Federal Paperwork:

Its Impact on American Businesses

GGD-79-4: Published: Nov 17, 1978. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1978.

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Public policy, as expressed in the Federal Reports Act of 1942, is that federal agencies should obtain their needed information with a minimum burden upon business enterprises and individuals and at a minimum cost to the government, eliminating unnecessary duplication of efforts. Under the act, as amended, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviews any collection of identical items of information from 10 or more persons outside the federal government proposed by executive branch agencies and departments other than independent regulatory agencies. However, the act exempts some agencies.

A study of the impact of federal paperwork requirements on business showed that: (1) business firms were designated as respondents for about 43 percent of reporting requirements; (2) business firms take about 69 million hours annually, at an estimated cost of over $1 billion, to respond to government requests for information; (3) 14 agencies account for about 86 percent of reporting requirements imposed on the firms; (4) management reports account for the largest single type of report required; and (5) reports requiring a single response comprised almost 50 percent of business-related reporting requirements. Since about 78 percent of federal reporting requirements are exempt from either GAO or OMB clearance, the most burdensome requirements were not included in the analysis. Other difficulties in analyzing the paperwork burden resulted from misleading burden measures, the cumulative effects of several reporting requirements, and dependence on estimates whose accuracy was unknown.

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