Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

This 3-part series explains how and why Federal Agency employees comply with the Paperwork Reduction Act. 

Learn more about how to work with representatives from OMB and your agency's Information Collection Officer to:

  • develop a new information collections request, 

  • gain approval for the use of approved questions and collection instruments from the Generic Clearance resources approved for use,

  • develop a 1-page Fast Track collections with approval for a customer satisfaction survey or 

  • find the data you need based on the collections of your agency or another federal agency.


Part 1 of the series provides a brief history and goals of the Paperwork Reduction Action, introduces OMB and defines the terms public and persons, information collection and burden.

Part 2 of the series cites the PRA authority, lists examples of of collecting information that apply to the PRA and those that do not, actions to take if the OMB approval of a collection has expired and is under review, and stresses that the PRA applies in direct and indirect circumstances. For example, if a federal agency would be required to seek OMB approval for information collected, federally funded grants and contracts that include information collection must adhere to the OMB approval process and criteria for the development, collection and use of information.

Part 3 of the series walks viewers through the process of obtaining OMB approval to collect information from 10 or more persons in a 12 month period. Public is again defined to include individuals, households, businesses, nonprofits, local government agencies, tribes, and foreign governments. Here the process, timeline and brief description of the Standard Information Collection Request is provided, with tips on how to keep it simple. Importantly, this video introduces time saving practices, resources and how to coordinate with agency's Information Collections Officer so that you may collection information from the public to inform the work of your agency.

Click here to listen to PRA, parts 1 and 2 as a podcast. 

Listen in iTunes.

Discussion Questions:

1. What is the goal of the PRA?

2. What are at least 2 elements of burden for consideration related to information collection?

3. What are at least 3 examples of information collection in your agency related to partnerships and community collaboration?

4. Are all requests for information collection required to submit a Standard Information Collection Request?

5. May a grantee or contractor use federal funds to collect information from the public without following the OMB approval process?

6. What are the benefits of contacting your agency's Information Collection Officer and following the OMB criteria for processing an information collections request?

7. Does the Paperwork Reduction Act apply to federal employee surveys related to their federal employment roles and responsibilities?

8. Will all information collection requests fall into the estimated month timeline for the approval process?

Wolf Cota

Wolf Cota

Former National Information Collections Officer (ICO)
Office of Regulatory and Management Services, USFS

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