Electronic Government:

Better Information Needed on Agencies' Implementation of the Government Paperwork Elimination Act

GAO-01-1100: Published: Sep 28, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2001.

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The Government Paperwork Elimination Act requires federal agencies to give the public the option by October 2003 of submitting, maintaining, and disclosing required information in electronic rather than paper format. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible for overseeing executive branch efforts to comply with the act. Although the October 2000 implementation plans contained much useful information, GAO also found omissions and inconsistencies. Electronic options for many activities are not planned until 2003 at the earliest, and electronic options for other activities are not scheduled at all. As a result, many agencies are at risk of failing the meet the act's deadlines. The October 2000 implementation plans did not provide enough information on agencies' strategic actions, such as prioritizing conversions on the basis of achievability and net benefit, that would minimize the risk of noncompliance. Given these shortcomings, OMB's oversight efforts will be challenging. Without better information, agency progress in achieving the act's goals cannot be accurately assessed.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB agreed with GAO's recommendation and has refined the reporting requirements of the annual GPEA data call. For example, the 2001 data call asked agencies to report on their strategies for meeting GPEA's objectives, and specific feedback was provided to agencies on their GPEA plans along with the 2003 budget passback in the fall of 2001. The 2002 data call is being further refined and includes a statistical report of each agency's progress, which will be integrated with OMB's IT budget data and OMB's information collection inventory.

    Recommendation: To better understand the risks and implications of agency GPEA initiatives and to enhance the likelihood of success in meeting the statutory deadline, the Director of OMB should refine GPEA implementation plan reporting requirements to collect more complete information in an integrated manner on (1) development of agency strategies for meeting the objectives and requirements of GPEA and (2) priorities for electronic conversion based on agency assessments of achievability and net benefit, ensure that agencies are provided with continuous feedback on the completeness and quality of their GPEA implementation plans in meeting OMB's guidelines and reporting requirements, and hold agencies accountable for achieving results by linking GPEA activities to agencywide and program-specific performance measures and outcomes.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget


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