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Digital.gov Guide Explore

About the PRA

What is the PRA and why do we need it?

The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) is a law governing how federal agencies collect information from the American public. Important goals of the PRA include:

Managing the information agencies request of the public

  • We want to be good stewards of the public’s time, and not overwhelm them with unnecessary or duplicative requests for information.
  • The PRA clearance process involves calculating burden hours. It’s important to understand how long it will take members of the public to complete your request.

Making decisions based on high-quality data

  • We want to make sure the data we collect is accurate, helpful, and a good fit for its proposed use.
  • Part of the PRA process involves the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reviewing details about how the information you plan to collect fits with your goals.

Protecting private information

  • To respect privacy, we avoid asking for personal information that’s not relevant or necessary.
  • OIRA asks for extra details if you’re collecting personally identifying information (PII).

Who approves PRA clearances?

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), under the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

When doesn’t the PRA apply?

You don’t need PRA approval every time you collect information from the public. Some of the more common exemptions to PRA include:

  • Requesting from fewer than 10 people,
  • Open-ended requests for comments or feedback,
  • Only collecting information from federal employees as part of their work duties, or
  • Discussions and questions at a public hearing, meeting, or online equivalent.

Some information collections are generally not subject to the PRA, including: certain federal investigations and civil actions, antitrust actions, and intelligence activities.

What happens if I don’t comply with PRA?

The PRA is a law, and compliance is mandatory. Collecting information without clearance can open your work, including decisions made based on the data to legal challenge. If uncleared collections or changes are discovered, OIRA may insist that the collections are stopped. OMB reports these violations to Congress and the President in the Information Collection Budget.

Feedback

This is a preview of the new Guide to the PRA. We welcome your feedback to keep it useful and usable. Send any feedback to PRA@omb.eop.gov