How We Handle Your Comments External Affairs

How Comments Are Processed in the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and How Your Personal Information is Handled


When a comment is entered in Regulations.gov, it is submitted in “Pending Post” status.? This means it is not publicly visible yet. The comment must be “Posted” by FWS staff, at which time the entire public submission, including attachments, is available in Regulations.gov.

FWS does not require any mandatory fields when submitting a comment.? However, any information that is provided will become public.? You can read this policy in the Federal Register document on which you are commenting.? The comment form on regulations.gov also provides this statement:

 

Posting Guidelines

PLEASE COPY DOWN YOUR TRACKING NUMBER. Your comment will be labeled "Anonymous" if you do not enter a first and last name

YOUR COMMENT WILL BE REVIEWED AND POSTED TO THIS SITE IN 24 - 48 HOURS OR MORE, DEPENDING ON VOLUME OF COMMENTS RECEIVED. Use the tracking number to locate your comment once it is posted.

If you submit a comment, your entire comment--including any personal identifying information--may be available to the public. If you submit a comment that includes personal identifying information, you may request that we withhold the information from public review, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

 

FWS does not review or alter any comment received.? All public submissions are posted in batches several times a day. If a comment is found to contain a threat or pornography, it is put in “Do Not Post” status and will no longer be visible to the public, but will be part of the bulk extract for the FWS program staff.

Comments received from Department of the Interior Bureaus are for internal review only and will be put in “Do Not Post” status and will be available for FWS program staff.

Mass Mailings are often submitted, meaning a group will include an attachment that has hundreds of letters from individuals.? When this happens, only one record is created.? FWS identifies this kind of comment by entering "Mass Mailing" in the beginning of the title.

If the letters are similar and don't include additional relevant information, one sample letter is scanned and uploaded into the docket.? There is a metadata field in the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) that shows how many commenters are indicated in each record.? Usually there is "1" in that field.? For mass mailings, that number is changed to reflect the total number of individual letters.

If later, the same group submits more letters from different individuals, the earlier record is edited.? The metadata field is changed to reflect the additional letters and the total is updated accordingly.

This cumulative total is shown in the docket on Regulations.gov in the upper right corner of the docket page.? The actual number of comment records is shown on the bottom of the docket page in the Public Submission section.? Most of the time, these two numbers will be different due to mass mailings.

If FWS receives a request from the submitter to remove a publicly available comment, the comment can be placed in "Do Not Post" status if time permits.

From time to time, duplicate comments are received.? Since all comments are batch-posted, duplicates will be visible in Regulations.gov.? The FWS review process includes the ability to identify duplicate records, at which time will be noted.

Service Documents Now Open for Comment

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