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The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, 44 U.S.C.S. § 3501 et seq., does not give Office of Management and Budget the authority to review and countermand agency regulations mandating disclosures by regulated entities directly to third parties.
In the course of litigation involving a labor union's challenge to a United States Department of Labor (DOL) regulation which was issued pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) (29 USCS 651 et seq.), and which imposed on only manufacturers certain requirements aimed at insuring that employees were informed of potential hazards posed by chemicals found at their workplace, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit directed the DOL, under threat of contempt, to publish in the Federal Register within 60 days either a hazard communication standard applicable to all workers covered by the OSH Act, including workers in sectors other than manufacturing, or a statement of reasons why such a standard was not feasible. The DOL responded by promulgating a revised regulation which was applicable to employers in all economic sectors, and which also included three provisions--as to labeling and employee training, and as to accessible data sheets concerning health and safety information--which provisions were not contained in the regulation as originally promulgated. At the same time, the DOL submitted the revised regulation to the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (PRA) (44 USCS 3501 et seq.), which generally authorized OMB review of proposed information collection requests by a federal agency. The OMB disapproved the three new provisions, based on its determination that the requirements were not necessary to protect employees. Although the DOL disagreed with the OMB's assessment, the DOL published notice that the three provisions were withdrawn. In response, the labor union filed a motion with the Court of Appeals for further relief. The Court of Appeals, ruling that the OMB lacked the authority under the PRA to disapprove the provisions and that therefore the DOL had no legitimate basis for withdrawing them, ordered the DOL to reinstate the provisions. Certiorari was granted.
Did the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 authorize the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review and countermand agency regulations mandating disclosure by regulated entities directly to third parties?
The Court affirmed the appellate court’s decision, holding that the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (PRA) did not give the OMB the authority to review and countermand agency regulations mandating disclosure by regulated entities directly to third parties, such as the three provisions at issue. The terms "collection of information" and "information collection request"--as defined in 44 USCS 3502(4) and 3502(11), respectively--when considered in light of the language, structure, and purpose of the PRA as a whole, referred solely to the collection of information by, or for the use of, a federal agency. There was no indication in the PRA that the OMB was authorized to determine the usefulness of agency-adopted warning requirements to those being warned. The Supreme Court was foreclosed from deferring to the OMB's interpretation of the PRA upon finding that the PRA, as a whole, clearly expressed Congress' intention.