Paperwork Reduction Act:

Burden Increases at IRS and Other Agencies

T-GGD-00-114: Published: Apr 12, 2000. Publicly Released: Apr 12, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), focusing on: (1) the changes in federal paperwork burden since last year's hearing, with particular attention to changes at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); (2) IRS burden-relief initiatives that are directed at small businesses; and (3) PRA violations.

GAO noted that: (1) although the PRA envisioned a 30-percent reduction in federal paperwork between fiscal years 1995 and 1999, preliminary data indicate that paperwork has increased during this period, and that the increase is primarily attributable to IRS; (2) federal paperwork increased by about 233 million burden hours during fiscal year (FY) 1999 alone--the largest increase in any 1-year period since the PRA was enacted; (3) nearly 90 percent of the governmentwide increase during FY 1999 was attributable to increases at IRS, which IRS said was primarily a result of new and existing statutory requirements; (4) some non-IRS agencies appear to have exceeded the burden-reduction goals envisioned in the PRA; (5) although some of these reductions reflect substantive program changes, others are revisions to the agencies' previous burden estimates or are the result of violations of the act, and therefore will have no effect on the paperwork burden felt by the public; (6) federal agencies identified 710 violations of the PRA during FY 1999--fewer than the 872 violations that were identified during FY 1998; (7) however, problems in last year's data make it unclear whether the number of violations is really going down; and (8) even if the number of violations is going down, 710 PRA violations during FY 1999 is far too many.

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