Federal Reports Act of 1942

Original Text

Effective Dates
12/24/1942 - Present (although effectively overwritten by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980)

Reform Goals

Coordinate federal reporting requirements and eliminate duplication in information collected by the federal government. Reduce compliance costs for federal paperwork, especially for small businesses.

Requirements (What of Whom?):
Forerunner to the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Federal Reports Act required executive branch agencies to submit any new information collection forms to the Bureau of Budget.

Who oversees the rule?
The Bureau of Budget (which morphed into the Office of Management and Budget in 1970)

Rule “Teeth”
Executive and Bureau of Budget could reject applications for new forms.


Large departments like the IRS were exempted from the Federal Reports Act, and the SEC and FTC refused to submit forms for review. Independent regulatory agencies were ultimately exempted. The GAO confirmed in a 1979 report that the act exempted 78% of all federal forms from review. There was no measurable impact on the growth of the federal paperwork burden, and a recognition of the act’s weaknesses led to its effective replacement by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980.


Regulatory reforms that exempt the IRS or independent regulatory agencies have limited impact.  The mistake of exempting key agencies would be repeated many times in subsequent statutes and executive orders.


  1. William F Funk, Sidney A. Shapiro, and Russel L Weaver. Administrative Procedure and Practice: Problems and Cases 4th ed. West, 2010.
  2. United States General Accounting Office. "Statement of Arnold P. Jones, Associate Director, General Government Division before the Subcommittee on Government Regulation and Paperwork, Senate Select Committee on Small Business, on Needed Changes to the Federal Reports Act." June 27, 1979. Link , PDF