'What's in a Name?' The Paperwork Reduction Act

Michael E. DeBakey, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(18):2490-2491. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440180096041.
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"Paperwork Reduction Act." Music to the ears of every American taxpayer. And certainly to physicians inundated by Medicare forms. Who could oppose legislation with such a noble name?

Well, I could. Not because I advocate paperwork proliferation, but because a proposal within the House of Representatives to renew this Act (first enacted in 1980) contains a clause that would damage an institution that most physicians have long depended on for reliable information—the National Library of Medicine (NLM). This institution represents the largest and finest collection of biomedical publications, papers, and documents in the world.

The quality of information products derived from the Library's databases will be at serious risk if HR 3695, The Paperwork Reduction and Federal Information Resources Management Act of 1989, is enacted. This Act, sponsored by Rep John Conyers, Jr, of Michigan, would prohibit the Library from entering into formal agreements with private vendors, thus effectively banning


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