February 9, 1999
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 391, which would waive fines for
first-time violators of Federal information collection requirements. The
waiver provision could seriously hamper agencies' ability to ensure safety,
protect the environment, detect criminal activity, and carry out a number
of other statutory responsibilities. If H.R. 391 were presented to the
President in its current form, the Attorney General, the Secretary of
Labor, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency would recommend that he veto it.
Because current law already requires agencies to help first-time small business violators who make a good faith effort to comply, the primary beneficiaries of H.R. 391 would appear to be those who do not act in good faith, and those who intentionally or willfully violate the applicable regulations. The Administration understands that Representative Kucinich is planning to offer an amendment that is intended to address the Administration's concerns. The Administration supports efforts to address its concerns, but will continue to object to amendments that would undermine agencies' ability to carry out their many different statutory responsibilities or that would impose unnecessary and burdensome administrative requirements.
The Administration is also concerned about the provision prohibiting States from imposing a civil penalty on requirements "regarding collection of information under Federal law." This provision could create questions about States' ability to enforce State laws that implement Federal statutes. Neither the Federal agencies nor the State Attorneys General have had an opportunity to evaluate whether this provision could unduly limit State law enforcement discretion or to offer their views concerning the Federalism implications of this provision.
The Administration is further concerned about a provision that would require OMB to publish annually a list of all Federal collections of information requirements applicable to small-business concerns organized by North American Industrial Classification System code. While the Administration has no objection to agencies facilitating the ability of small businesses to know what is required of them, it believes there are more constructive ways to meet this objective.