Whenever an agency seeks to collect structured information (i.e., requests for information calling for answers to identical questions) from ten or more members of the public, it must comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act. The Act requires agencies to give the public notice and an opportunity to comment on information collections and to seek approval for collections from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). This review process can take a long time. To address this, OIRA has issued a series of memoranda designed to highlight existing processes that agencies can employ to shorten the review time for certain types of information collections, while still maintaining the integrity of the review process.
As part of its Paperwork Reduction Act Efficiencies project, ACUS commissioned a report that found that agencies have used the expedited clearance processes offered by OIRA in varying degrees. ACUS’s Committee on Regulation considered the report and has developed draft recommendations directed to OIRA and to federal agencies to highlight opportunities for facilitating the information collection review process. The draft recommendations encourage collaboration between OIRA and federal agencies on matters such as training, facilitating the use of expedited clearance processes, and improving the tools agencies use to submit information collections to OIRA. Following consideration by ACUS’s Council, it is anticipated that the Committee’s draft recommendations will be debated and voted on by the ACUS Assembly at the 69th Plenary Session this June.