What is an “information collection”?

The Federal Government collects a wide range of information from the public to carry out its day-to-day functions. For example, the U.S. Census collects a vast amount of information from citizens using questionnaires. “Information collections” can be in any format, including but not limited to: verbal requests, general regulatory requirements, administrative forms, questionnaires, surveys, and other instruments, and also include record-keeping and reporting requirements.

To ensure that the Government’s requests for information are not unduly burdensome on the public, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requires agencies to justify each information collection to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The agency’s justification explains how the information collection will maximize the public benefit and utility of the information collected and minimize the burden imposed on the public to collect that information. Agencies must estimate potential burdens on the intended recipients of the request, seek public comment through notices in the Federal Register, and submit clearance requests to OMB for review and approval. OMB approval for an agency’s data collection instrument can last up to a maximum of three years; OMB grants a control number for the collection instrument as its evidence of approval.

Are information collections always associated with new regulations?

Information collections are not always associated with new regulations; conversely, not all new regulations include information collections. Regulations often articulate when information is collected in support of a program’s mission, so RACA reviews each new or revised regulation to identify information collections. However, agencies may conduct information collections in the absence of regulations through implementation of statutory authority. An example is an information collection associated with the solicitation of grant applications from the public.

How do I find out whether an information collection has been approved by OMB?

OMB and the General Services Administration’s Regulatory Information Service Center produce a website called “Reginfo.gov” that provides public access to current and historical data on all information collection reviews conducted by the OIRA.

To access the RegInfo website, click here: www.RegInfo.gov

What is RACA’s role in information collection?

RACA coordinates the information collection clearance process for Indian Affairs (IA). This includes working with the program offices to identify and tailor information collections to impose the least amount of burden possible on the public in obtaining the information necessary to meet the program’s mission. RACA coordinates with the Department's Information Collection Clearance Officer and OMB to obtain approvals for information collections. IA employees can access additional information regarding the process as well as related templates on RACA's internal webpage via SharePoint here: https://doimspp.sharepoint.com/sites/doi-asia-raca.