GAO has questioned the accuracy of agency reports on the hour and cost burdens they impose on the public through their information collection requests, “in part because of lack of clear guidance from OMB.”
“Inconsistencies in estimating respondent time costs could lead to inconsistent implementation of new requirements under Executive Order 13771 that agencies offset the incremental costs of new regulations with reductions in regulatory burden, including paperwork burden, elsewhere,” it added.
GAO said that of the 200 obligations it examined closely, including the two largest at IRS and Transportation, 76 either merely estimated costs or did not translate burden hours into dollars. Although OMB requires agencies to include those costs, it approved all of them regardless, a report said.
Further, some that did include costs did not fully account for them, it said, and in some cases the agencies it examined–Agriculture and HHS were the other two–“did not detect math errors through these review processes or inconsistencies” between their reports under the Paperwork Reduction Act and on Reginfo.gov.
GAO made numerous recommendations; it said OMB neither agreed nor disagreed.