18 FAM 201.5 



(CT:PPP-13;   02-22-2019)
(Office of Origin:  A/GIS/DIR)


18 FAM 201.5-1(A)  Policy

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

a. All Department program offices must have a general understanding of the Department's Information Collections program and the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) to ensure the Department is collecting information from the public in accordance with the PRA and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directives.

b. The Department has designated the Office of Directives Management (A/GIS/DIR) to manage the Information Collections program. All Department Information Collections (whether new, being renewed (extension or revision, or discontinued) must be reviewed and approved through A/GIS/DIR before submission to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA/OMB).

c.  In accordance with the PRA, originating program offices must ensure that Information Collections:

(1)  Minimize the burden on the public and the cost of the collection to the Department;

(2)  Serve a Department purpose and/or meet a Department need;

(3)  Maximize the practical use of the information collected;

(4)  Do not duplicate already existing Information Collections, including those that exist in other federal agencies; and

(5)  Are reviewed and either renewed or discontinued prior to their expiration dates.

d. Originating program offices must make the results of Information Collections available to the public, unless prevented from doing so by the Privacy Act or other sensitive or classified considerations.

e. Whenever possible, collection instruments must be made available electronically on the Department of State’s Internet website or OpenNet (and ClassNet, as appropriate).

18 FAM 201.5-1(B)  Objectives

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

a. The purpose of the Department's Information Collections program is to comply with the PRA, and all OIRA/OMB requirements in the most efficient, effective, and accurate manner.

b. The Department achieves its purpose through meeting the following program objectives:

(1)  Provide central program administration via A/GIS/DIR with legal guidance from the Bureau of Legal Affairs, Office of Management (L/M);

(2)  Provide expert interpretation of the PRA, and OIRA/OMB requirements (including any changes to such) to the Department's program offices;

(3)  Provide on-going training and guidance to Department staff who prepare and clear Information Collection submissions;

(4)  Maintain efficient and effective administrative processes that, if followed, result in OIRA/OMB approval of Information Collections; and

(5)  Archive all Information Collections and supporting records according to National Archives schedules.

18 FAM 201.5-1(C)  Scope

(CT:PPP-2;   03-19-2018)
(State Only)

The Information Collections program applies to the Department of State and its operations worldwide. 

18 FAM 201.5-1(D)  Applicability

(CT:PPP-2;   03-19-2018)
(State Only)

This program is to be used for all Information Collections conducted or sponsored by the Department of State.

18 FAM 201.5-2  Authorities Pertaining to Information Collections

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

Authorities include:

(1)  The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-511), as amended by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-13) (44 U.S.C. 3501 - 3521);

(2)  5 CFR 1320 (PRA implementing regulations);

(3)  The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a);

(4)  Title 44 U.S.C. 21, 29, 31, and 33;

(5)  FIRMR 201-45.104 (Issued by the Government Services Administration (GSA), contains policies, requirements, responsibilities, and guidelines for managing, administering, and implementing forms management programs in Federal agencies); and

(6)  The Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002 (SBPRA) (Public Law 107-198).

(7)  Department of State Delegation of Authority No. 226, dated October 13, 1998.

18 FAM 201.5-3  The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

18 FAM 201.5-3(A)  Purposes of the PRA

(CT:PPP-13;   02-22-2019)
(State Only)

a. The PRA is a U.S. Federal law enacted in 1980 and substantively amended in 1995.  Before requiring or requesting information from the public, the PRA requires Federal agencies to seek public comment on proposed collections of information and to submit proposed collections for review and approval by the OIRA/OMB.

b. The purposes of the PRA are to:

(1)  Minimize the paperwork burden for individuals; small businesses; educational and nonprofit institutions; Federal contractors; State, local, and tribal governments; and other persons resulting from the collection of information by or for the Federal Government;

(2)  Ensure the greatest possible public benefit from, and maximize the utility of, information created, collected, maintained, used, shared and disseminated by or for the Federal Government;

(3)  Coordinate, integrate, and to the extent practicable, make uniform Federal information resource management policies and practices as a means to improve productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of Government programs;

(4)  Improve the quality and use of Federal information to strengthen decision making, accountability and openness in Government;

