Information Management:

Status of Formerly Approved Paperwork Requests

IMTEC-87-22: Published: Jun 16, 1987. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the extent to which federal agencies are not complying with provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 that concern reviewing and renewing information collection requests.

GAO noted that: (1) an information collection request is an agency request for the public to provide information, or to maintain certain kinds of records for potential future use by an agency; (2) agencies are required to obtain Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval before using such requests; and (3) approval to use a request lapses after the expiration date if an agency does not obtain reapproval. GAO found that, of the 90 information collection requests it sampled, agencies: (1) no longer needed 38; (2) had 43 reapproved under new control numbers; and (3) used 9 after their expiration dates, without OMB approval. GAO reported that officials stated that agencies: (1) no longer needed the 38 requests due to one-time collection of data, program termination, or a change in a law or rule; (2) had the 43 requests approved under a new OMB control number because of information standardization, data collection consolidation, data requirement renewal, and changes in operating procedures; and (3) used the 9 requests after expiration because of management oversight, misinterpretation of the law, and OMB-agency disagreement. GAO estimated that, from the universe of 2,551 requests, agencies no longer needed 1,488, had 858 approved by OMB under a new number, and used 205 without OMB approval.

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