NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bureaucrats Flunk Paperwork Test

March 17, 1999

In 1995, Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act, which called for a 20 percent reduction in federal paperwork burdens over four years.

What have been the results?

  • Paperwork actually increased by 2.3 percent in 1997 and 1 percent in 1998, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Americans spent 7 billion hours filling out government forms last year -- at a cost of $229 billion.
  • Unlike large corporations, America's 22 million small businesses lack the legal expertise that can keep them from making mistakes and bringing down the wrath of the federal government on them.
  • Fines for errors can be stiff, observers report, forcing many small business into bankruptcy.

Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.) is sponsoring amendments to the act which would waive fines for minor, first-time paperwork violations if small businesses make corrections within six months. They would also create a hotline for small businesses that need assistance in filling out forms, and establish a task force to study the feasibility of streamlining reporting requirements.

Source: Bonner R. Cohen (Lexington Institute), "Congress Reins in Regulatory Beast," Investor's Business Daily, March 17, 1999.


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