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I see frequent Federal Register notices asking for public input on various regulations. For example:

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Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of Federal Government acquisitions, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of the estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Apparently, such public input is required by statute (Paperwork Reduction Act).

My question is: what does the government do with the information it receives? Does anybody ever say, "This is a ridiculous burden for almost no benefit; let's eliminate the requirement!" Does anybody even analyze the responses ... or do "they" just collate the responses and file them away?

In other words, do these information collection opportunities even matter? 

If they don't matter, and don't result in any changes, then why should anybody bother to respond? It would seem to be a big waste of everybody's time.

I'm also open to the notion that the public's input is studied thoroughly and a cost/benefit analysis is performed, and is then used to drive regulatory roll-backs. That would be nice ....

So what's really going on here?

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From the Federal Register:

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The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) governs the Federal government’s collection, use, and dissemination of information. The goals of the PRA include minimizing paperwork and reporting burdens on the public, and ensuring the maximum utility from information that is collected. Agencies request approval of Information Collection Requests (ICR) through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). An information collection may be a form, a survey, or a script. ICRs are published for public review in two stages, providing first a 60-day public comment period and then, after OMB review, an additional 30-day comment period. When OMB approves an information collection, it assigns an OMB Control Number that the agency must display on the information collection.

And see this: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/information-regulatory-affairs/

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Most of the final rules actually list comments and a response. 

 

From https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/27/2020-02028/federal-acquisition-regulation-set-asides-under-multiple-award-contracts

Comment: Two respondents, citing Kingdomware Techs., Inc. v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1969 (2016), stated that because Congress used “shall” at 15 U.S.C. 644(j) and “may” at 15 U.S.C. 644(r), statutory construction requires that small business set-asides and reserves described in section 1331 of the Jobs Act are mandatory, not discretionary. In addition, several respondents stated that if “whole contracts” under $150,000 are automatically reserved for small businesses, task orders within the same dollar value should also be reserved for small businesses. Further, one respondent commented that the FAR Council may not interpret 15 U.S.C. 644(j).

 

 

 

Response: The Kingdomware decision focused on the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006 (VA statute), 38 U.S.C. 8127, not a requirement in the Small Business Act. The Kingdomware decision is silent on the construction of the Small Business Act. The VA statute and the Small Business Act are constructed differently, with the former statute applying only to acquisitions of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Further, the Councils agree that it is not within the scope of this FAR case to interpret 15 U.S.C. 644(j). The purpose of this case is to amend the FAR to incorporate regulatory changes made by SBA in its final rule at 78 FR 61114, dated October 2, 2013. SBA's final rule implements discretionary use of order set-asides, partial set-asides, and reserves of multiple-award contracts at 13 CFR 125.2(e)(1)(ii), consistent with section 1331 of the Jobs Act (15 U.S.C. 644(r)). As a result, no revisions are made in the final rule in response to the comments.

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On the Home Page, I post only the Federal Acquisition Regulation requests for information because they are used in comments for the FAR.  From memory, DoD posts the most requests for information but since they are one Department I do not add requests on their supplements.

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Vern, thank you but I don't believe you were responsive to my question. I'm not looking for what the statute says should be done with the info ... I'm looking for what is really done with the info.

sdvr, my impression is that official information collection notices are not connected with final rules but, instead, exist in and of themselves. Am I mistaken about that?

 

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It's my understanding that OMB OIRA grants approval for the information collection for three years.  After that time the agency must obtain approval for the information collection and as part of the renewal process the 60 day & 30 day notices are used to validate the information collection especially what the agency believes is the burden on the public. It's my understanding that if there is no OMB OIRA approval for the agency collection then the agency cannot collect that information.  I believe there are consequences if they do but not sure what OMB OIRA can do as far as actions against the agency for using an unapproved information collection.

It's my understanding that the information from the Federal Register Notices are used by OMB OIRA in the approval process.  My impression is that OMB OIRA wants to reduce the burden on the public and will take seriously the responses from the public on the information collection.  That is my understanding on what this exercise is about.

This process may be connected with a final rule; however, once approved in the final rule the renewal of the information collection is a separate process due to the three year limit.

 

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2 hours ago, here_2_help said:

Vern, thank you but I don't believe you were responsive to my question. I'm not looking for what the statute says should be done with the info ... I'm looking for what is really done with the info.

I responded the best I could by giving you the OMB House policies. I don't know how to find out what is "really done" with the info. What is "really done" about anything by government is rarely known by the general public. In the same way, we don't know how source selection decisions are really made or how prices are really negotiated or how disputes are really settled unless we participated.

 

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2 minutes ago, Vern Edwards said:

I gave you the White House policies. I don't know how to find out what is "really done" with the info. What is "really done" about anything by government is rarely known by the general public. But good luck with your quest for the Grail.

