Introducing a Guide to the Paperwork Reduction Act

Navigating the PRA process with confidence.

Today, we’re proud to launch a new guide on the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) — a clear introduction to the Act and the clearance process around it.

The PRA Guide is a plain language guide which answers the most common questions like, “What is the PRA for?”, “Do I need clearance?”, and “What’s the process?”

It aims to give federal employees confidence working with the PRA—and through this, lower the barriers to working effectively with the public.

All of the content has been reviewed and approved by the office that oversees clearances—the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

overlapping screenshots of the desktop view and mobile view of the new Guide to the PRA

The new PRA Guide aims to increase employees’ confidence save everybody time by explaining the basics in plain language.

Paperwork Reduction Act, a Law for Modern Times

The Paperwork Reduction Act was enacted in 1980 to protect the public from excessive demands for information. Despite its age, the PRA’s concerns are especially relevant now. Now more than ever, good data is essential for government decision-making, but gathering this data must be balanced against the desire to decrease burden on the public. It’s a tricky balancing act.

Until today, federal employees have struggled with navigating the clearance process. Whenever they wanted information from the public - from official forms to online surveys - they’ve entered a world of uncertainty.

Federal employees are often reluctant to modify forms because of the hassle and delay of the clearance process.

Some unfortunate examples are when paper forms are directly copied to web interfaces to avoid the process. Especially when many agencies are improving their digital service offering, this presents a huge wasted opportunity.

This website aims to lower the barrier by increasing employees’ confidence and eliminating a common cause of delay: the back-and-forth between agencies and OIRA. Having the basics in plain language is expected to save everybody time.

The site’s process table also helps agencies plan the right activities at the right times.

With these barriers decreased, the joint project teams hope to unblock good changes while preserving scrutiny on burdensome collections.

How This Came About

The PRA Guide was developed with the help of a fund called 10x, which funds innovative ideas from within government. When OIRA (which handles PRA clearances) heard about this opportunity, it presented a clear path to address the frustration around PRA.

The PRA Guide is the result of Phase 3 of 10x funding, which established the best path forwards through user research: a clear and intuitive website that presents a holistic view of the PRA process.

The Future of the PRA Guide

Work doesn’t stop now that the PRA Guide is released. OIRA and Digital.gov are committed to addressing the challenges uncovered by the user research so far, and continuing this research.

What we need most from you right now, though, is feedback! Does the PRA Guide answer your questions? Is something missing or still unclear? You can give feedback in our open code repository on GitHub, or send directly to PRA@OMB.EOP.GOV.

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