Federal Register Vol. 80, No.251,

Federal Register Volume 80, Issue 251 (December 31, 2015)

Page Range81737-82035
FR Document

80_FR_251
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
80 FR 81871 - Sunshine Act Meetings: January 2016PDF
80 FR 81816 - Sunshine Act MeetingsPDF
80 FR 81738 - Share Insurance and AppendixPDF
80 FR 81744 - Control Policy: End-User and End-Use BasePDF
80 FR 81738 - Capital MaintenancePDF
80 FR 81744 - The Commerce Control ListPDF
80 FR 81738 - Direct Single Family Housing Loans and GrantsPDF
80 FR 81738 - Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants ProgramPDF
80 FR 81738 - Special Research Grants ProgramPDF
80 FR 81737 - Construction and RepairPDF
80 FR 81737 - Electric System Construction Policies and ProceduresPDF
80 FR 81737 - Dairy ProductsPDF
80 FR 81737 - Dairy Promotion ProgramPDF
80 FR 81737 - Walnuts Grown in CaliforniaPDF
80 FR 81737 - Common Crop Insurance RegulationsPDF
80 FR 81862 - Section 512 Study: Notice and Request for Public CommentPDF
80 FR 81818 - Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 81856 - Notice of Availability of the Final White-Tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, Fire Island National Seashore, New YorkPDF
80 FR 81767 - Medicare Program; End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System, and Quality Incentive Program; CorrectionPDF
80 FR 81798 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Fixed-Gear Commercial Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program; Cost Recovery Authorized Payment MethodsPDF
80 FR 81837 - Privacy Act of 1974; Systems of Records-Republication of HUD's Routine Use Inventory NoticePDF
80 FR 81879 - Fortress Investment Group LLC-Continuance in Control Exemption-Ohio River Partners LLCPDF
80 FR 81878 - Ohio River Partners LLC-Acquisition and Operation Exemption-Hannibal Development, LLCPDF
80 FR 81879 - Roanoke Southern, LLC-Acquisition and Operation Exemption-Norfolk Southern Railway CompanyPDF
80 FR 81880 - Prompt Payment Interest Rate; Contract Disputes ActPDF
80 FR 81818 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
80 FR 81882 - Proposed Information Collection (Transfer of Scholastic Credit (Schools) (FL-315)) Activity: Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 81883 - Agency Information Collection: Collection (Requirement To Present Certain Health Information for a Service DogPDF
80 FR 81811 - Proposed Collection: Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 81875 - Request for Information for the 2016 Trafficking in Persons ReportPDF
80 FR 81810 - Procurement List; AdditionPDF
80 FR 81810 - Procurement List; Proposed DeletionsPDF
80 FR 81813 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Fast Track Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service DeliveryPDF
80 FR 81808 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Trawl Rationalization Program; 2016 Cost RecoveryPDF
80 FR 81812 - Negotiation of a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding With the Ministry of Defense of JapanPDF
80 FR 81805 - 2016 Rate Changes for the Basetime, Overtime, Holiday, and Laboratory Services RatesPDF
80 FR 81807 - National Estuarine Research Reserve SystemPDF
80 FR 81833 - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 81830 - Proposed Collection; 60 Day Comment Request; The Framingham Heart Study (NHLBI)PDF
80 FR 81832 - National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 81834 - National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 81835 - National Cancer Institute; Amended Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 81834 - National Cancer Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 81813 - Judicial Proceedings Since Fiscal Year 2012 Amendments Panel (Judicial Proceedings Panel); Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
80 FR 81815 - National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and IntegrityPDF
80 FR 81872 - Entergy Operations, Inc.; Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power StationPDF
80 FR 81824 - Request for Information: Certification Frequency and Requirements for the Reporting of Quality Measures Under CMS ProgramsPDF
80 FR 81879 - Release of Waybill DataPDF
80 FR 81836 - Notice To Announce Commission of a Surgeon General's Report on Substance Use, Addiction, and HealthPDF
80 FR 81806 - Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings and HearingsPDF
80 FR 81759 - Service AcademiesPDF
80 FR 81871 - Notice of Permits Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978PDF
80 FR 81819 - Request for Applications for Funding for the 12/09/2015 Funded Priorities ListPDF
80 FR 81857 - Hearings of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy ProcedurePDF
80 FR 81836 - Center for Mental Health Services; Notice of MeetingPDF
80 FR 81817 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
80 FR 81829 - Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (“Emerging Signals”); Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
80 FR 81816 - Arkansas River Power Authority; Notice of FilingPDF
80 FR 81816 - Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership; Notice of Filing of Supplement to Facilities Surcharge SettlementPDF
80 FR 81818 - Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General; Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities; New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission; Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel; Maine Office of the Public Advocate; George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General; New Hampshire Office of Consumer Advocate; Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; Vermont Department of Public Service; Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company; Associated Industries of Massachusetts; The Energy Consortium; Power Options, Inc.; and the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, v. Bangor Hydro-Electric Company; Central Maine Power Company; New England Power Company d/b/a National Grid; New Hampshire Transmission LLC d/b/a NextEra; NSTAR Electric and Gas Corporation; Northeast Utilities Service Company; The United Illuminating Company; Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. and Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company; Vermont Transco, LLC;PDF
80 FR 81817 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
80 FR 81809 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 81824 - Patient Safety Organizations: Voluntary Relinquishment from the Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc.PDF
80 FR 81880 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 81882 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 81832 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 81835 - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
80 FR 81833 - National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
80 FR 81857 - Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decrees Under the Clean Water ActPDF
80 FR 81785 - Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee: Notice of Open Meetings for the Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Working Group To Negotiate a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) for Energy Conservation StandardsPDF
80 FR 81792 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
80 FR 81773 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason AdjustmentsPDF
80 FR 81752 - Cyber-Related Sanctions RegulationsPDF
80 FR 81828 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
80 FR 81788 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
80 FR 81795 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
80 FR 81786 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
80 FR 81770 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; North Atlantic Swordfish FisheryPDF
80 FR 81769 - Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive AuctionsPDF
80 FR 81947 - Transfer Agent RegulationsPDF
80 FR 81871 - Notice of Intent To Grant an Exclusive LicensePDF
80 FR 81744 - Five-Year Review of the Oil Pipeline IndexPDF
80 FR 81840 - Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool: Announcement of Final Approved DocumentPDF
80 FR 81899 - Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant WorkersPDF
80 FR 81738 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
80 FR 82005 - Exemption of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity Promotion LawPDF
80 FR 81896 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Small Entity Compliance GuidePDF
80 FR 81894 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; Trade Agreements ThresholdsPDF
80 FR 81892 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; New Designated Countries-Montenegro and New ZealandPDF
80 FR 81888 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; Sole Source Contracts for Women-Owned Small BusinessesPDF
80 FR 81887 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; Definition of “Multiple-Award Contract”PDF
80 FR 81885 - Federal Acquisition Regulation; Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; IntroductionPDF
80 FR 81868 - Report on the Selection of Eligible Countries for Fiscal Year 2016PDF
80 FR 81742 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters (Previously Eurocopter France)PDF

Issue

80 251 Thursday, December 31, 2015 Contents Agency Health Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality NOTICES Patient Safety Organizations: Voluntary Relinquishment from the Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc., 81824 2015-32914 Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service RULES Dairy Promotion Program; CFR Correction, 81737 2015-33018 Exemption of Organic Products from Assessment under a Commodity Promotion Law, 82006-82035 2015-32517 Walnuts Grown in California; CFR Correction, 81737 2015-33016 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Commodity Credit Corporation

See

Farm Service Agency

See

Food Safety and Inspection Service

See

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

See

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

See

Rural Housing Service

See

Rural Utilities Service

Army Army Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 81811-81812 2015-32952 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services RULES Medicare Program: End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System, and Quality Incentive Program; Correction, 81767-81769 2015-32967 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 81828-81829 2015-32880 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Certification Frequency and Requirements for the Reporting of Quality Measures under CMS Programs, 81824-81828 2015-32931 Commerce Commerce Department See

Industry and Security Bureau

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Committee for Purchase Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled NOTICES Procurement List; Additions and Deletions, 81810-81811 2015-32949 2015-32948 Commodity Credit Commodity Credit Corporation RULES Dairy Products; CFR Correction, 81737 2015-33019 Copyright Office Copyright Office, Library of Congress NOTICES Requests for Public Comments: Digital Millennium Copyright Act Safe Harbor Provisions, 81862-81868 2015-32973 Defense Acquisition Defense Acquisition Regulations System NOTICES Negotiation of a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defense of Japan, 81812-81813 2015-32945 Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

See

Defense Acquisition Regulations System

RULES Federal Acquisition Regulations: Definition of Multiple-Award Contract, 81887-81888 2015-32427 Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Small Entity Compliance Guide, 81896-81897 2015-32431 Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Introduction, 81886 2015-32426 New Designated Countries - Montenegro and New Zealand, 81892-81894 2015-32429 Sole Source Contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses, 81888-81892 2015-32428 Trade Agreements Thresholds, 81894-81896 2015-32430 Service Academies, 81759-81767 2015-32926 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Fast Track Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery, 81813-81815 2015-32947 Meetings: Judicial Proceedings since Fiscal Year 2012 Amendments Panel, 81813 2015-32934
Education Department Education Department NOTICES National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity; Membership, 81815-81816 2015-32933 Election Election Assistance Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 81816 2015-33082 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

PROPOSED RULES Energy Conservation Standards: Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Working Group, Open Meetings, 81785-81786 2015-32893
Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Weekly Receipt; Availability, 81818 2015-32971 Farm Service Farm Service Agency RULES Construction and Repair; CFR Correction, 81737-81738 2015-33037 2015-33038 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Helicopters (Previously Eurocopter France), 81742-81744 2015-32258 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 81738-81742 2015-32596 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 81786-81788, 81792-81795 2015-32848 2015-32885 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 81788-81792, 81795-81797 2015-32850 2015-32852 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum through Incentive Auctions, 81769-81770 2015-32824 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation RULES Capital Maintenance; CFR Correction, 81738 2015-33048 Common Crop Insurance Regulations; CFR Correction, 81737 2015-33015 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission RULES Five-Year Review of the Oil Pipeline Index, 81744-81752 2015-32701 NOTICES Combined Filings, 81817-81818 2015-32916 2015-32921 Filing of Supplement to Facilities Surcharge Settlement: Enbridge Energy, LP, 81816 2015-32918 Filings: Arkansas River Power Authority, 81816-81817 2015-32919 Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General; et al., v. Bangor Hydro-Electric Co., et al., 81818 2015-32917 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 81818-81819 2015-32956 Fiscal Fiscal Service NOTICES Prompt Payment Interest Rate; Contract Disputes Act, 81880 2015-32957 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Guidance: Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (Emerging Signals), 81829-81830 2015-32920 Food Safety Food Safety and Inspection Service NOTICES 2016 Rate Changes for the Basetime, Overtime, Holiday, and Laboratory Services Rates, 81805-81806 2015-32944 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office RULES Cyber-Related Sanctions, 81752-81759 2015-32881 General Services General Services Administration RULES Federal Acquisition Regulations: Definition of Multiple-Award Contract, 81887-81888 2015-32427 Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Small Entity Compliance Guide, 81896-81897 2015-32431 Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Introduction, 81886 2015-32426 New Designated Countries - Montenegro and New Zealand, 81892-81894 2015-32429 Sole Source Contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses, 81888-81892 2015-32428 Trade Agreements Thresholds, 81894-81896 2015-32430 Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council NOTICES Funded Priorities List; Requests for Applications: Council-Selected Restoration Component Funded Priorities List Grant and Interagency Agreement Application Requirements, 81819-81824 2015-32924 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

See

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Homeland Homeland Security Department PROPOSED RULES Retention of EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 Immigrant Workers and Program Improvements Affecting High-Skilled Nonimmigrant Workers, 81900-81945 2015-32666 Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool, 81840-81856 2015-32680 Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 81837-81840 2015-32964 Industry Industry and Security Bureau RULES Commerce Control List; CFR Correction, 81744 2015-33047 Control Policy: End-User and End-Use Base; CFR Correction, 81744 2015-33049 Interior Interior Department See

National Park Service

Judicial Conference Judicial Conference of the United States NOTICES Hearings: Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure; Cancellation, 81857 2015-32923 Justice Department Justice Department NOTICES Proposed Consent Decrees under the Clean Water Act, 81857-81862 2015-32908 Library Library of Congress See

Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Millenium Millennium Challenge Corporation NOTICES Report on the Selection of Eligible Countries for Fiscal Year 2016, 81868-81870 2015-32353 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration RULES Federal Acquisition Regulations: Definition of Multiple-Award Contract, 81887-81888 2015-32427 Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Small Entity Compliance Guide, 81896-81897 2015-32431 Federal Acquisition Circular 2005-86; Introduction, 81886 2015-32426 New Designated Countries - Montenegro and New Zealand, 81892-81894 2015-32429 Sole Source Contracts for Women-Owned Small Businesses, 81888-81892 2015-32428 Trade Agreements Thresholds, 81894-81896 2015-32430 NOTICES Intents to Grant Exclusive Licenses, 81871 2015-32718 National Credit National Credit Union Administration RULES Share Insurance and Appendix; CFR Correction, 81738 2015-33056 National Institute Food National Institute of Food and Agriculture RULES Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program; CFR Correction, 81738 2015-33041 Special Research Grants Program; CFR Correction, 81738 2015-33039 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Framingham Heart Study, 81830-81832 2015-32940 Meetings: National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 81833-81834 2015-32941 National Cancer Institute, 81834-81835 2015-32935 2015-32936 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 81833 2015-32909 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 81832-81833 2015-32911 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 81835 2015-32910 National Institute on Drug Abuse, 81832, 81834-81835 2015-32937 2015-32938 2015-32939 National Labor National Labor Relations Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 81871 2015-33089 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; North Atlantic Swordfish Fishery, 81770-81773 2015-32826 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States: Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments, 81773-81784 2015-32884 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska: Fixed-Gear Commercial Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program; Cost Recovery Authorized Payment Methods, 81798-81804 2015-32966 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 81809-81810 2015-32915 Fisheries Off West Coast States: Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Trawl Rationalization Program; 2016 Cost Recovery, 81808-81809 2015-32946 Meetings: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 81806-81807 2015-32927 National Estuarine Research Reserve System, 81807-81808 2015-32942 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Final White-tailed Deer Management Plan, Fire Island National Seashore, NY, 81856-81857 2015-32970 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Permits Issued under the Antarctic Conservation Act, 81871 2015-32925 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Exemptions: Entergy Operations, Inc., Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, 81872-81875 2015-32932 Rural Business Rural Business-Cooperative Service RULES Construction and Repair; CFR Correction, 81737-81738 2015-33037 2015-33038 Rural Housing Service Rural Housing Service RULES Construction and Repair; CFR Correction, 81737-81738 2015-33037 2015-33038 Direct Single Family Housing Loans and Grants; CFR Correction, 81738 2015-33043 Rural Utilities Rural Utilities Service RULES Construction and Repair; CFR Correction, 81737-81738 2015-33037 2015-33038 Electric System Construction Policies and Procedures; CFR Correction, 81737 2015-33020 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission PROPOSED RULES Transfer Agent Regulations, 81948-82004 2015-32755 State Department State Department NOTICES Requests for Information: 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, 81875-81878 2015-32950 Substance Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration NOTICES Commission of a Surgeon General's Report on Substance Use, Addiction, and Health, 81836 2015-32929 Meetings: Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council, 81836-81837 2015-32922 Surface Transportation Surface Transportation Board NOTICES Acquisition and Operation Exemptions: Roanoke Southern, LLC from Norfolk Southern Railway Co., 81879-81880 2015-32959 Acquisitions and Operation Exemptions: Ohio River Partners, LLC from Hannibal Development, LLC, 81878-81879 2015-32960 Continuance in Control Exemptions: Fortress Investment Group, LLC; Ohio River Partners, LLC, 81879 2015-32961 Release of Waybill Data, 81879 2015-32930 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Surface Transportation Board

Treasury Treasury Department See

Fiscal Service

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 81880-81882 2015-32912 2015-32913
Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Requirement to Present Certain Health Information for a Service Dog, 81883 2015-32954 Transfer of Scholastic Credit; Schools, 81882-81883 2015-32955 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Defense Department, 81886-81897 2015-32427 2015-32431 2015-32426 2015-32429 2015-32428 2015-32430 General Services Administration, 81886-81897 2015-32427 2015-32431 2015-32426 2015-32429 2015-32428 2015-32430 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 81886-81897 2015-32427 2015-32431 2015-32426 2015-32429 2015-32428 2015-32430 Part III Homeland Security Department, 81900-81945 2015-32666 Part IV Securities and Exchange Commission, 81948-82004 2015-32755 Part V Agriculture Department, Agricultural Marketing Service, 82006-82035 2015-32517 Reader Aids

Consult the Reader Aids section at the end of this issue for phone numbers, online resources, finding aids, and notice of recently enacted public laws.

To subscribe to the Federal Register Table of Contents LISTSERV electronic mailing list, go to http://listserv.access.thefederalregister.org and select Online mailing list archives, FEDREGTOC-L, Join or leave the list (or change settings); then follow the instructions.

80 251 Thursday, December 31, 2015 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Federal Crop Insurance Corporation 7 CFR Part 457 Common Crop Insurance Regulations CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 400 to 699, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 278, in § 457.137, under the subheading “12. Settlement of Claim”, in the second paragraph (4) under paragraph (b), remove the term “4450,000” and add the term “450,000” in its place.

[FR Doc. 2015-33015 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 984 Walnuts Grown in California CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 900 to 999, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 512, in § 984.450, at the end of paragraph (b), add the word “walnuts” followed by a period.

[FR Doc. 2015-33016 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service 7 CFR Part 1150 Dairy Promotion Program CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1000 to 1199, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 204, in § 1150.153, in paragraph (c)(2)(i), remove the term “State or regional”.

[FR Doc. 2015-33018 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Commodity Credit Corporation 7 CFR Part 1430 Dairy Products CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1200 to 1599, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 690, in § 1430.202, the definition of “Department or USDA” is reinstated to read as follows:

§ 1430.202 Definitions.

Department or USDA means the United States Department of Agriculture.

[FR Doc. 2015-33019 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service 7 CFR Part 1726 Electric System Construction Policies and Procedures CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1600 to 1759, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 252, in § 1726.14, the definition of “minor error or irregularity” is reinstated to read as follows:

§ 1726.14 Definitions.

Minor error or irregularity means a defect or variation in a bid that is a matter of form and not of substance. Errors or irregularities are “minor” if they can be corrected or waived without being prejudicial to other bidders and when they do not affect the price, quantity, quality, or timeliness of construction. A minor error or irregularity is not an exception for purposes of determining whether a bid is responsive.

[FR Doc. 2015-33020 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Rural Business—Cooperative Service Rural Utilities Service Farm Service Agency 7 CFR Part 1924 Construction and Repair CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1760 to 1939, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 579, in part 1924, subpart A, exhibit J, under Part B, remove the first paragraph C.1. under IV. Accessory Structures and Related Facilities.

[FR Doc. 2015-33037 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Rural Business—Cooperative Service Rural Utilities Service Farm Service Agency 7 CFR Part 1924 Construction and Repair CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1760 to 1939, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 525, in part 1924, in § 1924.5, paragraph (g)(4) is reinstated to read as follows:

§ 1924.5 Planning development work.

(g) * * *

(4) Releases requested by the borrower or the buyer will be processed in accordance with applicable release procedures in 7 CFR part 3550, as appropriate.

[FR Doc. 2015-33038 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE National Institute of Food and Agriculture 7 CFR Part 3400 Special Research Grants Program CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 2000 to End, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 209, in § 3400.4, in paragraph (c)(14), remove the term “engaged by Director” and add the term “engaged by the Director” in its place.

[FR Doc. 2015-33039 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE National Institute of Food and Agriculture 7 CFR Part 3415 Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 2000 to End, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 307, in § 3415.5, in paragraph (a), remove the term “upon which the Administrator” and add in its place the term “upon which the Director or Administrator”.

[FR Doc. 2015-33041 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service 7 CFR Part 3550 Direct Single Family Housing Loans and Grants CFR Correction

In Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 2000 to End, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 406, in § 3550.150, remove the third sentence.

[FR Doc. 2015-33043 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION 12 CFR Part 325 Capital Maintenance CFR Correction

In Title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 300 to 499, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 406, in § 325.203, in paragraph (b)(3), the following phrase is added to the last sentence: “nonmember bank or state savings association becomes a covered bank.”

[FR Doc. 2015-33048 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION 12 CFR Part 745 Share Insurance and Appendix CFR Correction

In Title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 600 to 899, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 876, in subpart B, remove § 745.14.

[FR Doc. 2015-33056 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-0683; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-196-AD; Amendment 39-18355; AD 2015-26-07] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 767-200, -300, and -300F series airplanes. This AD was prompted by a finding that certain barrel nuts installed at the vertical fin may be subject to stress corrosion and cracking. This AD requires either repetitive inspections of vertical fin barrel nuts for corrosion or a magnetic check to identify certain barrel nuts, and corrective actions if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct corroded and loose barrel nuts that attach the vertical fin to body section 48; this condition could result in reduced structural integrity of the vertical fin attachment joint, loss of the vertical fin, and consequent loss of controllability of the airplane.

DATES:

This AD is effective February 4, 2016.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of February 4, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-0683; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Wayne Lockett, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6447; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all The Boeing Company Model 767-200, -300, and -300F series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on April 10, 2015 (80 FR 19248). The NPRM was prompted by a finding that certain barrel nuts installed at the vertical fin may be subject to stress corrosion and cracking. The NPRM proposed to require either repetitive inspections of vertical fin barrel nuts for corrosion or a magnetic check to identify certain barrel nuts, and corrective actions if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct corroded and loose barrel nuts that attach the vertical fin to body section 48; this condition could result in reduced structural integrity of the vertical fin attachment joint, loss of the vertical fin, and consequent loss of controllability of the airplane.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) and the FAA's response to each comment.

Request To Revise Applicability

Boeing and Air New Zealand requested that additional clarification be added to paragraph (c) of the proposed AD (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015). Boeing stated that this addition will add clarity because there is an existing AD (AD 2003-10-11, Amendment 39-13156 (68 FR 28703, May 27, 2003)) of a similar subject that covers only Boeing Model 767 airplanes, line numbers 1 through 574 inclusive. Boeing requested we clarify that Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, addresses only Boeing Model 767 airplanes with line numbers 575 through 681 inclusive. Air New Zealand asked whether the NPRM would supersede AD 2003-10-11.

We agree to provide clarification. Only Model 767 airplanes with line numbers 575 through 681 inclusive are affected by this AD. Some proposed requirements overlap with the requirements of AD 2003-10-11, Amendment 39-13156 (68 FR 28703, May 27, 2003). We have therefore revised the applicability of this AD to specify airplanes identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, which limits the applicability to line numbers 575 through 681 inclusive.

Request To Add Clarification About the Previous Replacement of Discovered H-11 Barrel Nuts With Inconel Alternatives

Boeing stated that operators may have already replaced discovered H-11 barrel nuts with Inconel alternatives. Boeing requested that we revise the NPRM (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) to specify the “Compliance Time Exceptions” noted in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014. Those “exceptions” would specify that no further action is required at the vertical stabilizer attachment point, provided the following conditions are met:

• The vertical stabilizer attachment barrel nut has been inspected;

• No H-11 steel barrel nut was found during the inspection; and

• Any replacement barrel nut is either a drawing configuration barrel nut made from an alternative material to H-11 steel; or a barrel nut made from alternative material to H-11 steel approved by the FAA or by a Boeing Company Authorized Representative.

We do not agree with the request because paragraph (g) of this AD already makes reference to paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, which lists the compliance time exceptions. We have not changed this AD regarding this issue.

Request To Clarify Terminating Action for Repetitive Inspections and Replacement

United Parcel Service (UPS) requested that we provide terminating action similar to that provided in paragraph (i) of AD 2013-18-02, Amendment 39-17575 (78 FR 57049, September 17, 2013).

We agree with the commenter's request. The NPRM (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) is not clear whether the repetitive inspections are terminated by replacement with an Inconel barrel nut or by a finding of no H-11 steel barrel nut installed. Replacing a barrel nut at an attachment point location with a new Inconel barrel nut in accordance with Part 5 of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, terminates the inspections and replacement required by paragraph (g) of this AD for that attachment point location only. In addition, if no H-11 steel barrel nut is found installed at an attachment point location, the repetitive inspections and replacement required by paragraph (g) of this AD are terminated for that attachment location only. We have added a new paragraph (h) to this AD to clarify the terminating action and redesignated the subsequent paragraphs accordingly.

Request For Clarification of Barrel Nuts To Be Replaced

UPS requested that we provide clarification of paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(B) of the proposed AD (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015). UPS stated that its interpretation of paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(B) of the proposed AD is that replacement of only H-11 steel barrel nuts is required, although it appears that all barrel nuts are to be replaced, even if the installed barrel nuts are Inconel or other approved barrel nuts.

We agree that clarification is necessary. Operators are required to do all actions specified in either paragraph (g)(1) or (g)(2) of this AD. Paragraph (g)(1) of this AD is only an internal and external detailed inspection of the barrel nuts and does not provide a method for determination of the material of the barrel nuts. Paragraph (g)(2) of this AD provides the method to determine if the material of the barrel nuts is H-11 steel.

Therefore, if operators have chosen to do the internal and external inspections along with the torque check specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this AD, and have not chosen to do the magnetic check specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this AD, then they have not determined the material of the barrel nuts. For airplanes on which the material of the barrel nuts has not been determined, the requirement is to replace all barrel nuts, as required by paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(B) of this AD.

Operators choosing to do the magnetic check specified in paragraph (g)(2) of this AD would have determined the material of the barrel nuts, and may replace only H-11 steel barrel nuts, as required by paragraph (g)(2)(i)(B)(2) of this AD.

Operators are not permitted to mix actions from paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) of this AD. Operators may, however, submit requests for approval of an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) to the requirements of paragraph (g) of this AD along with justification of an equivalent level of safety. We have not changed this AD regarding this issue.

Request For Clarification of Compliance Time

UPS requested that we provide an exception to the initial inspection thresholds of the “last Torque Check Inspection” specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014. The specified compliance time is the later of 24 months after issuance of the service information or 36 months after the last torque check inspection specified in Task 53-734-00, “Internal, Special Detailed, Vertical Stabilizer Attach Bolt, of Section 2, “Structural Maintenance Requirements,” of the Boeing Model 767 Maintenance Planning Document. The commenter understands that the most recent accomplishment of Task 53-734-00 must be done prior to the effective date of this AD. The commenter added that if the initial inspection required by paragraph (g)(1) or (g)(2) of the proposed AD (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) is done from the most recent accomplishment of Task 53-734-00 and that accomplishment occurs after the effective date of this AD, the time limits given in paragraphs (g)(1)(ii)(B) and (g)(2)(i)(B)(2) of this proposed AD may be exceeded (i.e., will have already passed).

We agree with the commenter's request and rationale regarding providing an exception to the specified initial inspection threshold. We have redesignated paragraph (h) of the proposed AD (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) as paragraph (i)(1) of this AD and added new paragraph (i)(2) to this AD to provide a compliance time exception to address the issue described by the commenter. If the most recent accomplishment of Task 53-734-00 occurs after the effective date of this AD, then operators still have to comply with the requirements of paragraph (g)(1) or (g)(2) of this AD.

