Agencies told to trim paperwork

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Federal agencies should take additional steps to reduce paperwork in easing the overall burden of regulations on business, the public and federal employees, Cass Sunstein, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, said in a Friday memo to agency heads.


In a follow-up to President Obama’s May 10 executive order titled “Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens,” Sunstein gave agencies until Sept. 10 to list “three new initiatives producing significant, quantified reductions in paperwork and reporting burdens.”

Examples he cited include simplifying applications for renewing federal licenses or participating in programs (perhaps dispensing with forms and relying on automatic approval); incorporating population sampling into program evaluations and research studies; using electronic communication more often; reducing frequency of information collection; easing record retention requirements (consistent with law); and maximizing the reuse of data collected.

“All agencies should attempt to identify at least one initiative, or combination of initiatives, that would eliminate at least 50,000 hours in annual burden,” Sunstein wrote.

He provided examples of recently successful paperwork reductions in a blog post. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration eliminated 1.9 million annual hours of burdens imposed on employers. The Education Department simplified the application process for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, saving 5.4 million annual hours of work once imposed on students and their families. And the Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection eliminated 1.7 million annual hours of hurdles once imposed on air travelers returning to the United States.

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