The collection of information from citizens, businesses or third parties (states, universities) enables government agencies to comply with federal regulations, execute their missions and provide essential services to the public. Whether the collection method is a direct request (application), a recordkeeping requirement that helps support regulatory enforcement or a third-party disclosure, the information collection is essential to the effective operation of government. Just as significantly, federal information collections levy significant burdens on the public in terms of the time required to provide the information and the associated cost of the citizen's or business's time.
The Paperwork Reduction Act’s (PRA) primary goals are to minimize the government paperwork burden on the public, maximize the utility of information, improve the quality and use of Federal information, and minimize the cost to the government to create, collect, use, disseminate, and dispose of information. To achieve these goals, the PRA includes a range of provisions that establish standards and procedures for effective implementation and oversight. Among these provisions is the requirement that agencies do not collect or sponsor the collection of information without having them approved by Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Before submitting them for approval, agency Chief Information Officer (CIO) must certify that the collection meets 10 specified standards; for example, that the collection avoids unnecessary duplication and minimizes burden.
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995: http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/
Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA): http://www.cio.gov/archive/paperwork_elimination_act.html