The Information Collection Request, Review and Approval System (ICRAS) is a web-based, enterprise-wide Oracle database system that enables federal agencies to electronically prepare, track, edit and submit Information Collection Requests (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to obtain approval for the collection of information from the public. This system was developed in accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), and in compliance with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA), which requires federal agencies to conduct routine business electronically when it is "practicable."
Questions and Answers
- Why was ICRAS developed?
- What does ICRAS do?
- What are ICRAS benefits?
- Who is using ICRAS?
- Is my Agency eligible to use ICRAS?
- What does it cost to use ICRAS?
- Are professional services available for assistance for software customizations? Is this provided through the vendor, a partner, or a third party?
- Will ICRAS reflect our internal PRA business process?
- How adaptable is ICRAS to an Agency's PRA process and can the application be tailored at the bureau level as opposed to the agency level?
- How long will it take to implement ICRAS into an Agency's PRA process?
- Can the database schema and application be modified to support capture of additional data? Would this modification induce loss of any existing data?
- Elements (such as FR notices, Rules, etc.) for package preparation may begin long before ICR/IC data entry is performed. Does ICRAS provide any benefit to this process?
- If OMB changes the requirements, who is responsible for incorporating these changes and who pays for it?
- Does ICRAS validate required information for ROCIS transmission?
- Does this application have canned production reports to produce OMB ICB reports?
- A Bureau in our Agency also records information relevant to their mission when preparing a package but is not required by PMB, could this be integrated into the application?
- Does ICRAS have electronic signature and approval?
- To what extent does the application support integration with other Enterprise Architecture (EA) tools?
- Does ICRAS have the capability to upload documents?
- How exclusive are the permissions and/or access to packages?
- Can users collaborate on package preparations?
- How adaptable is ICRAS to the user community?
- How is the product supported? (Web site, phone number, etc.) Please include available hours and exclusions to your support policy.
- How and when is the software updated?
- Do software upgrades require data conversion or downtime? If so, please describe.
Why was ICRAS developed?
The PRA requires federal agencies to obtain OMB approval for the collection of information from the public. The Department of HHS maintains an active inventory of over 850 specific, approved information collections. This involves preparation of approximately 300 requests of different types each year. Many other federal agencies have a similar inventory. The traditional business processes for doing this are labor- and paper-intensive, time-consuming, and complex. ICRAS was developed to streamline this process for federal agencies by providing a powerful document upload and storage system which would address the individual needs of the agency during document creation and compilation, and allow ICRs to be submitted directly to OMB upon completion.
What does ICRAS do?
ICRAS provides federal agencies with the ability to electronically prepare and forward information collection requests to OMB, as required by the PRA. ICRAS can be used by an agency in a manner that mirrors the agency's internal business practices for preparing, reviewing and submitting ICRs to OMB. The system uses e-mail alerts to ensure that preparers and reviewers receive real-time status of collections. In addition, ICRAS includes a full-history of each ICR from creation to OMB approval, and tracks the status of the package as it is prepared and reviewed by multiple parties within the agency and at OMB.
What are ICRAS benefits?
ICRAS permits all components of an ICR to be prepared electronically, reviewed at various levels within an agency, and released to OMB. OMB uses ICRAS to electronically receive ICRs, after which it inputs the ICR into its log. After OMB issues a Notice of Action (NOA), the NOA is uploaded into ICRAS, thereby updating the database and generating emails to all concerned parties. ICRAS enables the entire business process to be conducted electronically, thereby complying with the GPEA.
Who is using ICRAS?
ICRAS has been deployed to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, and the Department of Transportation.
Is my Agency eligible to use ICRAS?
Yes. ICRAS was developed as a GOTS (Government-off-the-shelf) application. Operations and maintenance of the application is provided through the Interagency Agreement (IAA) with the Service Provider Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on an annual basis to provide a range of support services, including software updates, user documentation, help desk support and training as defined by the IAA. ICRAS's subsequent development and technical compliance support efforts are managed by the Change Control Board (CCB), chaired by Keith Tucker.
What does it cost to use ICRAS?
The cost for the annual IAA varies by Agency. A cost model was been developed based on the number of Agency collections, size and complexity of the organization in order to estimate a pre- determined level of support required for implementation, operations and maintenance. Additional Agency-specific requirements could also impact the overall cost. For more information on the standard IAA, please contact Keith Tucker, Reports Clearance Officer, (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are professional services available for assistance for software customizations? Is this provided through the vendor, a partner, or a third party?
ICRAS is totally customizable and can be aligned to any support process; however, professional services for business process improvement assistance and custom system functionality are not included in the basic support provided through the IAA agreement. Software updates, help desk support, site visits, training, and user documentation are all provided to the Agency under the SLA. Services such as additional Agency-specific data fields or dedicated onsite support for the application would be secured through another contract.
Will ICRAS reflect our internal PRA business process?
ICRAS "out-of-the-box" provides the Agency with the OMB required data fields for the ICR and information collection parts (ICs) and attachments as needed for transmission into ROCIS. During the Implementation Phase, the Agency and ICRAS Support Team can begin tailoring the tool to reflect agency-specific process workflows and agency structure; however, it will be up to each agency, along with their reports clearance staff, to fine tune their processes to using the application.
How adaptable is ICRAS to an Agency's PRA process and can the application be tailored at the bureau level as opposed to the agency level?
Completely. ICRAS can be customized to include any and every process your Agency uses to capture information collection package data. Even within the different ICR/ICs, you can add any processes, sections, and sub-sections that are Bureau and/or Agency-specific.
How long will it take to implement ICRAS into an Agency's PRA process?