(5)  Minimize the cost to the Federal Government of the creation, collection, maintenance, use, dissemination, and disposition of information;

(6)  Strengthen the partnership between the Federal Government and State, local, and tribal governments by maximizing the utility of information collected;

(7)  Provide for the dissemination of public information on a timely basis, on equitable terms, and in a manner that promotes the utility of the information to the public and makes effective use of information technology;

(8)  Ensure that the creation, collection, maintenance, use, dissemination and disposition of information is consistent with applicable laws relating to privacy, confidentiality and security;

(9)  Ensure the integrity, quality, and utility of the Federal statistical system;

(10) Ensure that information technology is acquired, used, and managed to reduce information collection burden on the public; and

(11) Improve the responsibility and accountability of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and all other Federal agencies to Congress and the public for information resources management.

c.  The Act imposes a number of procedural requirements on an agency that wishes to implement a reporting or recordkeeping requirement on the public.

d. It also established the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within OMB, and authorized this office to oversee federal agencies' collection of information from the public and to establish information policies.

e. More information on the PRA, submission checklists, and templates can be found at DIR's website.

18 FAM 201.5-3(B)  Key Definitions

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

Burden:  Time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, or provide information to or for a Federal agency.

Collection of information:  The obtaining, causing to be obtained, soliciting, or requiring the disclosure to third parties or the public, of facts or opinions by or for an agency, regardless of form or format, calling for answers to identical questions posed to, or identical reporting or recordkeeping requirements imposed on, ten or more persons, other than agencies, instrumentalities, or employees of the United States.

Identical:  When each respondent or group of respondents is being asked to provide the same level of information on the same subject. Identical questions do not need to be phrased exactly the same way each time they are asked, nor does each respondent need to be asked the same set of questions.

Information Collection Budget:  The vehicle through which OIRA/OMB, in consultation with each Federal agency, sets annual agency goals to reduce information collection burdens imposed on the public.  The Information Collection Budget serves as a management oversight tool.

Person:  Includes individuals (including U.S. Government contractors), partnerships, associations, corporations, business trusts, legal representatives, organized groups of individuals, and State, territory, tribal, or local governments or branches or political subdivisions. (Note: For identification and evaluation purposes OIRA/OMB has granted the Department permission to treat contractors as employees.  This is very limited and requires the review of A/GIS/DIR.)  The definition of "person" excludes current employees of the Federal Government, military personnel, military reservists, and members of the National Guard, with respect to all inquiries within the scope of their employment.

18 FAM 201.5-3(C)  Defining Information

18 FAM 201.5-3(C)(1)  Information Covered by the PRA

(CT:PPP-2;   03-19-2018)
(State Only)

a. OMB regulations define information as "any statement or estimate of fact or opinion, regardless of form or format, whether in numerical, graphic, or narrative form, and whether oral or maintained on paper, electronic or other media."  This category includes:

·         Requests for information to be sent to the Government, such as forms (e.g., the IRS 1040), written reports (e.g., grantee performance reports), and surveys (e.g., the Census);

·         Recordkeeping requirements (e.g., Occupation Safety and Health Administration requirements that employers maintain records of workplace accidents); and

·         Third-party or public disclosures (e.g., nutrition labeling requirements for food).

b. The PRA applies to collections of information using identical questions posed to, or reporting or recordkeeping requirements imposed on, ten or more persons in any 12 month period.  If a collection of information is addressed to all or a substantial majority of industry or sector in a 12 month period, that collection is presumed to be addressed to ten or more persons.

c.  The requirements of the PRA apply to voluntary collections, as well as, to mandatory collections, and collections required to obtain a Federal benefit (e.g., a job, a grant, a contract).

18 FAM 201.5-3(C)(2)  Information Not Covered by the PRA

(CT:PPP-2;   03-19-2018)
(State Only)

OMB regulations specify a number of items that are generally not information under the PRA. Important examples are:

·         Affidavits, receipts, changes of address, or consents;

·         Tests of the aptitude, abilities, or knowledge of persons;

·         Facts or opinions that are submitted in response to general solicitations of public comments, addressed to a single person, obtained or solicited at or in connection with public hearings or meetings, obtained through direct observation by the agency (e.g., through visual inspection to determine how long it takes for people to complete a specific transaction), or obtained from participants in clinical trials (which typically do not involve answers to "identical questions");

·         Information collected during a Federal criminal investigation or prosecution, during a civil action to which the United States is a party, or during the conduct of intelligence activities; and

·         Agency collections of information from agencies, instrumentalities, or employees of the United States in their official capacities unless those collections are for general statistical purposes. Agencies may ask for facts and opinions of Federal employees without triggering the PRA.


