Managing a public comments analysis project can be incredibly difficult. Government workers or contractors often face thousands of public comments, including many long, complex, substantive comments. However, a good project manager can successfully tackle such a project using the right tools and strategy with solid planning and management.
Here are some tips on how you can successfully manage a comments analysis project:
Find and assign notable substantive comments.
When comments begin coming in, the project manager should first identify the comments that are the most likely to be substantive. These include comments identified as having come from notable stakeholders in the regulated industry, associations representing these organizations or advocating on a related issue, expert organizations, and any lengthier comments you come across.
It’s good practice to assign these comments to more experienced reviewers. The point here isn’t to review these at the exclusion of other commenters but rather to use these comments to quickly identify the most relevant and useful information and provide it to experts as soon as possible.
Batch-assign comments, especially similar or identical comments.
One of the best strategies for speeding the comment review process is to assign comments in batches. Assigning in batches is particularly helpful when dealing with large numbers of similar comments in form letter campaigns. Assigning a group of form letters to one commenter can dramatically speed up the process.
It can be tempting for individuals working on a comment analysis project to silo and independently determine which issues a comment addresses. However, because the goal is to identify and map issues consistently, it’s far better to encourage collaboration.
For example, project managers should tell analysts that if they’re unsure how to map an issue they identified, it’s best to discuss it with the manager or colleague. Leaders should model this by asking team members for input if they’re not sure about a mapping.
Having a tool like DocketScope makes it easy to follow these tips. DocketScope has powerful search capabilities that help analysts find the most substantive comments early. It also identifies groups of similar comments to enable project managers to assign like comments in batches and identify form letters and duplicates before even beginning their review.
Managing a comments review project can be difficult, but smart strategies—and the right tools to implement them—can make it so much easier.