Congress Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995
II. THE FISCAL
YEAR 1996 INFORMATION COLLECTION BUDGET (ICB)
people speak of the burden imposed by information collection requirements
(i.e., "paperwork"), they often think of taking a pen to paper and
filling out a form. But paperwork burden is a much more complex
concept, and it is important to consider all aspects of the burden
imposed on respondents by information collections.
example, even when filling out a simple form, the effort required
(or time spent) to collect or otherwise generate the information
needed to fill out the form often greatly exceeds the time spent
answering the questions or checking the boxes. Taxpayers usually
spend much more time calculating and documenting their deductions
than actually entering them on their tax forms. Similarly, a firm
reporting its inventory of certain chemicals will inevitably spend
a great deal of time monitoring those levels.
one can not speak meaningfully of burdens without also speaking
of benefits. Sometimes those benefits are not immediately obvious.
When a person selects food products at a store, does the consumer
realize that the nutritional information on the container is the
result of an information collection requirement? What would be the
effect if no one had to certify the safety of, e.g., meat and poultry,
or if no one had to provide the proof needed to qualify for federal
benefits or guaranteed loans?
types of questions also illustrate why it is not particularly informative
to look at the aggregate number of hours spent filling out government
forms. As noted below, the total paperwork burden for FY 1995 is
a little under 7 billion hours. One could divide that by the U.S.
population and calculate that, on average, each person spends roughly
26 hours annually attributable to Federal information collection
requirements. Yet the information requirements come in many different
varieties and for many different ends.
some cases, the collection represents a legal obligation to report
information to the government to verify compliance with government
requirements. The most familiar example of this would be the filing
of tax forms, which accounts for roughly 80% of the total burden,
but there are many other examples. Nuclear power plants must submit
information documenting that operators are properly trained and
medically qualified for duty. Many firms are required to prepare
and/or submit information demonstrating that they do not discriminate
against potential employees on the basis of race, sex, or national
origin, and many firms are required to submit information confirming
compliance with limits on air or water pollution.
reporting requirements are for those who wish to obtain some benefit
or other service from the government. Application forms and other
supporting documentation for those wishing to receive Medicare reimbursement
or food stamps would fall in this category, as would applications
for a passport, a student loan, or a small business loan.
reporting requirements are for statistical purposes. The most wellknown
and comprehensive statistical program is the decennial census, but
there are many other such collections. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
collects and reports data on the occurrence of work related injuries
and illnesses. The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects, analyzes,
publishes, and disseminates statistical information on crime, criminal
offenders, victims of crime, and the operations of the justice systems
at all levels of government. The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration and the Federal Highway Administration collect information
on motor vehiclerelated accidents and fatalities, and highway
growing frequency new requirements involve reporting information
not to the government, but to third parties. The Paperwork Reduction
Act of 1995 explicitly included thirdparty reporting requirements
within its scope and its definition of aggregate burden. As a result
of this change, many preexisting thirdparty requirements
that had not previously been counted in the information collection
budget are now included. This produced a dramatic increase in the
information collection budget, although the change in definition
did not increase the actual burden of the requirements themselves.
requirements take many forms. Nutritional labeling on food products,
as well as drug labeling, are among the more common examples that
Americans see on a daytoday basis. Even the clothing
labels that many take for granted come from an information collection
requirement. Other such requirements are not as obvious, although
still valuable. EPA, for instance, requires many firms to disclose
publicly their releases of hundreds of potentially toxic substances,
allowing nearby residents to know what is happening in their local
thirdparty requirements benefit specific segments of the population.
For example, employers are required to inform employees about the
nature of hazardous substances with which the worker comes into
contact. This requirement takes the form of information distributed
to employees about the possible hazards of a substance, and can
obligate the employer to hold training sessions where the employee
is advised on how to safely handle such material.
some cases, a requirement is not for reporting of information at
all, but for the retention of information by the individual or company
for a specified period of time -- record keeping. Once again, taxes
are a good example -- documentation used to claim tax deductions
must be kept by the taxpayer. There are many other examples. Meat
inspectors must keep records of the results of tests for pathogens
like E. coli bacteria. Employers must keep records of employees'
medical histories under a number of occupational safety and health
some requirements are not requirements at all, but are fully voluntary.