Request For Clarification of Effect of Winglets on Accomplishment of the Proposed Actions

Aviation Partners Boeing stated that accomplishing the supplemental type certificate (STC) ST01920SE (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/59027F43B9A7486E86257B1D006591EE) does not affect the actions specified in the NPRM (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015).

We agree with the commenter's statement. We have redesignated paragraph (c) of the proposed AD (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) as paragraph (c)(1) of this AD, and added new paragraph (c)(2) to this AD to state that installation of STC ST01920SE (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/59027F43B9A7486E86257B1D006591EE) does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions required by this AD. Therefore, for airplanes on which STC ST01920SE (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/59027F43B9A7486E86257B1D006591EE) is installed, a “change in product” AMOC approval request is not necessary to comply with the requirements of 14 CFR 39.17.

Conclusion

We reviewed the relevant data, considered the comments received, and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD with the changes described previously and minor editorial changes. We have determined that these minor changes:

• Αre consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015) for correcting the unsafe condition; and

• Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM (80 FR 19248, April 10, 2015).

We also determined that these changes will not increase the economic burden on any operator or increase the scope of this AD.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Boeing has issued Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014. The service information describes procedures for repetitive internal and external detailed inspections of the barrel nut holes and sealant for cracked/damaged sealant, corrosion, or a cracked/broken barrel nut, and replacement of the barrel nut with a new Inconel barrel nut if necessary. The service information also describes procedures for repetitive torque checks on each affected vertical fin attachment bolt, or, alternatively, a magnetic check to identify H-11 steel barrel nuts, and replacement with a new Inconel barrel nut if necessary.

This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects 38 airplanes of U.S. registry. We estimate the following costs to comply with this AD:

Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Cost on
  • U.S. operators
  • Option 1: Detailed inspections and torque check 4 work-hours × $85 per hour = $340 per inspection cycle (1) Up to $482,661 per inspection cycle Up to $18,341,118. Option 2: Magnetic check 4 work-hours × $85 per hour = $340 $0 $340 $12,920. 1 For the torque check, operators may choose to rent a special tool, with rental costs up to $482,321.

    We estimate that replacing any barrel nut would take 1 work-hour, at an average labor rate of $85 per work-hour. We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the cost of replacement parts. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these replacements.

    According to the manufacturer, some of the costs of this AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected individuals. We do not control warranty coverage for affected individuals. As a result, we have included all available costs in our cost estimate.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    This AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this AD:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

    (2) Is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979),

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

    (4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    Adoption of the Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2015-26-07 The Boeing Company: Amendment 39-18355; Docket No. FAA-2015-0683; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-196-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective February 4, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    (1) This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 767-200, -300, -300F series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014.

    (2) Installation of Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST01920SE (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/59027F43B9A7486E86257B1D006591EE) does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions required by this AD. Therefore, for airplanes on which STC ST01920SE (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/59027F43B9A7486E86257B1D006591EE) is installed, a “change in product” alternative method of compliance (AMOC) approval request is not necessary to comply with the requirements of 14 CFR 39.17.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 53, Fuselage.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by a finding that certain barrel nuts installed at the vertical fin may be subject to stress corrosion and cracking. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct corroded and loose barrel nuts that attach the vertical fin to body section 48; this condition could result in reduced structural integrity of the vertical fin attachment joint, loss of the vertical fin, and consequent loss of controllability of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

    Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

    (g) Inspection

    For airplanes identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014: Do the actions specified in paragraph (g)(1) or (g)(2) of this AD, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014. Signs of corrosion include, but are not limited to, sealant cracks, sealant bulging, powder residue, and cracked barrel nuts.

    (1) At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, except as provided by paragraph (i) of this AD: Do internal and external detailed inspections of the barrel nuts and sealant for signs of corrosion, and do a torque check of the vertical stabilizer attachment bolts for loose barrel nuts.

    (i) If corrosion or any loose barrel nut is found at any attachment point location, before further flight, replace the barrel nut with a new Inconel barrel nut.

    (ii) If no corrosion or loose barrel nut is found at any attachment point location, do the actions specified in paragraphs (g)(1)(ii)(A) and (g)(1)(ii)(B) of this AD.

    (A) Repeat the inspections and torque check thereafter at intervals not to exceed 18 months until the replacement specified in paragraph (g)(1)(ii)(B) of this AD is done at that attachment point location.

    (B) Within 36 months after the effective date of this AD, replace all barrel nuts with new Inconel barrel nuts.

    (2) At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, except as provided by paragraph (i) of this AD: Do a magnetic check to identify H-11 steel barrel nuts.

    (i) If any H-11 steel barrel nut is found at any attachment point location, before further flight, do an internal and external detailed inspection of the barrel nut holes and sealant for signs of corrosion, and do a torque check of the vertical stabilizer attachment bolts for loose barrel nuts.

    (A) If corrosion or any loose barrel nut is found, before further flight, replace the barrel nut with a new Inconel barrel nut.

    (B) If no corrosion or loose barrel nut is found, do the actions specified in paragraphs (g)(2)(i)(B)(1) and (g)(2)(i)(B)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Repeat the inspections and torque check thereafter at intervals not to exceed 18 months until the replacement specified in paragraph (g)(2)(i)(B)(2) of this AD is done at that attachment point location.

    (2) Within 36 months after the effective date of this AD, replace all H-11 steel barrel nuts with new Inconel barrel nuts.

    (ii) If no H-11 steel barrel nut is found at all attachment point locations, no further work is required by this paragraph.

    (h) Terminating Action for Repetitive Inspections and Replacement

    (1) Replacing a barrel nut at an attachment point location with a new Inconel barrel nut, in accordance with Part 5 of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, terminates the inspections and replacement required by paragraph (g) of this AD for that attachment point location only.

    (2) If no H-11 steel barrel nut is found installed at an attachment point location, the repetitive inspections and replacement required by paragraph (g) of this AD are terminated for that attachment location only.

    (i) Exception to Service Information Specifications

    (1) Where Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, specifies a compliance time “after the Original Issue date of this Service Bulletin,” this AD requires compliance within the specified compliance time after the effective date of this AD.

    (2) Where Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014, specifies a compliance time after the “last Torque Check Inspection” in accordance with Task 53-734-00, “Internal, Special Detailed, Vertical Stabilizer Attach Bolt, of Section 2, Structural Maintenance Requirements,” of the Boeing Model 767 Maintenance Planning Document, that compliance time only applies if the most recent accomplishment of Task 53-734-00 occurred on or before the effective date of this AD.

    (j) Parts Installation Prohibition

    As of the effective date of this AD, no person may install an H-11 steel barrel nut on the vertical stabilizer of any airplane.

    (k) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (l)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

    (2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (4) For service information that contains steps that are labeled as Required for Compliance (RC), the provisions of paragraphs (k)(4)(i) and (k)(4)(ii) apply.

    (i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

    (ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    (l) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Wayne Lockett, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6447; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    (m) Material Incorporated by Reference

    (1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

    (2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless the AD specifies otherwise.

    (i) Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 767-53A0261, dated August 12, 2014.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com.

    (4) You may view this service information at FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    (5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 9, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32596 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-1480; Directorate Identifier 2014-SW-071-AD; Amendment 39-18352; AD 2015-26-04] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters (Previously Eurocopter France) AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are superseding airworthiness directive (AD) 2002-13-11 for Eurocopter France (now Airbus Helicopters) Model EC120B helicopters. AD 2002-13-11 required installing front and side covers on the cabin floor to protect the yaw control at both the pilot and co-pilot stations. Since we issued AD 2002-13-11, we have determined that the required actions should apply only to the cabin's right-hand pilot station. This AD retains the requirements of AD 2002-13-11 but for only the pilot station. These actions are intended to prevent an object from sliding between the canopy and the cabin floor, loss of yaw control, and subsequent loss of helicopter control.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective February 4, 2016.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of February 4, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus Helicopters, Inc., 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.airbushelicopters.com/techpub. You may review the referenced service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy, Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-1480 or in person at the Docket Operations Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile (DGAC) AD, any incorporated-by-reference service information, the economic evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations Office, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Grant, Aviation Safety Engineer, Safety Management Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy, Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

    We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to remove AD 2002-13-11, Amendment 39-12799 (67 FR 45295, July 9, 2002) and add a new AD. AD 2002-13-11 applied to Airbus Model EC120B helicopters, serial numbers 1001 through 1278, and required installing front and side covers to protect the yaw control at the pilot and co-pilot flight control stations. AD 2002-13-11 was prompted by AD No. 2001-386-007(A), dated September 5, 2001, issued by the DGAC, the airworthiness authority for France, to correct an unsafe condition for the Model EC120B helicopter. The DGAC advises of a yaw-control jamming caused by an object that slid between the canopy and the cabin floor.

    After we issued AD 2002-13-11 (67 FR 45295, July 9, 2002), we determined that the front and side protections are required only at the pilot station. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on May 14, 2015 (80 FR 27605), and proposed to supersede AD 2002-13-11 to require installing the front and side covers only at the pilot station. It also reflected that Eurocopter France had changed its name to Airbus Helicopters.

    Since we issued the NPRM, we discovered it contains a typographical error in the date of the service information. Also, the FAA Southwest Regional Office has relocated and a group email address has been established for requesting an FAA Alternate Method of Compliance for a helicopter of foreign design. We have corrected the error in the service information date and revised the contact information throughout this Final Rule.

    Comments

    We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD, but we received no comments on the NPRM (80 FR 27605, May 14, 2015).

    FAA's Determination

    These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of France and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with France, the DGAC, its technical representative, has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the DGAC AD. We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all information provided by the DGAC and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of these same type designs and that air safety and the public interest require adopting the AD requirements as proposed, except for the minor editorial changes described previously. These changes are consistent with the intent of the proposals in the NPRM (80 FR 27605, May 14, 2015) and will not increase the economic burden on any operator nor increase the scope of this AD.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin No. 67A005, Revision 0, dated August 1, 2001 (ASB), which specifies installing a front and side protection on the cabin floor to protect the yaw control. The DGAC classified this ASB as mandatory and issued AD No. 2001-386-007(A), dated September 5, 2001, and AD 2001-386-007(A)R1, dated February 6, 2002, to ensure the continued airworthiness of these helicopters in France.

    This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 37 helicopters of U.S. Registry and that labor costs average $85 a work-hour. Required parts cost about $584 and it takes about 2 work-hours to accomplish the required actions. Based on these figures, we estimate that the total cost of this AD is $754 per helicopter and $27,898 for the U.S. fleet.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on helicopters identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    This AD will not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This AD will not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify that this AD:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866;

    (2) Is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction; and

    (4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    We prepared an economic evaluation of the estimated costs to comply with this AD and placed it in the AD docket.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    Adoption of the Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA amends 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing airworthiness directive (AD) 2002-13-11, Amendment 39 12799 (67 FR 45295, July 9, 2002), and adding the following new AD: 2015-26-04 Airbus Helicopters (Previously Eurocopter France): Amendment 39-18352; Docket No. FAA-2015-1480; Directorate Identifier 2014-SW-071-AD. (a) Applicability

    This AD applies to Model EC120B helicopters, serial numbers 1001 through 1278, inclusive, certificated in any category.

    (b) Unsafe Condition

    This AD defines the unsafe condition as an object sliding between the canopy and the cabin floor. This condition could result in loss of yaw control and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

    (c) Affected ADs

    This AD supersedes AD 2002-13-11, Amendment 39-12799 (67 FR 45295, July 9, 2002).

    (d) Effective Date

    This AD becomes effective February 4, 2016.

    (e) Compliance

    You are responsible for performing each action required by this AD within the specified compliance time unless it has already been accomplished prior to that time.

    (f) Required Actions

    Within 90 days, install front and side covers (protections) to protect the yaw control in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 2.B., of Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin No. 67A005, Revision 0, dated August 1, 2001, except the correct reference to the Aircraft Maintenance Manual in subparagraph 2.B.2 of the ASB is 20-10-00, 3-8.

    (g) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Safety Management Group, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Send your proposal to: Robert Grant, Aviation Safety Engineer, Safety Management Group, Rotorcraft Directorate, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy, Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email [email protected].

    (2) For operations conducted under a 14 CFR part 119 operating certificate or under 14 CFR part 91, subpart K, we suggest that you notify your principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office or certificate holding district office, before operating any aircraft complying with this AD through an AMOC.

    (h) Additional Information

    The subject of this AD is addressed in the Direction General De L'Aviation Civile (DGAC) AD No. 67A005, Revision 1, dated February 6, 2002. You may view the DGAC AD on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FAA-2015-1480.

    (i) Subject

    Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 2500, Cabin Equipment/Furnishings.

    (j) Material Incorporated by Reference

    (1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51.

    (2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless the AD specifies otherwise.

    (i) Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin No. 67A005, Revision 0, dated August 1, 2001.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Helicopters, Inc., 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.airbushelicopters.com/techpub.

    (4) You may view this service information at FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy, Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (817) 222-5110.

    (5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on December 15, 2015. Lance T. Gant, Manager, Rotorcraft Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32258 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security 15 CFR Part 744 Control Policy: End-User and End-Use Base CFR Correction

    In Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 300 to 799, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 414, in supplement no. 4 to part 744, remove the entry for “Sergey Grinenko” from “GREECE” and add it in alphabetical order under “GERMANY”.

    [FR Doc. 2015-33049 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security 15 CFR Part 774 The Commerce Control List CFR Correction

    In Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 300 to 799, revised as of January 1, 2015, on page 999, in Supplement 1 to Part 774, in Category 9, Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) 9E003, in the Items section, remove the second introductory text of paragraph f.1.

    [FR Doc. 2015-33047 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505-01-D
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 18 CFR Part 342 [Docket No. RM15-20-000] Five-Year Review of the Oil Pipeline Index AGENCY:

    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Order establishing index level.

    SUMMARY:

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) issues this Final Order concluding its five-year review of the index level used to determine annual changes to oil pipeline rate ceilings. The Commission establishes an index level of Producer Price Index for Finished Goods plus 1.23 percent (PPI-FG+1.23) for the five-year period commencing July 1, 2016.

    DATES:

    December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Knudsen (Legal Information), Office of the General Counsel, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-6527 Monil Patel (Technical Information), Office of Energy Market Regulation, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-8296
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Order Establishing Index Level (Issued December 17, 2015)

    1. On June 30, 2015, the Commission issued a Notice of Inquiry initiating its five-year review to establish the oil pipeline index level for the July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2021 time period.1 The June 2015 NOI requested comment regarding (a) a proposed index level between Producer Price Index for Finished Goods (PPI-FG)+2.0 percent and PPI-FG+2.4 percent 2 and (b) any alternative methodologies for calculating that index level.

    1Five-Year Review of the Oil Pipeline Index, 80 FR 39010 (July 8, 2015), FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 35,053 (cross-referenced at 151 FERC ¶ 61,278 at P 1 (June 2015 NOI)).

    2 The June 2015 NOI included a range as opposed to a specific index level because some pipelines had yet to report FERC Form No. 6 (Form No. 6) data for 2014.

    2. For the reasons discussed below, the Commission adopts an index level of the PPI-FG+1.23 percent. The departure from the June 2015 NOI results from (a) the use of FERC Form No. 6 page 700 (page 700) data that directly measures changing pipeline costs as opposed to the estimates previously used to calculate the index level 3 and (b) updated Form No. 6 filings and other corrections to the data set. The Commission's indexing calculations and other data analysis are contained in Attachment A to this order. As discussed below, the Commission rejects other changes to the index calculation proposed by commenters.

    3 The index range presented in the June 2015 NOI was calculated based on estimates derived from FERC Form No. 6 accounting data on pages 110-111, 114, and page 600.

    I. Background A. Establishment of the Indexing Methodology

    3. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992) required the Commission to establish a “simplified and generally applicable” ratemaking methodology 4 that also was consistent with the just and reasonable standard of review of the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA).5 To implement EPAct 1992's mandate, the Commission issued Order No. 561 6 establishing an indexing methodology that allows oil pipelines to change their rates subject to certain ceiling levels as opposed to making cost-of-service filings.7

    4 Public Law 102-486, 106 Stat. 3010, 1801(a) (Oct. 24, 1992). EPAct 1992's mandate to establish a simplified and generally applicable method of regulating oil transportation rates specifically excluded the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), or any pipeline delivering oil, directly or indirectly, into it. Id. 1804(2)(B).

    5 49 U.S.C. app. 1 (1988).

    6See Revisions to Oil Pipeline Regulations Pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 1992, Order No. 561, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 30,985 (1993), order on reh'g, Order No. 561-A, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,000 (1994), aff'd, Assoc. of Oil Pipelines v. FERC, 83 F.3d 1424 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

    7 Pursuant to the Commission's indexing methodology, oil pipelines change their rate ceiling levels effective every July 1 by “multiplying the previous index year's ceiling level by the most recent index published by the Commission.” 18 CFR 342.3(d)(1) (2015). Oil pipeline rates may be adjusted to the ceiling levels pursuant to the Commission's regulations as long as no protest or complaint demonstrates that the index rate change substantially diverges from the pipeline's cost changes. 18 CFR 343.2(c)(1) (2015).

    4. In Order No. 561, the Commission committed to review the index level every five years to ensure that it adequately reflects changes to industry costs.8 The Commission conducted such reviews in 2000,9 2005,10 and 2010.11 In the 2010 five-year review, the Commission established the index level of PPI-FG+2.65, to be effective for the five-year period commencing July 1, 2011. The index level established herein results from the Commission's fourth five-year review of the index level.

    8 Order No. 561, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 30,985 at 30,941.

    9Five-Year Review of Oil Pipeline Index, 93 FERC ¶ 61,266 (2000) (2000 Index Review), aff'd in part and remanded in part sub nom. AOPL v. FERC, 281 F.3d 239 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (AOPL II), Five-Year Review of Oil Pipeline Pricing Index, 102 FERC ¶ 61,195 (2003) (2000 Index Review Remand Order), aff'd sub nom. Flying J Inc. v. FERC, 363 F.3d 495 (D.C. Cir. 2004).

    10Five-Year Review of Oil Pipeline Index, 114 FERC ¶ 61,293 (2006) (2005 Index Review).

    11Five-Year Review of Oil Pipeline Index, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 (2010) (2010 Index Review), order on reh'g, 135 FERC ¶ 61,172 (2011) (2010 Index Review Rehearing Order).

    B. The Kahn Methodology

    5. In Order No. 561 and each successive index review, the Commission has calculated the index level based upon a methodology developed by Dr. Alfred E. Kahn.12 The Kahn Methodology uses pipeline data from the prior five year period to determine an adjustment to be applied to a current year PPI-FG. The calculation is as follows. Each pipeline's cost change on a per barrel-mile basis over the prior five-year period (e.g., the years 2009-2014 in this proceeding) is calculated. In order to remove statistical outliers and spurious data, the resulting data set is trimmed to those pipelines in the middle 50 percent of cost changes. The Kahn Methodology then calculates three measures of the middle 50 percent's central tendency: The median, the mean, and a weighted mean.13 The Kahn Methodology calculates a composite by averaging these three measures of central tendency and measures the difference between the composite and the PPI-FG index data over the prior five year period. The index level is then set at PPI-FG plus (or minus) this differential, which tracks the relationship over the last five years between PPI-FG and oil pipeline costs.

    12 The Commission's use of the Kahn Methodology has been affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Assoc. of Oil Pipelines v. FERC, 83 F.3d 1424 (D.C. Cir. 1996); Flying J Inc., et al. v. FERC, 363 F.3d 495 (D.C. Cir. 2004).

    13 The weighted mean assigns a different weight to each pipeline's cost change based on the pipeline's total barrel-miles.

    C. The 2015 Proceeding

    6. The Commission initiated this proceeding on June 30, 2015, with the issuance of a Notice of Inquiry initiating its five-year review to establish the oil pipeline index level for the July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2021 time period.14 The June 2015 NOI proposed a range for the index level of between Producer Price Index for Finished Goods (PPI-FG)+2.0 percent and PPI-FG+2.4 percent. The June 2015 NOI included a range as opposed to a specific index level because some pipelines had yet to report FERC Form No. 6 data for 2014. Importantly, the NOI sought comment not only on the proposed level but also any alternative methodologies for calculating that index level. To facilitate the development of the new index and gain an understanding of the positions of the parties in advance of the filed comments, the Commission announced plans to hold a technical conference. That conference occurred on July 30, 2015.

    14 June 2015 NOI, 151 FERC ¶ 61,278 at P 1.

    II. Comments

    7. Initial Comments filed in response to the June 2015 NOI and technical conference were due on August 24, 2015, and reply comments were due on September 21, 2015. Comments were filed by the Association for Oil Pipelines (AOPL),15 APV Shippers,16 Liquids Shippers Group (Liquids Shippers),17 Suncor Energy Marketing Inc. (Suncor), Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP),18 HollyFrontier/Western Refining, the Pipeline Safety Trust, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). On October 16, 2015 AOPL filed supplemental reply comments. On October 21, 2015, APV Shippers also filed supplemental reply comments.

    15 AOPL is a trade association that represents the interests of common carrier oil pipelines.

    16 APV Shippers include Airlines for America, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), and Valero Marketing and Supply Company. Airlines for America members include: Alaska Airlines, Inc.; American Airlines Group; Atlas Air, Inc.; Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Federal Express Corporation; Hawaiian Airlines; JetBlue Airways Corp.; Southwest Airlines Co.; United Continental Holdings, Inc.; and United Parcel Service Co. Air Canada is an associate member.

    17 Liquids Shippers consists of crude oil or natural gas liquids producers, including: Anadarko Energy Services Company; Apache Corporation; Cenovus Energy Marketing Services Ltd.; ConocoPhillips Company; Devon Gas Services, L.P.; Encana Marketing (USA) Inc.; Marathon Oil Company; Murphy Exploration & Production Company—USA; Noble Energy, Inc.; Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc.; Statoil Marketing & Trading (US) Inc.; and WPX Energy Marketing, LLC.

    18 CAPP represents companies that develop and produce natural gas and crude oil throughout Canada.

    8. The commenters raised a number of issues related to the index range proposed by the Commission in the June 2015 NOI and possible alternatives for calculating the index level. The commenters advocated varying index levels, including AOPL's proposal of PPI-FG+2.47, APV Shippers' proposal of PPI-FG+0.5, and Liquids Shippers' proposal of PPI-FG+0.23.19 These proposed index levels were based upon various modifications to the Kahn Methodology, as discussed in greater detail below.

    19 Not every party filing comments attempted to calculate a proposed index level.

    III. Discussion

    9. The Commission adopts an index level of PPI-FG+1.23 percent for the five-year period commencing July 1, 2016. The Commission adopts APV Shippers' proposal to use page 700 data that directly measures changing pipeline costs as opposed to the previously used Form No. 6 accounting data. The Commission rejects other modifications proposed by industry comments, including: (a) Various manual data trimming methodologies, (b) the consideration of the middle 80 percent in addition to the middle 50 percent of the cost changes in the data set, (c) separate index levels for product and crude pipelines, and (d) Liquids Shippers' proposals to temporarily set the index level at PPI-FG while initiating a proceeding to revise the Commission's indexing regulations.

    A. Form No. 6 Page 700 1. Comments

    10. APV Shippers propose calculating the index level based upon page 700 total cost-of-service data as opposed to the Form No. 6 accounting data used in the June 2015 NOI and prior five-year review proceedings.20 APV Shippers state that page 700 data is superior because page 700 data provides a direct measure of changing pipeline barrel-mile costs.21 In reply comments, HollyFrontier/Western Refining, CAPP and Liquids Shippers support APV Shippers' proposal.

    20 APV Shippers Initial Comments at 9-16.

    21Id.

    11. AOPL opposes the use of page 700 data to calculate the index. Among other assertions, AOPL argues that page 700 data should not be used because the page 700 total cost-of-service incorporates returns on equity (ROEs) that may be volatile due to industry-wide fluctuations in the equity markets.22 AOPL also argues that page 700 cost-of-service data may include allocations that distort the index calculation.23

    22 AOPL Reply Comments at 41.

    23Id. at 44 (citing Shehadeh September 2015 Affidavit at 10).

    2. Discussion

    12. The Commission will update its calculation of the five-year oil pipeline index to use page 700 data to measure changing barrel-mile costs. Page 700 provides a summarized total cost-of-service and a pipeline's interstate barrel-miles. Page 700 did not exist when the Kahn Methodology was first developed in Order No. 561, and, as a result, the Commission estimated pipeline total cost changes using accounting data from elsewhere on Form No. 6. Now that page 700 is available, the Commission concludes that page 700 data provides a superior data source for use in the Kahn Methodology.24

    24 Page 700 was created in 1994 after Order Nos. 561 and 561-A. Cost-of-Service Reporting and Filing Requirements for Oil Pipelines, Order No. 571, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,006, at 31,168 (1994), order on reh'g, Order No. 571-A, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,012 at 31,251. The Commission considered using Page 700 data during the 2010 Index Review. However, the Commission declined to adopt such a proposal due to erroneous reporting instructions on page 700 that caused pipelines to report mismatching data, specifically, interstate-only costs and combined intrastate and interstate throughput. 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at PP 83-85. The Commission was concerned that widespread mismatching data could skew the index. Following the 2010 Index Review, the Commission corrected the page 700 instructions, and the Commission also required pipelines to file corrected data from 2009-2011 so that page 700 could be used “during the 2015 Five-Year Index Review if deemed appropriate.” Revision to Form No. 6, Order No. 767, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,335, at P 19 (2012).

    13. Using page 700 data provides four primary benefits. First, the index is meant to reflect changes to recoverable pipeline costs, and, thus, the calculation of the index should use data that is consistent with the Commission's cost-of-service methodology.25 In contrast to the accounting data historically used in the Kahn Methodology as a proxy for this information, page 700 includes actual total cost-of-service data.

    25 When lamenting the difficulty of estimating industry cost changes, Order No. 561-A specifically noted that industry-wide total cost-of-service data was not then available. Order No. 561-A, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,000 at 31,096.

    14. Second, using page 700 data eliminates the need to use proxies to measure capital costs and income tax costs. Because direct measures of these costs were not available when the index was first established,26 the Kahn Methodology used net carrier property as a proxy for capital costs and income taxes. At that time, the Commission acknowledged the net carrier property proxy was “highly unsatisfactory” and “imperfect.” 27 Although net carrier property measures changes to the book value of the pipeline's asset base, it does not incorporate changes to the costs of financing the asset base (i.e., interest costs of debt and investor demanded equity return). The relationship between net carrier property and income tax costs is similarly attenuated because income taxes are dependent upon the pipeline's return (specifically the ROE), not merely the size of the pipeline's asset base. Despite these flaws, the Commission used net carrier property proxy in the absence of a “better solution.” 28 Now that page 700 data is available, such a better solution exists.

    26Id. at 31,096, 31,098.

    27Id.

    28Id. at 31,098. When the index was established, AOPL itself argued that net carrier property was a poor measure of capital costs. Id.

    15. Third, using page 700 data eliminates the need for an “operating ratio” to estimate each pipeline's annual cost changes. When using Form No. 6 accounting data, the operating ratio is necessary because a pipeline's annual total cost change cannot be calculated by simply adding (a) the annual change in operating costs to (b) the annual change in net carrier property (the proxy used for capital costs). This is because a one-year change to net carrier property is a change in the net investment in the pipeline, not the pipeline's annual capital cost consisting of the pipeline's yearly debt payments and yearly return to investors. Thus, a pipeline's annual total cost change is estimated based on a ratio of operating expenses to operating revenue, which assumes that the residual revenues equate to a pipeline's annual capital costs.29 This provides, at best, a rough proxy for total pipeline cost changes. For example, the operating ratio unrealistically assumes that pipelines incur no capital costs in years in which the operating expenses exceed revenues.30 This assumption is deficient because, at a minimum, a pipeline must service its debt obligations.31 In contrast to the rough proxy provided by the operating ratio, page 700 total cost-of-service incorporates an annual capital cost based upon established ratemaking techniques.

