President Bok has joined a recently formed committee which is trying to reduce the annoyances of excessive paperwork caused by the federal government.
suggestions made at a White House conference in September sparked the organization of the Citizens Committee on Paper work Reduction in Washington to carry on the work begun by the Commission on Federal Paperwork, whose charter expired at the end of January.
The group contacted many recognized leaders from all segments of the public to serve as trustees of the committee and make additional nominations.
Charles A. Sanders, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital, nominated Bok to the Board of Trustees earlier this year, Edmund Wellington Jr., president of the committee, said last week.
Although Bok was unable to attend the first meeting of the board, he said yesterday he intends to take an active part in the committee's work.
Bok said he hopes to communicate to the government what the cumulative impact of paper work is on an institution like Harvard. He added that his perspective on certain suggestions for reform may differ from that of other committee members.
The commission made more than 800 recommendations for reducing paperwork in its two years of existence. Many of these addressed the problem of more than one Federal agency requesting the same information from a respondent and thereby creating unnecessary duplication of effort.
"Most people conceive of excessive paperwork as having to make 35 copies of the same form, but it is actually having to write 35 different reports containing the same information." Wellington said.
The committee will try to develop additional recommendations for reducing red tape and will also keep an eye on the government, issuing a periodic scorecard which notes its success in implementing the committee's suggestions.
One way the committee hopes to reduce paperwork is by serving as a clearinghouse for data requested by different Federal agencies.
"We would like to act as a library for how to get things done [in the bureaucracy] and to send that sort of information to institutions which could make use of it." Wellington said.
Members of Congress, as well as President Carter, see the committee as one step in the fight to simplify and reorganize government. Wellington said, adding that certain congressmen have formed a bipartisan Congressional Paperwork Reduction Group which plans cooperate with the committee.
The committee is a non-profit organization seeking support from all segments of society, but has so far relied on major corporations for its "start-up money." Linda Bagby, a staff member of the committee, said last week.
"Everybody wants to reduce paperwork. It's a universally recognized problem, so we're looking toward everyone for support," she added.