Status of GAO's Responsibilities Under the Federal Reports Act

OSP-76-14: Published: May 28, 1976. Publicly Released: May 28, 1976.

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On November 16, 1973, Congress amended the Federal Reports Act of 1942 and assigned to GAO, with reduced authority, certain review responsibilities relating to the information-gathering activities of independent federal regulatory agencies. GAO has 45 days to make advance clearance reviews of the information-collection plans and forms which the regulatory agencies propose to use in order to ensure that information is obtained with a minimum burden on respondents and unnecessary duplication of information collection among federal agencies is eliminated.

GAO has had limited success in affecting the paperwork burden placed on the public by the independent federal regulatory agencies. Factors contributing to GAO's limited success are: (1) poor performance by the regulatory agencies in developing and executing their information-gathering activities; (2) ambiguities in GAO's forms clearance authority; and (3) inadequate attention in legislation to the paperwork burden imposed by the federal government. The regulatory agencies must assume more direct responsibility for reducing respondent burden and duplication.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: GAO could do more to help reduce the Federal paperwork burden if the Congress would free it from the clearance responsibilities of the information-collection plans of the regulatory agencies. GAO's limited resources could be used more productively for auditing the information-gathering practices and procedures of all Federal agencies. Congress should consider reassigning GAO's responsibilities for information clearance to an executive agency responsible for the entire clearance function, preferably the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). There is a need for greater control over information-gathering activities of the regulatory agencies. GAO recommends that Congress consider either returning the clearance function to OMB with OMB's present authority or clarifying and strengthening the legislation to allow the clearance agency to challenge the need of information.


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