In 1980 Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act. Among it’s purposes was to:
minimize the paperwork burden for individuals, small businesses, educational and nonprofit institutions, Federal contractors, State, local and tribal governments, and other persons resulting from the collection of information by or for the Federal Government.
We learned this week from the Office of Management and Budget that, for fiscal year 2010, it only took 8.8 billion hours to fill out government paperwork. That figure is down from FY2009 when we consumed 9.8 billion hours. That decline seems good until we learn that most of the decline is because federal agencies decided that it really didn’t take you as long to fill out forms as they thought it did.
On the “blame Bush” front, large increases were reported between 2002 and 2005, but much of that increase was the result of the advent of the Medicare Prescription Drug Program…increasing “paperwork” hours by 250 million.
On the “blame Obama” front,
the biggest single-year jump in the past decade came in 2010, when individuals and businesses spent an extra 352 million hours responding to paperwork requests from agencies prompted by new statutory requirements.
As an example,
Last year, employers needed almost 70 million additional hours to claim a new credit for hiring more workers…
I wonder whether it was worth the time it took to even get the credit.
[A]nd restaurants spent 14.5 million hours to display calorie counts for their menus…
By far the largest increase goes to the Securities and Exchange Commission, not because it added more forms, but because it decided that it really took twice as long to fill out the required forms than the SEC originally thought.
But, what the OMB doesn’t tell us is how many man hours the government spent figuring out how many man hours individuals and businesses spent sending paperwork to Washington. I guess that should be added in as well.
Although, at this point, does it really matter?