18 FAM 201.5-4(A)  Chief Information Officer (CIO)

(CT:PPP-2;   03-19-2018)
(State Only)

The Chief Information Officer (CIO—the head of the Bureau of Information Resource Management), has been delegated authority for the Department of State’s PRA compliance.  In 1998, the CIO delegated to the Bureau of Administration (A) the day-to-day responsibility for compliance with the PRA's provisions governing Information Collections.

18 FAM 201.5-4(B)  Assistant Secretary for Administration (A)

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

Pursuant to the CIO delegation of authority, the Assistant Secretary for Administration (A) provides senior leadership for the Information Collections program.

18 FAM 201.5-4(C)  Office of Directives Management (A/GIS/DIR)

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

The Office of Directives Management (A/GIS/DIR) manages the Information Collection program for the Department under the authority of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and the Assistant Secretary for Administration (A), and with the legal assistance of the Bureau of Legal Affairs (L/M).  In addition, A/GIS/DIR:

(1)  Works collaboratively with Department program offices who wish to create, change, renew, and/or discontinue Information Collections.  Provides guidance throughout the process to ensure the Department is in compliance with the PRA, and OIRA/OMB requirements;

(2)  Reviews and approves Information Collection packages prior to their submission to OIRA/OMB.  Ensures packages are complete and accurate;

(3)  Inputs all required data into the Regulatory Information Service Center and OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs "ROCIS" database;

(4)  Facilitates discussions between Department program offices, and OIRA/OMB on Information Collections questions, or concerns;

(5)  Reads and interprets all legal and regulatory mandates and makes changes to Department guidance as needed.  Creates and maintains efficient and effective administrative practices, and processes for Information Collections based on the current OIRA/OMB requirements;

(6)  Provides training to Department staff on Information Collections;

(7)  Is responsible for preparing the Information Collection Budget (ICB) reports, and statistics for OIRA/OMB as required; and

(8)  Maintains the Department’s archive and records of all Information Collections; submits records to the National Archive according to Record Disposition Schedules.

(9)  Is the Department's designated liaison between the Department and OIRA/OMB and the Office of the Federal Register (FR) for Information Collection matters.

18 FAM 201.5-4(D)  Bureaus/Offices Originating Information Collections

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)
(State Only)

Department program offices seeking to create, change, renew, or discontinue an Information Collection are responsible for:

(1)  Consulting with A/GIS/DIR:

(a)  During the planning stage for a new Information Collection;

(b)  Prior to formally submitting an Information Collection package to A/GIS/DIR for review and approval;

(c)  When making a decision to discontinue an existing Information Collection; and

(d)  When preparing data or responses to be used in a Department report on its Information Collections.

(2)  Following Department procedures and requirements for Information Collections as described on the Office of Directives Management website.

(3)  Taking advantage of existing Information Collections or modifying existing Information Collections where possible; and

(4)  Obtaining necessary clearances according to the Department's procedures and requirements, and any internal clearances as required by program office management.

18 FAM 201.5-4(E)  Posts

(CT:PPP-2;   03-19-2018)
(State Only)

Principal officers at posts abroad are responsible for the same actions as described in 18 FAM 201.5-4(D).

18 FAM 201.5-4(F)  Office of Management (L/M)

(CT:PPP-4;   04-27-2018)

The Bureau of Legal Affairs, Office of Management (L/M) is responsible for:

(1)  Providing legal counsel to the Department on PRA issues;

(2)  Clearing on Department Information Collection packages prior to submission to OIRA/OMB;

(3)  Reviewing Department reports, and the ICB  report, prepared by the Office of Directives Management prior to submission to OIRA/OMB; and

(4)  Briefing Department senior officials on any PRA issues.