Focus Point - Burden Hours

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Right up there with the taxpayer simplification act, my favorite recent federal legislative moniker was the paperwork reduction act of 1995.

This was a law that was supposed to reduce the burden of filling out federal paperwork by a third over five years. But according to a report from the general accounting office, it's way up based on the latest calculation in - another wonderful term -- "burden hours." In this case, it's the burden individuals and businesses carry to provide the required information to a whole host of info-voracious federal agencies.

The total was seven billion burden hours in at the end of fiscal '95. If the reform had worked, it should have been 4.9 billion last september 30. Instead, it was nearly 7.4 billion. The real culprit in fy 2000 was the IRS, whose paperwork burden soared 240 million hours.

Time spent filling out forms is time not spent being productive - and its money sucked into the washington black hole.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, protecting privacy.