Minimize text size Reset text to normal size Increase text size

Information Collection and Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) Overview

To avoid overburdening the public with federally sponsored data collections, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 requires that U.S. federal government agencies obtain Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval before requesting or collecting most types of information from the public. 

There are two processes for obtaining PRA clearance: Traditional Clearance and Fast-Track Clearance.

What Data is Considered Federally Sponsored by OMB?

Data collection is considered federally sponsored by OMB when a federal agency:

  • Causes another agency to collect information;
  • Contracts or enters into a cooperative agreement to collect information; or
  • Requires a person to provide information to another person, or otherwise causes another person to obtain, retain, solicit, or require the disclosure to third parties or the public. 

When is OMB Approval Required for Collecting Data?

In accordance with the PRA, OMB approval must be obtained prior to collecting federally sponsored data in any situation where 10 or more respondents, within a 12 month period, are involved and the questions are standardized in nature, whether they are delivered in-person, on the phone, or online.

What is a Respondent?A respondent includes individuals; partnerships; associations; corporations; business trusts; legal representatives; organized groups of individuals; and State, territory, tribal or local governments. One exception - if you are soliciting feedback from Federal employees, you do not need PRA clearance.

What are the Clearance Process Requirements and Options?

The process for obtaining a PRA Clearance varies depending on the subject matter of the data collection.  The processes can differ from agency to agency, both on level of detail and platform for submission. 

There are two processes for obtaining PRA clearance: Traditional Clearance and Fast-Track Clearance. It is best to consult your agency’s PRA clearance officer for information on your submission requirements and process well in advance of your need to assure that you will have enough time to obtain the necessary clearance for your project.

Questions to Ask Your OMB Contact

  • What sorts of clearance options are available for your agency?
  • How long does it typically take to learn OMB’s decision?
  • How many submissions are made a month?
  • How long is the wait for submission at present?

Resources

References

  1. Frequently Asked Questions About PRA / Information Collection
  2. OMB-OIRA Federal Collection of Information
  3. PRA Fast Track Process \ HowTo.gov
  4. Information on Generic clearance on the Open Government website