OMB Watch Suggests Improvements for Information Policy

wrapping paperThere’s no time like the holidays – when packages are wrapped up tight with paper only to be torn apart – to talk about paperwork. That’s why OMB Watch has submitted to the White House comments on improving implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act. (Actually, we submitted the comments in response to an Oct. 27 Office of Management and Budget request published in the Federal Register.)

The Paperwork Reduction Act, or the PRA, is most commonly known for its requirement that agencies seek White House approval on forms and surveys collecting information from ten or more people and that those forms and survey bear an OMB control number. You may notice control numbers on everything from tax returns to FAFSA forms.

But the PRA is so much more. It covers a host of information management issues including information dissemination and information resources management – issues that OMB and agencies have given short shrift in the PRA’s history.

The comments are organized into three sections. The first section discusses OMB Watch’s outside perspective of the OMB review of agency information collection requests and calls on the administration to provide agencies with more flexibility. The second section discusses information collection under the PRA in light of the rapid technological and Web improvements of the last several years and urges the administration to capitalize on those improvements to increase transparency and enhance citizen engagement. The third section identifies PRA responsibilities other than information collection and calls on the administration to reorient itself toward those functions, most importantly information dissemination and information resources management.

We submitted the comments on Dec. 26, though they have yet to appear on, the public portal for submitting comments to the government. You can download OMB Watch's comments here.

Image by Flickr user Tbertor1, used under a Creative Commons license.

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