    29 Using the operating ratio, the total cost change is estimated by using the two formulas below:

    Total Cost Changes = Operating Costs Changes * Operating Ratio + (Net Carrier Property Changes * (1 − Operating Ratio)).

    Operating Ratio = ((Operating Expense at Year 1/Operating Revenue at Year 1) + (Operating Expense at Year 5/Operating Revenue at Year 5))/2. If the operating ratio is greater than one, then it is assigned the value of 1 in the Kahn Methodology calculations. Applying the ratio, Total Cost Changes = (1 − operating ratio) * net plant + operating ratio * operating expenses.

    30 The operating ratio is set between 0 and 1 based upon the ratio of (a) operating expenses to (b) pipeline revenues. If operating expenses exceed revenues, then the operating ratio is set to 1, meaning that no weight is assigned to capital costs (net plant under the prior methodology) in the formula.

    31 Although operating expenses may exceed revenues in a particular year, a pipeline may nonetheless be able to attain new financing for capital investments based upon anticipated future profitability. Moreover, a company may continue to pay dividends (or other payments) to investors even in years in which the company is not profitable.

    16. Fourth, page 700 contains cost and barrel-mile data exclusively related to interstate pipeline operations, as opposed to the combined intrastate and interstate data used in prior five-year reviews. These interstate and intrastate costs do not necessarily apply to the same facilities.32 The index applies only to interstate pipelines, and thus, to the extent possible, it is appropriate to use interstate-only data to derive the index.33

    32 Although sometimes intrastate and interstate shipments share parts of the same pipe, the overlap is often not exact. On other occasions, the same parent pipeline may own entirely separate interstate and intrastate facilities.

    33 Although it is unclear whether there is a substantial difference between the cost changes for interstate and intrastate service, there is no reason to base the index on combined intrastate and interstate data when an interstate-only data alternative is available.

    17. The Commission is also not persuaded by AOPL's arguments against using page 700 data. The Commission disagrees with AOPL's argument that page 700 data should not be used because it incorporates ROEs that may be volatile on an industry-wide basis due to fluctuations in the equity markets. The index is designed to capture changing capital costs, of which financing costs are an important component. To the extent that industry-wide equity costs change with market conditions, those changes should be captured by the index. Furthermore, the record does not support AOPL's claim that ROEs were erratic on an industry-wide basis during the 2009-2014 period. AOPL's own calculations show that the average ROEs in the middle 50 percent stayed within a roughly 100 basis point range throughout the 2009-2014 period.34 Additionally, the Commission notes that to the extent that a particular pipeline's per barrel-mile cost changes (including its equity cost changes) departed substantially from industry norms, that pipeline would not be among the middle 50 percent used to calculate the index level.

    34 Shehadeh September 2015 Affidavit at 10.

    18. The Commission is also not persuaded by AOPL's argument that page 700 contains various allocations that may distort the index calculation. The allocation methodologies used by pipelines on page 700 should reflect established ratemaking practices, and thus these allocation methodologies should be sufficiently robust to calculate the index. Furthermore, some assumptions and allocations are necessary in any pipeline's measurement of its costs, including the Form No. 6 accounting data previously used in the Kahn Methodology.35 In addition, to the extent a pipeline's page 700 ratemaking assumptions change over a period of time, pipelines are obligated to note them on their page 700.36 Yet, despite the availability of this information, AOPL points to no specific circumstances in which such changing allocations have distorted the page 700 calculations in this proceeding. The mere presence of allocation methodologies is not a reason to reject the use of page 700 data.37 Overall, the changes we make in this order to use the page 700 data eliminates the need for several assumptions and more closely aligns the index with changing oil pipeline costs.

    35 For example, several pipelines are subsidiaries of parent companies, and, thus their Form No. 6 data include costs allocated from those parent entities.

    36 As instruction six on page 700 states, “If the company makes major changes to its application of the Opinion No. 154-B et al. methodology, it must describe such changes in a footnote, and calculate the amounts in columns (b) and (c) of lines No. 1-12 using the changed application.”

    37 The Commission similarly dismisses AOPL's argument that using page 700 data may create illusory cost changes due to shifts involving interstate and intrastate volumes. AOPL fails to distinguish between page 700 data and the accounting estimates historically used by the Commission. Under any circumstance, increasing intrastate barrel-miles absorb a larger portion of the pipeline's fixed costs and cause interstate barrel-mile costs to decline. Similarly, decreasing intrastate volumes absorb less of a pipeline's fixed costs, causing the pipeline's interstate per barrel-mile costs to rise.

    B. Manual Data Trimming

    19. APV Shippers, Liquids Shippers, CAPP, and Suncor advocate various forms of manual data trimming in addition to the statistical data trimming to the middle 50 percent. The manual data trimming proposals assume two broad forms: (1) Removing from the data set pipelines that underwent expansions between 2009 and 2014 and (2) removing from the data set pipelines that appeared to report flawed or anomalous data.38

    38 APV Shippers state that applying both of these data trimming methodologies to page 700 data would reduce the index from approximately PPI-FG+1.3 to their proposed PPI-FG+0.5.

    1. Alternative Rate Treatment a. Comments

    20. Several shipper commenters advocate removing pipelines from the data set that underwent expansions, arguing that the expansions distorted index calculation. APV Shippers and CAPP propose to remove from the data set the pipelines that filed petitions for declaratory order seeking approval for committed shipper rates.39 Other shipper parties solely analyzed pipeline costs. Suncor proposes to remove 36 pipelines that had shown greater than 25 percent year-over-year increases in both (a) their net plant and (b) net plant per barrel mile.40 Liquids Shippers propose a variant that removes only those pipelines with rate base changes of 25 percent between 2013 and 2014, asserting that because these new expansions may still be ramping-up to long term throughput levels, costs per barrel-mile may be exaggerated.41

    39 Commission policy allows pipelines making significant capital expansions to seek committed shipper rates. Although not required, pipelines generally file petitions for declaratory order in order to ensure Commission approval of the committed rate structure.

    40 Suncor states that this adjustment would change the index to PPI-FG+0.67.

    41 The Liquids Shippers presented this proposal in their reply comments. By presenting this argument so late in the proceeding, the Liquids Shippers did not provide other entities adequate opportunity to respond in reply comments.

    21. AOPL opposed these proposals asserting, among other arguments, that (a) this manual data trimming lacks methodological integrity and (b) statistically trimming of the data set (such as data trimming via the middle 50 percent or middle 80 percent) more appropriately addresses anomalous cost changes.

    b. Discussion

    22. The Commission declines to adopt the various proposals to manually remove from the data set pipelines making capital expansions during the 2009 to 2014 period. In the 2010 Index Review, Commission rejected a similar proposal.42 As explained below, comments in this proceeding have not provided a basis for the Commission to depart from its prior determination.

    42 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at PP 48-55 (rejecting proposal that manually trimmed pipelines that (a) experienced large rate base changes and (b) sought alternative rate treatment).

    23. As the Commission explained in the 2010 Index Review, statistically trimming the data set to the middle 50 percent already removes anomalous cost/barrel-mile changes.43 To the extent that a capital expansion caused a pipeline's per barrel-mile costs to deviate from industry norms, that pipeline's cost changes will not be among the middle 50 percent.44

    43Id. PP 48-55.

    44Id. P 48. APV Shippers, CAPP, and Liquids Shippers incorrectly assume that all pipelines seeking petitions for declaratory order in order to implement contractual rates have experienced “extraordinary” per barrel-mile cost changes. Pipelines filing for committed rate structures are making significant infrastructural investments; however, because an expansion generally leads to increased throughput, an expansion does not necessarily equate to a large relative increase in barrel-mile costs. For example, of the 10 pipelines APV Shippers exclude from the data set based upon committed shipper contracts, three of them are within the middle 50 percent of the Commission's index calculation, three of them are in the bottom 25 percent of pipelines excluded from the middle 50 percent and four of them are in the top 25 percent of pipelines included within the middle 50 percent. Attachment A, Exhibit 2.

    24. As the Commission also explained in 2010, it is both subjective and arbitrary to state which circumstances render a pipeline's 2009 barrel-mile costs non-comparable to its 2014 costs.45 Pipelines operate amidst continually changing business circumstances affecting throughput and costs.46 These manual data trimming proposals subjectively and arbitrarily focus upon one aspect, expansions, while ignoring other factors (such as changing product demand and supplies) that can also alter per barrel-mile costs.47 As APV Shippers concede, the data set includes a wide dispersion in barrel-mile cost changes that exists independently from pipelines using alternative rate base methodologies 48 or those experiencing expansions. As the Commission concluded in the 2010 Index Review, without attempting to assess each pipeline's underlying circumstances, the Kahn Methodology appropriately addresses extraordinary or anomalous cost changes by trimming the data set to the middle 50 percent.49

    45 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at P 49.

    46 The Commission also rejects APV Shipper's claim that other adjustments to the data set are analogous to removing pipelines that filed petitions for declaratory order for committed shipper rates during the 2009-2014 period. As discussed, infra, the Commission these adjustments serve a different purpose than “comparability” to justify any aspect of the Kahn Methodology.

    47 Suncor and Liquids Shippers' proposed adjustments may be particularly skewed because they manually remove pipelines from the data set based upon rate base increases of 25 percent but ignore pipelines with rate base decreases.

    48 APV Shippers state that after manually trimming all pipelines which filed a petition for declaratory order requesting approval of committed shipper rate structures (in addition to other manual data trimming), the data set continues to include significant dispersion. O'Loughlin August 2015 Affidavit at 22.

    49 Unlike the other parties, the APV Shippers did not solely focus upon rate base changes or pipelines seeking committed shipper rates. The APV Shippers also manually trimmed two pipelines that sought cost-of-service changes during the 2009-2014 period. However, this does not change the Commission's disposition of the manual data trimming issue, including the potential for bias. As an initial matter, both of these pipelines were excluded by the middle 50 percent. Attachment A, Exhibit 3. Moreover, the APV Shippers inconsistently apply their own principle that use of a non-indexing rate mechanism demonstrates that these pipelines experienced anomalous cost changes. For example, APV Shippers do not exclude pipelines (such as Colonial) that were required to file reduced rates as a result of the settlement of complaints against their rates. E.g., Southwest Airlines Co. v. Colonial Pipeline Co., 148 FERC ¶ 61,161 (2014). Because Colonial is a large pipeline, it heavily influences the weighted average in the Kahn Methodology, and its removal alone would increase the index in the Commission's own calculation from PPI-FG+1.23 to PPI-FG+1.54. Attachment A, Exhibit 4. APV Shippers' inconsistency only further emphasizes the risk of arbitrariness and bias inherent to manual data trimming methodologies.

    25. Furthermore, the Commission emphasizes that the index properly reflects capital cost changes. Consistent with the EPAct 1992's mandate of general applicability, capital costs changes have always been part of the index calculation.50 To the extent that a pipeline's total cost changes are within the middle 50 percent of all pipelines, those pipelines' capital cost changes are appropriately considered in the derivation of the index.

    50 Order No. 561, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 30,985 at 30,951-52, aff'd AOPL I, 83 F.3d at 1437; 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at P 101.

    26. The Commission rejects other arguments raised in support of manually removing pipelines undergoing expansions from the data set. The Commission rejects CAPP and APV Shippers' argument that such manual data trimming is necessary to avoid double recovery.51 In this proceeding, the historic costs are being used to estimate the future relationship between oil pipeline per-barrel mile costs changes and PPI-FG. It is contrary to basic ratemaking principles (not to mention APV Shippers' own index calculations in this case) to suggest that the use of historic cost data to estimate future cost changes leads to a double-recovery of pipeline costs. All pipelines in the data set had rates in effect which were intended to recover their costs during the 2009-2014 period. Furthermore, the fact that some pipelines sought a cost-of-service or other form of rate increase during the 2009-2014 data collection period is irrelevant. Any index filing made during the 2016-2021 period will be based upon the then-existing PPI-FG and will be for the recovery of the pipeline's future costs—not costs incurred during the 2009-2014 data collection period.

    51 The Commission acknowledges CAPP's assertion that some committed shipper agreements include both (a) index increases and (b) additional provisions environmental health and safety cost increases. CAPP's concern appears to be that such committed rates may allow for double recovery. CAPP Reply Comments at 11. However, the vast majority of pipelines do not recover safety or environmental costs in this manner, and the index has never been calculated to exclude the effects of safety and environmental costs. To the extent that a shipper is concerned that double-recovery is being permitted in a particular petition for declaratory order or an index filing, that shipper may file a protest.

    27. The Commission adopts the same rationale that the Commission articulated in the 2010 Index Order and rejects APV Shippers' argument that because the Commission removes costs associated with Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) surcharges from the index calculation, it must also remove costs associated with committed shipper rates and cost-of-service filings.52 The ULSD surcharge involves EPA regulations solely applicable to the shipment of diesel fuel whereas all pipelines incur investment costs related to building and maintaining rate base.53 Second, whereas the ULSD surcharge is solely assessed as a separate charge upon diesel shipments, rate base related costs are recovered through the primary transportation rates that apply to all crude and product shipments.54 Moreover, the ULSD surcharge presents a particular set of circumstances regarding a relatively modest cost, and it does not support the fundamental modification of the Kahn Methodology as proposed by the manual data trimming methodologies.

    52 When the Commission first approved the ULSD surcharge in 2006, it explained that because these charges were recovered in a separate surcharge and not the base transportation rates, the Commission would exclude the ULSD cost data from the data used to calculate the indexed rates. Magellan Pipeline Co., L.P., 115 FERC ¶ 61,276, at P 13 (2006). The ULSD surcharge applies to costs incurred due to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that affected a subset of pipelines transporting certain diesel products. The ULSD surcharge was assessed on shippers of ULSD only, and not shippers of other distillates and the ULSD surcharge was not subject to indexing. Id. P 9. Unlike APV Shippers' proposal, which would require the Commission to remove entire pipelines from the calculation of the index, the Commission's ULSD surcharge policies required pipelines to separately record their ULSD related costs so that they could be removed from the calculation of the index.

    53 2010 Index Review Rehearing Order, 135 FERC ¶ 61,172 at P 18.

    54 Moreover, unlike APV Shippers' proposal, the Commission does not remove pipelines from the data set based upon ULSD costs—rather the ULSD costs are removed from the pipeline's page 700 costs of service. Were the APV Shippers to attempt to exclude other costs in a manner consistent with the ULSD precedent, they would need to identify those costs and remove them from the pipeline's page 700 data. They have made no such attempt.

    28. The Commission also rejects CAPP's contention that the contractual rates are “cross-contaminating” the calculation of the index.55 The calculation of the index is based upon a pipeline's costs, not the rate methodology used by the pipeline to recover those costs. In some cases, pipelines using non-indexed rate methodologies can provide useful data that helps inform our understanding of industry-wide cost experience, and, as noted above, the middle 50 percent data trimming removes pipelines with anomalous costs. Further, CAPP's argument for the manual data trimming relies upon its position that contractual committed shipper agreements reduce pipeline risk.56 This argument is contrary to CAPP's argument that inclusion of such pipelines inflates the index level. To the extent that volume commitments in these agreements have reduced the pipeline's risk, the page 700 total cost-of-service would reflect this reduction in the embedded costs of equity and costs of debt. CAPP's argument provides no basis for the exclusion of pipelines with committed shipper contracts.

    55 CAPP Reply Comments at 15. The Commission further notes that the policy permitting committed shipper rates has existed for nearly 20 years. Notwithstanding increased filings requesting committed shipper rates during the 2009-2014 period, the application of the Kahn Methodology to the 2009-2014 period results in a lower index than the Commission developed based upon 2004-2009 data in the 2010 Index Review. This is true whether one uses the accounting data historically used by the Commission or page 700 data adopted in this order.

    56 CAPP Reply Comments at 5-9.

    29. The Commission dismisses Liquids Shippers' proposal to remove from the data set pipelines with rate base changes of 25 percent between 2013-2014. Liquids Shippers' argument that these expansions are “non-recurring” is unsupported—unlike non-recurring costs in a rate case, capital investments represent a long term change in the pipeline's cost level. The proposal also errs by focusing solely on expansions without also considering other cost changes (increases or decreases) which may be “non-recurring.” Moreover, Liquids Shippers' proposal is internally inconsistent. First, Liquids Shippers' proposal focuses solely on rate base increases while ignoring commensurate rate base decreases. Second, although Liquids Shippers argue that new 2014 expansions could be skewing the 2014 costs per barrel-mile upward while throughput is ramped up, the Liquids Shippers make no similar adjustments for 2008-2009 expansions which could be having a similar upward effect on 2009 costs per barrel-mile (thereby, minimizing the change between 2009 and 2014).57 As noted elsewhere in this order, to the extent that expansions lead to extraordinary cost per barrel-mile changes, the pipelines will not be among the middle 50 percent.

    57 Inflated 2009 costs per barrel-mile would lower the apparent cost changes over the 2009-2014 period.

    30. The Commission also rejects Liquids Shippers' assertion that Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership (Enbridge Lakehead) distorts the index calculation. As shown in Attachment A, Enbridge Lakehead is not included in the middle 50 percent of page 700 per barrel-mile cost change data adopted herein. Further, to the extent that Enbridge Lakehead heavily influenced the calculations in the June 2015 NOI, this resulted from the Kahn Methodology's longstanding (and unchallenged) use of a weighted average based upon pipeline barrel-miles.58

    58 Enbridge Lakehead transported over 15 percent of total industry barrel-miles in 2014. Attachment A, Exhibit 7.

    2. APV Shippers Additional Manual Trimming Adjustments a. Comments

    31. APV Shippers propose additional manual trimming adjustments to the data set in order to remove pipelines which they state reported 2009 data that was “non-comparable” to the pipeline's 2014 data. Toward this objective, APV Shippers propose that the Commission remove the following from the data set:

    • Four pipelines that began or ceased operations during 2009 or 2014 because these pipelines' page 700 may include a full year's rate base, but only a partial year's operating costs.

    • Ten pipelines with significant divestitures or acquisitions between 2009 and 2014.

    • Four pipelines with other operational changes or data reporting anomalies on page 700.

    • Eleven pipelines that APV Shippers assert report a combination intrastate and interstate barrel-mile data on page 700.

    32. AOPL opposes these proposed adjustments, claiming that such manual data trimming is prone to bias and error. AOPL states that statistical data trimming using the middle 50 percent or middle 80 percent provides a more appropriate resolution for these issues.

    b. Discussion

    33. The Commission declines to adopt APV Shippers' manual data trimming proposal. As previously explained, the Commission trims the data set to the middle 50 percent to address any potential distortions caused either by (a) outlying data or (b) spurious data.59 To the extent reporting errors or other circumstances cause a pipeline's cost changes to differ significantly from industry norms, such outlying pipelines will not be among the middle 50 percent. APV Shippers have not demonstrated that data anomalies within the middle 50 percent are distorting the Kahn Methodology's calculations.60

    59E.g., 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at P 7.

    60 Fifteen of the 41 pipelines that APV Shippers seek to remove from the data set via manual trimming remain in the Commission's middle 50 percent. Attachment A, Exhibit 10. When those 15 pipelines are manually removed from the middle 50 percent, the cost-of-service per barrel-mile increases by a very small amount, from 1.23 to 1.33. Attachment A, Exhibit 8.

    34. Any potential improvement from manual data trimming is outweighed by the increase in the potential for error or manipulation. Manual data trimming requires a pipeline-by-pipeline analysis of page 700 data and subjective decisions involving that data. Fully validating APV Shippers' proposal would require the Commission and industry participants to evaluate the specific circumstances for nearly 130 pipelines.61 Consistent application of the “non-comparability” standard would also require addressing whether APV Shippers identified every possible characteristic which could render a pipeline's data “non-comparable.” 62 Without such a comprehensive review, there is no way to verify that the selective data trimming methods employed by APV Shippers do not skew the index calculation either upward or downward.

    61 Starting with a preliminary data set of 129 pipelines, APV Shippers manually data trim 41 pipelines. O'Loughlin August 2015 Affidavit at 21.

    62 Under manual data trimming, the decision regarding which pipelines should be retained in the data set is as subjective (and as important) as to which pipelines to remove. Yet, as explained below, APV Shippers' methodology provides little certainty that the pipelines remaining in the data set reported “comparable data” between 2009 and 2014.

    35. Illustrating the difficulty of such a process, APV Shippers concede that their manual data trimming methodology does not remove from the data set all pipelines reporting “non-comparable” data. When AOPL presented evidence that the six pipelines with the lowest per barrel-mile cost remaining in APV Shippers' data set should have been removed under the “non-comparability” standard, the APV Shippers conceded that these six pipelines “likely had sufficient reason to be excluded.” 63 The failure to remove these pipelines affected APV Shippers' index calculation.64 Moreover, attempting to minimize the effect of retaining these pipelines in the data set, APV Shippers emphasized that additional pipelines (this time with higher cost changes) with “non-comparable data” were also not removed.65 By APV Shippers' own concession, the processes used by APV Shippers were inadequate for consistently identifying and removing “non-comparable” data.66

    63 O'Loughlin October 2015 Affidavit at 70. Of these six pipelines, Arrowhead Louisiana Gathering, LLC explained that a significant shift in its page 700 data was due to an accounting change. Shehadeh October 2015 Affidavit at 14-17. Another, Conoco Offshore Pipeline, experienced a leak that caused its costs per barrel-mile to temporarily spike in 2009, thereby distorting the measure of cost change between 2009 and 2014. Id. A third, Mobile Eugene Island divested 50 percent of its assets. Id. Two others reported data anomalies, Belle Rose NGL Pipeline (throughput dropping from 273 million to 6 million without any commensurate change in assets) and Total Petrochemical Pipeline US Inc. (reporting both 100 percent debt and equity capital structure). The sixth pipeline, Valero MKS Logistics LLC, showed ROE percentages of five percent in 2008 and five percent in 2010, with an unexplained spike to 16.73 percent 2009. In the last instance, it is unclear whether this spike was erroneous or in some sense captured real changing pipeline costs during the economic upheaval of the 2008-2009 recession. In any case, this type of uncertainty and the requirement for this type of subjective decision further supports the rejection of the “non-comparability” manual data trimming methodology.

    64 Removing these six pipelines alone would have raised the index level in APV Shippers' final calculation from PPI-FG+0.5 to PPI-FG+0.9. Attachment A, Exhibit 9.

    65 O'Loughlin October 2015 Affidavit at 70-71.

    66 APV Shippers relied upon certain filters for determining which pipelines to scrutinize further. O'Loughlin September 2015 Affidavit at 31-32; O'Loughlin October 2015 Affidavit at 66-71. As discussed above, these filters were not sufficient for identifying those pipelines that needed to be evaluated in order to consistently apply APV Shippers manual data screening methodology. Most of the anomalies identified by AOPL were apparent from the data reported on Form No. 6, and, to the extent that AOPL obtained this information from other filings with the Commission or other sources, it is not clear why a manual trimming methodology should exclude this information.

    36. APV Shippers have failed to demonstrate that manual data trimming should be incorporated into the Kahn Methodology. As the Commission explained both in the 2010 Index Review and this proceeding, to manually trim the data set solely based upon one factor (such as large rate base changes) is biased and has the potential to distort the index calculation.67 On the other hand, the manual identification of every pipeline with potentially anomalous or idiosyncratic characteristics would require several highly subjective decisions. This subjective process is prone to bias and error. In contrast, statistical data trimming using the middle 50 percent is objective, transparent, and minimizes the need to analyze individual pipeline data.

    67 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at P 49.

    37. Further, contrary to APV Shippers' arguments, manual data trimming is not a mere extension to the existing processes in the Kahn Methodology. The Commission disagrees with APV Shippers' claim that the Commission already makes other adjustments to the data set to ensure “comparability.” 68 The adjustments made by the Commission have served a different purpose. The Commission's removal of pipelines with incomplete data is inapposite to the manual data trimming proposed by APV Shippers. It is mathematically impossible to evaluate a pipeline's year-on-year changes in barrel-mile costs when no such data exist. Thus, those pipelines with incomplete data cannot be incorporated into the data set.69 In contrast, APV Shippers propose to remove pipelines that have reported the data necessary to evaluate annual barrel-mile cost changes. The use of an objective measure not to incorporate those pipelines that mathematically cannot be used is distinct from the subjective process proposed by APV Shippers.

    68 O'Loughlin August 2015 Affidavit at 17.

    69 2010 Index Review Rehearing Order, 135 FERC ¶ 61,172 at P 15.

    38. Likewise, the Commission rejects APV Shippers' analogy of manual data trimming to the Kahn Methodology's traditional treatment of mergers. Historically, when two pipelines have combined, the Commission has added separate costs the pipelines reported on Form No. 6 in the first year of the data set (e.g. 2009) and compared this sum to the newly combined company's costs in the last year of the data set (e.g. 2014). Without this step, the absorbed pipeline's cost data would be needlessly discarded.70 Commission efforts to preserve cost change data should not be confused with an effort to ensure “comparability.” On the contrary, a merger may change several aspects of company operations and significantly alter the pipeline's business circumstances. Preserving data, not “comparability,” was the justification for the Kahn Methodology's historic treatment of mergers.71

    70 If a pipeline is completely absorbed by another pipeline, this pipeline no longer reports Form No. 6 data and such data would not be available for measuring cost changes.

    71 We further note that APV Shippers' treatment of mergers and divestitures is not analogous to the Kahn Methodology's treatment of mergers and divestitures. As opposed to preserving data, APV Shippers propose to remove from the data set (a) pipelines that sold a portion (not all) of their pipeline assets and (b) the pipeline that acquired those assets. This step is not justified. Notwithstanding the asset transfer, many of the pipelines that APV Shippers propose to remove have filed page 700 data over the entire 2009-2014 data collection period. Moreover, there is no evidence that these asset transfers are improperly influencing the index level. A merger may cause a pipeline's barrel-mile costs to go up or down depending upon the barrel-mile costs of the transferred asset. Of course, if the acquiring or purchasing pipeline experienced particularly large (or small) barrel-mile cost changes, those pipelines would be trimmed by the application of the middle 50 percent.

    39. The Commission also rejects APV Shippers' analogy to the Kahn Methodology's full utilization of the data on Form No. 6 in order to correct missing or erroneous data. As APV Shippers note, when data has been missing or erroneous in one portion of a pipeline's Form No. 6, the Commission has sometimes substituted data from elsewhere on the Form No. 6.72 Such substitutions, which utilize data that the pipeline has already reported on Form No. 6, are not akin to manual data trimming that completely removes pipelines from the data set in an effort to achieve an undefinable “comparability.” 73

    72 2005 Index Review, 114 FERC ¶ 61,293 at PP 43-44 (reconciling operating revenue data from different sections of the Form No. 6). In addition, a similar process has been applied to the use of Form No. 6 page 700 barrel-mile data for missing or erroneous barrel-mile data reported on Form No. 6 page 600. Although APV Shippers raise methodological objections to this particular adjustment, this issue has been rendered moot by the Commission's adoption of page 700 data.

