Keeping information collection in check
- By Rich Kellett
- Oct 05, 2000
As federal agencies labor to respond to the Government Paperwork Elimination
Act, it is a good time to review GPEA in the context of collecting information
from the public.
GPEA sets an October 2003 deadline for agencies to provide the public with
the option of submitting government forms electronically whenever possible.
The Office of Management and Budget is requiring agencies to submit their
GPEA plans by Oct. 31.
The call for GPEA plans falls in the context of information collections data collected from the public because implementing electronic forms
has policy and procedural constraints.
Information collection policies put the emphasis on minimizing the amount
of data collected from the public, thus the term information collections
"budget" comes into use. Similarly, OMB Circular A-130 which provides
uniform governmentwide information resources management policies often
uses the term "burden" when talking about information collections from the
Whenever information is collected from 10 or more members of the public,
OMB requires a certification number. Information on information collections
and certification can be found at the following OMB Web page: www.whitehouse.gov/OMB/inforeg.
In addition, OMB
Circular A-130 provides significant implementation and policy guidance on
information collections from the public.
Before starting on electronic forms, you should check with your agency's
designated information collection budget officer to find out if there are
other additional requirements your agency has implemented internally.
In general, open-ended questions on your agency Web site such as seeking
comments on the site's usefulness or identifying any problems, such as bad
links are generally not considered the type of information collection
that requires a certification number. However, if the request takes on the
form of a survey, it is more likely to be an information collection requiring
To find out what information collections are already approved by department,
check out www.whitehouse.gov/library/omb/OMBINV.html.
I found navigating through the inventories extremely interesting. It was
surprising to see the number of information collections and the magnitude
of some of these. For example, I had not connected tax forms and Securities
and Exchange Commission filings as information collections that require
For more GPEA guidance, see the federal CIO Council's GPEA Resources Web page.
Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of the
Federal WebMasters Forum and is director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies Division.