As Novaworks has released new versions our software throughout the years, our support team frequently are asked about the Office of Management and Budget (or “OMB”) date that appears on the proof for certain forms. This OMB information changes periodically, and, while it isn’t filed to EDGAR with your form data, it has raised questions from filers about what the OMB information is and why it doesn’t always appear up to date.
Thursday, January 28. 2016
For example, we have fielded questions about the proof GoFiler generates for Forms 3, 4, and 5 because those proofs display this OMB information even though that data isn’t filed to EDGAR with the form. Because most filers want to see a proof of the document exactly as it will appear on the SEC’s website after it is filed, our developers have elected to include the display of the OMB indicia. But, when the SEC fails to update the OMB indicia after the certificate expires, this has lead to confusion and anxiety on behalf of filers who want to be assured that everything is correct.
The irony is all forms that the U.S. Federal Government requires the public to file must have a certificate from the OMB. However, the requirement to have a certificate is a law that federal agencies must follow, not the public. This is why the OMB information that appears on the proof from GoFiler is not data that is filed to EDGAR. Rather, it is added to the form by the SEC after it has been filed. Filers might also note that many forms are filed with the SEC that do not contain an indicia, such as a 10-Q or 10-K.
So what is the purpose of the OMB information?
It started with the Paperwork Reduction Act, a law enacted in 1980 that aimed to reduce the paperwork burden that the federal government imposes on its citizens and businesses. This act established the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the OMB, which subsequently reviews the forms that any government agency requires the public to file and determines the burden each form places on the filers. As regulatory changes are made to the form or the rules governing the form, the OIRA reviews the form and may adjust certain calculations it makes regarding the form. As part of the Paperwork Reduction Act, OIRA must estimate the burden to collect data for the form and file the form in hours.
The OIRA thinks it should take an average of 187.43 and 1,998.78 hours to collect the data for and file a Form 10-Q and a Form 10-K, respectively. Obviously, the amount of time varies widely depending on the size of the company, the industry sector and the complexity of the report.
You can track the OIRA’s review of forms using a form’s OMB Indicia (or OMB Control Number). Most forms that any government agency requires the public to file for more than two years must go through review at the OIRA, where the form is assigned an OMB Control Number. This number is then placed on the form.
You can see an OMB number on all relevant government forms. Anyone file a Form 1040-A?
Or apply for clinical trials on a new drug?
You can also see the OMB Approval information on a Form 8-K.
If you search for the OMB Control Number for a form on the Internet, you’ll eventually wind up at reginfo.gov, where a history of the review cycles for the form and a form’s approvals can be found.
While it’s important to know what this OMB information is and what it means, you should always remember that, when an XML style form is filed (such as the Section 16 forms, Form D or Form 13F-HR), only the XML data is submitted. What is human-readable (or proofed by our software or displayed on the EDGAR archive) is a representation of the filed XML data. The formatting as well as certain headings and titles are there for formatting and organization of the filed data.
The OMB information is not data that is filed to the SEC. Rather, it is placed on the form by the SEC to provide the public information about the form and the burden the form will place, on average, on respondents.