House panel reviews progress toward paperwork reduction

Agency officials gathered on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to describe how their departments are abiding by legislation designed to reduce the federal paperwork burden on the public.

Presiding over the House Government Reform Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee hearing, Chairwoman Candice Miller, R-Mich., chastised federal agencies for their implementation of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which was enacted in 1980 and amended in 1995. Excluding the Treasury Department, the federal government imposes nearly 1.6 billion hours of burden on the public, with the non-Treasury paperwork burden now exceeding 1996 levels, according to Miller.

"Federal agencies as a whole have not done an adequate job reducing burden in areas under their discretion," she said in a written opening statement. "Every hour spent by an individual or business completing paperwork for the federal government is an hour of loss productivity."

Kimberly Nelson, assistant administrator for the office of environmental information at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testified that EPA's paperwork burden on the public is less than 2 percent of the total federal burden and ranks the sixth-highest of all agencies. While the agency has experienced increases in the burden since 2001 primarily due to key water programs, it has implemented several reduction initiatives, she wrote in her testimony.

One such program modernized the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) in order to increase the use of electronic reporting and data-management tools. Nelson said that for the 2003 reporting year, 93 percent of the TRI reporting community used designated software to submit data.

EPA also converted a form related to storm water into electronic format, a move designed to cut by 30 percent the time required to complete the form. "EPA is proud of the burden-reduction 'culture' that has developed over the years, even though it does not always translate into raw burden-reduction numbers," Nelson said.

Labor Department Chief Information Officer Patrick Pizzella, meanwhile, noted that since fiscal 2002, Labor has submitted 12 burden-reduction initiatives to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which oversees the law. The initiatives have resulted in some 221,751 fewer hours of paperwork, according to Pizzella.

Pizzella said the department also routinely reviews information collection and assesses how technology is being used to comply with legislation.

But Kevin Barrett, an industrial hygienist speaking on behalf of the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association, noted weaknesses in achieving paperwork reduction. Specifically, he highlighted the number of records and reports imposed by state and federal regulators and inaccurate calculations of the burden required by specific regulations.

"Federal regulators have made significant strides in assessing and reducing the readily identifiable burdens, but regulatory burden still weighs on the chemical industry in terms of both cost and paperwork," Barrett said. "We have picked all of the metaphorical 'low-hanging fruit' of paperwork-burden reduction and must now reach higher."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.