    73 The Commission further dismisses APV Shippers' reference to the 2010 Index Review Rehearing's statement that “Although the Kahn Methodology removes from the data set those pipelines that reported erroneous or incomplete data, erroneous or incomplete data differ from the accurately reported actual costs Valero and ATA seek to remove using the rate base screening methodology.” APV Shippers Initial Comments at 22 (citing 2010 Index Review Rehearing Order, 135 FERC ¶ 61,172 at P 15). Placed in proper context, this statement is not an endorsement of manual data trimming for erroneous data. This comment regarding erroneous data was made solely in the context of rejecting an analogy made by Valero. Elsewhere, the 2010 Index Review order explained that the Commission uses the middle 50 percent to remove pipelines reporting spurious (i.e. erroneous) data. 2010 Index Review order, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at P 7. As discussed above, the specific analogies made by APV Shippers to prior Commission applications of the Kahn Methodology do not support the adoption of their proposed manual data trimming.

    C. Middle 80 Percent Data Trimming 1. Comments

    40. AOPL urges the Commission to determine the index using an average of applying the Kahn Methodology to the (a) middle 50 percent and (b) middle 80 percent. In the June 2015 NOI, the Commission trimmed the data set to the middle 50 percent, which removes the 25 percent of pipelines with the greatest cost increases and the 25 percent of pipelines with the greatest cost decreases. AOPL states that the Commission should also consider the middle 80 percent because: (a) The accuracy of the middle 80 percent data is supported by its conformity to a lognormal distribution and (b) using the middle 80 percent accounts for more barrel-miles.74

    74 AOPL Initial Comments at 4; Shehadeh August 2015 Affidavit at 8.

    41. CAPP,75 HollyFrontier/Western,76 Liquid Shippers,77 and APV Shippers 78 assert that the middle 50 percent is a superior data source because, among other reasons, the middle 50 percent removes more anomalous and erroneous data.

    75 CAPP Reply Comments at 15.

    76 HollyFrontier/Western Reply Comments at 7.

    77 Liquids Shippers Reply Comments at 13.

    78 APV Shippers Reply Comments at 17-19.

    2. Discussion

    42. The Commission rejects AOPL's proposal to calculate the index based upon both the middle 80 percent and the middle 50 percent.79 In the 2010 Index Review, the Commission determined that the index should be calculated based upon the middle 50 percent alone.80 As the Commission explained in the 2010 Index Review, the middle 50 percent, more effectively than the middle 80 percent, excludes pipelines with anomalous cost changes while avoiding the complexity and distorting effects of subjective, manual data trimming methodologies.81

    79 AOPL's proposal averages the results by applying the Kahn Methodology using the middle 50 percent of the data set and the middle 80 percent of the data set. This would raise the index level from the approximately PPI-FG+1.2 to PP-FG+1.65 when applied to the page 700 data.

    80 As the Commission explained in the 2010 Index Review, this returned the Commission's policy to the application of the Kahn Methodology in Order No. 561, which based its calculation of the index on the middle 50 percent alone. 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at P 60. Although the middle 80 percent was used in the 2000 and 2005 reviews, the Commission made this change without providing a rationale for the change or explaining the departure from previous practice. Id. Once the issue was presented to the Commission in the 2010 Index Review, the Commission determined that the middle 50 percent alone provided a more appropriate means for trimming the data sample. Id. P 61.

    81 2010 Index Review, 133 FERC ¶ 61,228 at PP 60-63.

    43. The record in this proceeding does not provide a basis for altering that position. We are not persuaded by AOPL's argument that the middle 80 percent should be considered merely because it conforms to a lognormal distribution. Conformity with a particular statistical distribution may generally support the accuracy of the middle 80 percent data. However, by definition, costs at the top (or bottom) of the middle 80 percent deviate significantly from the cost experience of other pipelines.82 To the extent that the middle 80 percent data conforms to a lognormal distribution, outlying cost increases per barrel-mile will not be offset by similarly outlying cost decreases. Thus, using the middle 80 percent would skew the index upward based upon these outlying cost increases, which is contrary to the objective of the index to reflect normal industry-wide cost changes.

    82Id. P 61.

    44. Similarly, the Commission rejects AOPL's argument that the middle 80 percent should be used merely because it contains more barrel-miles. The Kahn Methodology aims to capture the central tendency of the data set so that the index is not distorted by outlying costs. Pipelines in the middle 80 percent, as opposed to the middle 50 percent, are more likely to have outlying cost changes which could result from idiosyncratic factors particular to that pipeline.83 By considering the entire data set (without manual trimming) 84 and then applying statistical data trimming to the middle 50 percent, the Commission addresses these issues via a methodology that is objective and transparent.85

    83 The middle 80 percent of the Commission's page 700 data set includes 30 of the 41 pipelines identified by APV Shippers as warranting exclusion from the data set because they have anomalous data during 2009-2014, including 10 of the 12 pipelines APV Shippers excluded because they filed cost-of-service rate increases or petitions seeking approval of committed shipper rates. Attachment A, Exhibit 10. In contrast, the middle 50 percent includes only 15 of the pipelines APV Shippers seek to manually trim from the data set, and, in particular, only three of the 12 pipelines APV Shippers proposes to exclude due to cost-of-service rate filings or committed shipper rates. Id.

    84 The data set consists of pipelines that have filed complete data and are subject to the indexing regulations.

    85 It is also not the case that the middle 50 percent represents a narrow or selective sector of the industry. On the contrary, the Commission began with a page 700 data set that, prior to statistical data trimming, includes more pipelines (130) than AOPL's data set (123). Once the middle 50 percent has been applied, the statistically trimmed data set includes more than 50 percent of industry barrel-miles. Attachment A, Exhibit 1. Although this is a lower percentage than in some prior reviews, this is not a sufficient basis to risk including more outlying data. Moreover, much of the difference in barrel-miles from the 2010 Index Review can be attributed to the fact that Enbridge Lakehead, a pipeline representing over 15 percent of the barrel-miles in the data set, was in the middle 50 percent in 2010, but is not in the middle 50 percent in this proceeding. Compare Appendix A, Exhibit 1 with AOPL, Initial Comments, Docket No. RM10-25-000, Declaration of Ramsey Shehadeh, Appendix B.

    D. Crude Versus Product Pipelines 1. Comments

    45. APV Shippers state that if the Commission declines to adjust the data set for large capital expenditures and other erroneous data, the Commission should establish separate indices for crude and product pipelines. APV Shippers state that, using page 700 data without data trimming, the middle 50 percent of crude pipelines had an index differential of PPI-FG+3.36 percent and the middle 50 percent of petroleum product pipelines showed an index differential of PPI-FG+0.4 percent.86 APV Shippers state that these differentials result from significant crude pipeline projects over the past few years. AOPL and Liquids Shippers oppose the use of separate indices for crude and product pipelines.

    86 APV Shippers Initial Comments at 42 (citing O'Loughlin August 2015 Affidavit at 91).

    2. Discussion

    46. The Commission declines to adopt the proposal to use different indices for crude and product pipelines. Contrary to APV Shippers' claim that the differences in the index differentials result from wide-spread crude pipeline expansions, the discrepancy primarily occurs due to (a) the effect of two very large crude pipelines which happen to have above average cost changes and (b) one very large product pipeline which happens to have below average cost changes. Data discrepancies caused by only three pipelines do not justify the claim that crude and product pipelines as a whole are experiencing dramatically different cost changes.87 Moreover, to the extent that a somewhat disproportionate number of crude pipelines recorded outlying barrel-mile cost changes, this issue is sufficiently addressed by application of the middle 50 percent to the combined data set of all pipelines.88

    87 The relatively large crude pipelines are (a) Enbridge Lakehead and (b) Mid-Valley Pipeline Company. The very large product pipeline is Colonial Pipeline Company. These pipelines have a disproportionate effect because the Kahn Methodology uses a weighted average in conjunction with a simple average to measure the central tendency. Although the size of these pipelines makes their data particularly relevant for assessing industry-wide barrel-mile cost changes, data from such a small number of crude pipelines (2 out of 60) or product pipelines (1 out of 48) appears insufficient to demonstrate an extreme difference between crude and product pipelines costs. Simply removing the effect caused by those few pipelines' data reduces the differential between crude and product pipelines from 295 basis points, as calculated by APV Shippers, to a much smaller differential of 48 basis points, or PPI-FG+1.14 (crude pipelines) and PPI-FG+0.66 (product pipelines). Attachment A, Exhibit 11.

    88 Of the pipelines in the middle 50 percent of page 700 data used by the Commission, the included product pipelines (excluding Colonial, as explained supra) would result in an index level of PPI-FG+1.05 and crude pipelines would have an index level of PPI-FG+1.14. Attachment A, Exhibit 12.

    E. Liquids Shippers & CAPP Proposal To Set Index at PPI-FG and To Revise Commission Regulations To Abandon Indexing 1. Comments

    47. Liquids Shippers state that the Commission should temporarily set the index at PPI-FG while undertaking a review of the Commission's oil pipeline regulations. Among other things, the Liquids Shippers complain that oil pipeline indexing increases have exceeded interstate natural gas pipeline rate increases, that the indexing increases have exceeded the consumer price index (CPI), and that certain oil pipelines have been over-recovering. The Liquids Shippers state that the Commission should consider abolishing the indexing methodology, or, to the extent that indexing is retained, change the manner in which the Commission evaluates oil pipeline index filings. In its reply comments, CAPP endorses these proposals. AOPL opposes Liquids Shippers' proposals and disputes their various claims.

    2. Discussion

    48. The Commission declines to adopt the Liquids Shippers' proposal to temporarily set the index at PPI-FG as unsupported. The evidence in this proceeding demonstrates that oil pipeline cost changes between 2009 and 2014 have exceeded PPI-FG. Liquids Shippers provide no compelling reason to depart from the longstanding practice of calculating the index based upon historic pipeline costs.89 In particular, the Commission rejects Liquids Shippers' claim that recent audits revealed reporting errors rendering Form No. 6 data unusable; on the contrary, the errors discovered by these audits were relatively limited.90 Furthermore, as discussed previously, the middle 50 percent data trimming removes the allegedly anomalous data that Liquids Shippers claim distorts the index calculation.91 Finally, Liquids Shippers' claim that oil pipeline index increases exceed the CPI does not support changes to the index because Liquids Shippers have not demonstrated that historic, industry-wide oil pipeline cost changes have corresponded to the CPI.92

    89E.g. AOPL II, 281 F.3d at 247 (quoting EPAct 1992, at 1801(a) and noting that the Commission satisfied the statutory objective by calculating the index based upon historic costs).

    90 Liquids Shippers have made no showing that the issues raised in these audits are such that they would materially alter the industry-wide index calculation.

    91 In initial comments, Liquids Shippers identified four pipelines (Enbridge Lakehead; TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, LP; Seaway Crude Pipeline Company Co.; Enterprise TE Products Pipeline Company LLC) as reporting anomalous data. Yet, none of these pipelines are included in the middle 50 percent, and, in fact, TransCanada Keystone is not even in the data set because they did not file 2009 Form No. 6 information. Attachment A, Exhibit 6.

    92 Similarly, Liquids Shippers' comparison to natural gas pipeline rate changes is misleading because Liquids Shippers' data only includes a portion of natural gas pipelines (not all natural gas pipelines) and does not include all rate changes proposed by those pipelines. Shehadeh October 2015 Affidavit at 31. The underlying economic premise of this analysis is also flawed. First, as Dr. Shehadeh explains, the analogy to natural gas pipelines depends upon a misunderstanding of prices—as price levels, not price growth, are determined by the level of competition in an industry. Id. at 30. Second, Liquids Shippers do not establish that the same market forces determining natural gas pipeline prices apply to oil pipelines. Id.

    49. Liquids Shippers' arguments that the Commission should change its regulations governing indexing are beyond the scope of this proceeding. The June 2015 NOI sought comment regarding two narrow issues, (a) the proposed index level and (b) possible changes to the Kahn Methodology used to calculate the index level.93 Liquids Shippers' comments regarding the Commission's indexing policies, committed shipper contracts,94 and other issues are beyond the scope of this limited inquiry.

    93 June 2015 NOI, 151 FERC ¶ 61,278 at P 1.

    94 This five-year review addresses the calculation of the industry-wide index-level. Negotiated committed shipper contracts only incorporate indexing when both the pipeline and the committed shippers accept such terms. Any objections to these negotiated provisions (including the application of indexing) may be raised during the applicable petition for declaratory order process.

    50. Further, Liquids Shippers' comments have not persuaded us to reexamine the Commission-approved indexing methodology.95 In general terms, Liquids Shippers have not substantiated their claims of unchecked oil pipeline over-recoveries. For example, of the 20 pipelines (out of Liquids Shippers' sample of 42) that Liquids Shippers allege are over-recovering, evidence provided in this proceeding indicates that 15 actually under-recovered their cost-of-service in one (and in many cases more) of the years between 2009 and 2014.96 Furthermore, to the extent issues arise on a particular pipeline, a shipper may file complaints or protests against indexed rate increases 97 or complaints against an oil pipeline's underlying base rates. In addition to being beyond the scope of the June 2015 NOI, Liquids Shippers have not substantiated their claims.98

    95 The Commission's indexing methodology was affirmed on appeal following Order No. 561. AOPL I, 281 F.3d 239. The dissents and other materials from that proceeding cited by Liquids Shippers were part of the record at that time. In addition, Liquids Shippers cite a Congressional letter which was written before the indexing regulations were finalized, and does not accurately portray how those regulations have been implemented. For example, the letter implies that the index may only increase rates, when, in fact, under Commission regulations the index may require rates to go down. See 18 CFR 342.3(e) (2015).

    96See Shehadeh September 2015 Affidavit at 32. Further, the industry as a whole continues to show an under-recovery of the aggregate page 700 cost-of-service. Moreover, as has been recognized from the inception of indexing, some pipelines costs will exceed the rate increases allowed by indexing whereas efficient pipelines may benefit from controlling their costs. Order No. 561, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 30,985 at 30,948-49.

    97 Liquids Shippers argue that pipelines with page 700 revenues exceeding page 700 cost of service should not receive index increases. To the extent that index rate filings of particular pipelines substantially exacerbate pre-existing over-recoveries, current Commission policies allow shippers to file complaints against those index increases. BP West Coast Products, LLC v. SFPP, L.P., 121 FERC ¶ 61,141 (2007).

    98 Remaining issues regarding the Commission's regulatory policies may be raised in an adjudicatory context or another, more appropriate forum.

    F. Suncor's Proposals

    51. The Commission will not adopt the various proposals advanced by Suncor. The Commission's adoption of page 700 data addresses several of these proposals, which were advanced as alternatives should the Commission not adopt page 700 data. In addition, the Commission also will not adopt Suncor's proposed alternative methodology to trim the data set based upon anomalous years (as opposed to trimming pipelines reporting anomalous data) because the justification for this proposal, including the use of broader data set, was based upon the previously used Form No. 6 accounting data, not the page 700 data. Moreover, AOPL has presented evidence that Suncor's proposal included significant computational errors.99

    99 Shehadeh September 2015 Affidavit at 38.

    IV. 2016-2021 Oil Pipeline Index

    52. Based on the foregoing, the Commission calculates the five-year review of the index level used to determine annual changes to oil pipeline rate ceilings for the five-year period commencing July 1, 2016 as follows. First, as shown in Attachment A (Exhibit 13, Exhibit 14) we remove those pipelines that did not provide Form No. 6, page 700 data or provided incomplete data. Second, as shown in Attachment A (Exhibit 15) we look at the data on Form No. 6, page 700 to calculate each pipeline's cost change on a per barrel-mile basis over the prior five-year period (e.g. the years 2009-2014 in this proceeding). Third, in order to remove statistical outliers and spurious data, we trim the data set to those pipelines in the middle 50 percent of cost changes. Fourth, as shown in Attachment A (Exhibit 15) we calculate three measures of the middle 50 percent's central tendency: The median, the mean, and a weighted mean. Fifth, we calculate a composite by taking a simple average of those three measures of central tendency, as shown in Attachment A (Exhibit 1). Finally, this composite is compared to the value of the PPI-FG index data over the same period. The index level is then set at PPI-FG plus (or minus) this differential. Using these calculations, the Commission establishes an index level of PPI-FG plus 1.23 percent (PPI-FG+1.23) for the five-year period commencing July 1, 2016.

    The Commission Orders

    Consistent with the discussion in this order, the Commission determines that the appropriate oil pricing index for the next five years, July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2021, is PPI-FG+1.23.

    By the Commission.

    Issued: December 17, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32701 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Office of Foreign Assets Control 31 CFR Part 578 Cyber-Related Sanctions Regulations AGENCY:

    Office of Foreign Assets Control, Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing regulations to implement Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015 (“Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities”). OFAC intends to supplement this part 578 with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance and additional general licenses and statements of licensing policy.

    DATES:

    Effective: December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control: Assistant Director for Licensing, tel.: 202-622-2480, Assistant Director for Regulatory Affairs, tel.: 202-622-4855, Assistant Director for Sanctions Compliance & Evaluation, tel.: 202-622-2490; or the Department of the Treasury's Office of the Chief Counsel (Foreign Assets Control), Office of the General Counsel, tel.: 202-622-2410.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Electronic and Facsimile Availability

    This document and additional information concerning OFAC are available from OFAC's Web site (www.treasury.gov/ofac). Certain general information pertaining to OFAC's sanctions programs also is available via facsimile through a 24-hour fax-on-demand service, tel.: 202/622-0077.

    Background

    On April 1, 2015, the President issued Executive Order 13694 (80 FR 18077, April 2, 2015) (E.O. 13694), invoking the authority of, inter alia, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706). OFAC is issuing the Cyber-Related Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 578 (the “Regulations”), to implement E.O. 13694, pursuant to authorities delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury in E.O. 13694. A copy of E.O. 13694 appears in Appendix A to this part.

    The Regulations are being published in abbreviated form at this time for the purpose of providing immediate guidance to the public. OFAC intends to supplement this part 578 with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance, including regarding “cyber-enabled” activities, and additional general licenses and statements of licensing policy. The appendix to the Regulations will be removed when OFAC supplements this part with a more comprehensive set of regulations.

    Public Participation

    Because the Regulations involve a foreign affairs function, the provisions of Executive Order 12866 and the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) requiring notice of proposed rulemaking, opportunity for public participation, and delay in effective date are inapplicable. Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required for this rule, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) does not apply.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    The collections of information related to the Regulations are contained in 31 CFR part 501 (the “Reporting, Procedures and Penalties Regulations”). Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), those collections of information have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1505-0164. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a valid control number.

    List of Subjects in 31 CFR Part 578

    Administrative practice and procedure, Banking, Banks, Blocking of assets, Brokers, Credit, Critical infrastructure, Cyber, Cybersecurity, Foreign trade, Investments, Loans, Securities, Services, Trade secrets.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control adds part 578 to 31 CFR chapter V to read as follows:

    PART 578—CYBER-RELATED SANCTIONS REGULATIONS Subpart A—Relation of This Part to Other Laws and Regulations Sec. 578.101 Relation of this part to other laws and regulations. Subpart B—Prohibitions 578.201 Prohibited transactions. 578.202 Effect of transfers violating the provisions of this part. 578.203 Holding of funds in interest-bearing accounts; investment and reinvestment. 578.204 Expenses of maintaining blocked property; liquidation of blocked property. Subpart C—General Definitions 578.300 Applicability of definitions. 578.301 Blocked account; blocked property. 578.302 Effective date. 578.303 Entity. 578.304 Financial, material, or technological support. 578.305 Interest. 578.306 Licenses; general and specific. 578.307 OFAC. 578.308 Person. 578.309 Property; property interest. 578.310 Transfer. 578.311 United States. 578.312 United States person; U.S. person. 578.313 U.S. financial institution. Subpart D—Interpretations 578.401 [Reserved] 578.402 Effect of amendment. 578.403 Termination and acquisition of an interest in blocked property. 578.404 Transactions ordinarily incident to a licensed transaction. 578.405 Setoffs prohibited. 578.406 Entities owned by persons whose property and interests in property are blocked. Subpart E—Licenses, Authorizations, and Statements of Licensing Policy 578.501 General and specific licensing procedures. 578.502 [Reserved] 578.503 Exclusion from licenses. 578.504 Payments and transfers to blocked accounts in U.S. financial institutions. 578.505 Entries in certain accounts for normal service charges authorized. 578.506 Provision of certain legal services authorized. 578.507 Payments for legal services from funds originating outside the United States authorized. 578.508 Authorization of emergency medical services. Subparts F-G—[Reserved] Subpart H—Procedures 578.801 [Reserved] 578.802 Delegation by the Secretary of the Treasury. Subpart I—Paperwork Reduction Act 578.901 Paperwork Reduction Act notice. Appendix A to Part 578—Executive Order 13694 Authority:

    3 U.S.C. 301; 31 U.S.C. 321(b); 50 U.S.C. 1601-1651, 1701-1706; Pub. L. 101-410, 104 Stat. 890 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note); Pub. L. 110-96, 121 Stat. 1011 (50 U.S.C. 1705 note); E.O. 13694, 80 FR 18077, April 2, 2015.

    Subpart A—Relation of This Part to Other Laws and Regulations
    § 578.101 Relation of this part to other laws and regulations.

    This part is separate from, and independent of, the other parts of this chapter, with the exception of part 501 of this chapter, the recordkeeping and reporting requirements and license application and other procedures of which apply to this part. Actions taken pursuant to part 501 of this chapter with respect to the prohibitions contained in this part are considered actions taken pursuant to this part. Differing foreign policy and national security circumstances may result in differing interpretations of similar language among the parts of this chapter. No license or authorization contained in or issued pursuant to those other parts authorizes any transaction prohibited by this part. No license or authorization contained in or issued pursuant to any other provision of law or regulation authorizes any transaction prohibited by this part. No license or authorization contained in or issued pursuant to this part relieves the involved parties from complying with any other applicable laws or regulations.

    Note to § 578.101:

    This part has been published in abbreviated form for the purpose of providing immediate guidance to the public. OFAC intends to supplement this part with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance, including regarding “cyber-enabled” activities, and additional general licenses and statements of licensing policy.

    Subpart B—Prohibitions
    § 578.201 Prohibited transactions.

    All transactions prohibited pursuant to Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, are also prohibited pursuant to this part.

    Note 1 to § 578.201:

    The names of persons designated pursuant to Executive Order 13694, whose property and interests in property therefore are blocked pursuant to this section, are published in the Federal Register and incorporated into OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List) with the identifier “[CYBER].” The SDN List is accessible through the following page on OFAC's Web site: www.treasury.gov/sdn. Additional information pertaining to the SDN List can be found in Appendix A to this chapter. See § 578.406 concerning entities that may not be listed on the SDN List but whose property and interests in property are nevertheless blocked pursuant to this section.

    Note 2 to § 578.201:

    The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), in Section 203 (50 U.S.C. 1702), authorizes the blocking of property and interests in property of a person during the pendency of an investigation. The names of persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pending investigation pursuant to this section also are published in the Federal Register and incorporated into the SDN List with the identifier “[BPI-CYBER]”.

    Note 3 to § 578.201:

    Sections 501.806 and 501.807 of this chapter describe the procedures to be followed by persons seeking, respectively, the unblocking of funds that they believe were blocked due to mistaken identity, or administrative reconsideration of their status as persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this section.

    § 578.202 Effect of transfers violating the provisions of this part.

    (a) Any transfer after the effective date that is in violation of any provision of this part or of any regulation, order, directive, ruling, instruction, or license issued pursuant to this part, and that involves any property or interest in property blocked pursuant to § 578.201, is null and void and shall not be the basis for the assertion or recognition of any interest in or right, remedy, power, or privilege with respect to such property or property interest.

    (b) No transfer before the effective date shall be the basis for the assertion or recognition of any right, remedy, power, or privilege with respect to, or any interest in, any property or interest in property blocked pursuant to § 578.201, unless the person who holds or maintains such property, prior to that date, had written notice of the transfer or by any written evidence had recognized such transfer.

    (c) Unless otherwise provided, a license or other authorization issued by OFAC before, during, or after a transfer shall validate such transfer or make it enforceable to the same extent that it would be valid or enforceable but for the provisions of this part and any regulation, order, directive, ruling, instruction, or license issued pursuant to this part.

    (d) Transfers of property that otherwise would be null and void or unenforceable by virtue of the provisions of this section shall not be deemed to be null and void or unenforceable as to any person with whom such property is or was held or maintained (and as to such person only) in cases in which such person is able to establish to the satisfaction of OFAC each of the following:

    (1) Such transfer did not represent a willful violation of the provisions of this part by the person with whom such property is or was held or maintained (and as to such person only);

    (2) The person with whom such property is or was held or maintained did not have reasonable cause to know or suspect, in view of all the facts and circumstances known or available to such person, that such transfer required a license or authorization issued pursuant to this part and was not so licensed or authorized, or, if a license or authorization did purport to cover the transfer, that such license or authorization had been obtained by misrepresentation of a third party or withholding of material facts or was otherwise fraudulently obtained; and

    (3) The person with whom such property is or was held or maintained filed with OFAC a report setting forth in full the circumstances relating to such transfer promptly upon discovery that:

    (i) Such transfer was in violation of the provisions of this part or any regulation, ruling, instruction, license, or other directive or authorization issued pursuant to this part;

    (ii) Such transfer was not licensed or authorized by OFAC; or

    (iii) If a license did purport to cover the transfer, such license had been obtained by misrepresentation of a third party or withholding of material facts or was otherwise fraudulently obtained.

    Note to paragraph (d):

    The filing of a report in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (d)(3) of this section shall not be deemed evidence that the terms of paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section have been satisfied.

    (e) Unless licensed pursuant to this part, any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is null and void with respect to any property and interests in property blocked pursuant to § 578.201.

    § 578.203 Holding of funds in interest-bearing accounts; investment and reinvestment.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (e) or (f) of this section, or as otherwise directed by OFAC, any U.S. person holding funds, such as currency, bank deposits, or liquidated financial obligations, subject to § 578.201 shall hold or place such funds in a blocked interest-bearing account located in the United States.

    (b)(1) For purposes of this section, the term blocked interest-bearing account means a blocked account:

    (i) In a federally-insured U.S. bank, thrift institution, or credit union, provided the funds are earning interest at rates that are commercially reasonable; or

    (ii) With a broker or dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.), provided the funds are invested in a money market fund or in U.S. Treasury bills.

    (2) Funds held or placed in a blocked account pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section may not be invested in instruments the maturity of which exceeds 180 days.

    (c) For purposes of this section, a rate is commercially reasonable if it is the rate currently offered to other depositors on deposits or instruments of comparable size and maturity.

    (d) For purposes of this section, if interest is credited to a separate blocked account or subaccount, the name of the account party on each account must be the same.

    (e) Blocked funds held in instruments the maturity of which exceeds 180 days at the time the funds become subject to § 578.201 may continue to be held until maturity in the original instrument, provided any interest, earnings, or other proceeds derived therefrom are paid into a blocked interest-bearing account in accordance with paragraphs (a) or (f) of this section.

    (f) Blocked funds held in accounts or instruments outside the United States at the time the funds become subject to § 578.201 may continue to be held in the same type of accounts or instruments, provided the funds earn interest at rates that are commercially reasonable.

    (g) This section does not create an affirmative obligation for the holder of blocked tangible property, such as chattels or real estate, or of other blocked property, such as debt or equity securities, to sell or liquidate such property. However, OFAC may issue licenses permitting or directing such sales or liquidation in appropriate cases.

    (h) Funds subject to this section may not be held, invested, or reinvested in a manner that provides immediate financial or economic benefit or access to any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, nor may their holder cooperate in or facilitate the pledging or other attempted use as collateral of blocked funds or other assets.

    § 578.204 Expenses of maintaining blocked property; liquidation of blocked property.

