The Reagan administration wants to eliminate or scale back more than 200 reports that federal agencies are required to send Congress regularly.
And while the administration is billing the effort as a "good government" measure that will save up to $10 million, some members of Congress and their staffs are concerned about some of the reports that have been targeted.
In submitting legislation that would the cut the reports, Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman said the proposal "should be viewed not only as one directed at reducing burdens placed on executive agencies, but also as an attempt to streamline information that flows from the executive branch to the Congress."
Stockman said that many of the reports are duplicated by others or are no longer useful, and noted that Congress will still receive more than 2,700 regular reports under hundreds of laws.
Richard A. Eisinger, manager of the OMB project, added that OMB is not engaging "in any subterfuge in trying to not provide Congress with some information. Some reports to Congress are very burdensome to produce." He added that the Carter administration began a similar effort in 1980, eliminating about 100 reports.
The Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal expenditures, research and rules isn't taking any chances, however. It has asked Senate committee staffs to review the targeted reports under their jurisdictions and identify ones that should be retained.
OMB asked the agencies to identify reports that should be eliminated, then removed about a dozen agency nominations and added about 12 of its own. In the end, it came up with a list of 155 reports that it said should be eliminated and another 46 that should be combined with others or revised. The only major agency that didn't submit a list was the Environmental Protection Agency, according to OMB officials, and after repeated requests.
Among those reports that the administration wants to eliminate:
* Defense Department reports designed to give Congress advance notice when DOD plans to close, realign or expand military bases. The Pentagon told OMB the report on the base closings tended to "hamper the department . . . in the effective management of the base structure because of delays due to the congressional reporting requirements and waiting periods."
* Another report, in which DOD must detail functions that it wants to turn over to contractors. DOD complained to OMB that "the detailed reporting requirements impede efficient management of this program . . . [and the] cost of conducting detailed cost studies for small conversions can approach the potential savings." The report costs $500,000 a year to prepare; DOD said that by eliminating it and speeding up the awarding of the contracts an estimated $66 million could be saved.
* A Nuclear Regulatory Commission report on how it uses contractors, consultants and the national laboratories run by other agencies. OMB said that "through a variety of actions, these concerns have been addressed and corrected." The NRC added it found "no practical use" for the report.
* Several Interior Department reports designed to monitor the potential conflicts of interest of employes involved with such issues as the sale and management of federal lands, mining in national parks and Outer Continental Shelf leasing. The report cover employes at the GS13 rank and higher, according to a department personnel official; the federal Ethics in Goverment Act only covers the highest department employes. Interior officials said they would still collect the information, but would avoid the "superfluous cost and manpower burden" of preparing a separate report for Congress.
* A Labor Department report on the occupational safety and health records of federal agencies.
Subcommittee staff director Reid Detchon said it is still too early to tell how many of the reports are controversial and will be trimmed from the bill because several major committees haven't filed their comments yet. But a number of complaints have been lodged.
The senior members of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, Sens. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) and Wendell H. Ford (D-Ky.), have opposed the elimination of three reports that OMB is required to provide, including one designed to tell Congress how the administration plans to meet Congress' needs for information on the budget.
"This is a provision of the budget act for which extensive amendments currently are being proposed," Mathias and Ford wrote. "Piecemeal changes should not be made."
Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Lowell P. Weicker Jr. (R-Conn.) has opposed dropping two Small Business Administration reports. One is a report on complaints that have alleged illegal action by SBA employes. "Although the Office of Inspector General is referred these complaints, I believe it is essential that the Small Business Committee have access to this . . . information independently to ensure effective and efficient oversight," Weicker wrote.
Weicker said he also wants SBA to continue telling Congress the annual dollar value of all federal contract awards to small, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses because the report helps the panel "evaluate agency compliance with small business procurement laws . . . . "
OMB's Eisinger said the bill would have been introduced "in virtually the same format whether this were a Democratic or Republican administration. It's a good government bill, it has nothing to do with partisan politics."