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Digital.gov Guide Explore

Estimating Burden

Burden hours and cost

One of the goals of the PRA is for the federal government to consider and account for the impact on the public when asking for information. This impact is called burden, and includes the value of both the time and the effort required to fulfill a collection along with the financial cost.

The PRA requires that agencies estimate burden to understand what is involved for the public to comply with a request.

Some common burden activities include:

  • Reviewing instructions.
  • Compiling materials necessary for collection.
  • Acquiring, installing, and utilizing technology and systems.
  • Adjusting existing ways to comply with previous instructions and requirements.
  • Searching data sources.
  • Completing and reviewing collected information.
  • Compiling and sending information.

Overall, burden can seem intimidating, especially in a large collection. Our burden activity questions are a starting point to help you begin thinking about scope.

Avoiding excessive burden

Some examples of excessive burden include:

  • Addressing more respondents than necessary.
  • Asking questions that aren’t relevant or essential.
    • You must justify questions about personally sensitive matters like religious beliefs or political affiliation, or questions that may cause persons to incriminate themselves.
  • Asking for a reporting frequency that is higher than necessary.
  • Not considering an alternative approach to obtain the information.
  • Requesting information in a different format than is usually maintained.

If your collection involves activities seen as excessive, you must justify them in the purpose and need sections of the collection in your supporting statement.