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ers and others, in an effort to look at where our efforts should best be directed most efficiently and for the most effectiveness. So we acknowledge there is a great need to be proactive here.
Mr. MCINTOSH. I'm going to have to recess the hearing because I have to go vote on another committee. I must comment that that's pretty late in the process for a bill that required you to start doing this in 1996, but I guess better late than never.
Let me now recess this hearing and we'll come back after the other committee has adjourned.
Mr. RYAN (presiding]. The hearing will come to order. Thanks for waiting, everybody. I understand Dave, the chairman, had to leave. We have some votes coming up as well. I would like to ask OMB, the representative from OMB a question if I may.
The IRS accounts for nearly 80 percent of the total governmentwide burden on the American public. Even after our April 15, 1999 hearing OMB reported to us on March 24, 2000 that it continued to have only one staff member devoted part time to work with the IRS on paperwork burden reduction initiatives and review IRS paperwork submissions to OMB for PRA approval. Why didn't OMB increase its staffing devoted to IRS, No. 1, and what changes did OMB make in IRS's December 1999 proposed ICD submission to reduce paperwork burden in 2000? And if none, why especially after the April 15th hearing last year and our extensive correspondence with OMB since then?
Mr. SPOTILA. In terms of staffing, first of all, Mr. Chairman, since the initial passage of the Paperwork Reduction Act in 1990, OIRA has assigned one individual to review these paperworks. We continue at that staffing level today. Our sense is, as the Paperwork Act contemplated, the key responsibility for this type of paperwork reduction necessarily rests first with the agency and, as Mr. Rossotti had said earlier in his testimony, the IRS has been working extensively at trying to examine how they might try different approaches that would lead to significant burden reduction. So our effort with them has been aimed at working with them cooperatively.
As I had indicated in my testimony, our focus is also to work with them and other agencies in a new initiative that will engage people from the private sector broadly in an effort to look at how we might proactively make significant reductions in the paperwork burden associated with tax compliance. The answer we think is not adding a second or a third person from OIRA to reviewing individual IRS paperwork submissions, but rather to work with IRS and with people from the private sector on broader measures that will use information technology and perhaps new approaches, including—the chairman earlier this morning had some suggestions of his own, including suggestions like that, to see what can be done that would have a significant broad impact. In terms of the changes in the ICB submission from the IRS, my recollection is that again in working with the IRS we took their submission-I would be happy to get to you more specifically, I can't recite to you a change that we made off the top of my head now, but I would be happy to respond in writing.
[NOTE.See subcommittee's April 14, 2000 and June 20, 2000 fullowup letters (Question #2) and OMB's June 12, 2000 reply (Answer #2, 2nd paragraph.]
Mr. RYAN. If you could respond in writing. Let me ask you this, our chart 3–I think you saw that before our chart 3, which I think they will show on the flat screen there, shows that 60 of the most burdensome paperwork requirements, each totaling over 10 million hours of the public time, equals 85 percent of the total governmentwide burden on the public. Which of these 60 are being targeted by OMB for reduction and the rest of the Clinton administration? Have you considered awarding a contract for an analysis of opportunities for reduction in these 60 paperwork requirements or if you haven't, would you consider doing so? If you could provide us for the record the dates of the last substantive revision of each of the top 60 and the number of hours reduced as a result of that revision effort.
Mr. SPOTILA. We would be happy to supply that for you.
[NOTE.See subcommittee's April 14, 2000 and June 20, 2000 followup letters (Questions #3) and OMB's June 12, 2000 and July 19, 2000 replies (Answer #3.]
Mr. RYAN. If you could, I would appreciate that. I would like to ask the witness from CRS a quick question if I may. On page 16 of your written statement you point out that President Clinton's regulatory reviews, Executive order, I think it was 12866, “requires that an agency must identify in the Federal Register notice accompanying the proposed rule any changes it has made at the suggestion of OIRA.” You questioned why the administration would voluntarily disclose OIRA impact in its regulatory reviews but find it unacceptable to voluntarily disclose OIRA impact in its paperwork reviews. Please review the options you indicated in your statement on how we get OMB to fully report the results of its paperwork reviews
Mr. ROSENBERG. Well, certainly OMB could replicate voluntarily the requirements of the Executive order which, as I stated and which you repeated, impose an obligation on the agencies when they publish a regulation in the Federal Register to at the same time make publicly available the draft rules that it originally submitted for review. And if there were changes in those drafts in the rule that is published in the Register for public comment, they must explain why they were made. Also there is also an obligation in the Executive order on OMB to do the same thing at the same time. That has been interpreted by OMB, as I understand it, to include, for instance, reviewing in its files the communications with the agency, including reviewing the drafts. So that that could be replicated either voluntarily by OMB, or perhaps the President could issue an Executive order specifically with respect to the Paperwork Act directing that kind of public disclosure, or Congress could pass some legislation imposing that obligation.
Mr. RYAN. Would you recommend that?
Mr. ROSENBERG. I think the easiest path would be to point that out perhaps to the President and ask him to
Mr. RYAN. Do an Executive order.
Mr. ROSENBERG. That's quick, easy, and doesn't require legislative process.