Customer satisfaction surveys are one important form of information
government agencies submitted to OIRA their plans for reducing and
minimizing the burdens they impose on the public through information
collections. In these Information Streamlining Plans, the agencies
have reflected the many factors involved in making meaningful burden
reductions. These factors include the various forms of information
collections described above, the recent statutory requirements mandating
new collections, and the complex nature of defining (or calculating)
burden. The agency plans have also reflected the tendency toward
electronic reporting -- taking the "paper" out of paperwork -- in
many cases allowing for a reduction in burden by taking advantage
of a much more efficient means of gathering, analyzing and transmitting
the PRA, OIRA is charged not only with the responsibility for assuring
a proper weighing of the burdens imposed by each collection on the
public against the legitimate needs and usefulness of the information
for the Federal agencies, but also with the task of developing an
annual Information Collection Budget (ICB). The ICB is the vehicle
through which OIRA, in consultation with each agency, sets "annual
agency goals to reduce information collection burdens imposed on
the public." In addition, the ICB serves as a management tool. Agency
officials can use the ICB in their internal planning and control
processes to review all of the collections of information their
staff plans to implement during the forthcoming year. OMB uses the
ICB in conjunction with management reviews of other agency activities
to assess information collection priorities and to help maintain
the lowest necessary level of paperwork burden on the public, consistent
with the Federal Government's need for information.
enactment of the original Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, which
established paperwork burden reduction goals, agencies have made
progress in reducing paperwork burden. More recently, as part of
the Administration's regulatory reform efforts, President Clinton
directed the Federal agencies to increase their use of electronic
means of information collection and, where feasible, to decrease
the frequency of reporting by the public by onehalf. As a
result, many initiatives have already been undertaken. For instance,
during the 1997 tax season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offered
Telefile to most single filers who do not claim dependents, allowing
over 4 million taxpayers who had previously filed the 1040EZ paper
form to file their tax returns using a touchtone phone. In
addition, as of September 30, 1996, agencies have taken 131 actions
to reduce the frequency of reporting by the public, resulting in
3,380,000 hours of burden reduction
PRA set an annual governmentwide goal for the reduction of
the total information collection burden of 10% during each of fiscal
years 1996 and 1997 and 5% during each of fiscal years 1998 through
2001. The baseline is the total burden of information collections
as of the end of FY 1995. There have in fact been many achievements
in streamlining Federal information requirements; agencies have
lessened the "hassle factor," simplified content, and worked to
identify and collect only information that is actually needed and
used in the administration of programs. As demonstrated below in
the information collection burden reduction accomplishments for
FY 1996 and the planned initiatives for FY 1997, electronic submission
of information and overall improved management of existing collected
information reduced, and will continue to reduce, the time that
the public spends to provide information for government needs.
3 reports the total information collection burden of the Federal
government as a whole, as well as for each individual department
or agency, for FY 1995 and FY 1996, and it represents the specific
agency goals estimated for FY 1997. As seen in Exhibit 6, the Department
of the Treasury, including the IRS, continues to account for the
great majority -- 80% -- of the Federal information collection burden
in FY 1996. Because the Treasury Department accounts for such a
large percentage of the total information collection burden imposed
by the Federal government, it is useful to present the exhibit excluding
the Treasury Department.
7 illustrates the share that various agencies and departments contribute
to the information collection burden when Treasury is not included.
