Friday, 5 April 2013

The Paperwork Reduction Act: Benefits, costs and directions for reform

an article by Stuart Shapiro (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA) published in Government Information Quarterly Volume 30 Issue 2 (April 2013)


Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) in 1980.

Intended to ensure that the federal government carefully managed information and to reduce the burden of information collection on the American public, it has arguably failed to do either.

This article uses a simple analysis of the benefits and costs of the Act to evaluate possible directions for reform.

The implementation of the PRA has resulted in the mi-sallocation of government resources. Far too much time is spent at the Office of Management and Budget and at agencies reviewing collections and soliciting input on thousands of information collections that are routine and unchanging.

If this time was cut back, both OMB and agencies could devote more time to new information collections that have methodological issues and significant policy impacts. Agencies and OMB could also devote more time to tying information collection to information management as the authors of the PRA initially intended.


► The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) has not resulted in a reduction in burden.
► The PRA could be much more effective if it was better targeted.
► Information resource management is a neglected function of the PRA.
► Cost–benefit analysis should be used to evaluate regulatory reforms like the PRA.

Hazel’s comment:
I felt moved to share this with you because I could not conceive of a UK government passing such a Bill. And, of course, the irony of an Act of Congress which has so obviously has failed to achieve what it set out to achieve which is “collect once, use many times” of sensible information acquisition.

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