rules. Combine keywords to narrow or broaden search results based on the focus of your analysis. In the simplest example, having a search and tag for “agree” OR “support” would give a wider range of supportive comments than either word.

5. Test and Refine
As comments come in, test your search rules early in the project to assess effectiveness. Refine rules iteratively based on feedback and adjust as necessary to optimize performance. For example, you may notice that a keyword associated with the industry is also used commonly with a more usual meaning, and for that reason, a search for this word is unhelpful in narrowing in on the relevant issue.

6. Iterative Process
Public comment analysis is iterative, and you will almost always run into issues you don’t expect, so it’s useful to continuously reassess and refine keyword tagging throughout the analysis process. Stay adaptable to evolving project requirements and feedback from the team.

7. Document Decision-Making
Document the rationale behind keyword selection and search rule design for transparency and reproducibility. This documentation ensures consistency and facilitates collaboration among rulemaking teams.

Mastering keyword-based document tagging for public comments on proposed regulations accelerates and improves the accuracy of comment review. By following these best practices, professionals can navigate through vast volumes of public feedback with precision and confidence, ultimately leading to well-informed regulatory decisions.

Remember, effective keyword tagging is not just about identifying relevant comments—it’s about employing technology to gain insights that drive sound regulatory policies and decisions.

DocketScope’s intuitive software transforms public comments analysis for proposed regulations, allowing agency policy staff to effortlessly identify the “relevant matter presented” as required by the Administrative Procedure Act, freeing time for agency policy staff to focus on considering the issues raised and writing targeted responses to stakeholder comments. Schedule your demo today.