Oversight

A push for less paperwork

Shelf of Reports

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) wants to stop spending staff time and money on congressionally mandated reports that "are sitting on a shelf collecting dust."

Agencies may have a few less reports to produce, if one senator can gather enough support in Congress.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) promised on Jan. 9 to eliminate, or at least consolidate, the 376 reports the Obama administration considers out of date.

"If these reports are sitting on a shelf collecting dust, then it's time for them to go," Warner said in a statement.

The Office of Management and Budget recently released a list of outdated or duplicative reports, some of which are costly, have no new information, or are useless.

For instance, officials suggested eliminating the report to Congress on the benefits of the e-government initiatives. Dozens of agencies work through an annual process to develop the report. Yet, the report does not provide lawmakers with enough information to justify the cost of producing it, according to OMB.

Meanwhile, "much of the data accumulated in the report is available on the IT Dashboard and at the time of publication the data is more current on the IT Dashboard than in the report," OMB officials wrote.

Defense officials, meanwhile, want to do away with the report on Technology and Industrial Base Policy Guidance, among several others. The Defense Department issues policies, performs analyses and takes action to sustain the capabilities for future defense needs, then reports on that work annually. However, officials say it contains no original information, and that the law requires DOD to continue similar analyses.

And all, the 376 reports listed come from 29 different agencies.

The Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, which became law in 2011, requires a report from OMB on the list of reports it recommends eliminating.

"Over the years, federal agencies have been instructed to expend considerable staff time and other resources producing thousands of reports, yet we never look back to see if these reporting requirements might be outdated, duplicative, or even relevant," Warner said.

He said he intends to work with officials to develop legislation to rid agencies of the unnecessary work.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Mon, Jan 14, 2013

This will being the Xth verse in a never ending song. Paperwork reduction has been a perennial topic since I joined the government in the mid-80's. I expect that nothing will actually change, but success will be claimed. This effort will be followed by another paperwork reduction effort in a year or so.

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