Paperwork Reduction Act:

Burden Increases and Unauthorized Information Collections

T-GGD-99-78: Published: Apr 15, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 15, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA).

GAO noted that: (1) GAO's reports and testimonies all indicate that federal paperwork burden estimates have increased dramatically since the PRA was first enacted in 1980, although some of that increase is due to changes in measurement techniques; (2) agencies' burden estimates have continued to increase since 1995 despite congressional expectations for reductions in federal paperwork burden; (3) the increase in the governmentwide paperwork estimate appears largely attributable to continued increases in the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) estimates; (4) however, IRS said these increases are due to increased economic activity and new statutory requirements--factors it does not control; (5) in addition, GAO believes that the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not fully satisfied all of the responsibilities that the PRA assigns to that office; (6) regarding the data that OMB provided to the House Committee on Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs, GAO believes it indicates a troubling disregard by agencies for the requirement that they obtain OMB approval before collecting information from the public; (7) using OMB's measure of the costs associated with federal paperwork, GAO estimates that agencies have imposed at least $3 billion in unauthorized burden in recent years; and (8) OMB can do more to encourage agencies that are not complying with the PRA to come into compliance, and GAO offers some options in that regard.

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