The Department of Labor is the second largest agency in terms of
information collection burden, accounting for 18% of the nonTreasury
burden. The Defense Department is third, accounting for more than
11% of the burden excluding Treasury. The Federal Trade Commission
and the Securities and Exchange Commission are fourth and fifth,
respectively. The rest of the top ten are the Department of Health
and Human Services, the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, and the Department
of Education, ranking sixth through ten, respectively.
instances where agencies have made significant reductions in their
FY 1996 burden from their FY 1995 baseline appear below:
of Agriculture. The Food and Consumer Service published a final
rule that established a new system to help schools use nutrientbased
menu planning for meals in the National School Lunch and School
Breakfast Programs. The rule eliminated regulatory requirements
for edit checks and the maintenance of records to prove the nonprofit
status of schools. As a result, paperwork burden was reduced by
almost 16 million hours.
of Commerce. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) eliminated almost 130,000 hours of reporting and record keeping
requirements imposed on fishermen that accidentally kill or injure
marine mammals by streamlining the Marine Mammal Protection Act
(MMPA) regulations. Commercial fishermen participating in fisheries
with interactions with marine mammals are no longer required to
keep a daily log of these interactions. Participants now report
only if and when any incidental mortality or serious injury takes
place during commercial fishing operations.
of Defense. DoD has significantly reduced the data delivery
burdens imposed on its contractors. As part of contract performance,
contractors are required to supply large amounts of information,
including drawings, maintenance manuals, test reports, parts lists,
software documentation, and cost and scheduling data. DoD has reduced
the number of these data item descriptions in its master catalog
by 400 (of 1300), reducing the burden on contractors by over 30
of Education. Program changes within the Federal Family Education
Loan Program, such as the phaseout of the Federal Insured Student
Loan program and the elimination of Teach Out Requirements (that
had obligated vocational schools to designate backup schools
where students could finish their schooling in the event of the
vocational school's closure), have reduced burden by nearly 3.5
of Labor. The Benefits Accuracy Measurement (BAM) program provides
estimates of the accuracy of benefit payments in the Unemployment
Insurance program and identifies the sources of mispayments so that
their causes can be eliminated. DOL has reduced average sample sizes
and permitted States more flexibility in how they verify information
pertinent to the sampled payments, resulting in a burden decrease
of almost 60 thousand hours.
of Transportation. During FY 1996, the DOT amended its regulations
governing the filing of international passenger tariffs. Although
air carriers had been permitted to file tariff information electronically
since 1989, they were still required to file some 42,000 pages of
paper annually pertaining to tariff rules (e.g., length of stay
requirements). The regulatory revisions now permit much of this
information to be filed electronically. As a result, the annual
information collection burden on air carriers has been reduced by
approximately 380 thousand hours.
of the Treasury. The IRS made several changes to the 1040 form
and instructions that reduced the paperwork burden of individual
taxpayers by almost 60 million hours. These changes included producing
a separate, streamlined set of instructions for use by 10 million
taxpayers that file the simplest 1040 returns and eliminating a
net of 20 lines from the 1040 form and instructions.
Protection Agency. The Office of Water efforts to reduce reporting
focused on the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
Monitoring Report. Guidance was developed to reduce existing monitoring
and reporting requirements for facilities that consistently comply
with their permit limits, consistently discharge higher quality
water than required by their permits, or implement strong facility
management plans. The burden associated with the NPDES Monitoring
Report will be reduced by about 4.7 million hours once the program
is fully implemented.
Deposit Insurance Corporation. The FDIC eliminated its Forms
3320/14 and 3320/19, which were part of its acquisition services
information requirements, thereby streamlining the procurement process
and reducing the paperwork burden on firms wishing to do business
with the FDIC.
and Exchange Commission. The SEC has reduced the paperwork
burden it imposes on the public by 25 percent since FY 1995. This
reduction has been achieved, in part, with the elimination of 44
rules and 4 forms that the Commission's Task Force on Disclosure
Simplification found were no longer necessary or appropriate for
the protection of investors. The rules and forms that the Commission
eliminated included Regulation F and accompanying Form 1F,
which had been used by investors and issuers to claim a conditional
limited exemption from Securities Act registration for assessments
levied on certain stock. This exemption was made obsolete by the
availability of other exemptions. Also eliminated was Form 10C,
which required issuers to report to the Commission changes in corporate
name and other information that is typically reflected in an issuer's
following highlights of planned initiatives for FY 1997 illustrate
the agencies' efforts to continue to reduce burden on the public.
