Comment management is the process by which a business or agency oversees the receipt, control and security of comments solicited from the public regarding a specific project or general service.
Most commonly, comment management is employed in relation to a legally mandated public comment period, which is intended to give the public a chance to provide input on projects affecting them. Comment management encompasses all aspects of the handling of these comments, from how they’re collected, where they are kept, the manner by which they are responded to, and the role they ultimately play in the project’s development.
Methods of comment management vary by organization, but can generally be broken down into two categories: manual and automated.
Manual comment management relies on members of the project team to collect and maintain control of individual comments, which can range from hand-written letters to emails and even transcripts of spoken comments, such as at a public hearing. Comments are sent back and forth, whether physically or by email, as members of the project team provide responses to the comments and ultimately include them in some version of a final public report about the project, such as an Environmental Impact Statement, rule change, or permit decision.
Automated comment management attempts to lessen the personnel-intensive aspects of the comment management process by providing a web portal for comment entry, a central database for storing the comments, and an online system for analyzing and responding to the comments, and outputting them into a final, publicly accessible format.