Social Media, Web-Based Interactive Technologies, and the Paperwork Reduction Act



On January 21, 2009, the President issued a memorandum calling for the establishment of “a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” The memorandum required an Open Government Directive to be issued by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), instructing “executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum.

Implementing the President’s memorandum, OMB’s Open Government Directive requires a series of measures to promote the commitments to transparency, participation, and collaboration. Section 4 of the Directive specifically instructs the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to “review existing OMB policies, such as Paperwork Reduction Act guidance and privacy guidance, to identify impediments to open government and to the use of new technologies and, where necessary, issue clarifying guidance and/or propose revisions to such policies, to promote greater openness in government.”

This Memorandum responds to that requirement. Animated by the goal of promoting flexible and open interactions between Federal agencies and the public, it clarifies when and how the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (the PRA) applies to Federal agency use of social media and web-based interactive technologies. It explains that under established principles, the PRA does not apply to many uses of such media and technologies.