    (a) Except as otherwise authorized, and notwithstanding the existence of any rights or obligations conferred or imposed by any international agreement or contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date, all expenses incident to the maintenance of physical property blocked pursuant to § 578.201 shall be the responsibility of the owners or operators of such property, which expenses shall not be met from blocked funds.

    (b) Property blocked pursuant to § 578.201 may, in the discretion of OFAC, be sold or liquidated and the net proceeds placed in a blocked interest-bearing account in the name of the owner of the property.

    Subpart C—General Definitions
    § 578.300 Applicability of definitions.

    The definitions in this subpart apply throughout the entire part.

    § 578.301 Blocked account; blocked property.

    The terms blocked account and blocked property shall mean any account or property subject to the prohibitions in § 578.201 held in the name of a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, or in which such person has an interest, and with respect to which payments, transfers, exportations, withdrawals, or other dealings may not be made or effected except pursuant to a license or other authorization from OFAC expressly authorizing such action.

    Note to § 578.301:

    See § 578.406 concerning the blocked status of property and interests in property of an entity that is 50 percent or more owned by persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201.

    § 578.302 Effective date.

    The term effective date refers to the effective date of the applicable prohibitions and directives contained in this part, and, with respect to a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, is the earlier of the date of actual or constructive notice that such person's property and interests in property are blocked.

    § 578.303 Entity.

    The term entity means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization.

    § 578.304 Financial, material, or technological support.

    The term financial, material, or technological support, as used in Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, means any property, tangible or intangible, including but not limited to currency, financial instruments, securities, or any other transmission of value; weapons or related materiel; chemical or biological agents; explosives; false documentation or identification; communications equipment; computers; electronic or other devices or equipment; technologies; lodging; safe houses; facilities; vehicles or other means of transportation; or goods. “Technologies” as used in this definition means specific information necessary for the development, production, or use of a product, including related technical data such as blueprints, plans, diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering designs and specifications, manuals, or other recorded instructions.

    § 578.305 Interest.

    Except as otherwise provided in this part, the term interest, when used with respect to property (e.g., “an interest in property”), means an interest of any nature whatsoever, direct or indirect.

    § 578.306 Licenses; general and specific.

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this part, the term license means any license or authorization contained in or issued pursuant to this part.

    (b) The term general license means any license or authorization the terms of which are set forth in subpart E of this part or made available on OFAC's Web site: www.treasury.gov/ofac.

    (c) The term specific license means any license or authorization issued pursuant to this part but not set forth in subpart E of this part or made available on OFAC's Web site: www.treasury.gov/ofac.

    Note to § 578.306:

    See § 501.801 of this chapter on licensing procedures.

    § 578.307 OFAC.

    The term OFAC means the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

    § 578.308 Person.

    The term person means an individual or entity.

    § 578.309 Property; property interest.

    The terms property and property interest include, but are not limited to, money, checks, drafts, bullion, bank deposits, savings accounts, debts, indebtedness, obligations, notes, guarantees, debentures, stocks, bonds, coupons, any other financial instruments, bankers acceptances, mortgages, pledges, liens or other rights in the nature of security, warehouse receipts, bills of lading, trust receipts, bills of sale, any other evidences of title, ownership or indebtedness, letters of credit and any documents relating to any rights or obligations thereunder, powers of attorney, goods, wares, merchandise, chattels, stocks on hand, ships, goods on ships, real estate mortgages, deeds of trust, vendors' sales agreements, land contracts, leaseholds, ground rents, real estate and any other interest therein, options, negotiable instruments, trade acceptances, royalties, book accounts, accounts payable, judgments, patents, trademarks or copyrights, insurance policies, safe deposit boxes and their contents, annuities, pooling agreements, services of any nature whatsoever, contracts of any nature whatsoever, and any other property, real, personal, or mixed, tangible or intangible, or interest or interests therein, present, future, or contingent.

    § 578.310 Transfer.

    The term transfer means any actual or purported act or transaction, whether or not evidenced by writing, and whether or not done or performed within the United States, the purpose, intent, or effect of which is to create, surrender, release, convey, transfer, or alter, directly or indirectly, any right, remedy, power, privilege, or interest with respect to any property. Without limitation on the foregoing, it shall include the making, execution, or delivery of any assignment, power, conveyance, check, declaration, deed, deed of trust, power of attorney, power of appointment, bill of sale, mortgage, receipt, agreement, contract, certificate, gift, sale, affidavit, or statement; the making of any payment; the setting off of any obligation or credit; the appointment of any agent, trustee, or fiduciary; the creation or transfer of any lien; the issuance, docketing, or filing of, or levy of or under, any judgment, decree, attachment, injunction, execution, or other judicial or administrative process or order, or the service of any garnishment; the acquisition of any interest of any nature whatsoever by reason of a judgment or decree of any foreign country; the fulfillment of any condition; the exercise of any power of appointment, power of attorney, or other power; or the acquisition, disposition, transportation, importation, exportation, or withdrawal of any security.

    § 578.311 United States.

    The term United States means the United States, its territories and possessions, and all areas under the jurisdiction or authority thereof.

    § 578.312 United States person; U.S. person.

    The term United States person or U.S. person means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

    § 578.313 U.S. financial institution.

    The term U.S. financial institution means any U.S. entity (including its foreign branches) that is engaged in the business of accepting deposits, making, granting, transferring, holding, or brokering loans or credits, or purchasing or selling foreign exchange, securities, or commodity futures or options, or procuring purchasers and sellers thereof, as principal or agent. It includes depository institutions, banks, savings banks, trust companies, securities brokers and dealers, commodity futures and options brokers and dealers, forward contract and foreign exchange merchants, securities and commodities exchanges, clearing corporations, investment companies, employee benefit plans, and U.S. holding companies, U.S. affiliates, or U.S. subsidiaries of any of the foregoing. This term includes those branches, offices, and agencies of foreign financial institutions that are located in the United States, but not such institutions' foreign branches, offices, or agencies.

    Subpart D—Interpretations
    § 578.401 [Reserved]
    § 578.402 Effect of amendment.

    Unless otherwise specifically provided, any amendment, modification, or revocation of any provision in or appendix to this part or chapter or of any order, regulation, ruling, instruction, or license issued by OFAC does not affect any act done or omitted, or any civil or criminal proceeding commenced or pending, prior to such amendment, modification, or revocation. All penalties, forfeitures, and liabilities under any such order, regulation, ruling, instruction, or license continue and may be enforced as if such amendment, modification, or revocation had not been made.

    § 578.403 Termination and acquisition of an interest in blocked property.

    (a) Whenever a transaction licensed or authorized by or pursuant to this part results in the transfer of property (including any property interest) away from a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, such property shall no longer be deemed to be property blocked pursuant to § 578.201, unless there exists in the property another interest that is blocked pursuant to § 578.201, the transfer of which has not been effected pursuant to license or other authorization.

    (b) Unless otherwise specifically provided in a license or other authorization issued pursuant to this part, if property (including any property interest) is transferred or attempted to be transferred to a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, such property shall be deemed to be property in which such a person has an interest and therefore blocked.

    § 578.404 Transactions ordinarily incident to a licensed transaction.

    Any transaction ordinarily incident to a licensed transaction and necessary to give effect thereto is also authorized, except:

    (a) An ordinarily incident transaction, not explicitly authorized within the terms of the license, by or with a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201; or

    (b) An ordinarily incident transaction, not explicitly authorized within the terms of the license, involving a debit to a blocked account or a transfer of blocked property.

    § 578.405 Setoffs prohibited.

    A setoff against blocked property (including a blocked account), whether by a U.S. bank or other U.S. person, is a prohibited transfer under § 578.201 if effected after the effective date.

    § 578.406 Entities owned by persons whose property and interests in property are blocked.

    Persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201 have an interest in all property and interests in property of an entity in which such blocked persons own, whether individually or in the aggregate, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest. The property and interests in property of such an entity, therefore, are blocked, and such an entity is a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, regardless of whether the name of the entity is incorporated into OFAC's Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List).

    Subpart E—Licenses, Authorizations, and Statements of Licensing Policy
    § 578.501 General and specific licensing procedures.

    For provisions relating to licensing procedures, see part 501, subpart E of this chapter. Licensing actions taken pursuant to part 501 of this chapter with respect to the prohibitions contained in this part are considered actions taken pursuant to this part. General licenses and statements of licensing policy relating to this part also may be available through the Cyber-Related sanctions page on OFAC's Web site: www.treasury.gov/ofac.

    § 578.502 [Reserved]
    § 578.503 Exclusion from licenses.

    OFAC reserves the right to exclude any person, property, transaction, or class thereof from the operation of any license or from the privileges conferred by any license. OFAC also reserves the right to restrict the applicability of any license to particular persons, property, transactions, or classes thereof. Such actions are binding upon actual or constructive notice of the exclusions or restrictions.

    § 578.504 Payments and transfers to blocked accounts in U.S. financial institutions.

    Any payment of funds or transfer of credit in which a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201 has any interest that comes within the possession or control of a U.S. financial institution must be blocked in an account on the books of that financial institution. A transfer of funds or credit by a U.S. financial institution between blocked accounts in its branches or offices is authorized, provided that no transfer is made from an account within the United States to an account held outside the United States, and further provided that a transfer from a blocked account may be made only to another blocked account held in the same name.

    Note to § 578.504:

    See § 501.603 of this chapter for mandatory reporting requirements regarding financial transfers. See also § 578.203 concerning the obligation to hold blocked funds in interest-bearing accounts.

    § 578.505 Entries in certain accounts for normal service charges authorized.

    (a) A U.S. financial institution is authorized to debit any blocked account held at that financial institution in payment or reimbursement for normal service charges owed it by the owner of that blocked account.

    (b) As used in this section, the term normal service charges shall include charges in payment or reimbursement for interest due; cable, telegraph, internet, or telephone charges; postage costs; custody fees; small adjustment charges to correct bookkeeping errors; and, but not by way of limitation, minimum balance charges, notary and protest fees, and charges for reference books, photocopies, credit reports, transcripts of statements, registered mail, insurance, stationery and supplies, and other similar items.

    § 578.506 Provision of certain legal services authorized.

    (a) The provision of the following legal services to or on behalf of persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201 or any further Executive orders relating to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, is authorized, provided that receipt of payment of professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses must be specifically licensed, authorized pursuant to § 578.507, which authorizes certain payments for legal services from funds originating outside the United States, or otherwise authorized pursuant to this part:

    (1) Provision of legal advice and counseling on the requirements of and compliance with the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States, provided that such advice and counseling are not provided to facilitate transactions in violation of this part;

    (2) Representation of persons named as defendants in or otherwise made parties to legal, arbitration, or administrative proceedings before any U.S. federal, state, or local court or agency;

    (3) Initiation and conduct of legal, arbitration, or administrative proceedings before any U.S. federal, state, or local court or agency;

    (4) Representation of persons before any U.S. federal, state, or local court or agency with respect to the imposition, administration, or enforcement of U.S. sanctions against such persons; and

    (5) Provision of legal services in any other context in which prevailing U.S. law requires access to legal counsel at public expense.

    (b) The provision of any other legal services to persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201 or any further Executive orders relating to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, not otherwise authorized in this part, requires the issuance of a specific license.

    (c) Entry into a settlement agreement or the enforcement of any lien, judgment, arbitral award, decree, or other order through execution, garnishment, or other judicial process purporting to transfer or otherwise alter or affect property or interests in property blocked pursuant to § 578.201 or any further Executive orders relating to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, is prohibited unless licensed pursuant to this part.

    Note to § 578.506:

    U.S. persons seeking administrative reconsideration or judicial review of their designation or the blocking of their property and interests in property may apply for a specific license from OFAC to authorize the release of a limited amount of blocked funds for the payment of legal fees where alternative funding sources are not available. For more information, see OFAC's Guidance on the Release of Limited Amounts of Blocked Funds for Payment of Legal Fees and Costs Incurred in Challenging the Blocking of U.S. Persons in Administrative or Civil Proceedings, which is available on OFAC's Web site: www.treasury.gov/ofac.

    § 578.507 Payments for legal services from funds originating outside the United States authorized.

    (a) Receipts of payment of professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses for the provision of legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a) to or on behalf of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201 or any further Executive orders relating to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694, of April 1, 2015, are authorized from funds originating outside the United States, provided that the funds received by U.S. persons as payment of professional fees and reimbursement of incurred expenses for the provision of legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a) do not originate from:

    (1) A source within the United States;

    (2) Any source, wherever located, within the possession or control of a U.S. person; or

    (3) Any individual or entity, other than the person on whose behalf the legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a) are to be provided, whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to any part of this chapter or any Executive order.

    Note to paragraph (a) of § 578.507:

    This paragraph authorizes the blocked person on whose behalf the legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a) are to be provided to make payments for authorized legal services using funds originating outside the United States that were not previously blocked. Nothing in this paragraph authorizes payments for legal services using funds in which any other person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201, any other part of this chapter, or any Executive order has an interest.

    (b) Reports. (1) U.S. persons who receive payments in connection with legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a) must submit annual reports no later than 30 days following the end of the calendar year during which the payments were received providing information on the funds received. Such reports shall specify:

    (i) The individual or entity from whom the funds originated and the amount of funds received; and

    (ii) If applicable:

    (A) The names of any individuals or entities providing related services to the U.S. person receiving payment in connection with authorized legal services, such as private investigators or expert witnesses;

    (B) A general description of the services provided; and

    (C) The amount of funds paid in connection with such services.

    (2) The reports, which must reference this section, are to be mailed to: Licensing Division, Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of the Treasury, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Annex, Washington, DC 20220.

    Note to § 578.507:

    U.S. persons who receive payments in connection with legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a) do not need to obtain specific authorization to contract for related services that are ordinarily incident to the provision of those legal services, such as those provided by private investigators or expert witnesses, or to pay for such services. Additionally, U.S. persons do not need to obtain specific authorization to provide related services that are ordinarily incident to the provision of legal services authorized pursuant to § 578.506(a).

    § 578.508 Authorization of emergency medical services.

    The provision of nonscheduled emergency medical services in the United States to persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to § 578.201 or any further Executive orders relating to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015 and all receipt of payment for such services are authorized.

    Subparts F-G—[Reserved] Subpart H—Procedures
    § 578.801 [Reserved]
    § 578.802 Delegation by the Secretary of the Treasury.

    Any action that the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to take pursuant to Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015, and any further Executive orders relating to the national emergency declared therein, may be taken by the Director of OFAC or by any other person to whom the Secretary of the Treasury has delegated authority so to act.

    Subpart I—Paperwork Reduction Act
    § 578.901 Paperwork Reduction Act notice.

    For approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507) of information collections relating to recordkeeping and reporting requirements, licensing procedures (including those pursuant to statements of licensing policy), and other procedures, see § 501.901 of this chapter. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a valid control number assigned by OMB.

    Appendix A to Part 578—Executive Order 13694 Executive Order 13694 of April 1, 2015 Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities

    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

    I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the increasing prevalence and severity of malicious cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with this threat.

    Accordingly, I hereby order:

    Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

    (i) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, cyber-enabled activities originating from, or directed by persons located, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States that are reasonably likely to result in, or have materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States and that have the purpose or effect of:

    (A) harming, or otherwise significantly compromising the provision of services by, a computer or network of computers that support one or more entities in a critical infrastructure sector;

    (B) significantly compromising the provision of services by one or more entities in a critical infrastructure sector;

    (C) causing a significant disruption to the availability of a computer or network of computers; or

    (D) causing a significant misappropriation of funds or economic resources, trade secrets, personal identifiers, or financial information for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain; or

    (ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State:

    (A) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, the receipt or use for commercial or competitive advantage or private financial gain, or by a commercial entity, outside the United States of trade secrets misappropriated through cyber-enabled means, knowing they have been misappropriated, where the misappropriation of such trade secrets is reasonably likely to result in, or has materially contributed to, a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States;

    (B) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, any activity described in subsections (a)(i) or (a)(ii)(A) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

    (C) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

    (D) to have attempted to engage in any of the activities described in subsections (a)(i) and (a)(ii)(A)-(C) of this section.

    (b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

    Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

    Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

    (a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

    (b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

    Sec. 4. I hereby find that the unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in section 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of such persons. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).

    Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

    (b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

    Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:

    (a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

    (b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

    (c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States;

    (d) the term “critical infrastructure sector” means any of the designated critical infrastructure sectors identified in Presidential Policy Directive 21; and

    (e) the term “misappropriation” includes any taking or obtaining by improper means, without permission or consent, or under false pretenses.

    Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

    Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

    Sec. 9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

    Sec. 10. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

    Barack Obama THE WHITE HOUSE, April 1, 2015
    Dated: December 11, 2015. John E. Smith, Acting Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control. Approved:

    Dated: December 16, 2015.

    Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary, Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Department of the Treasury.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32881 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary 32 CFR Part 217 [Docket ID: DOD-2007-OS-0001] RIN 0790-AI19 Service Academies AGENCY:

    Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This rule establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for DoD oversight of the Service academies (referred to in this rule as “the academies”). It implements the United States Code for the establishment and operation of the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: This rule is effective December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lt. Col. Keithen Washington, 703 695-5529.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    a. Purpose. This rule provides required updates to DoD policy and procedures because some policy changes and court decisions have had a great impact on the eligibility of potential applicants' entry into a military academy. All language addressing homosexuality, homosexual acts, homosexual statements and homosexual marriage has been removed in accordance with the December 22, 2010 repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which opened military service to homosexuals, and the subsequent United States v. Windsor decision (570 U.S. 12, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), 1 U.S.C. 7; 28 U.S.C. 1738c) which found section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. By removing all references to homosexual conduct, acts or marriage as grounds for discharge, otherwise qualified applicants are now free to apply and enroll in a military academy without prejudice or fear of reprisal regardless of their sexual orientation. This rule is required immediately to remove any legal and policy restrictions which would prevent a potential applicant from entry into a military academy based solely on their sexual orientation.

    Additionally, the academies must attract, recruit and retain high achieving citizens who are pursuing undergraduate degrees critical to the DoD's national security mission. A highly qualified and diverse pool of citizens is needed to replenish and fortify DoD's workforce. The academies finance higher education and provide opportunities to individuals who may not otherwise have the means nor the opportunity to pursue. Furthermore, because the Military Services provide critical national security, providing them with a skilled and talented workforce is vitally necessary to defend the United States. Updating these policies and procedures is vital to the DoD meeting its mission to man an all-volunteer force with qualified citizens.

    b. Succinct statement of legal authority for the regulatory action.

    Authority:

    10 U.S.C. Chapters 403, 603, and 903.

    II. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action

    The academies annually provide newly commissioned officers to each Service who have been immersed in the history, traditions, and professional values of the Military Services and developed to be leaders of character, dedicated to a career of professional excellence in service to the Nation. The accession of these officers generates a core group of innovative leaders capable of thinking critically who will exert positive peer influence to convey and sustain these traditions, attitudes, values, and beliefs essential to the long-term readiness and success of the Military Services.

    III. Costs and Benefits

    Administrative costs are negligible and the benefits would be clear, concise rules that enable the Secretary of Defense to ensure that the Service Academies operate efficiently and meet the needs of the armed forces.

    Retrospective Review

    This rule is part of DoD's retrospective plan, completed in August 2011, under Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review,” DoD's full plan and updates can be accessed at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;dct=FR+PR+N+O+SR;rpp=10;po=0;D=DOD-2011-OS-0036.

    Public Comment

    Notice and comment are not required for this rule under the Administrative Procedure Act because, as the rule establishes policy, assigns responsibility, and prescribes procedures for DoD oversight of the academies, it directly relates to a military function of the United States (See 5 U.S.C. 553(a)(1)). However, DoD previously published a proposed rule on October 18, 2007 (72 FR 59053-59064), but that version was never finalized. One public comment was received that was provided as a means for improvement.

    Comment: The comment received concerned the protocol requiring that all new cadets and midshipmen to undergo Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), drug, and alcohol testing within 72 hours of reception, and the requirement that any appointment as a cadet or midshipman to any of the Service Academies will be terminated if and “when it is determined the individual is HIV positive or dependent on drugs or alcohol.” The individual who submitted the comment did not contest the justification for appointment termination if any of the mentioned conditions existed. Rather the individual took issue with the fact that HIV positive status was paired with drug and alcohol dependency and believes it implies a similarity between drug and alcohol dependency and affliction with HIV.

    Response: It is recognized that HIV affliction and drug and alcohol abuse are very different issues. Accordingly, the three are no longer linked. Additionally, due to comments received during interagency coordination of this rule, language addressing HIV affliction as well as language addressing drug and alcohol abuse have been removed from this rule. A reference to the appropriate DoD Instructions that address these conditions has been included in the rule.

    Other Changes

    (1) Language addressing foreign students has been included and/or clarified.

    (2) Language addressing homosexuality, homosexual acts, homosexual statements and homosexual marriage has been removed.

    (3) For additional understanding and clarity, added a definition for excess leave.

    (4) Reworded some language for clarity based on additional internal comments received.

    Regulatory Procedures Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review” and Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”

    Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distribute impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rule has been designated a “significant regulatory action,” although not economically significant, under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    Sec. 202, Public Law 104-4, “Unfunded Mandates Reform Act” (2 U.S.C. Chapter 25)

    It has been determined that 32 CFR part 217 does not contain a Federal mandate that may result in expenditure by State, local and tribal governments, in aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year.

    Public Law 96-354, “Regulatory Flexibility Act” (5 U.S.C. 601)

    It has been certified that 32 CFR part 217 is not subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601) because it would not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Public Law 96-511, “Paperwork Reduction Act” (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35)

    This rule does not add any new information or reporting requirements. Existing collections approved under OMB Control Number 0701-0026, “Nomination for Appointment to the United States Military Academy, Naval Academy, and Air Force Academy,” will be used. The Department will continue to review its processes to identify additional collection instruments and consider how these collection tools may be improved and make revisions accordingly. We welcome your comments on how you think we can improve on our information collection activities that are expiring and scheduled for extension and/or revision.

    Executive Order 13132, “Federalism”

    It has been determined that 32 CFR part 217 does not have federalism implications, as set forth in Executive Order 13132. This rule does not have substantial direct effects on:

    (1) The States;

    (2) The relationship between the National Government and the States; or

    (3) The distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of Government.

    List of Subjects in 32 CFR Part 217

    Colleges and universities, Education.

    Accordingly 32 CFR part 217 is added to read as follows:

    PART 217—SERVICE ACADEMIES Sec. 217.1 Purpose. 217.2 Applicability. 217.3 Definitions. 217.4 Policy. 217.5 Responsibilities. 217.6 Procedures. Appendix A to Part 217—Applicant Briefing Item on Separation Policy Authority:

    10 U.S.C. Chapters 403, 603, and 903.

    § 217.1 Purpose.

    This part establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for DoD oversight of the Service academies (referred to in this part as “the academies”).

    § 217.2 Applicability.

    This part applies to Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff, the combatant commands, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (IG DoD), the Defense Agencies, the DoD Field Activities, and all other organizational entities within the DoD (referred to collectively in this part as the “DoD Components”).

    § 217.3 Definitions.

    These terms and their definitions are for the purposes of this part.

    Academic year. The time period beginning the first day of the fall semester and ending on the last day of the spring semester.

    Academy(ies). The U.S. Military, the U.S. Naval, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

    Academy preparatory schools. Postsecondary educational institutions operated by each of the Military Departments to provide enhanced opportunities for selected candidates to be appointed to the academies.

    Active duty lists. A single list of certain officers serving on active duty. Officers are carried on the active duty list of the Military Service of which they are members in order of seniority. (See 10 U.S.C. 620 for additional information.)

    Active duty service obligation. A commitment of active military service for a specified period of time.

    Agreement. The agreement signed by a U.S. cadet or midshipman in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2005, 4348(a), 6959(a), or 9348(a).

    Appointment. U.S. applicants who are selected for admission to the academies are appointed by the President as cadets or midshipmen. Those U.S. cadets and midshipmen who complete the course of instruction at an academy may be appointed as a commissioned officer in a Military Service. Foreign students admitted to the academies for a course of study pursuant to 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 and this part, are not formally appointed as cadets or midshipmen.

    Boards of Visitors. Boards that visit the academies annually and provide a report to the President of their views and recommendations about the academies. 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 define the composition and purpose of those boards.

    Cadets and midshipmen. U.S. citizens having been appointed to one of the academies and having taken the oath as cadets or midshipmen. Although not eligible for a formal appointment, foreign students admitted to the academies for a course of study will be called cadets and midshipmen and will be accountable to policies and procedures that govern attendance and will receive all emoluments commensurate with a U.S. citizen cadet or midshipman. Foreign students will not take the oath of office, are at no time considered to be serving on active duty in the Military Services, and will not be eligible for nor offered a commission in a Military Service upon satisfactory completion of their academy course of study nor be eligible to be called to active duty if disenrolled.

    Cost of education. Those costs attributable directly to educating a person at an academy under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned and approved by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (ASD(M&RA)) and Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer (USD(C)/CFO). Such costs include a reasonable charge for the provided education, books, supplies, room, board, transportation, and other miscellaneous items furnished at government expense. Excluded are the costs for cadet or midshipman pay and allowances in accordance with 37 U.S.C. 203, uniforms, military training, and support for nonacademic military operations.

    Dependency. Any person for whom an individual has a legally recognized obligation to provide support, including but not limited to spouse and natural, adoptive, or stepchildren.

    Disenrollment. The voluntary or involuntary termination of a cadet or midshipman from one of the academies.

    Excess leave. Leave granted that exceeds accrued and advance leave and for which the Service member is not entitled to pay and allowances. Generally, a negative leave balance at the time of release from active military duty, discharge, first extension of an enlistment, desertion, or death shall be considered excess leave regardless of the authority under which the leave resulting in the negative balance was granted.

    Hazing. Any unauthorized assumption of authority by a cadet or midshipman whereby another cadet or midshipman suffers or is exposed to any cruelty, indignity, humiliation, oppression, or the deprivation or abridgment of any right. The Secretaries of the Military Departments or academy superintendents may issue regulations that augment this definition to amplify or clarify local guidelines.

    Honor code (concept). A prescribed standard of ethical behavior applicable to cadets or midshipmen, as determined by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned.

    Military service obligation. A commitment of military service for a specified period of time.

    § 217.4 Policy.

    It is DoD policy, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 and consistent with this part, that:

    (a) The academies provide, each year, newly commissioned officers to each Service that have been immersed in the history, traditions, and professional values of the Military Services and developed to be leaders of character, dedicated to a career of professional excellence in service to the Nation.

    (b) The accession of those officers generates a core group of innovative leaders capable of thinking critically who will exert positive peer influence to convey and sustain these traditions, attitudes, values, and beliefs essential to the long-term readiness and success of the Military Services.

    (c) Active duty service is the primary means of reimbursement for education.

    (d) Cadets and midshipmen disenrolling or those disenrolled after the beginning of the third academic year from a Service academy normally will be called to active duty in enlisted status, if fit for service.

    § 217.5 Responsibilities.

    (a) The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R)):

    (1) Serves as the DoD focal point for matters affecting the academies.

    (2) Provides DoD oversight and management of the academies.

    (b) Under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R), the ASD(M&RA):

    (1) Serves as the OUSD(P&R) focal point for matters affecting the academies and resolves matters of conflict that may arise among the Military Departments.

    (2) Assesses and monitors academy operations to ensure cost-effective employment of resources in the accomplishment of the academies' mission.

    (3) Develops policy and provides guidance for DoD oversight and management of the academies.

