Paperwork Reduction:

Little Real Burden Change in Recent Years

PEMD-89-19FS: Published: Jun 14, 1989. Publicly Released: Jul 21, 1989.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the burden of federal paperwork on respondents, focusing on: (1) how the paperwork burden changed over time; (2) the factors that accounted for any changes; (3) the different effects on some groups; and (4) the reasons for any changes in data collection.

GAO found that: (1) there was a 27-percent increase in reported paperwork hours between 1980 and 1987; (2) most of the increase stemmed from changes in the way the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) accounted for burdens and did not always reflect real changes in the amount of burden imposed on the public; (3) after passage of the Paperwork Reduction Act, OMB included additional categories of information collection or reclassified major collections into special categories not previously counted; (4) there was little change in the burden for businesses but some increase in the burden for nonbusinesses; (5) some executive, legislative, and judicial actions led to instances of real reduction, such as a highway safety program burden reduction of 62 million hours, and real increases, such as 49 million extra hours resulting from changes in tax form use; and (6) while the burden associated with regulation or compliance increased by 3 to 4 percent, there was a greater proportionate increase in the burden associated with benefit applications.

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