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Do I need PRA clearance?
Not every request or collection falls under the PRA’s scope, and you may not need clearance at all. Voluntary collections are not automatically exempt. When figuring out if PRA clearance is needed, consider the following:
What type of information are you collecting,
Who are you collecting it from,
How will you be collecting it, and
Why you are collecting this information.
Voluntary or Mandatory Collection
Voluntary collections are not automatically exempt. This is just a starting point to see if your collection needs PRA clearance. We encourage getting in touch with your agency’s PRA contact to answer more in-depth questions.
Who are you collecting information from?
Members of the public: Generally, this means people or groups outside of the federal government. Some groups that are considered members of the public include:
Individual people (including federal contractors)
Businesses and associations
State, territorial, tribal, and local governments
Foreign governments, businesses, and individual people
In general, the PRA applies even when information is collected from non-US citizens, residences, or businesses as those entities are considered “persons” under the Act. If you’re only collecting information from federal employees or military personnel as part of their job, then you don’t need PRA clearance. If the information isn’t part of their work-related duties, you may need PRA clearance.
Ten or more people or groups
Over a 12-month period, if you are requesting the same information from ten or more people or entities, you need PRA clearance. If you’re requesting information from fewer than ten people or groups, but they represent the majority or all of an industry or sector, you may need PRA clearance.
Social networks, blogs, webinars, and other public meetings - Covered under the “public meetings” exclusion, these generally don’t need PRA approval, as long as the public is not surveyed or asked identical questions: Public conference calls, Webinars, Blogs, Discussion boards, Forums, Chat sessions, Social networks, Online communities.
Wikis and collaborative drafting platforms - Web-based collaboration tools that facilitate interactions between the agency and the public and essentially provide a technology-based equivalent to in-person collaboration generally don’t need PRA approval. If they are used to collect information that an agency would otherwise gather by asking for responses to identical questions, however, they would need PRA approval.
The USGS Open Innovation (OI) Community welcomes anyone interested in using participatory science and innovation methods like Crowdsourcing, Citizen Science, and Prize Competitions to obtain ideas, data, services, and solutions from the public and organizations in an open way. Ignite Open Innovation (OI) Forum is a series of different talks and panels to inform the development of a USGS Open Innovation Strategy.