    (4) Develops overall DoD policy and provides guidance for the conduct and administration of a uniform academy disenrollment policy.

    (5) Approves or disapproves requests to exceed the foreign student limitation from a single country provision in § 217.6(d)(2).

    (6) Approves or disapproves requests to release a cadet or midshipman prior to the completion of 2 years of active service.

    (c) Under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(P&R), the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD(HA)) establishes medical standards for applicants to the academies that are applied through the DoD Medical Examination Review Board, according to DoD Directive 5154.25E, “DoD Medical Examination Review Board” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/515425e.pdf).

    (d) The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)):

    (1) Oversees the management of admission vacancies for foreign students.

    (2) Designates countries from which foreign students may be selected.

    (3) Issues implementing guidance as necessary, including waiver of tuition or fees reimbursement either wholly or partially for management of admission vacancies for foreign students.

    (e) The USD(C)/CFO establishes and publishes the tuition rate for foreign students.

    (f) Under the authority, direction, and control of the USD(C)/CFO and with the coordination of the superintendents of the academies, the Director, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), is responsible for billing and collecting reimbursements due to the academies for foreign students, except when those reimbursements have been waived by the USD(P).

    (g) The IG DoD evaluates programs, as set forth in DoD Directive 5106.01, “Inspector General of the Department of Defense” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/510601p.pdf) and 5 U.S.C. Appendix (also known as and referred to in this part as the “Inspector General Act of 1978,” as amended).

    (h) The Secretaries of the Military Departments:

    (1) Establish and maintain a military academy pursuant to 10 U.S.C. chapters 33, 47, 61, 403, 603, and 903 and 10 U.S.C. 702 and 2005 and this part. 10 U.S.C. chapter 47 is also known and referred to in this part as “The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ),” as amended.

    (2) Ensure appropriate oversight and management of the academies.

    (3) Develop quantified performance goals and measures, linked with the schools' mission statements to annually evaluate the performance of the academies and preparatory schools.

    (4) Prescribe a written agreement when providing an academy appointment to U.S. candidates who agree to conditions in § 217.6(f) and are otherwise qualified.

    (5) Prescribe regulations on:

    (i) A breach of a cadet's or midshipman's “agreement to serve” for the purpose of ordering that individual to active duty.

    (ii) Procedures for determining whether such a breach has occurred.

    (iii) Standards for determining the period of time for which a person may be ordered to serve on active duty according to § 217.6(j). (See also 10 U.S.C. 4348(c), 6959(c), and 9348(c).

    (6) Work with the Director, DFAS, to establish and maintain jointly developed, uniform accounting procedures for determining the cost of education at their respective academies. These procedures must be consistent with Chapter 6 of Volume 11A of DoD 7000.14-R, “Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation” (available at http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/documents/fmr/Volume_11a.pdf) and DoD Instruction 5010.40, “Managers' Internal Control (MIC) Program Procedures” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/501040p.pdf). A standard method for computing reimbursement of the cost of education will be in these procedures and accounts receivable will be recorded as follows:

    (i) Establish an accounts receivable for the cost of education when a cadet or midshipman disenrolls or is disenrolled from an academy.

    (ii) Reduce the accounts receivable proportionately to the period of active duty served by the disenrolled cadets or midshipmen.

    (7) Prescribe the repayment procedures of an individual's outstanding debt so that the total amount due—based on 37 U.S.C. 303a, monthly repayment schedules, repayment method, and other information—clearly will be explained in writing to the debtor.

    (8) Ensure that proper credit management and debt collection procedures are followed pursuant to chapters 28-32 of Volume 5, and chapters 38 and 50 of Volume 7A of DoD 7000.14-R (available at http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/documents/fmr/Volume_05.pdf and http://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/documents/fmr/Volume_07a.pdf), to include prescribing repayment procedures of an individual's outstanding academy financial obligation.

    (9) Develop an organizational capability to collect, maintain, and submit information on resources in support of an academy, the academy preparatory school, and any other associated training programs.

    § 217.6 Procedures.

    (a) Academies. Academies are 4-year educational institutions operated by each of the Military Departments to provide successful candidates with degrees of Bachelor of Science and commissions as military officers. The core of the academies' mission statements will be to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become officers in the Military Services to serve the United States.

    (b) Organization of the academies. (1) There will be at each academy a superintendent and Commandant appointed by the President, a dean of the faculty, chaplain, permanent professors, an athletic director, and a director of admissions. The Secretaries of the Military Departments may employ as many civilian faculty members as considered necessary.

    (2) Incumbents of dean, director of admissions, and permanent professorships held by military personnel will be appointed by the President of the United States by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The superintendent and the commandant will be detailed to those positions by the President.

    (3) The immediate governance of the academies is by their superintendents, who also will serve as the commanding officers of the academies and their military posts.

    (4) The superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the academy as well as the welfare of cadets or midshipmen and staff.

    (5) The dean of the faculty of the academy directs and manages the development and execution of an undergraduate curriculum that recognizes the requirement for graduates to understand technology, while gaining a sound historical perspective and an understanding of different cultures. The curriculum will be broadly based in the physical and social sciences, the study of languages and cultures in areas in which the DoD is engaged, and the arts and humanities.

    (6) The commandant directs and manages military education and training programs and exercises command over cadets or midshipmen, as established by law and determined by the superintendent.

    (7) The director of athletics directs and manages the intercollegiate athletic programs and other physical fitness programs, as determined by the superintendent. Intercollegiate athletic programs will be in full compliance with all applicable National Collegiate Athletics Association rules and requirements while maintaining the professional and ethical values of the Services.

    (8) The academic faculty will consist of civilian and military members in proportions determined by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned. Faculty members will possess a mix of operational experience, academic expertise, and teaching ability. They:

    (i) Exemplify the highest standards of ethical and moral conduct and performance established by the Secretaries of the Military Departments concerned, and the superintendents concerned, consistent with this part.

    (ii) Participate in the full spectrum of academy programs and activities and the development of their curriculum.

    (iii) Actively participate in the professional, moral, and ethical development of cadets and midshipmen as role models, mentors, and through the enforcement of standards of behavior and conduct.

    (9) Service members will conduct themselves in accordance with the requirement of exemplary conduct as specified in 10 U.S.C. 3583, 5947, and 8583.

    (10) The superintendent will ensure that noninstructional staff consists of the minimum number of people consistent with effective achievement of the objectives of the academy and its military post.

    (11) Compensation and benefits for civilian faculty members will be sufficiently competitive to achieve academic excellence at pay levels determined by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned.

    (12) Additional guidance about organization of the academies is in 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903.

    (c) Nomination and appointment of cadets and midshipmen. (1) Nomination, appointment, admission, authorized strength, and allocation of strength among nominating authorities for cadets and midshipmen are prescribed in 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 and this part.

    (2) U.S. cadets and midshipmen will be appointed by the President alone. An appointment is conditional until the cadet or midshipman is admitted.

    (3) Appointments will be offered on a competitive basis to nominated candidates having the strongest potential for success as cadets or midshipmen, and ultimately as commissioned officers. The nominating sources will be notified of candidates selected for appointment.

    (4) Those selected for appointment must have demonstrated, through evaluations prescribed by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned:

    (i) High standards of moral character, personal conduct, and integrity.

    (ii) The potential to successfully complete the program of instruction.

    (iii) An acceptable level of physical fitness.

    (iv) Medical qualification for appointments to the academies and for commissioning as required in 10 U.S.C. chapter 33 and further delineated through examination procedures defined in DoD Directive 5154.25E and medical standards defined in DoD Instruction 6130.03, “Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/613003p.pdf), DoD Instruction 6485.01, “Human Immunodeficiency Virus in Military Service Members” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/648501p.pdf), and DoD Instruction 1010.16, “Technical Procedures for the Military Personnel Drug Abuse Testing Program” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/101016p.pdf).

    (5) Specific eligibility criteria also guide selection:

    (i) Age. Applicants must be at least 17 years of age, and not have passed their 23rd birthday on July 1 of the year of entry into an academy.

    (ii) Citizenship. Except for foreigners admitted to the academies under 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 and this part, those appointed must be citizens or nationals of the United States.

    (iii) Residence. If nominated by an authority designated in the “Congressional” and “U.S. Possession” categories as defined in 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903, applicants must be domiciled in the constituency of such authorities.

    (iv) Dependents. Those appointed as cadets or midshipmen must not have dependents.

    (v) Marital Status. Those appointed as cadets or midshipmen cannot have a spouse.

    (6) The academies will work to ensure timely medical evaluations of applicants. Issues relating to the administrative management of those evaluations that are not resolved to the satisfaction of the academies and the activity performing the evaluation will be forwarded to the ASD(M&RA) for resolution.

    (7) To be admitted to an academy, U.S. appointees must take and subscribe to an oath prescribed by law or by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned. If a U.S. candidate for admission refuses to take and subscribe to the prescribed oath, the appointment is terminated.

    (d) Cadets and midshipmen from foreign countries. (1) Foreign students may receive instruction at an academy; the number may not exceed the limits in 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903. Such instruction will be on a reimbursable basis. The USD(P) designates the countries from which candidates may be selected, and may waive reimbursement, either wholly or partially.

    (i) Although not eligible for a formal appointment, foreign students admitted to the academies for a course of study will be called cadets and midshipmen, will be accountable to policies and procedures that govern attendance, and are entitled to the equivalent pay and allowances of a cadet or midshipmen appointed from the United States, and from the same appropriation.

    (ii) Foreign students will not take the oath addressed in paragraph (c)(7) of this section, are at no time considered to be serving in any status in the Military Services, and will not be eligible for nor offered a commission in the Military Services upon satisfactory completion of their academy course of study nor eligible to be called to active duty if disenrolled.

    (2) Not more than three foreign students from a single country may be enrolled at a single academy without ASD(M&RA) approval. Requests for such approval will be submitted by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, through the USD(P) to the ASD(M&RA). The enrollment restriction does not apply to students participating in exchange programs of up to two semesters' duration.

    (3) By the end of May of each year, the USD(C)/CFO will establish the tuition rate for the succeeding school year and publish that rate to the Secretaries of the Military Departments, the USD(P), and the ASD(M&RA).

    (4) By the end of June of each year, the USD(P) will publish a list of countries eligible to send students to the academies during the subsequent academic year, specifying reimbursement requirements. That list will be provided to the Secretaries of the Military Departments, the ASD(M&RA), and the responsible U.S. Defense Attaché Offices (USDAOs) or the American embassies, if no servicing USDAO exists.

    (5) By the end of August of each year, the superintendent of each academy will extend application invitations, through applicable USDAOs (or the American embassies), to each eligible country. Those invitations will describe admissions procedures and define the country's official sponsorship responsibilities.

    (6) The superintendent will manage the selection and notification of candidates and, with the assistance of the applicable USDAO or American embassy, obtain written acknowledgment from the sending government of sponsorship responsibilities and their agreement to reimburse tuition costs, when applicable.

    (7) Questions on enrollment or reimbursement will be forwarded to the ASD(M&RA), for resolution with the USD(P).

    (e) Development of cadets and midshipmen. (1) Development of cadets and midshipmen is prescribed in 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 and this part.

    (2) The normal course of instruction at an academy is 4 years, with selected promising cadets or midshipmen pursuing longer terms when required to meet academy educational or other graduation requirements. The Secretaries of the Military Departments will arrange the course of instruction so that cadets or midshipmen are not required to attend classes on Sunday.

    (3) Besides academic preparation, each academy will provide for development of military and leadership skills and physical fitness.

    (4) The practice of hazing is prohibited by Department policy and law (see 10 U.S.C. 4352, 6964, and 9352).

    (5) An important component in the growth of cadets or midshipmen is the leadership development system. Its purpose is to motivate graduates to seek leadership responsibilities and enable them to think clearly, decide wisely, and act decisively under pressure and in a variety of leadership situations. The leadership development system will be based on:

    (i) Positive leadership, equal opportunity, and respect for one another's values, beliefs, and personal dignity.

    (ii) Elimination of dysfunctional stress. The Secretaries of the Military Departments concerned and superintendents determine knowledge requirements and procedures for the development and indoctrination of cadets and midshipmen. Memorization of trivia, such as complete menus for meals, is generally inappropriate. Establishment of such requirements will be closely monitored by the academies.

    (iii) Emphasis on proper bearing, fitness, and posture. These are important to effective leadership and contribute to overall well-being. Exaggerated forms of posture, speech, or movement generally do not constitute proper military bearing. Establishment of such requirements will be closely monitored by the academies and used only with the knowledge and approval of the superintendents.

    (iv) Positive role models; opportunities to learn, practice, and receive feedback; and access to support. Direct support to leadership development will be provided by concurrent and relevant coursework, athletic competition, and hands-on experience to show the relationship between theories of leadership in the classroom and practice of leadership outside the classroom.

    (6) The highest ethical and moral standards are expected of the officer corps. The honor systems of the academies will support that expectation by enforcing adherence to standards of behavior embodied in the honor codes or concepts of the academies. Violations of honor standards may constitute a basis for disenrollment.

    (f) Management of cadets and midshipmen. (1) A U.S. cadet or midshipman entering an academy directly from civilian status assumes a Military Service obligation (MSO) of 8 years, under 10 U.S.C. 651 and DoD Instruction 1304.25, “Fulfilling the Military Service Obligation” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/130425p.pdf).

    (2) Cadet and midshipman pay is prescribed by 37 U.S.C. 203(c).

    (3) Cadets and midshipmen will meet medical accession standards outlined in paragraph (c)(4)(iv) of this section.

    (4) As a condition for providing education at an academy, the Secretary of the Military Department concerned will require that each U.S. cadet or midshipman enter into a written agreement in which he or she agrees:

    (i) To complete the course of instruction for graduation specified in the agreement to accept an appointment as a commissioned officer, if tendered, and to serve on active duty for a period specified in the agreement if called to active duty or, at the option of the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, to reimburse the United States for the amount specified by the Secretary of Military Department concerned, as prescribed in this section.

    (ii) That if such cadet or midshipman fails to complete the educational requirements specified in the agreement, such person, if so ordered by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, will serve on active duty for a period specified in the agreement.

    (iii) That if such person fails to complete the period of active duty specified in the agreement, he or she will reimburse the United States for the amount specified by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned in accordance with the requirements of 10 U.S.C. 2005 and 37 U.S.C. 303a.

    (iv) To such other terms and conditions as the Secretary of the Military Department concerned may prescribe to protect U.S. interests.

    (5) An obligation to repay the United States under this section is, for all purposes, a debt owed the United States. A discharge in bankruptcy under Title 11 U.S.C. does not discharge a person from such debt if the discharge order is entered less than 5 years after:

    (i) The date of the termination of the agreement or contract on which the debt is based; or

    (ii) In the absence of such agreement or contract, the date of the termination of the service on which the debt is based.

    (6) The sustainment of high performance standards ensures that cadets and midshipmen who are unwilling or unable to successfully complete the program of instruction at the academy are identified quickly. As defined by the Military Department concerned, cadets or midshipmen who are identified as “deficient” in conduct, studies, or physical fitness, and disenrolled from any academy may not, unless recommended by an academic or academy board, be returned or reappointed to an academy. Those cadets or midshipmen selected for return will be reappointed consistent with the criteria prescribed by the board.

    (i) Individuals failing to complete the required course of academy instruction (including disenrollment for academics, conduct, honor code violations, or physical deficiency) will be disenrolled.

    (ii) If an appointment is terminated before graduation due to a U.S. cadet's or midshipman's breaching his or her agreement, or if a U.S. cadet or midshipman refuses to accept a commission following graduation, the 8 year MSO will be fulfilled by the period for which the member is ordered to serve on active duty or in the Reserve Component in an applicable enlisted status. He or she may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 4 years under 10 U.S.C. 4348(b), 6959(b), or 9348(b). Policies that apply to U.S. cadets or midshipmen disenrolled from an academy who entered the academy directly from civilian status are:

    (A) Fourth and Third Classmen (First and Second Years). A fourth or third classman disenrolled will retain their MSO in accordance with 10 U.S.C. chapter 47 and DoD Instruction 1304.25 but have no active duty service obligation (ADSO).

    (B) Second Classmen (Third Year). A second classman resigning before the start of the second class academic year or disenrolled for cause resulting from actions that occurred only before the start of the second class academic year will be discharged as if he or she were a third classman.

    (C) Second or First Classmen (Third and Fourth or Subsequent Years). Any second or first classman who is disenrolled and who is not suited for enlisted Military Service for reasons of demonstrated unsuitability, unfitness, or physical disqualification, will be discharged in accordance with the current Military Service regulations that implement this part, to include monetary recoupment. Other second or first class cadets and midshipmen disenrolled after the beginning of the second class academic year, but before completing the course of instruction, may be transferred to the Reserve Component in an enlisted status and ordered to active duty for not less than 2 years, but not more than 4 years and incur an MSO, in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 4348(b), 6959(b), or 9348(b).

    (D) First Classman (Declining Appointment). Any first classman completing the course of instruction and declining to accept an appointment as a commissioned officer may be transferred to the respective Reserve Component in an enlisted status and ordered to active duty for 4 years and incurs a MSO in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 4348(b), 6959(b), and 9348(b) and DoD Directive 1235.10, “Activation, Mobilization, and Demobilization of the Ready Reserve” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/123510p.pdf).

    (iii) The disposition of cadets and midshipmen entering an academy from the Regular or Reserve Component of any Military Service (except those who enter an academy by way of its preparatory school from civilian status) and then not completing the program will be determined in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 516:

    (A) Fourth and Third Classmen (First and Second Years). If disenrolled during the fourth or third class year, the cadet's or midshipman's Military Service commitment will be equal to the time not served on the original enlistment contract, with all service as a cadet or midshipman counted as service under that contract. Those individuals with less than 1 year remaining in the original enlistment contract may be discharged on approval of the disenrollment by the Military Department concerned.

    (B) Second Classmen (Third Year). If disenrolled before the beginning of the second class academic year, the cadet's or midshipman's Military Service commitment will be the same as in paragraph (f)(6)(iii)(C) of this section.

    (C) Second or First Classmen (Third and Fourth or Subsequent Years). If first and second classmen are disenrolled for issues occurring after the beginning of the second class academic year, their Military Service commitment will be the same as in paragraphs (f)(6)(ii)(C) and (D) of this section, as appropriate, or will be equal to the time not served on the original enlistment contract (with all service as a cadet or midshipman counted as service under that contract), whichever period is longer.

    (D) Disenrolled Cadets or Midshipmen not Suited for Enlisted Military Service. A cadet or midshipman who entered into an academy from the Regular or Reserve Component of a Military Service who is subsequently disenrolled from an academy and is not suited for enlisted Military Service because of demonstrated unsuitability, unfitness, or physical disqualification, will be discharged in accordance with DoD Instruction 1332.14, “Enlisted Administrative Separations” (available at http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/133214p.pdf) and Military Department regulations that specifically address the disenrollment of cadets or midshipmen.

    (E) Military Grade of Disenrolled Cadets or Midshipmen Transferred to the Reserve Component or Active Duty. Whether transferred to the Reserve Component or reverted back to active duty status, the disenrolled cadets and midshipmen retain their prior enlisted grade. However, in no case will the cadet or midshipman be transferred to the Reserve Component in a grade lower than would a similarly situated cadet or midshipman who entered the academy from a civilian status.

    (iv) The disposition of U.S. cadets and midshipmen entering an academy by way of its preparatory school from civilian status and then not completing the program will be managed in accordance with paragraph (f)(6)(ii) through (iv) of this section.

    (v) A cadet or midshipman tendering a resignation will be required to state a reason for this action. A resignation may be accepted when in the interest of the Military Service. Accepting the resignation will not in and of itself constitute a determination of the U.S. cadet's or midshipman's qualification for enlisted Military Service.

    (vi) U.S. cadets or midshipmen who are not ordered to active duty due to their misconduct or unsuitability, or because their petition for relief from an active duty obligation was approved by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, must reimburse the United States in accordance with the requirements of 10 U.S.C. 2005 and 37 U.S.C. 303a for education costs commensurate with time spent at the academy. The Secretary of the Military Department concerned may remit or cancel any part of the indebtedness of a cadet or midshipman to the United States. There may be circumstances when neither Active Duty nor reimbursement is appropriate. The Secretaries of the Military Departments will carefully review the circumstances to determine whether waiving Active Duty or reimbursement is consistent with existing statutory requirements, personnel policies or management objectives, equity and good conscience, and is in the best interest of the United States. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to, a cadet's or midshipman's death, illness, injury, or other impairment that is not the result of the cadet's or midshipman's misconduct; or needs of the Service.

    (vii) Change in Status Notification. When a U.S. cadet or midshipman is disenrolled from an academy and discharged from the Service concerned, the Selective Service System will be notified by the Military Department of the individual's status change.

    (viii) Dependency Disenrollment or Resignation. U.S. cadets or midshipman who resign or are disenrolled for violation of the dependency policy may request transfer to the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Approval and method of transfer is at the discretion of the Secretary of the Military Departments concerned. Cadets and midshipmen who are approved to transfer to ROTC, graduate, receive a commission, and fulfill their Active Duty Service Obligation (ADSO) are not subject to reimbursement as outlined in this section.

    (ix) Disenrollment of cadets and midshipmen for medical disqualification.

    (A) Persons separated for being medically disqualified from further Military Service will be separated and will not be obligated for further Military Service or for reimbursing education costs in accordance paragraph (f)(6)(vi) of this section.

    (B) Persons separated for reasons in addition to being medically disqualified from further Military Service may be obligated for reimbursing education costs at the discretion of the Military Department concerned.

    (C) Cadets and midshipmen who become medically disqualified for appointment (including pregnancy) as a commissioned officer during their senior year, who otherwise would be qualified to complete the course of instruction and be appointed as a commissioned officer, and who are capable of completing the academic course of instruction with their peers, may be permitted by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned to complete the academic course of instruction with award of an academic credential determined by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned.

    (D) Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 1217, when the Secretary of the Military Department concerned determines that a U.S. cadet or midshipman is medically disqualified for appointment as a commissioned officer due to injury, illness, or disease aggravated or incurred in the line of duty while entitled to cadet or midshipman pay, the Secretary may retire the cadet or midshipman with retired pay in accordance with 10 U.S.C. chapter 61.

    (g) Graduation and commission. (1) Cadets and midshipmen who complete all requirements prescribed by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned for graduation and appointment may be awarded a bachelor of science degree, and U.S. cadets and midshipmen who meet medical accession standards outlined in paragraph (c)(4)(iv) of this section are eligible to be commissioned, in accordance with 10 U.S.C. chapters 33, 403, 603, and 903.

    (2) Graduation leave will be administered in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 702.

    (3) Officers appointed from cadet or midshipman status will not be voluntarily released from active duty principally to pursue a professional sports activity with the potential of public affairs or recruiting benefit to the DoD during the initial 2 years of active commissioned service. A waiver to release a cadet or midshipman prior to the completion of 2 years of active service must be approved by the ASD(M&RA). Exceptional personnel with unique talents and abilities may be authorized excess leave or be released from active duty and transferred to the Selective Reserve after completing 2 years of active commissioned service when there is a strong expectation their professional sports activity will provide the DoD with significant favorable media exposure likely to enhance national recruiting or public affairs.

    (i) Approval authority and processing requirements. Secretaries of the Military Departments will establish the approval authority and specific processing requirements for all requests for excess leave and early release from active duty under this program.

    (ii) Excess leave. Officers may apply for excess leave, after serving a minimum of 24 months of the current obligated active duty period, for a period not to exceed 1 year, for the purpose of pursuing a professional sports activity with potential recruiting or public affairs benefits to the DoD. The agreement between the individual and the professional sports team or organization must reflect the intent of both parties to employ the individual in a way that brings credit to the DoD. The agreement between the individual and the professional sports team or organization must reflect the intent of both parties to employ the individual in a way that brings credit to the DoD. Personnel are not entitled to pay and allowances while in excess leave status, nor are they entitled to receive disability retired pay if incurring a physical disability while in excess leave status. Officers must:

    (A) Remain subject to recall to active duty.

    (B) Be in good standing, to include meeting all physical fitness requirements and standards.

    (C) Have secured an actual contract or binding commitment with a professional team or organization guaranteeing the opportunity to pursue an activity with potential recruiting benefits as described.

    (D) Acknowledge that time served in excess leave will not be used to satisfy an existing ADSO.

    (iii) Early release. Officers may request early release from their ADSO for the purpose of pursuing a professional sports activity with potential recruiting or public affairs benefits for the DoD. Any agreement between the individual and the professional sports team or organization must reflect the intent of both parties to employ the individual in a way that brings credit to the DoD. Military Departments will notify the ASD(M&RA) when an officer is released early from active duty under this program. In addition to any further requirements as determined appropriate by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, applicants for early release must, at a minimum:

    (A) Have served 24 months of the original ADSO.

    (B) Be in good standing, to include meeting all physical fitness requirements and standards.

    (C) Have secured an actual contract or binding commitment with a professional sports team or organization guaranteeing the opportunity to pursue an activity with potential recruiting benefits as described.

    (D) Be assigned to a Selected Reserve unit and meet normal retention requirements based on minimum participation standards in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 10147 and 10148, and be subject to immediate involuntary recall for any reason to complete the period of active duty from which early release was granted.

    (E) Acknowledge that the officer is subject to monetary repayment of educational benefits at a prorated share based on the period of unfulfilled ADSO, and that such recoupment is in addition to the two-for-one Selected Reserve obligation required in paragraph (g)(3)(iii)(F) of this section. Officers subject to recoupment under the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 2005 for receipt of advanced education assistance must reimburse the United States a pro-rata share of the cost of their advanced education assistance based on the period of unfulfilled active duty service.

    (F) Agree that, in the event that the officer is no longer under a contract or binding agreement with a professional sports team or organization, the officer will either return to active duty to complete the remaining ADSO, or continue in the Selected Reserve for a period of not less than two times the length of their remaining ADSO, as determined by their Service.

    (4) At the discretion of the Secretary of the Military Department concerned, first class cadets or midshipmen not medically qualified for commissioning may be placed on limited duty status, as defined by the Military Department concerned, for up to 1 year until medical commissioning requirements of this section and the Military Service are met. If all requirements are met, the cadet or midshipmen may be commissioned. If these requirements are not met, the cadet or midshipmen will be disenrolled subject to recoupment as discussed in paragraph (f)(6)(ii)(C) and (f)(6)(ix) of this section.

    (h) Academy preparatory schools. (1) Academy preparatory schools provide an avenue for effective transition to the academy environment. The academy preparatory schools prepare selected candidates for admission who are judged to need additional preparation in academics, physical fitness, or character development.

    (i) Each school's programs of instruction will focus on academic preparation and on those areas of personal and physical preparation that reflect the mission of both the academy and the Service concerned.

    (ii) The core of the academy preparatory schools' mission statement will be “To motivate, prepare, and evaluate selected candidates in an academic, military, moral, and physical environment, to perform successfully at the ___ Academy.”

    (2) Faculty members will possess academic expertise and teaching prowess. They will exemplify high standards of conduct and performance. Faculty members will be expected to participate in the full spectrum of the school's programs, to include providing leadership, exemplary conduct and moral behavior for cadet candidates and midshipmen candidates to emulate, as well as involvement in the development of curricular and extracurricular activities. Curriculum design will recognize academic preparation as the priority; associated programs will capitalize on economies and efficiencies.

