Sunlight Academy

Docket Wrench

Docket Wrench is a Sunlight Foundation tool that allows you to examine the submissions and comments to agencies who amend the code of Federal Regulations. Learn how to search for comments, agencies, dockets and submitters as well as explore cluster of comments to see how businesses and organizations shape federal rules and regulations.

Public policy doesn’t stop when Congress passes a bill and the president signs it. Laws include rules and regulations that become the responsibility of agencies within the executive branch to write. The Department of Energy, the FDA and the ATF are among the 300 federal agencies tasked with dictating these finer points of public policy.

The Sunlight Foundation’s Docket Wrench helps you at this stage of policy making.

Before an agency finalizes a proposed rule, there is a period of public commenting, which many special interests in Washington use to wield their influence beyond the halls of Congress. (Individuals can submit comments, too.) However, this exertion of influence in the rulemaking process has, for the most part, taken place outside the public eye.

Until now.

Docket Wrench makes following this influence easier by providing a suite of tools to help researchers and members of the public delve into regulatory comments. Users can search more than 3.5 million regulatory documents to see how companies, interest groups and NGOs submit public comments on proposed rules, with many also linked to their profile on Sunlight’s Influence Explorer. Docket Wrench’s visualization feature groups textually similar documents together to help find evidence of form letter campaigns by these groups.

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