U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

EERE Communication Standards & Guidelines

Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act requires that all federal websites request permission from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before collecting information from the public. On EERE, websites usually have to request OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act when they are conducting surveys or recruiting participants for usability projects.

What Does the Paperwork Reduction Act Require?

You must get approval from OMB if you conduct any activity that collects information from 10 or more respondents from the general public. This generally applies to surveys or usability projects, but it can apply to any project that gathers user data.

You do not need approval if you're collecting information from federal employees. Contractors are not considered federal staff members.

Projects that received OMB approval must include the following information on the final product. Fill in the average minutes per response for your own survey.

  • OMB Number 1910-5160
  • Expiration date: 6/30/14
  • Public burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average XX minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this estimate or any other aspect of this information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Information, Records, and Resource Management, MA-41-GTN, Paperwork Reduction Project (1910-5160), U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC 20874-1290; and to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Paperwork Reduction Project (1910-5160),Washington, DC 20503.

Getting Approval from the Office of Management and Budget

Most usability studies on EERE can apply for OMB approval using the fast track system. Surveys that don't meet the list of requirements for the fast track system must apply for standard OMB approval.

If you don't know whether your survey requires OMB approval or not, contact the Web Usability Coordinator before you begin work on your survey.

The Fast Track System

Most EERE surveys get OMB approval through DOE's survey fast track system. Your survey is eligible for the fast track process if:

  • The data collection is focused on improving existing or future services, products, or communication materials;
  • The data collection is voluntary;
  • Statistical rigor is not required;
  • The burden on participants is not high; and
  • You won't distribute the results publicly.

If you want to submit your survey for fast track approval, follow these steps:

  1. Send a final copy of your survey to your office's Web Coordinator. Explain that you are submitting the survey to OMB.
  2. Contact the Web Usability Coordinator for the necessary forms and examples of surveys that have been approved by OMB in the past.
  3. Submit the form and your survey materials to Chris Rouleau and the Web Usability Coordinator, who may recommend changes before it is submitted to OMB.
  4. OMB has 5 business days to respond. If they have a question or require more information, they will contact you in this time.
    • If OMB inquires within those 5 days, they have an additional 5 days to respond after you send them your response.
    • If no response is received in 5 days, the survey is assumed approved on the 6th day and you may begin your survey.

Standard Office of Management and Budget Approval

If your survey isn't eligible for the fast track system, you will need to go through a more detailed submission process. OMB can take more than 60 days to approve your survey after it has been submitted this way.

If your survey isn't eligible for the fast track system, contact the Web Usability Coordinator. They will walk you through the process.

More Information