Washington, DC–Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) today strongly urged the Administration to meet its obligations under law and substantially cut back on the paperwork burdens it places on Americans.
“Each year taxpayers, small businesses and officials at all levels of government,” Thompson said in remarks on the Senate floor, “spend nearly seven billion hours on federal paperwork. Each year this burden continues to grow. The old adage ‘time is money’ really hits home here. According to a recent report of the Small Business Administration, the total federal paperwork burden will cost about $225 billion in 1997 alone.
“Yet financial costs are only part of the story. The seven billion hours taken from Americans…means much less time spent with families, and an overall reduction in most people’s quality of life.”
In 1995 the Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act, a law which set a government-wide goal to cut the amount of paperwork by at least 10 percent in fiscal 1996 and 1997, and by 5 percent a year over the following four years.
“Unfortunately,” Thompson said, “the departments and agencies of the Executive Branch have fallen far short of these goals. The Environmental Protection Agency pledged to reduce paperwork by 25 percent. Instead, it mushroomed by more than four million hours. In fact…overall the Administration actually reduced paperwork by less than 3 percent last year.”
While Thompson complimented new Office of Management and Budget Director Franklin Raines on his January 13 initiative to cut the paperwork burden by 25 percent over the next two years, he said that the Governmental Affairs Committee would “monitor closely” the record of federal agencies on complying with the law.
“Without strong leadership,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Raines, “there is little hope we can stem the enormous paperwork burden….As the new chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee with oversight authority over the Paperwork Reduction Act, I will promise to work with you in a renewed effort to reduce the costs and time lost to unnecessary government paperwork requirements.”