Paperwork Clearance:

It's Time For a Change

T-PEMD-90-6: Published: Oct 12, 1989. Publicly Released: Oct 12, 1989.

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GAO discussed the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) reviews, pursuant to paperwork reduction legislation, of agencies' requests to collect information. GAO noted that OMB: (1) annually received between 3,000 to 4,000 agency information collection requests; (2) implemented regulations for submitting information collection requests and developed a formal review and notification process, but typically relied on informal review practices; (3) did not systematically check for duplicative information collection efforts; (4) provided generally inexperienced reviewers with little training in judging a request's technical merits; (5) approved 95 percent of requests, and formally modified between 8 percent to 12 percent and informally modified other requests; (6) most frequently cited failure to demonstrate the practical utility of or need for the information collection effort on disapproved requests; (7) rarely approved certain agencies' requests, and was less likely to approve new submissions or research-oriented requests; (8) timely completed most of the reviews, although the median time for reviews increased; and (9) disapproved 4 technically adequate and approved 7 technically inadequate requests out of 17 that GAO reviewed. GAO also found that agencies reported: (1) that OMB regulations and guidelines heavily influenced their information gathering decisions; (2) that they perceived positive, negative, and neutral effects of the OMB review process on information availability; and (3) using some strategies to circumvent the OMB review process.

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