Information Management:

Need for Better Policy and Control Over Public Information Requests

GGD-81-70: Published: Jul 8, 1981. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 1981.

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In July 1980, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requested that its generic clearance be extended to July 1983. Because of a dramatic increase in the estimated reporting burden, GAO reviewed the NRC controls over information requests made under its generic clearance; other information requests made by NRC program offices were analyzed. The NRC policy related to the use of and control over information requests subject to the Federal Reports Act was reviewed along with the procedures and practices followed by the NRC clearance and program offices in processing, issuing, and controlling information requests.

NRC did not exercise adequate control over clearance requests under the generic clearance to ensure that the information requested neither duplicated information already available within the Federal Government nor imposed an undue burden on respondents. A definitive agreement on the use and control of the generic clearance, completed in November 1980, provides NRC with the flexibility needed to meet its mandate of protecting the public health and safety and at the same time to comply with the Federal Reports Act and the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. Under the agreement, NRC was to develop internal policy to explain the conditions for use and control of the generic clearance. Similar controls have not been established over other information requests from 10 or more respondents. Although the procedures agreed to under the generic clearance should improve control over that special clearance, a more definitive policy and improved control of the clearance process are needed to ensure that: (1) the clearance office receives all information requests issued by NRC offices, a procedure necessary to determine whether the information being requested is already available from other Federal agencies; (2) the information is needed; and (3) the reporting burden on respondents has been minimized.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioners should establish or require to be established: (1) a clearance office which is given an active role and established at an appropriate level within NRC to ensure compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980; and (2) a definitive NRC policy which requires improved control by its clearance office to ensure that all requests for information from or the imposition of recordkeeping requirements on 10 or more respondents by NRC offices are processed through the NRC clearance office.

    Agency Affected: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

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