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Regulatory Tracking: Developing a Winning Strategy

by Veronica Magan, FiscalNote

Regulations can have a significant impact on your organization's ability to achieve goals. Here are the steps and tools you need to develop a winning regulatory strategy.

Did you know that more than 24,000 regulations were proposed at the federal and state levels in the United States in 2020? And in the first two months of 2021, there have already been close to 4,000 proposed regulations. Acting on regulatory activity is essential to driving results to your organization. Our recent 2021 State of Public Affairs Report found regulatory activity was the #1 issue impacting the industries of more than 50 percent of respondents. 

Regulatory activities run the gamut: from major rules with enormous economic consequences — and Presidential legacy — to those that affect only a handful of people or industries. Others still sit in the middle zone, with engaged interest groups and important policy stakes, but little public involvement. 

But for those where the position of the agency is potentially flexible and open to change, based on the public comment period, seasoned government and regulatory affairs professionals know it can be a way to nudge policy in a preferred direction.

What is Regulatory Tracking?

While Congress and statehouses get all the attention for introducing and passing laws, the agencies that interpret and enforce the rules and regulations passed down are arguably where the really important and ultimately impactful work happens. Getting those rules in place can be a long and arduous journey, especially if you’re working on a federal, state, or global regulatory strategy. Regulatory tracking allows you to stay ahead of the process and of new regulations that could potentially impact your organization. 

Why is Regulatory Tracking Important?

In the world of public affairs and government relations, being proactive is no doubt the most effective way to get things done. You’ll have a much better chance of impacting proposed regulations at the state or federal level if you’re aware of them early in the process. It’s that simple: if you want to have a say in the outcome and protect your organization’s interests, you have to stay on top of the regulatory process. 

But even if you don’t wish to influence the outcome of regulation, another reason why regulatory tracking is important is that, if it impacts your organization, you want to make sure you’re aware early on to start adapting your processes to be compliant.  Plus, it can be a great way to take the temperature of your members or supporters or just a touchpoint to engage them in the commentary process. Either way, the best way to stay ahead is by using a regulatory tracker.

Steps for Successful Regulatory Tracking

With thousands of regulations proposed and enacted each year, manually searching through multiple online state registers and federal agencies to stay on top of developments that impact your organization can be an unnecessary time-consuming task.

Here are seven tips to make sure you’re staying one step ahead of tracking, responding to, and influencing the regulations that impact your organization most. 

1. Collect Specific Information

To be the most effective at tracking regulations, you have to be crystal clear on your issues. Make lists of the regulations and laws that are important, the bills and proposed rules that are in play, and the people and organizations that have an impact — even the language that is used. This information can be extremely helpful in a variety of ways, from tracking regulations and bills to developing an early warning system, so maintain these lists as issues come and go.

Stay on Top of the Regulations that Matter

Here's how FiscalNote can help you stay one step ahead of tracking, responding to, and influencing the regulations that impact your organization most.

2. Let Information Find You

Keeping track of the regulations that matter to your organization and every movement around them in a sea of thousands of regulations is a difficult task to do manually. But you don’t have to! Technology can make regulatory tracking an automated process that can help you surface the information you need to do your job.

With a regulatory tracker, you don’t have to search through multiple online state registers — or leave your regular work environment — to stay on top of the regulatory developments that affect your organization. You can access important information on state, federal, and global regulations such as title, publication dates, agency, and receive targeted, timely notifications of newly proposed and final regulations, including comment periods and effective dates. 

3. Go Broad to Start 

When faced with the question of whether to use a comprehensive search that pulls in too much information or a narrow search that could miss something, some experts say go broad, accept the deluge and tighten down later. With a regulatory tracking tool, such as FiscalNote, you can search on a database of regulations from over 400 federal agencies, more than 5,400 state agencies, and 20+ agencies from around the world. We collect and rescan items for new information at a rate of 16,000 items per minute, including docket, document, and comment metadata, ensuring you have all of the necessary data in one place, at your fingertips. 

4. Leverage the Commenting Period

Depending on your strategy, you’ll want to make sure to mobilize your advocates to take advantage of the public commenting period to support and protect your organization’s interests. But you want to make sure this process is easy for your supporters. 

With FiscalNote’s flagship advocacy tool VoterVoice, your supporters can potentially influence regulation by commenting directly on proposed regulatory rule changes straight from the tool. There is no need for them to navigate to Regulations.gov to sift through and find the regulations that they want to comment on. VoterVoice syncs directly with the online contact forms on Regulations.gov so users can create an advocacy campaign for them, just like they do with elected officials.

FiscalNote’s 2020 Regulatory Report

Download our 2020 Regulatory Report for a deep dive on individual and organizational commenting patterns from the past decade.

5. Focus on Public Sentiment

Gauge, defend against or leverage public sentiment by accessing all comments submitted through Regulations.gov in a centralized view. A pro tool like FiscalNote allows you to also view information on the comments’ submitters and access relevant documents to help you identify allies and build coalitions with other organizations also taking action on issues that matter to you. 

Conduct competitive analysis to more effectively understand industry reactions and risks to proposed regulatory changes. You’ll be able to make better decisions about whether to run an active campaign or take action on regulation by tracking how sentiment changes over time

6. Keep Track of Your Efforts

Reporting and showing the ROI of your work is vital for any public affairs and government relations professional. Using a regulatory tracking solution, you can easily report out on your individual and team activity to showcase actions related to specific policy areas. 

With FiscalNote, you can easily demonstrate your impact with a record of the actions you took to drive outcomes. Quickly export reports on the regulatory updates that impact your organization and save hours of administrative time. 

7. Buy a Professional Regulatory Tracker

Some things to look for in a professional regulatory tracking platform

  • Automatically track multiple regulations across issues simultaneously
  • Set up targeted alerts for relevant regulation and receive timely updates on new developments 
  • Access all comments submitted through Regulations.gov, view the submitter, and access any relevant documents
  • Get a single view into important timelines and dates including publication date, effective date, upcoming hearings, and comment deadlines
  • Automatically analyze the content of every comment posted and understand what industry peers and competitors are saying
  • Stance detection: sentiment analysis to plot every comment submitted into a quadrant (Oppose/Support regulation, Positive/Negative sentiment)
  • Comment themes: summarize general themes as to why submitters are supporting or opposing the regulation
  • Authorizing legislation: view the federal bill that authorizes the agency to pursue the regulation directly from the docket overview page when available, all in one place
  • Resources on agencies, lawmakers, and committees
  • News alerts on relevant regulations

Track Federal, State, and Local Regulations with FiscalNote

FiscalNote helps more than 4,000 organizations be alerted of any proposed regulations relevant to their industry at the federal, state, and local levels in the U.S., in the European Union, and around the globe. Pursue the opportunities and mitigate the risk arising from regulation in the only SOC 2 Type 2 Compliant regulatory tracking platform.

Ready to see for yourself?

Learn how FiscalNote can help you stay one step ahead of tracking, responding to, and influencing the regulations that impact your organization most.