Views of GAO on the Information Resources Management Principles Established by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980

Published: May 20, 1981. Publicly Released: May 20, 1981.

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The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 is landmark legislation with tremendous potential for improving the Federal Government's information management activities. As an early supporter of the Act, GAO participated extensively in efforts leading to its passage. While the legislation initially stemmed from a growing concern about paperwork burdens imposed on the public, during the legislative process Congress recognized the broader issues associated with the collection, use, dissemination, and disposal of information and the new technology available to do those things faster, better, and cheaper. The management of data and information requires that appropriate policies be established and implemented and that structures be in place to permit data and information to be used as are other program and agency resources. Such management involves the application of paperwork, statistics, records management, and information technology techniques and tools in the collection, use, and disposition of data and information. Privacy, confidentiality, and freedom of information issues also need to be considered when managing data and information. The potential for savings due to increased efficiencies in Government should outweigh the initial costs of acquiring new information technology. The key elements of the Act include: (1) the establishment of a strong central management structure in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), (2) the fact that departments and agencies are called upon to implement their charter of responsibilities, and (3) the assessment of opportunities for applying information technology to reduce costs and improve program operations. GAO will continue to be heavily involved in assessing for Congress the progress toward implementing the Act. Its reviews will focus on OMB and agency efforts to develop policies, establish organizational structures, and take advantage of opportunities to apply information technology for improved service delivery and reduced costs. Future reviews will also focus on the various tasks and deadlines mandated by the Act. A number of GAO jobs will focus on integrating the information management elements as well as continuing to perform reviews directed toward evaluating individual information management elements. Because the Act is a comprehensive structure for Federal information resources management, GAO intends to do its part to make it work.

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