As Isaac Newton taught us long ago, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To the degree that unelected, unaccountable mandarins rule, the people do not. Regulatory agencies, headed by unelected administrators, can thus create a “democracy deficit” and, at least for those who believe government derives its legitimacy from democracy,, a legitimacy deficit, too. Various polities have addressed this democracy deficit by embedding public administration in “accountability network[s] of rules and procedures[.]” A requirement of public participation is one such procedure common to many countries and many situations. Whether public participation serves the public, however, depends on many factors, including the particulars of the public participation scheme, the agency’s regulatory tasks, the agency’s resources and competence to fulfill those tasks, and the resources and leverage of all those persons who may be affected by the agency’s actions.

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