Federal Manager's Daily Report

OMB has issued guidance on carrying out a Biden administration initiative to reduce the paperwork burden on the public, as part of its larger customer service initiative.

Memo M-22-10 tells agencies to “more completely and transparently articulate burdens and associated costs experienced by the public when accessing essential public benefits programs, and (2) use that analysis to minimize the Federal information collection burden, with particular emphasis on those individuals and entities most adversely affected, consistent with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.”

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According to a posting by OMB, the key requirements of the policy are that the memo “calls on federal agencies to further engage with the public to fully understand their experience when applying for or submitting information to a benefits program. The memo also directs agencies to consider how other burdens in the process impose time, financial, and psychological costs on people.”

It further “instructs agencies to consider policy, communication, technological, and design reforms that can make it easier for the public to access services. While there are no one-size-fits-all answers because of the unique purposes and populations served by each program, the memo encourages agencies to follow leading practices to reduce the challenges we already know make it harder for people to access services.”

The memo adds that in assessing the burden they are placing on the public, agencies are to take into account

• “burdens such as time spent gathering records and documentation needed to prove eligibility, travel time associated with developing and submitting the collection, or even time waiting to speak with agency personnel”

• “psychological costs that certain information collections impose on individuals, such as the cognitive load, discomfort, stress, or anxiety a respondent may experience as a result of attempting to comply with a specific aspect of an information collection,” and

• “time and effort expended by a respondent to discover and determine the applicability of an information collection to their particular circumstances, as well as any research necessary for the respondent to understand how to comply with any program participation requirements beyond reading a form’s instructions.”

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