The length of time it will take to customize ICRAS to Agency-specific processes really depends on the PRA process itself (how mature or complex) as well as how complex the agency structure itself is; as well as the application planned for implementation (standard configuration or customized. Therefore, complex Agencies with well defined or at a minimum, well documented business processes will likely transition as easily as a "flat" organization without much structure in their process, therefore, it is recommended that each Agency invest the time to define, document and implement the standard processes that will be application will be implemented to support. The more clearly defined the process, the more smoothly the implementation process will be and the more involved the stakeholders are in the set-up process, the more successful the implementation will be.
Can the database schema and application be modified to support capture of additional data? Would this modification induce loss of any existing data?
Yes, the application provides for full customization of workflow. Agency-defined fields could capture data above and beyond the OMB reporting requirements to account for Agency-specific needs. The application is built for maximum flexibility; but though making changes to capture additional data will not induce loss of any existing data, those customizations would fall outside of the standard system configuration under the IAA.
Elements (such as FR notices, Rules, etc.) for package preparation may begin long before ICR/IC data entry is performed. Does ICRAS provide any benefit to this process?
ICRAS is flexible enough that any approved package at your level may begin update at anytime and customizable enough to enable any Agency to manage most of its process requirements; but ICRAS also has built in reminders to prompt users to begin these processes as defined by the Agency transforming the tool into exactly what they need it to be. A couple examples of this might be the Email "tickler" that is sent at predetermined intervals prior to the packages expiration, reminding the package owner that a draft needs to be started, or that a final should be submitted. On the other side of it, the package can be released to higher levels without the 30 day notice information so the review process can continue without being held up waiting for that information.
If OMB changes the requirements, who is responsible for incorporating these changes and who pays for it?
When OMB modifies requirements, a software update will be scheduled for Agencies to ensure that they can enter data and create reports against the new or changed requirements for no additional cost to IAA holders.
Does ICRAS validate required information for ROCIS transmission?
Yes. On each data entry screen with required information for ROCIS, users have the ability to "Save" or "Save and Validate". The validation will return results showing you which data fields are empty or incorrect; each field itself will also be highlighted to be easily identified. The validation function can also be performed at carried pass/fail allowances throughout the organization, for example a program office may release a package with a certain number of fields failing validation, but a Bureau Desk Officer may not be allowed to release the package to the Department Reports Clearance Officer until all required fields pass validation.
Does this application have canned production reports to produce OMB ICB reports?
The application provides the OMB required data fields for the Information Collection Budget (ICB) data calls. Validation for ROCIS's reports are generated by ICRAS.
A Bureau in our Agency also records information relevant to their mission when preparing a package but is not required by PMB, could this be integrated into the application?
ICRAS will allow you to add custom fields for any data you wish to capture. For example, you could add a section called "PIA" that contains questions like "What type of PIA data is collected with this instrument?" ICRAS allows Agencies the flexibility to determine how they would like to capture data and at which points in the business process.
Does ICRAS have electronic signature and approval?
Currently, ICRAS is configured to including the submission "signature" to ROCIS using the secure user name and password for the Agency Reports Clearance Officer and movement through the package lifecycle is inherently approved through the execution of functions by users with the appropriate permission to do so (users without permissions to sign off or approve packages are prevented from doing so).
To what extent does the application support integration with other Enterprise Architecture (EA) tools?
The ICRAS application has the capability to support integration with other applications where data can be exchanged via XML Web services. ICRAS can be configured to be used as a bridge between an Agency EA tool, such as Microsoft Office, Documentum or other 3rd party application, and OMB's ROCIS via XML but is not required to do so.
Does ICRAS have the capability to upload documents?
ICRAS allows the ability to upload all documents required for submission to OMB, in its own "File" library, as well as hotlinks in the applicable question areas in the ICR/ICs. ICRAS also provides upload of internal documentation that will remain with the package for the life of the collection with an indicator not to be sent to OMB, as defined by the Agency. ICRAS's historical record of activities for each collection also captures the download and uploads to maintain version integrity.
How exclusive are the permissions and/or access to packages?
There are an infinite number of combinations of user permission and accesses that can be defined to suit the Agency business process requirements. This way each Agency can determine how inclusive or exclusive the assignments can be.
Can users collaborate on package preparations?
As answered in a previous question, predefined roles and responsibilities can be created using permissions/system rights. ICRAS employs a workflow functionality we call "Time Dependent Ownership" that essentially moves the package through the organizational structure with "release" and "retract" functions, and the standard permission configuration allows users with predetermined access permissions to collaborate on packages within their own level of the organization. Therefore, that model can be reconfigured into user group users and assignments to reflect the roles and responsibilities that make sense for the Agency, offices and sub-offices.
How adaptable is ICRAS to the user community?
The usability of the application was a very high priority in the development and continues in the support of ICRAS. ICRAS uses common functions throughout the application to save the user time and effort in the area of navigation and usability.
How is the product supported? (Web site, phone number, etc.) Please include available hours and exclusions to your support policy.
For customer Agencies subscribed to the IAA each year, the level of support includes generic admin and user training, user documentation; software updates, and help desk support. Detailed terms can also be found on the Support tab.
How and when is the software updated?
The tool's governing body, the CCB, determines the release schedule. Updates are installed directly to the installations on Web and/or database server as applicable during a predetermined window when possible.
Do software upgrades require data conversion or downtime? If so, please describe.
Software upgrades will vary in terms of their impact. Preferably, changes will be made to the web or database server, during off-peak times after normal business hours, and users are notified of the lock-out period to be kept from attempting to make updates to the application, in some cases, user training . In more urgent conditions, users will still be notified, and every attempt will be made minimize user impact and downtime.
Last revised: May 10, 2011