Dole v. United Steelworkers
Annotate this Case
494 U.S. 26 (1990)
U.S. Supreme Court
Dole v. United Steelworkers, 494 U.S. 26 (1990)
Dole v. United Steelworkers of America
Argued Nov. 6, 1989
Decided Feb. 21, 1990
494 U.S. 26
Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, petitioner Department of Labor (DOL) promulgated a Hazard Communications Standard, which imposed disclosure requirements on manufacturers aimed at ensuring that their employees were informed of the potential hazards posed by chemicals in the workplace. Among other things, the Standard required the manufacturers to label hazardous chemical containers, conduct training on the chemicals' dangers, and make available to employees safety data sheets on the chemicals. Respondents and others challenged the Standard in the Court of Appeals. The court held that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had not adequately explained why the Standard was limited to the manufacturing sector, and twice directed OSHA either to apply it to workplaces in other sectors of the economy or to state why such application would be infeasible. Ultimately, DOL issued a revised Standard that applied to worksites in all sectors, and submitted it to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (Act). That Act sets forth a comprehensive scheme to reduce the federal paperwork burden on the public by requiring, inter alia, an agency to submit any instrument for the "collection of information" -- termed an "information collection request" -- to the OMB for approval before it may collect the information. OMB disapproved three of the Standard's provisions on the ground that their requirements were not necessary to protect employees, and DOL published notice withdrawing the provisions. Respondents sought further relief from the Court of Appeals, which ordered DOL to reinstate the disapproved provisions. The court reasoned that the provisions represented good faith compliance by DOL with the court's prior orders, that OMB lacked the authority under the Act to disapprove the provisions, and that, therefore, DOL had no legitimate basis for withdrawing them.
Held: The Act does not authorize OMB to review and countermand agency regulations mandating disclosure by regulated entities directly to third parties. Pp. 494 U. S. 32-43.
(a) The Act's language indicates that the terms "information collection request" and "collection of information" -- which is defined as "the obtaining
or soliciting of facts by an agency through . . . reporting or recordkeeping requirements" -- refer solely to the collection of information by, or for the use of, a federal agency, rather than to disclosure rules, which do not result in information being made available for agency use. Petitioners' interpretation of the above definition -- that an agency is "soliciting facts" when it requires someone to communicate specified data to a third party and that rules requiring labeling, employee training, and the keeping of accessible data sheets are "reporting and recordkeeping requirements" -- is precluded by the language, purpose, and structure of the Act as a whole. Pp. 494 U. S. 34-35.
(b) Under the traditional canon of construction requiring that words grouped in a list be given a related meaning, the phrase "reporting and recordkeeping requirements" would comprise only rules requiring information to be sent or made available to a federal agency, not disclosure rules, since the other examples listed are forms for communicating information to a party requesting that information. P. 494 U. S. 36.
(c) Moreover, disclosure rules present none of the problems Congress sought to solve, and none of the enumerated purposes would be served by subjecting such rules to the Act's provisions. Pp. 494 U. S. 36-38.
(d) That Congress did not intend the Act to encompass disclosure rules is further revealed by the language and import of other provisions. The internal preliminary steps that an agency must take before adopting an information collection request affect agencies only when they gather information for their own use, and do not relate to disclosure rules. Likewise, the provisions governing OMB's review of proposed agency information collection requests focus on an agency's ability to use the information, particularly its ability to process it. The Act does not authorize OMB to determine the usefulness of agency-adopted warning requirements to those being warned. Furthermore, the Act's enforcement mechanism, by its terms, does not apply to disclosure rules, and its clear legislative history shows that Congress intended the provision to apply to all collections of information subject to the Act. Pp. 494 U. S. 38-40.
(e) The Act's legislative history does not support petitioners' contention that Congress intended "collection of information" to include disclosure rules. This Court need not defer to OMB's contrary interpretation where Congress' intent is clear. Pp. 494 U. S. 40-41.
855 F.2d 108 (CA 3 1988), affirmed.
BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., joined, post, p. 494 U. S. 43.