I'm going to take that as a reference to Monty Python.

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1 hour ago, policyguy said:

It's my understanding that OMB OIRA grants approval for the information collection for three years.  After that time the agency must obtain approval for the information collection and as part of the renewal process the 60 day & 30 day notices are used to validate the information collection especially what the agency believes is the burden on the public. It's my understanding that if there is no OMB OIRA approval for the agency collection then the agency cannot collect that information.  I believe there are consequences if they do but not sure what OMB OIRA can do as far as actions against the agency for using an unapproved information collection.

It's my understanding that the information from the Federal Register Notices are used by OMB OIRA in the approval process.  My impression is that OMB OIRA wants to reduce the burden on the public and will take seriously the responses from the public on the information collection.  That is my understanding on what this exercise is about.

This process may be connected with a final rule; however, once approved in the final rule the renewal of the information collection is a separate process due to the three year limit.

 

Thanks!

So if industry responds that weapon system prices are increased by x% because of the burden of Cost Accounting Standards administration, OIRA will recommend that the statute and implementing regulations be revised or eliminated? Because if not, what's the point?

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2 hours ago, here_2_help said:

Thanks!

So if industry responds that weapon system prices are increased by x% because of the burden of Cost Accounting Standards administration, OIRA will recommend that the statute and implementing regulations be revised or eliminated? Because if not, what's the point?

I saw there’s a Federal Register notice out now on Cost Accounting Standards and Paperwork Reduction Act renewal.  Trying to convince OMB that the industry burden doesn’t offset the benefits to the government is an impossibility.  CAS is ingrained and won’t be changed at least by Federal Register responses.  Paperwork Reduction really addresses relatively moderate things in comparison like agency surveys, reporting on environmental issues, and impacts of new tax forms.  CAS would never be eliminated.  In fact, wasn’t CAS around even before Paperwork Reduction?

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2 hours ago, formerfed said:

I saw there’s a Federal Register notice out now on Cost Accounting Standards and Paperwork Reduction Act renewal.  Trying to convince OMB that the industry burden doesn’t offset the benefits to the government is an impossibility.  CAS is ingrained and won’t be changed at least by Federal Register responses.  Paperwork Reduction really addresses relatively moderate things in comparison like agency surveys, reporting on environmental issues, and impacts of new tax forms.  CAS would never be eliminated.  In fact, wasn’t CAS around even before Paperwork Reduction?

Yes to all your points.

So ... initiating Information Collection to assess the industry burden (at least with respect to CAS) is just creating one more burden for industry. That was kind of my original point. It's a pointless task that creates work but does not lead to any significant work reductions. Somehow I'm not sure that was the original intent.

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14 hours ago, here_2_help said:

Somehow I'm not sure that was the original intent.

https://pra.digital.gov/about/   Might have just been a statute to make sure there was consistency in how and what the government collects

14 hours ago, here_2_help said:

It's a pointless task that creates work but does not lead to any significant work reductions.

You might be right....

This could be all wrong but….

The statute was written

OIRA is formed

Agency needs info because Congress passes some new legislation

OIRA agrees to the info need

Agency awards a contract to help gather and review the info - https://sam.gov/opp/d3c2598043864c249ad2d8c3239f27ec/view

Contractor gets the info and gives to the agency

The agency spends lots of time wringing their hands over it

Agency proposes changes to regulations

Agency awards contract to assist in review of responses to proposed new regulation https://www.devex.com/jobs/oti-operations-assistant-specialist-washington-dc-gs-9-10-983863

Agency gets information and contractor helps decipher it

Agency issues final rule for "new" regulations and then it starts all over again at Agency needs info after Congress makes some new legislation.

 

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38 minutes ago, C Culham said:

https://pra.digital.gov/about/   Might have just been a statute to make sure there was consistency in how and what the government collects

You might be right....

This could be all wrong but….

The statute was written

OIRA is formed

Agency needs info because Congress passes some new legislation

OIRA agrees to the info need

Agency awards a contract to help gather and review the info - https://sam.gov/opp/d3c2598043864c249ad2d8c3239f27ec/view

Contractor gets the info and gives to the agency

The agency spends lots of time wringing their hands over it

Agency proposes changes to regulations

Agency awards contract to assist in review of responses to proposed new regulation https://www.devex.com/jobs/oti-operations-assistant-specialist-washington-dc-gs-9-10-983863

Agency gets information and contractor helps decipher it

Agency issues final rule for "new" regulations and then it starts all over again at Agency needs info after Congress makes some new legislation.

 

I honestly believe you have just described most of what is wrong with government acquisition in one post.

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