Mr. RYAN. Thank you. Ms. Kingsbury, I just had one question I wanted to ask you. In OMB's just issued report it identifies the last valid OMB approval, if any, for each illegal information collection in continued use for dates from 1978 to 1989, i.e., from 11 to 22 years ago. For example, the State Department's statement of nonreceipt of passport dates back to 1978. Should Congress consider sanctions for agency policy officials who knowingly and repeatedly violate the Paperwork Reduction Act or who do not promptly correct violations of law? If not, what does GAO recommend?
Ms. KINGSBURY. I think in the hearing last year we recommended or we at least observed that it would be possible to focus on paperwork reduction and responsibilities of those officials who have that as part of their portfolio by making it an explicit part of their performance contracts. And we have found in ĞAO, certainly in our own internal activities, that, when you focus on things at that level, things tend to get done. There could also be created specific goals in the agency to achieve the same purpose.
I'm not sure legislative sanctions are a very efficient way of doing the same thing. I think it's probably better as administrative process.
Mr. RYAN. OK. Thank you.
I would like to finally just ask Ms. Noe and Mr. Runnebohm your take, your comments on what you've heard today. What do you think after participating in this panel today, what's your take on what you've heard from the other witnesses?
Ms. NOE. I guess the resounding question is, will anything change because of what took place here today? But in deference to Commissioner Rossotti, he has a tough job, a very, very tough job. And it is a job that-you talk about trying to go against the tide. I can't imagine any other setting that would be tougher. And yet, he's working with a profoundly and systemically broken system that has resorted to Band-aid “fixes” and the mentality of "let's help this group a little, now we have to balance it out by helping this group a little and let's not forget about them.” And, to his credit, I'm sure he is always responding to legislation that has passed, bringing the IRS code into compliance.
And I go back to, we need to clear the decks, set our sights, and let the American people know that they will be seeing changes. They will be dramatic. They will be just and simple. Begin to talk to us like we have an ounce of sense and communicate a broad message of, “Our government does great things for us." It's established by God that government is an institution we must have. It does great things. Tell us what those things are and begin to see in us that we want to join forces and march in the same direction. We do understand we have a responsibility to pay taxes to government, and instill in people a sense of honesty and dependability and resourcefulness. And gosh, we'd be so much better off.
Mr. RYAN. Here I've got to tell you as a freshman Member of Congress I am still naive enough to think we can get that done 1 day.
Ms. Nos. Well, don't tell me we're not.
Mr. RUNNEBOHM. I would have to second what Ms. Noe said. I believe that's the route we need to take. You know, dealing with this type of thing in a government always reminds me of trying to fight with a 10,000-pound marshmallow. Where you do start? But I believe we need to basically set aside what we're doing now, especially with the IRS because you can't fix something that is totally broken. And I believe that system is totally broken. I believe it needs to be set aside.
You know, I for one think the idea of a flat tax with no deductions that would be fair for everyone would work. I'm sure there would be some problems at first getting it in place, but there is no reason why it can't be done. Most of the business people I know, the great majority of them, are very patriotic, they're very willing to pay taxes. And they recognize that we pay taxes for good causes for the most part. The problem is not being able to know whether you're paying the right amount of taxes or not and all the special interests, that special interests that are involved today that pull the Tax Code in all different directions and keep adding layers and layers of more regulation instead of simplifying things. I think it's time to call a halt to that and let's do a flat tax with no deductions, everybody in the country pay their fair share and do more productive things with our time.
Mr. RYAN. Well, thank you very much. I think some of the interesting statistics about that, I think we spend 5.6 billion man-hours a year just complying with the Tax Code. We spend about $250 billion paying somebody to put our taxes together. It is pretty crazy. Thankfully this year we got 2 extra days because the 15th falls on a Saturday.
Mr. Rossotti, I want to ask you a quick question. We have a bill on the floor today or tomorrow on sunsetting the Tax Code by the year 2004. As you know, the Tax Code doesn't have a sunset clause in it like most bills that come up for reauthorization. I would venture to guess what your answer would be but I would still like to hear what your answer would be on the Date Certain Act. Maybe you have qualms of the details but what do you think of the idea
saying a date certain in the future, not tomorrow but 4 years from now Congress has to act on either reauthorizing the current code or offering up its replacement and have a sunset date in a good distance in the future? What do you think of that?
Mr. ROSSOTTI. Well, one of the things I have learned—I have been in this office a couple years—is that I think about where I have to stop advising Congress what Congress should do, because I have enough trouble advising myself in my own agency what we should do to cope with this. I think the question, with all seriousness, is one that is a highly political question that really is something that is appropriately answered by the President and the Members of Congress.
Mr. RYAN. What does Citizen Rossotti think about that.
Mr. ROSSOTTI. I will have to wait until I'm a private citizen to answer that question. In all honesty, if it's a question about my agency, I try to be very fair, but I think it's a profoundly political question. I think you as Members of Congress are the right people to answer that question.
Mr. RYAN. We'll let you off on that one. I'd like to thank everybody for attending. Some of the Government witnesses, we will be sending some followup questions. We would appreciate if would you get back to us with answers as soon as you can.
Thank you very much for coming. This hearing is adjourned. [Whereupon, at 12:22 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
[The prepared statement of Hon. Helen Chenoweth-Hage and additional information submitted for the hearing record follow:]