of Agriculture. USDA plans to reduce the required number of
acreage reports and certifications of compliance, which is expected
to reduce burden by almost 1.5 million hours.
of Commerce. After having streamlined its grant procedures,
the Economic Development Administration (EDA) intends in FY 1997
to consolidate three application forms into a single application
for all programs under the Public Works and Economic Development
Act. In addition to reducing burden by almost 40 thousand hours,
EDA's associated regulations are more user-friendly and more consistently
applied among its regional offices.
of Defense. Defense FAR Supplement Part 239 prescribes the
policies and procedures for DoD to follow during the exchange or
sale of Federal information processing services, security and privacy
for computer systems, automatic data processing equipment, and telecommunications
services. During FY 1997, DoD is deleting DFARS language containing
references to an obsolete cost principle pertaining to automatic
data processing equipment leasing costs and removing corresponding
contractor documentation and Government oversight requirements.
As a result, burden is being reduced by about 106 thousand hours.
of Health and Human Services. Increased electronic claims and
the elimination of the physician attestation on individual claims
will reduce the burden resulting from the Medicare/Medicaid Health
Insurance Common Claim Form by roughly 4 million hours.
of Interior. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
intends to issue a rule on Valid Existing Rights that will reduce
the amount of information reported by respondents, reducing their
burden per response from 210 hours to 14 hours. The Bureau of Land
Management (BLM) will review the information collections associated
with onshore oil and gas operations to eliminate duplicative requests
of lessees and operators and ensure maximum use of existing information.
BLM's efforts are expected to reduce reporting burden by over 6
of Justice. In FY 1997, the Justice Department will begin a
pilot test to automate the Arrival Departure Record (I94)
and determine the feasibility of expanding the automated collection
system nationwide and consolidating the I94, I94T, and
I94W. Justice estimates that, if fully implemented, the automation
and consolidation of this collection will reduce burden by almost
700 thousand hours.
of Transportation. In FAA's Antidrug Program for Personnel
Engaged in Specified Aviation Activities, requirements are being
simplified for submitting antidrug plans and MIS reports,
and some requirements for plan amendments are being eliminated.
These change will result in a reduction of 65 thousand hours.
of Treasury. The IRS will raise the threshold for record keeping
requirements for businesses required to report travel, gift, or
entertainment expenses. Businesses will have to maintain receipts
for expenses of $75 or more, instead of $25, which will exclude
many business lunches and dinners. By easing this record keeping
requirement, IRS will reduce the burden on business taxpayers by
almost 13 million hours.
of Veterans Affairs. VA collects information from veterans
and their spouses to determine eligibility for medical and other
benefits. VA plans to revise the collections to eliminate certain
data elements (for example, simplifying the Financial Worksheet)
and expects the burden to decrease by about 700 thousand hours.
Protection Agency. EPA has proposed regulations designed to
reduce reporting frequency, shorten records retention, and streamline
reporting requirements in its stationary source air programs. The
proposed revisions to existing standards would reduce record keeping
and reporting burdens by approximately 1 million hours per year.
Deposit Insurance Corporation. As a result of a change in the
statutory requirements relating to the Fair Lending Monitoring System,
the FDIC will reduce by more than 50 percent the number of financial
institutions required to file under this authority. The statutory
change increased the asset size of institutions required to file
under this provision, thereby exempting many smaller institutions
and reducing the annual burden estimate by approximately 50 percent.
Communications Commission. The FCC's Common Carrier Bureau
will no longer require or allow nondominant interexchange carriers
to file tariffs for their interstate, domestic, or interexchange
services. The Bureau's elimination of this requirement will reduce
burden by almost 290 thousand hours in FY 1997.
and Exchange Commission. The SEC will be issuing rules to implement
provisions of the Investment Advisers Supervision Coordination Act
that would result in a shift of regulatory responsibilities from
the Commission to the States. Since fewer investment advisers would
register with the Commission, the burden associated with the Investment
Advisers Act of 1940 will be reduced by over 4 million hours, although
they will be subject to new regulatory burdens imposed by the States.
is the basic application form and subsequent forms used to process