This study examines the role of public notice and comment in the development of 42 rules. These procedures can provide useful information to policy makers about the preferences of those who stand to be affected by agency actions. More importantly, they serve as cues for the accommodation of interests and the resolution of conflict through processes that are grounded in agencies' accountability to political officials. Yet, an examination of the interrelationship between formal, procedural constraints and the informal processes surrounding them reveals that the effects of notice and comment in promoting bureaucratic responsiveness are limited in ways that have received little systematic analysis. A consideration of the tension between the instrumental goal of procedural accountability and the political tasks that often dominate bureaucratic policy making suggests that it is desirable to return to the original use of notice and comment as a device for exposing agencies to the views of affected interests.