Paperwork Reduction:

Burden Reduction Goal Unlikely To Be Met

T-GGD/RCED-96-186: Published: Jun 5, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1996.

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GAO discussed governmentwide implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, and three federal agencies' actions to implement the act. GAO noted that: (1) between 1980 and 1995, reported governmentwide paperwork burden hours increased from about 1.5 billion to 6.9 billion; (2) the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accounts for most of the federal paperwork burden; (3) IRS accounted for a three-fold increase in 1989 because it changed the way it calculated its information collection burden; (4) governmentwide burden hours increased almost 8 percent in the month before the act's effective date because agencies were trying to get proposed information collection activities approved before that date; (5) as of May 1996, the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs had not set burden reduction goals or kept Congress informed about implementation progress; (6) agencies' weighted average burden reduction is likely to be 1 percent for fiscal year (FY) 1996, but the act's FY 1996 reduction goal is 10 percent; (7) agencies believe that statutory mission-related requirements limit their ability to reduce paperwork burdens; and (8) Congress should consider several measurement issues, including counting adjustments toward or against reduction goals, the difference between measured and actual paperwork burdens, and potentially incomplete agency burden estimates.

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