    (3) Preparatory school programs will provide tailored individual instruction to strengthen candidate abilities and to correct deficiencies in academic areas emphasized by the academies. Additionally, preparatory school programs will provide supplementary instruction in military orientation, physical development, athletics, leadership, character development, and other specific areas of interest determined by the Secretary of the Military Department concerned.

    (i) Review and oversight. (1) Service academies will establish quantified performance goals and measures, linked with their respective school's mission statement to annually evaluate the performance of the academies. Metrics will include graduation rate for enrolled candidates. The graduation rates of those entering the academies should be at least 75 percent.

    (2) Preparatory schools will establish quantified performance goals and measures, linked with the schools' mission statements to annually evaluate the performance of the preparatory schools. At a minimum, the metrics will include:

    (i) Academy preparatory school to academy entrance ratio. The ratio of the number of preparatory school students entering the academy to the number that entered prep school should be 70 percent or greater.

    (ii) Preparatory student and direct appointee graduation rate. The preparatory school students' academy graduation rate should not drop more than 5 percent below the direct appointees' graduation rate.

    (3) Boards of Visitors of the academies are established and procedures prescribed by 10 U.S.C. chapters 403, 603, and 903 to inquire into the efficiency and effectiveness of academy operations. The designated federal officer for each Board of Visitors will provide the ASD(M&RA) a copy of each report required by 10 U.S.C. chapter 47 within 60 days of the report's submission to the President.

    (4) Oversight by the IG DoD will be provided in accordance with DoD Directive 5106.01 and the Inspector General Act of 1978. When required, the ASD(M&RA) recommends to the IG DoD any areas of academy operations that merit specific review during the subsequent fiscal year.

    (5) Annual meetings of the superintendents will be hosted by the academies on a rotating basis and include the commandants, the deans, the directors of admissions and athletics, and others designated by the superintendents. Meeting attendees will discuss performance measures and other matters of collective interest. Meeting attendees will identify plans to address areas requiring corrective action. Following the meeting, the host superintendent will provide the ASD(M&RA) a summary of issues and actions discussed and each Service academy will provide an assessment of their respective service academy and preparatory school.

    (j) Inter-service commissioning. (1) To be qualified for inter-Service appointment, applicants must meet all graduation requirements and all requirements for commissioning in the gaining Service; and both the gaining and losing Secretaries of the Military Departments concerned must concur in the appointment. In accordance with 10 U.S.C. chapter 33, not more than 12.5 percent of a graduating class from any academy may be commissioned in the Military Services not under the jurisdiction of the Military Department administering that academy.

    (2) Once all requirements for inter-Service appointments have been met, endorsements from the losing academy will contain the applicants' current academic transcripts, order of merit standing, record of physical fitness and, if applicable, results of the gaining Service's testing for flight training or other qualification. Applications supported by the losing Military Department will be forwarded to the gaining Military Department no later than November of the calendar year before graduation. The gaining Secretary of the Military Department concerned will act on applications no later than the end of December of the year prior to commissioning and will immediately notify the losing Secretary of the Military Department concerned of decisions. Affected cadets or midshipmen will be quickly notified of the disposition of applications.

    (3) Those selected for transfer will be integrated within active duty lists of the gaining Military Service. When seniority on that list relies on academy class standing, they will be initially integrated immediately following the cadet or midshipman holding equal numerical class standing at the academy of the gaining Military Department.

    Appendix A to Part 217—Applicant Briefing Item on Separation Policy

    (a) Individual responsibility. Service members represent the Military Services by word, actions, and appearance. Their unique position in society requires them to uphold the dignity and high standards of the Military Services at all times and in all places. In order to be ready at all times for worldwide deployment, military units and their members must possess high standards of integrity, cohesion, and good order and discipline. As a result, military laws, rules, customs, and traditions include restrictions on personal behavior that are different from civilian life. Service members may be involuntarily separated before their enlistment or term of service ends for various reasons established by law and military regulations. These are some of the circumstances that may be grounds for involuntary separation from the Academy:

    (1) Infractions. The individual establishes a pattern of disciplinary infractions, discreditable involvement with civil or military authorities, causes dissent, or disrupts or degrades the mission of his or her unit. That may also include conduct of any nature that would bring discredit on the Military Services in the view of the civilian community.

    (2) Dependency. Any person for whom an individual has a legally recognized obligation to provide support including but not limited to spouse and natural, adoptive, or stepchildren.

    (3) Physical fitness and body fat. The individual fails to meet the physical fitness or body fat standards.

    (b) Hazing, harassment, or violence not tolerated. The practice of hazing is prohibited by law (10 U.S.C. 4352, 6964, and 9352). A cadet or midshipman dismissed from an academy for hazing may not be reappointed as a cadet or midshipman at an academy. The Military Services do not tolerate harassment or violence against any Service member for any reason. Cadets and midshipmen must treat all Service members, at all times, with dignity and respect. Failure to do so may result in the individual being disciplined or involuntarily separated before his or her term of service ends.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32926 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 42 CFR Part 413 [CMS-1628-CN2] RIN 0938-AS48 Medicare Program; End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System, and Quality Incentive Program; Correction AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.

    ACTION:

    Final rule, correction.

    SUMMARY:

    This document corrects technical and typographical errors that appeared in the final rule published in the Federal Register on November 6, 2015, entitled “Medicare Program; End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System, and Quality Incentive Program.”

    DATES:

    This correction is effective on December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    CMS ESRD Payment mailbox at [email protected], for issues related to the ESRD PPS payment provisions. Heidi Oumarou, (410) 786-7942, for issues related to the ESRD market basket. Tamyra Garcia, (410) 786-0856, for issues related to the ESRD QIP.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    In FR Doc. 2015-27928 of November 6, 2015 (80 FR 68967) (hereinafter referred to as the CY 2016 ESRD PPS final rule) there are technical and typographical errors that are discussed in the “Summary of Errors,” and further identified and corrected in the “Correction of Errors” section below. The provisions in this correction notice are effective as if they had been included in the CY 2016 ESRD PPS final rule published in the Federal Register on November 6, 2015.

    II. Summary of Errors

    On page 68968, in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section we found an error in the email address provided to contact us for ESRD PPS payment issues. The correct email address is [email protected] In addition, the telephone number provided for questions related to the ESRD market basket was incorrect for Heidi Oumarou. The correct telephone number is 410-786-7942.

    On page 68976, we made a typographic error by including the words “case-mix” in the beginning of sentence.” On page 68986, under the heading “Body Surface Area (BSA)”, we made a typographical error in the value 1.020. We inadvertently inserted the letter “I” instead of the number “1” in that value.

    On page 69044, we made a technical error in the title of Table 17—“Estimated Numerical Values for the Performance Standards for the PY 2018 ESRD QIP Clinical Measures Using the Most Recently Available Data,” by indicating that the values were estimates instead of finalized numerical values. In addition, there were errors in the achievement threshold, benchmark, and performance standard values presented in Table 17 “for Payment Year 2018 of the End-Stage Renal Disease Quality Incentive Program. Specifically, the numerical values published for the Kt/V Adult Hemodialysis, Kt/V Pediatric Hemodialysis, Standardized Readmission Ratio clinical measures, and ICH CAHPS were incorrect because we inadvertently placed the numbers in the incorrect columns.

    On page 69069, in footnote 15 regarding the responsibilities of various staff, we found an error in the hyperlink to a document posted by the Bureau of Labor & Statistics.

    Finally, on page 69073, after “e. Alternatives Considered,” we inadvertenly did not include the subtitle “1. CY 2016 End-Stage Renal Disease” to delineate the analysis of alternatives policies considered for the ESRD PPS.

    III. Waiver of Proposed Rulemaking, 60-Day Comment Period, and Delay of Effective Date

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the agency is required to publish a notice of the proposed rule in the Federal Register before the provisions of a rule take effect. Similarly, section 1871(b)(1) of the Act requires the Secretary to provide notice of the proposed rule in the Federal Register and provide a period of not less than 60 days for public comment. In addition, section 553(d) of the APA, and section 1871(e)(1)(B)(i) of the Act mandate a 30-day delay in effective date after issuance or publication of a rule. Sections 553(b)(B) and 553(d)(3) of the APA provide for exceptions from the notice and comment and delay in effective date. APA requirements; in cases in which these exceptions apply, sections 1871(b)(2)(C) and 1871(e)(1)(B)(ii) of the Act provide exceptions from the notice and 60-day comment period and delay in effective date requirements as well. Section 553(b)(B) of the APA and section 1871(b)(2)(C) of the Act authorize an agency to dispense with normal rulemaking requirements for good cause if the agency makes a finding that the notice and comment process are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. In addition, both section 553(d)(3) of the APA and section 1871(e)(1)(B)(ii) of the Act allow the agency to avoid the 30-day delay in effective date where such delay is contrary to the public interest and an agency includes a statement of support.

    In our view, this correcting document does not constitute rulemaking that would be subject to these requirements. This correcting document is simply correcting technical and typographical errors in the preamble and does not make substantive changes to the policies or payment methodologies that were adopted in the final rule, and therefore, it is unnecessary to follow the notice and comment procedure in this instance.

    Even if this were a rulemaking to which the notice and comment and delayed effective date requirements applied, we find that there is good cause to waive such requirements. Undertaking further notice and comment procedures to incorporate the corrections in this document into the CY 2016 ESRD PPS final rule or delaying the effective date would be contrary to the public interest because it is in the public's interest for dialysis facilities to receive appropriate payments in as timely a manner as possible, and to ensure that the CY 2016 ESRD PPS final rule accurately reflects our policies as of the date they take effect and are applicable. Further, such procedures would be unnecessary, because we are not altering the payment methodologies or policies, but rather, we are simply correctly implementing the policies that we previously proposed, received comment on, and subsequently finalized. This correcting document is intended solely to ensure that the CY 2016 ESRD PPS final rule accurately reflects these payment methodologies and policies. For these reasons, we believe we have good cause to waive the notice and comment and effective date requirements.

    IV. Correction of Errors

    In FR Doc. 2015-27928 of November 6, 2015 (80 FR 68968), make the following corrections:

    1. On page 68968, first column, under section FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    a. In line 1, the email address “CMS ESRD [email protected]” is corrected to read “[email protected]”.

    b. In lines 3 and 4, the telephone number “410-786-7342” is corrected to read “410-786-7942”.

    2. On page 68976, first column, first full paragraph, line 21, remove the word “case-mix”.

    3. On page 68986, second column, first paragraph under the heading “Body Surface Area (BSA),” line 5, the figure “l.020” is corrected to read “1.020”.

    4. On page 69044, Table 17 is corrected to read as follows:

    Table 17—Final Numerical Values for the Performance Standards for the PY 2018 ESRD QIP Clinical Measures Using the Most Recently Available Data Measure Achievement threshold Benchmark Performance standard Vascular Access Type: %Fistula 53.51% 79.60% 65.94%. %Catheter 16.79% 2.59% 8.80%. Kt/V: Adult Hemodialysis 92.88% 99.43% 97.24%. Adult Peritoneal Dialysis 75.42% 97.06% 89.47%. Pediatric Hemodialysis 81.25% 96.88% 93.94%. Pediatric Peritoneal Dialysis 43.22% 88.39% 72.60%. Hypercalcemia 3.92% 0.00% 1.19%. NHSN Bloodstream Infection SIR 1.812 0 0.861. Standardized Readmission Ratio 1.297 0.588 0.998. Standardized Transfusion Ratio 1.470 0.431 0.923. ICH CAHPS 15th percentile of eligible facilities' performance during CY 2015 90th percentile of eligible facilities' performance during CY 2015 50th percentile of eligible facilities' performance during CY 2015.

    11. On page 69069, third column, bottom of the page, footnote 15, the reference to “http://www.bls/gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm” is corrected to read “http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm”.

    12. On page 69073, second column under the heading “e. Alternatives Considered” add the sub-heading “1. CY 2016 End-Stage Renal Disease”.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Madhura Valverde, Executive Secretary to the Department, Department of Health and Human Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32967 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 1 [GN Docket No. 12-268; FCC 14-50] Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; announcement of effective date.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Commission announces that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved, on an emergency basis, a revision to an approved information collection to implement new collection requirements contained in the Broadcast Incentive Auction Report and Order, Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, FCC 14-50. This document is consistent with the Broadcast Incentive Auction Report and Order, which stated that the Commission would publish a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval and the effective date of the rules and requirements.

    DATES:

    The amendments adding 47 CFR 1.2205(c) and 1.2205(d), published at 79 FR 48442, August 15, 2014, are effective on December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Contact Cathy Williams, [email protected], (202) 418-2918.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document announces that, on December 10, 2015, OMB approved, on an emergency basis, a revision to an approved information collection to implement new information collection requirements under 47 CFR 1.2205(c) and 1.2205(d), published at 79 FR 48442 on August 15, 2014. The OMB Control Number is 3060-0995. The Commission publishes this document as an announcement of the effective date of the rules and requirements. If you have any comments on the burden estimates listed below, or how the Commission can improve the collections and reduce any burdens caused thereby, please contact Cathy Williams, Federal Communications Commission, Room 1-C823, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. Please include the OMB Control Number, 3060-0995, in your correspondence. The Commission will also accept your comments via the Internet if you send them to [email protected]

    To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis

    As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507), the Commission is notifying the public that it received emergency approval from OMB on December 10, 2015 for the revised information collection requirements contained in the information collection 3060-0995, Section 1.2105(c), Bidding Application and Certification Procedures; Sections 1.2105(c) and Section 1.2205, Prohibition of Certain Communications.

    Under 5 CFR 1320, an agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a current, valid OMB Control Number.

    No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act that does not display a current, valid OMB Control Number. The OMB Control Number is 3060-0995. The foregoing document is required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Pub. L. 104-13, October 1, 1995, and 44 U.S.C. 3507.

    The total annual reporting burdens and costs for the respondents are as follows:

    OMB Control Number: 3060-0995.

    OMB Approval Date: December 10, 2015.

    OMB Expiration Date: June 30, 2016.

    Title: Section 1.2105(c), Bidding Application and Certification Procedures; Sections 1.2105(c) and Section 1.2205, Prohibition of Certain Communications.

    Form No.: N/A.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities; Not-for-profit institutions; State, local or Tribal government.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 10 respondents; 10 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 1.5 hours to 2 hours.

    Frequency of Response: On-occasion reporting requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this information collection is contained in sections 154(i), 309(j), and 1452(a)(3) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 4(i), 309(j)(5), and 1452(a)(3), and sections 1.2205(c) and 1.2205(d) of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.2205(c), (d).

    Total Annual Burden: 50 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: $9,000.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: The Commission will take all reasonable steps to protect the confidentiality of all Commission-held data of a reverse auction applicant consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the Spectrum Act and the Commission's rules. See 47 U.S.C. 1452(a)(3); 47 CFR 1.2206. In addition, to the extent necessary, a full power or Class A television broadcast licensee may request confidential treatment of any report of a prohibited communication submitted to the Commission that is not already being treated as confidential pursuant to section 0.459 of the Commission's rules. See 47 CFR 0.459. Forward auction applicants are entitled to request confidentiality in accordance with section 0.459 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 0.459.

    Needs and Uses: In the Broadcast Incentive Auction Report and Order, the Commission adopted new requirements for parties that might participate in the reverse auction component of the television broadcast incentive auction (BIA) prohibiting certain communications and requiring a covered party that makes or receives a prohibited communication to file a report of such a communication with the Commission, along with procedures for reporting potentially prohibited communications. See 47 CFR 1.2205(b), (c), (d). The Commission's rules prohibiting certain communications in Commission auctions are designed to reinforce existing antitrust laws, facilitate detection of collusive conduct, and deter anticompetitive behavior, without being so strict as to discourage procompetitive arrangements between auction participants. They also help assure participants that the auction process will be fair and objective, and not subject to collusion. The revised information collection implements the new BIA-specific rules in sections 1.2205(c) and 1.2205(d) by making clear the responsibility of parties who receive information that potentially violates the rules to promptly submit a report notifying the Commission, thereby helping the Commission enforce the prohibition on covered parties in the BIA, and further assuring incentive auction participants that the auction process will be fair and competitive. The prohibited communication reporting requirement required of covered parties will enable the Commission to ensure that no bidder gains an unfair advantage over other bidders in its auctions and thus enhances the competitiveness and fairness of Commission's auctions. The information collected will be reviewed and, if warranted, referred to the Commission's Enforcement Bureau for possible investigation and administrative action. The Commission may also refer allegations of anticompetitive auction conduct to the Department of Justice for investigation.

    Federal Communications Commission. Gloria J. Miles, Federal Register Liaison Officer. Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32824 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 120627194-3657-02] RIN 0648-XE295 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; North Atlantic Swordfish Fishery AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; Swordfish General Commercial permit retention limit inseason adjustment for Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is adjusting the Swordfish (SWO) General Commercial permit retention limits for the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions for January through June of the 2016 fishing year, unless otherwise noticed. The SWO General Commercial permit retention limits in each of these regions are increased from the default limits to six SWO per vessel per trip. The SWO General Commercial permit retention limit in the Florida SWO Management Area will remain unchanged at the default limit of zero SWO per vessel per trip. This adjustment applies to SWO General Commercial permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat permitted vessels when on a non for-hire trip. This action is based upon consideration of the applicable inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria.

    DATES:

    The adjusted SWO General Commercial permit retention limits in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions are effective January 1, 2016, through June 30, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rick Pearson or Randy Blankinship, 727-824-5399.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of North Atlantic SWO by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. North Atlantic SWO quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) into two equal semi-annual directed fishery quotas, an annual incidental catch quota for fishermen targeting other species or taking SWO recreationally, and a reserve category, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended, and in accordance with implementing regulations. NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota.

    The 2016 adjusted North Atlantic SWO quota is expected to be 3,359.4 mt dw (equivalent to the 2015 adjusted quota). From the adjusted quota, 50 mt dw would be allocated to the reserve category for inseason adjustments and research, and 300 mt dw would be allocated to the incidental category, which includes recreational landings and landings by incidental SWO permit holders, per § 635.27(c)(1)(i). This would result in an allocation of 3,009.4 mt dw for the directed fishery, which would be split equally (1,504.7 mt dw) between two seasons in 2016 (January through June, and July through December).

    Adjustment of SWO General Commercial Permit Vessel Retention Limits

    The 2016 North Atlantic SWO fishing year, which is managed on a calendar-year basis and divided into two equal semi-annual quotas, will begin on January 1, 2016. Landings attributable to the SWO General Commercial permit are counted against the applicable semi-annual directed fishery quota. Regional default retention limits for this permit have been established and are automatically effective from January 1 through December 31 each year, unless changed based on the inseason regional retention limit adjustment criteria at § 635.24(b)(4)(iv). The default retention limits established for the SWO General Commercial permit are: (1) Northwest Atlantic region—three SWO per vessel per trip; (2) Gulf of Mexico region—three SWO per vessel per trip; (3) U.S. Caribbean region—2 SWO per vessel per trip; and, (4) Florida SWO Management Area—zero SWO per vessel per trip. The default retention limits apply to SWO General Commercial permitted vessels and to HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels when fishing on non for-hire trips. As a condition of these permits, vessels may not possess, retain, or land any more SWO than is specified for the region in which the vessel is located.

    Under § 635.24(b)(4)(iii), NMFS may increase or decrease the SWO General Commercial permit vessel retention limit in any region within a range from zero to a maximum of six SWO per vessel per trip. Any adjustments to the retention limits must be based upon a consideration of the relevant criteria provided in § 635.24(b)(4)(iv), which include: The usefulness of information obtained from biological sampling and monitoring of the North Atlantic SWO stock; the estimated ability of vessels participating in the fishery to land the amount of SWO quota available before the end of the fishing year; the estimated amounts by which quotas for other categories of the fishery might be exceeded; effects of the adjustment on accomplishing the objectives of the fishery management plan and its amendments; variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of SWO; effects of catch rates in one region precluding vessels in another region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the overall SWO quota; and, review of dealer reports, landing trends, and the availability of SWO on the fishing grounds.

    NMFS has considered these criteria as discussed below and their applicability to the SWO General Commercial permit retention limit in all regions for January through June of the 2016 North Atlantic SWO fishing year. During 2014, with application of the default SWO General Commercial permit retention limits, total annual directed SWO fishery landings were approximately 1,303 mt dw (39 percent of the 3,303-mt dw total annual adjusted directed fishery quota). This year, through June 30, 2015, with application of the default retention limits, directed SWO landings were 493 mt dw (32.8 percent of the 1,505 mt dw Jan. to June semi-annual adjusted directed sub-quota). On July 28, 2015, NMFS adjusted SWO General Commercial permit retention limits in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions from default levels to six SWO per vessel per trip (80 FR 44884). Through November 30, 2015, directed SWO landings for the July through December semi-annual period were approximately 541.5 mt dw (36.0 percent of the adjusted directed sub-quota). Total annual directed SWO landings, through November 30, 2015, were approximately 1,034.5 mt dw, or 34 percent of the 3,010 mt dw annual adjusted directed SWO quota.

    Given that SWO directed landings fell well below the available 2014 annual quota, and that 2015 landings continue to be below the available 2015 directed SWO quota, and considering the regulatory criteria, NMFS has determined that the SWO General Commercial permit vessel retention limit in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions applicable to persons issued a SWO General Commercial permit or HMS Charter/Headboat permit (when on a non for-hire trip) should be increased from the default levels that would otherwise automatically become effective on January 1, 2016.

    A principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full North Atlantic directed SWO quota without exceeding it based upon the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP goal: “Consistent with other objectives of this FMP, to manage Atlantic HMS fisheries for continuing optimum yield so as to provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production, providing recreational opportunities, preserving traditional fisheries, and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems.” At the same time, it is also important for NMFS to continue to provide protection to important SWO juvenile areas and migratory corridors.

    After considering all of the relevant criteria, NMFS has determined that increases from the default limits are warranted. With respect to the regulatory criteria, NMFS has examined dealer reports and landing trends, and determined that the information obtained from biological sampling and monitoring of the North Atlantic SWO stock is useful. Recently implemented electronic dealer reporting provides accurate and timely monitoring of landings. This information indicates that sufficient directed SWO quota will be available during 2016 if recent SWO landing trends continue. Regarding the regulatory criterion that NMFS consider “the estimated ability of vessels participating in the fishery to land the amount of SWO quota available before the end of the fishing year,” the directed SWO quota has not been harvested for several years and, based upon these landing trends, is not likely to be harvested or exceeded in 2016. Based upon recent landings rates from dealer reports, an increase in the vessel retention limit for SWO General Commercial permit holders is not likely to cause quotas for other categories of the fishery to be exceeded. Similarly, regarding the criteria that NMFS consider the estimated amounts by which quotas for other categories of the fishery might be exceeded and the effects of catch rates in one region precluding vessels in another region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the overall SWO quota, NMFS expects there to be sufficient SWO quota for 2016, and thus increased catch rates in these three regions are not expected to preclude vessels in any of the other regions from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the overall SWO quota. Landings by vessels issued this permit (and Charter/Headboat permitted vessels on a non for-hire trip) are counted against the adjusted directed SWO quota. As indicated above, this quota has not been exceeded for several years and, based upon recent landing trends, is not likely to be exceeded in 2016.

    With regard to SWO abundance, the 2015 report by ICCAT's Standing Committee on Research and Statistics indicated that the North Atlantic SWO stock is not overfished (B2011/Bmsy = 1.14), and overfishing is not occurring (F2011/Fmsy = 0.82). Increasing the retention limit for this U.S. handgear fishery is not expected to affect the SWO stock status determination because any additional landings would be in compliance with the ICCAT recommended U.S. North Atlantic SWO quota allocation.

    Based upon landings over the last several years, it is highly unlikely that either of the two semi-annual directed SWO subquotas will be filled with the default retention limits of three SWO per vessel per trip (Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico), and two SWO per vessel per trip (U.S. Caribbean). For the entire 2014 fishing year, 39 percent of the total adjusted directed SWO quota was filled. Landings of SWO in 2015 are expected to be lower than in 2014.

    Increasing the SWO General Commercial permit retention limit to six fish per vessel per trip will increase the likelihood that directed SWO landings will approach, but not exceed, the total annual directed SWO quota. Increasing opportunity beginning on January 1, 2016, is also important because of the migratory nature and seasonal distribution of SWO, one of the regulatory criteria to be considered when changing the retention limit inseason (variations in seasonal distribution, abundance, or migration patterns of SWO). In a particular geographic region, or waters accessible from a particular port, the amount of fishing opportunity for SWO may be constrained by the short amount of time the SWO are present as they migrate. Dealer reports for Swordfish General Commercial permitted vessels indicate that swordfish are available from January through June in both the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions and are likely to be available in the U.S. Caribbean region during January.

    Based upon these considerations, NMFS has determined that a six-fish per vessel per trip SWO General Commercial permit retention limit is warranted in the Northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. Caribbean regions from January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016, for SWO General Commercial permitted vessels and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels when on a non for-hire trip. This will provide a reasonable opportunity to harvest the U.S. quota of SWO without exceeding it, while maintaining an equitable distribution of fishing opportunities; help achieve optimum yield in the SWO fishery; allow for the collection of data for stock monitoring purposes; and be consistent with the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended. With regard to the objectives of the FMP, this adjustment provides the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production, by increasing commercial SWO fishing opportunities without exceeding the available quota. It helps to preserve a very traditional SWO handgear fishery (rod and reel, handline, harpoon, bandit gear, and greenstick) which, in New England, dates back to the 1880's. Although this action does not specifically provide recreational fishing opportunities, it will have a minimal impact on this sector because recreational landings are counted against a separate incidental SWO quota. Finally, as discussed in the next paragraph, this action takes into account the protection of marine ecosystems by maintaining a zero-fish retention limit in the Florida Swordfish Management Area. Therefore, NMFS increases the SWO General Commercial permit retention limits from the default levels to six SWO per vessel per trip in these three regions, effective from January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016, unless otherwise noticed.

    NMFS has determined that the retention limit will remain at zero SWO per vessel per trip in the Florida SWO Management Area at this time. As described in Amendment 8 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, the area off the southeastern coast of Florida, particularly the Florida Straits, contains oceanographic features that make the area biologically unique. It provides important juvenile SWO habitat, and is essentially a narrow migratory corridor containing high concentrations of SWO located in close proximity to high concentrations of people who may fish for them. Public comment on Amendment 8, including from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, indicated concern about the resultant high potential for the improper rapid growth of a commercial fishery, increased catches of undersized SWO, the potential for larger numbers of fishermen in the area, and the potential for crowding of fishermen, which could lead to gear and user conflicts. These concerns remain valid. NMFS will continue to collect information to evaluate the appropriateness of the retention limit in the Florida SWO Management Area and other regional retention limits.

    These adjustments are consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP as amended, ATCA, and the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and are not expected to negatively impact stock health.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the SWO fishery closely in 2016 through mandatory landings and catch reports. Dealers are required to submit landing reports and negative reports (if no SWO were purchased) on a weekly basis.

    Depending upon the level of fishing effort and catch rates of SWO, NMFS may determine that additional retention limit adjustments or closures are necessary to ensure that available quota is not exceeded or to enhance fishing opportunities. Subsequent actions, if any, will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may access http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/species/swordfish/landings/index.html for updates on quota monitoring.

    Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons:

    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, as amended, provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to changes in SWO landings, the availability of SWO on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and regional variations in the fishery. Based on available SWO quota, stock abundance, fishery performance in recent years, and the availability of SWO on the fishing grounds, among other considerations, adjustment to the SWO General Commercial permit retention limits from the default levels is warranted. Analysis of available data shows that adjustment to the SWO daily retention limit from the default level would result in minimal risks of exceeding the ICCAT-allocated quota. NMFS provides notification of retention limit adjustments by publishing the notice in the Federal Register, emailing individuals who have subscribed to the Atlantic HMS News electronic newsletter, and updating the information posted on the “Atlantic HMS Breaking News” Web site at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/news/breaking_news.html. Delays in temporarily increasing these retention limits caused by the time required to publish a proposed rule and accept public comment would adversely affect those SWO General Commercial permit holders and HMS Charter/Headboat permit holders that would otherwise have an opportunity to harvest more than the default retention limits of three SWO per vessel per trip in the Northwest Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions, and two SWO per vessel per trip in the U.S. Caribbean region. Further, any delay beyond January 1, 2016, could exacerbate the problem of low SWO landings and subsequent quota rollovers. Limited opportunities to harvest the directed SWO quota may have negative social and economic impacts for U.S. fishermen. Adjustment of the retention limits needs to be effective on January 1, 2016, to allow the impacted sectors to benefit from the adjustment during the relevant time period, which could pass by for some fishermen if the action is delayed for notice and public comment, and to not preclude fishing opportunities for fishermen who have access to the fishery during a short time period. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For all of the above reasons, there is also good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.

    This action is being taken under 50 CFR 635.24(b)(4) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 971 et seq. and 1801 et seq.

    Dated: December 23, 2015. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32826 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 140904754-5188-02] RIN 0648-BF63 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; 2015-2016 Biennial Specifications and Management Measures; Inseason Adjustments AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; inseason adjustments to biennial groundfish management measures.

    SUMMARY:

    This final rule announces inseason changes to management measures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries. This action, which is authorized by the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (PCGFMP), is intended to allow fisheries to access more abundant groundfish stocks while protecting overfished and depleted stocks. This document also announces a prohibition on the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm (274 m) depth contour via automatic action, with actual notice (by phone and email) to participants, at noon local time, November 26, 2015 in order to reduce the risk of exceeding the canary rockfish annual catch limit (ACL).

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective January 1, 2016. The depth restrictions for midwater trawl gear were made through automatic action, and are published in the Federal Register as soon as practicable after they are issued. The depth restriction for vessels using midwater trawl gear, which was announced by actual notice (by phone and email) prior to implementation, is applicable from noon local time, November 26, 2015 through midnight local time, December 31, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gretchen Hanshew, phone: 206-526-6147, fax: 206-526-6736, or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Electronic Access

    This rule is accessible via the Internet at the Office of the Federal Register Web site at https://www.federalregister.gov. Background information and documents are available at the Pacific Fishery Management Council's Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org/. Copies of the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the Groundfish Specifications and Management Measures for 2015-2016 and Biennial Periods Thereafter are available from Donald McIsaac, Executive Director, Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Portland, OR 97220, phone: 503-820-2280.

    Background

    The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council)—in coordination with Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California—recommended changes to groundfish management measures at its November 13-19, 2015, meeting. Specifically, the Council recommended a revised schedule of trip limits for big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program for 2016. This rule revises big skate trip limits consistent with the Council's November recommendations.

    Before 2015, big skate was managed as a component stock within the Other Fish complex. The big skate overfishing limit (OFL) estimate, along with the estimated OFLs for the other species in the complex, contributed to the OFL specified in regulation for the Other Fish complex. Species managed in complexes do not have OFLs specified in regulation. The Council recommended, and NMFS approved, the designation of big skate as an ecosystem component species, beginning in 2015 (80 FR 12567, March 10, 2015). As described in the inseason action that implemented trip limits for big skate in 2015 (80 FR 31858, June 4, 2015), new information available during 2015 indicated that harvest of big skate was much higher than anticipated and was approaching or exceeding the 2014 estimated OFL contribution. The Council recommended, and NMFS implemented, trip limits on June 1, 2015, to reduce impacts to big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program. Trip limits for big skate were further adjusted on August 14, 2015, after review of updated fishery information and best available information regarding discard mortality of big skate (80 FR 50212, August 19, 2015). As part of the ongoing development of the 2017-2018 specifications, the Council is reconsidering whether big skate should be reclassified because the species may not be appropriate as an ecosystem component species.

    At its November meeting, the Council considered updated fishery information and further refined big skate trip limits for the second year of the biennial cycle. The Council's Groundfish Management Team (GMT) continued analysis of available fishery data to estimate and project catch of big skate in the Shorebased IFQ Program under different trip limit scenarios. The Council considered an apparent seasonal fluctuation in both frequency and magnitude of big skate landings, with higher catch in the summer and lower catch in the winter. The Council also considered feedback from individuals in the Shorebased IFQ Program regarding catch patterns and targeting practices.

    The Council recommended, and NMFS is implementing, the following big skate trip limits in the Shorebased IFQ Program, beginning January 1, 2016: 5,000 lbs/2 months (2,268 kg/2 months) for Period 1; 25,000 pounds/2 months (11,340 kg/2 months) for Period 2; 30,000 pounds/2 months (13,608 kg/2 months) for Period 3; 35,000 pounds/2 months (15,876 kg/2 months) for Period 4; 10,000 pounds/2 months (4,536 kg/2 months) for Period 5; and 5,000 pounds/2 months (2,268 kg/2 months) for Period 6. Best estimates indicate that total mortality of big skate through the end of 2016 under this trip limit structure would be 450 mt, 91 mt lower than the estimated 2016 OFL of 541 mt and 44 mt lower than the estimated 2016 ABC of 494 mt.

    Depth Restriction via Actual Notice in the Shorebased IFQ Program

    Subsequent to the November Council meeting, higher than anticipated catch of canary rockfish occurred in the Shorebased IFQ Program. NMFS took automatic action to impose a depth restriction for vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program, applicable at noon local time, November 26, 2015. This rule serves as notification of the November 26, 2015 automatic action.

    The Shorebased IFQ Program may be restricted or closed, as determined necessary by the Regional Administrator, as a result of projected overages within the Shorebased IFQ Program, the Mothership Coop Program, or the Catcher/Processor Coop Program. As of November 24, 2015, the Shorebased IFQ Program was projected to exceed the total quota pounds available to the sector (2015 allocation, plus surplus carryover from 2014) if current harvest levels continued and without management action. At noon, on November 26, 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) prohibited the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program for the remainder of 2015, shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fathom depth contour (150 fm line). This bycatch reduction measure was taken as an automatic action, per regulations at 50 CFR 660.140(a)(3), to reduce potential impacts on canary rockfish, an overfished species subject to rebuilding requirements under the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. NMFS provided actual notice of the closure to participants by phone and email. In addition, NMFS posted on the West Coast Region's internet site to provide notice to the affected fishers. Implementation of the prohibition on using midwater trawl gear (cease fishing) shoreward of the 150 fm line was effective 22 hours after the Public Notice, to allow for additional time for the public to become aware of the change in depth restrictions.

    The Shorebased IFQ Program has a 2015 allocation of 43.26 mt of canary rockfish (with surplus carryover pounds from 2014: 47.28 mt). Higher than anticipated catch of canary rockfish occurred in the Shorebased IFQ Program by vessels using midwater trawl gear, exceeding the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation. Midwater trawl gear has been responsible for an increasing proportion of the annual canary rockfish landings in the Shorebased IFQ Program and data from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center shelf-slope bottom trawl survey indicates that canary rockfish are distributed overwhelmingly shoreward of the boundary line approximating the 150 fm depth contour.

    Therefore, NMFS implemented a depth restriction for vessels using midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ Program to reduce the risk of exceeding the total amount of canary rockfish available the Shorebased IFQ Program, total trawl allocation, and the canary rockfish ACL, through the end of the year.

    Technical Edits LEFG and OA Sablefish Trip Limits

    Regulatory changes published in this rule also clarify, but do not revise, sablefish trip limits in the limited entry fixed gear and open access fisheries north of 36° N. lat. The 2016 sablefish ACL is higher than in 2015 and the Council recommended and NMFS implemented a schedule of slightly higher trip limits for the second year of the biennial period, as described in the January 6, 2015 proposed rule (80 FR 687) and implemented in Tables 2 North and 2 South, Subpart E and Tables 3 North and 3 South, Subparts F (80 FR 12567, March 10, 2015). Because of the format of these tables, the higher 2016 trip limits were published in the footnotes, anticipating that an inseason for January 1, 2016 would incorporate movement of those trip limits from the footnote to the body of the table. This formatting change does not revise the 2016 sablefish trip limits for non-IFQ fisheries north of 36° N. lat. that were described and implemented through notice and comment rulemaking. Accordingly, this rule modifies Tables 2 North and 2 South, Subpart E and Tables 3 North and 3 South, Subparts F by moving the schedule of 2016 trip limits, unchanged, from footnotes into the body of the tables.

    Classification

    This final rule makes routine inseason adjustments to groundfish fishery management measures, based on the best available information. This document also serves as notice of an automatic action, based on the best available information. Both are consistent with the PCGFMP and its implementing regulations.

    This action is taken under the authority of 50 CFR 660.60(c) and (d), and 660.140(a)(3) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    The aggregate data upon which these actions are based are available for public inspection at the Office of the Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, during business hours.

    NMFS finds good cause to waive prior public notice and comment on the revisions to groundfish management measures under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) because notice and comment would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Also, for the same reasons, NMFS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), so that the regulatory changes in this final rule may become effective January 1, 2016.

    New analysis regarding projected catch of big skate was presented to the Council at its November 2015 meeting. At that meeting, the Council recommended that these changes to big skate trip limits be implemented January 1, 2016, which is the start of the second year of the biennial cycle and the beginning of a cumulative limit period in the commercial groundfish fishery off the West Coast. These restrictions to the amount of landings must be implemented at the start of a cumulative limit period to allow fishermen in the Shorebased IFQ Program an opportunity to continue harvesting big skate, but at a level that will not exceed the new, lower trip limit that will be imposed in January 2016. The trip limits recommended by the Council and implemented by NMFS in this action are anticipated to keep catch of big skate below its estimated OFL, if implemented on January 1. If the recommended limits are not in place January 1, more restrictive measures may be necessary later in the year to keep catch of big skate below its estimated OFL. There was not sufficient time after the November meeting, when the new information was available, to undergo proposed and final rulemaking before January 1.

    The depth restrictions in the Shorebased IFQ Program implemented by the Regional Administrator via actual notice are intended to reduce the risk of exceeding the trawl allocation and the 2015 ACL of canary rockfish. The closed area implemented by this rule needed to be in effect during the remainder of the 2015 fishery to shift midwater trawl effort in the Shorebased IFQ Program into deeper waters where they are less likely to catch canary rockfish. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this depth restriction was impracticable because NMFS had insufficient time to provide prior notice and the opportunity for public comment between the time the information about catch of canary rockfish became available and when restrictions were determined to be necessary to reduce the risk of further exceeding the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation, and also reduce the risk of exceeding the 2015 canary rockfish trawl allocation and the ACL. Failure to respond with a depth restriction in a timely manner to reduce the amount by which the 2015 Shorebased IFQ Program allocation for canary rockfish was exceeded would be contrary to the public interest, as it may have required more restrictive measures, perhaps even closure of the fishery, if higher than anticipated harvest of canary rockfish continued.

    For the actions to be implemented in this final rule, affording the time necessary for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would prevent NMFS from managing fisheries using the best available science to prevent overfishing in accordance with the PCGFMP and applicable law.

    Delaying these changes would also keep management measures in place that are not based on the best available information. Such delay would impair achievement of the PCGFMP goals and objectives of managing for appropriate harvest levels while providing for year-round fishing and marketing opportunities.

    Accordingly, for the reasons stated above, NMFS finds good cause to waive prior notice and comment and to waive the delay in effectiveness.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, and Indian Fisheries.

    Dated: December 24, 2015. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 660 is amended as follows:

    PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

    2. Tables 1 North and 1 South to part 660, subpart D, are revised to read as follows: BILLING CODE 3510-22-P ER31DE15.000 ER31DE15.001 3. Tables 2 North and 2 South to part 660, subpart E, are revised to read as follows: ER31DE15.002 ER31DE15.003 ER31DE15.004 4. Tables 3 North and 3 South to part 660, subpart F, are revised to read as follows: ER31DE15.005 ER31DE15.006 ER31DE15.007 ER31DE15.008
    [FR Doc. 2015-32884 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 251 Thursday, December 31, 2015 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 10 CFR Part 430 [Docket Number EERE-2014-BT-STD-0048] RIN 1904-AD37 Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee: Notice of Open Meetings for the Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Working Group To Negotiate a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) for Energy Conservation Standards AGENCY:

    Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces public meetings and webinars for the Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Working Group. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that agencies publish notice of an advisory committee meeting in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    DOE will host public meetings on the following dates:

    • January 11, 2016 (9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) • January 12, 2016 (9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.)

    The working group will meet on January 12, 2016 only if the term sheet is not completed on January 11, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meetings will be held at U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 8E-089, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585 unless otherwise stated. Individuals will also have the opportunity to participate by webinar. To register for the webinar and receive call-in information, please register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5930616558028960258.

    Members of the public are welcome to observe the business of the meeting and, if time allows, may make oral statements during the specified period for public comment. To attend the meeting and/or to make oral statements regarding any of the items on the agenda, email [email protected]. In the email, please indicate your name, organization (if appropriate), citizenship, and contact information. Please note that foreign nationals participating in the public meeting are subject to advance security screening procedures which require advance notice prior to attendance at the public meeting. If a foreign national wishes to participate in the public meeting, please inform DOE as soon as possible by contacting Ms. Regina Washington at (202) 586-1214 or by email: [email protected] so that the necessary procedures can be completed. Anyone attending the meeting will be required to present a government photo identification, such as a passport, driver's license, or government identification. Due to the required security screening upon entry, individuals attending should arrive early to allow for the extra time needed.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Antonio Bouza, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Building Technologies, EE-5B, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 586-4563. Email: [email protected]

    Ms. Johanna H. Jochum, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the General Counsel, GC-33, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 287-6307. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) met and unanimously passed the recommendation to form a central air conditioners and heat pumps working group to meet and discuss and, if possible, reach consensus on a proposed rule for energy efficiency standards and certain aspects of the test procedure. (Docket No. EERE-2013-BT-NOC-0005, June 17, 2015 Meeting Transcript). The ASRAC Charter required completion of a term sheet by December 31, 2015. 80 FR 40938 (July 14, 2015).

    On December 18, 2015, the working group unanimously voted to request ASRAC to extend the term sheet deadline to January 22, 2016. (EERE-2014-BT-STD-0048, December 18, 2015 Public Meeting Transcript). Following that meeting, ASRAC granted the working group an extension until January 19, 2016 so the working group could provide a term sheet to ASRAC by ASRAC's meeting on January 20, 2016. (Docket No. EERE-2013-BT-NOC-0005, December 18, 2015 Meeting Transcript).

    DOE will host public meetings and webinars at DOE's Forrestal Building, unless otherwise stated.

    • January 11, 2016 (9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.) • January 12, 2016 (9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.)—held at 955 L'Enfant Plaza, 8th Floor

    The working group will meet on January 12, 2016 only if the term sheet is not completed on January 11, 2016.

    Due to the REAL ID Act implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recent changes have been made regarding ID requirements for individuals wishing to enter Federal buildings from specific states and U.S. territories. Driver's licenses from the following states or territory will not be accepted for building entry and one of the alternate forms of ID listed below will be required.

    DHS has determined that regular driver's licenses (and ID cards) from the following jurisdictions are not acceptable for entry into DOE facilities: Alaska, Louisiana, New York, American Samoa, Maine, Oklahoma, Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington, and Minnesota.

    Acceptable alternate forms of Photo-ID include: U.S. Passport or Passport Card; an Enhanced Driver's License or Enhanced ID-Card issued by the states of Minnesota, New York or Washington (Enhanced licenses issued by these states are clearly marked Enhanced or Enhanced Driver's License); A military ID or other Federal government issued Photo-ID card.

    Docket: The docket is available for review at www.regulations.gov, including Federal Register notices, public meeting attendee lists and transcripts, comments, and other supporting documents/materials. All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. However, not all documents listed in the index may be publicly available, such as information that is exempt from public disclosure.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on December 22, 2015. Kathleen B. Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32893 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-8134; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-256-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus Model A300 series airplanes; and Airbus Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes; and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes). This proposed AD was prompted by a report of cracking of the lower tension bolt area at the rib one junction (both sides) of the lower wing. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections for cracking of the fasteners and of the fitting around the fastener holes at the Frame (FR) 40 lower wing location, and corrective actions if necessary. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct crack initiation of the fittings of the FR40 lower wing locations, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: (202) 493-2251.

    Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8134; or in person at the Docket Operations office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone (800) 647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2125; fax 425-227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-8134; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-256-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0272, dated December 12, 2014 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Model A300 series airplanes; and Airbus Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes; and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes). The MCAI states:

    Following the A300-600 Extended Service Goal (ESG2) exercise, specific inspections for cracks were performed in fittings of frame (FR) 40, in areas not covered by any existing task.

    Findings were identified on an A300-600 aeroplane withdrawn from service in the lower tension bolt area at rib one junction (both sides).

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to crack initiation, affecting the structural integrity of the aeroplane.

    To address this potential unsafe condition, an inspection programme was developed for the fitting around the fastener holes located at FR40 lower wing junction, left-hand (LH) and right-hand (RH) sides.

    For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD requires repetitive High Frequency Eddy Current (HFEC) inspections and rototest inspections of the fitting around the fastener holes located at FR40 lower wing junction and, depending on findings, accomplishment of a repair.

    The corrective actions include a repair using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

    You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8134.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Airbus Service Bulletins A300-57-0257 and A300-57-6115, both dated April 4, 2014. The service information describes procedures for repetitive inspections for cracking of the fasteners and of the fitting around the fastener holes at the FR40 lower wing location. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, we have been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design.

    Explanation of “RC” Procedures and Tests in Service Information

    The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), to enhance the AD system. One enhancement was a new process for annotating which procedures and tests in the service information are required for compliance with an AD. Differentiating these procedures and tests from other tasks in the service information is expected to improve an owner's/operator's understanding of crucial AD requirements and help provide consistent judgment in AD compliance. The procedures and tests identified as Required for Compliance (RC) in any service information have a direct effect on detecting, preventing, resolving, or eliminating an identified unsafe condition.

    As specified in a NOTE under the Accomplishment Instructions of the specified service information, procedures and tests that are identified as RC in any service information must be done to comply with the proposed AD. However, procedures and tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an alternative method of compliance (AMOC), provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC will require approval of an AMOC.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 166 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We also estimate that it would take about 12 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $169,320, or $1,020 per product.

    We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide a cost estimate for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. “Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs,” describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in “Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    We determined that this proposed AD would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    1. Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866;

    2. Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

    4. Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2015-8134; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-256-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by February 16, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Airbus airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of this AD, certificated in any category.

    (1) Airbus Model A300 B2-1A, B2-1C, B2K-3C, B2-203, B4-2C, B4-103, and B4-203 airplanes.

    (2) Airbus Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, B4-622, B4-605R, B4-622R, F4-605R, F4-622R, and C4-605R Variant F airplanes.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 57, Wings.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by a report of cracking of the lower tension bolt area at rib one junction (both sides) of the lower wing. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct crack initiation of the fittings of the Frame (FR) 40 lower wing locations, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

    Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

    (g) Repetitive High Frequency Eddy Current Inspections

    Within 1,000 flight hours after the effective date of this AD: Do a high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection for cracking of fasteners 1 through 3 at the left-hand and right-hand sides of the FR40 lower junction, and of the fitting around the fastener holes, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletins A300-57-0257 (for Model A300 B2-1A, B2-1C, B2K-3C, B2-203, B4-2C, B4-103, and B4-203 airplanes) or A300-57-6115 (for Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, B4-622, B4-605R, B4-622R, F4-605R, F4-622R, and C4-605R Variant F airplanes), both dated April 4, 2014, as applicable. If no cracking is found, repeat the HFEC inspection at intervals not to exceed 1,000 flight hours until a rototest inspection required by paragraph (h)(2) of this AD has been done.

    (h) Repetitive Rototest Inspections

    Within 36 months after the effective date of this AD: Remove the fasteners and measure the diameter of the fastener holes; and, before further flight, do the applicable actions required by paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0257 (for Model A300 B2-1A, B2-1C, B2K-3C, B2-203, B4-2C, B4-103, and B4-203 airplanes) or A300-57-6115 (for Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, B4-622, B4-605R, B4-622R, F4-605R, F4-622R, and C4-605R Variant F airplanes), as applicable.

    (1) If one or more of the hole diameters is outside the tolerance of the nominal diameter, and outside the tolerance of the first and second oversize: Do the applicable corrective actions required by paragraph (i) of this AD.

    (2) If all of the hole diameters are within the tolerance of the nominal diameter or the first or second oversize: Do detailed and rototest inspections for cracking of the fastener holes at the left-hand and right-hand sides of the FR40 lower junction, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletins A300-57-0257 (for Model A300 B2-1A, B2-1C, B2K-3C, B2-203, B4-2C, B4-103, and B4-203 airplanes) or A300-57-6115 (for Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, B4-622, B4-605R, B4-622R, F4-605R, F4-622R, and C4-605R Variant F airplanes), both dated April 4, 2014, as applicable. If no cracking is found, before further flight, install new fasteners of the same diameter in special clearance fit for fasteners 1 through 3 of the FR40 lower junction, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletins A300-57-0257 or A300-57-6115, both dated April 4, 2014, as applicable. Repeat the rototest inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 7,000 flight cycles. Accomplishment of a rototest inspection required by this paragraph terminates the repetitive HFEC inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

    (i) Corrective Actions

    If, during any inspection required by this AD, any crack is found, or one or more of the hole diameters are outside the tolerance of the nominal diameter: Repair before further flight using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

    (j) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2125; fax 425-227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

    (2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

    (3) Required for Compliance (RC): Except as required by paragraph (i) of this AD: If any service information contains procedures or tests that are identified as RC, those procedures and tests must be done to comply with this AD; any procedures or tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC require approval of an AMOC.

    (k) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Airworthiness Directive 2014-0272, dated December 12, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2015-8134.

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 21, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32848 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-8130; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-175-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines. This proposed AD was prompted by reports of blocked drain lines at the engine forward strut that caused flammable fluid to accumulate in a flammable leakage zone. This proposed AD would require doing the following actions on the left strut and right strut: A one-time cleaning of certain forward strut drain lines; installing new forward strut drain lines and insulation blankets; a leak check of the forward strut drain lines; and repair if any leak is found. This proposed AD would also require revising the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate a certain airworthiness limitation. We are proposing this AD to prevent blockage of forward strut drain lines, which could cause flammable fluids to collect in the forward strut area and potentially cause an uncontrolled fire or cause failure of engine attachment structure and consequent airplane loss.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8130.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8130; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kevin Nguyen, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6501; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-8130; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-175-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    We received multiple reports of the forward drain lines of the engine struts being blocked with coked particles. Coked particles form when hydraulic fluid is exposed to, and degraded by, the high temperatures of the hot core zone of the engine and the hot pneumatic bleed ducts. In two events, fluids backed up into the electrical (left) side of the disconnect box assembly of the strut system, causing an electrical fault that resulted in a false engine indicating and crew-alerting system (EICAS) message for overheat detection. Flammable fluids collecting in the electrical side of the disconnect box assembly of the strut system can cause an electrical fault for electrical components, and create a potential ignition source for trapped flammable fluids that can lead to a fire.

    In three other events, flammable fluids backed up and pooled in the fluid (right) side of the disconnect box assembly of the strut system. Flammable fluids collecting in the disconnect box assembly of the strut system are a fire hazard because that area has no fire detection, containment, or extinguishing capability, and with an ignition source can result in an uncontrolled fire in the strut. Also, flammable fluids pooling in the disconnect box assembly of the strut system can spill over onto the engine and initiate an engine fire in the engine core cavity compartment.

    Hydraulic fluid collecting in the disconnect box assembly of the strut system can cause contamination and hydrogen embrittlement of the titanium structure resulting in cracks that can compromise the engine firewall by allowing a fire in the engine area to enter the strut; or by allowing flammable fluids to leak down and initiate an engine fire in the engine core cavity compartment, and also compromise the engine fire extinguishing system. Hydraulic fluid contamination, including contamination caused by hydraulic fluid in its liquid, vapor, and/or solid (i.e., coked) form, in the strut forward dry bay can lead to hydrogen embrittlement of the titanium fittings of the forward engine mount bulkhead and also the consequent inability of the fittings to carry engine loads, resulting in the loss or separation of an engine. Hydrogen embrittlement could also cause a through-crack formation across the fittings through which an engine fire could breach into the strut, resulting in an uncontained strut fire. We are proposing this AD to prevent blockage of forward strut drain lines, which could cause flammable fluids to collect in the forward strut area and potentially cause an uncontrolled fire or cause failure of engine attachment structure and consequent airplane loss.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed the following service information:

    • Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015. The service information describes procedures for installing new forward strut drain lines and insulation blankets on the left and right engines.

    • Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-54-0028, Revision 1, dated December 10, 2013. This service information describes procedures for a general visual inspection for hydraulic fluid contamination of the interior of the strut forward dry bay and corrective actions.

    • Airworthiness Limitation 54-AWL-01, “Forward Strut Drain Line” as specified in Section D.4, Pratt and Whitney Forward Strut Drain Line, dated March 2014, of the Boeing 777 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document Section 9, Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) and Certification Maintenance Requirements (CMRs), D622W001-9, dated October 2014. This service information describes an airworthiness limitation task for the functional check of the forward strut drain line.

    This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously. For information on the procedures and compliance times specified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015; and Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-54-0028, Revision 1, dated December 10, 2013: See this service information at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8130.

    The phrase “corrective actions” is used in this proposed AD. “Corrective actions” are actions that correct or address any condition found. Corrective actions in an AD could include, for example, repairs.

    This proposed AD would require revisions to certain operator maintenance documents to include a new airworthiness limitation containing repetitive functional checks of the forward engine strut drain line. Compliance with these actions is required by 14 CFR 91.403(c). For airplanes that have been previously modified, altered, or repaired in the areas addressed by this AD, the operator may not be able to accomplish the actions described in the revisions. In this situation, to comply with 14 CFR 91.403(c), the operator must request approval for an alternative method of compliance in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD. The request should include a description of changes to the required inspections that will ensure the continued operational safety of the airplane.

    Other Relevant Rulemaking

    On September 23, 2014, we issued AD 2014-20-10, Amendment 39-17983 (79 FR 60331, October 7, 2014), for certain The Boeing Company Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines. AD 2014-20-10 currently requires repetitive general visual inspections of the strut forward dry bay for the presence of hydraulic fluid, and related investigative and corrective actions (including checking drain lines for blockage due to hydraulic fluid coking; cleaning or replacing drain lines to allow drainage) if necessary; and adds airplanes to the applicability. AD 2014-20-10 was prompted by reports of hydraulic fluid contamination (including contamination caused by hydraulic fluid in its liquid, vapor, and/or solid (coked) form) found in the strut forward dry bay.

    The actions required by AD 2014-20-10, Amendment 39-17983 (79 FR 60331, October 7, 2014), are intended to detect and correct hydraulic fluid contamination of the strut forward dry bay, which could result in hydrogen embrittlement of the titanium forward engine mount bulkhead fittings, and consequent inability of the fittings to carry engine loads and resulting in engine separation. Hydrogen embrittlement could also cause a through-crack formation across the fittings through which an engine fire could breach into the strut, resulting in an uncontained strut fire.

    Accomplishment of the actions specified below terminates the inspections required by paragraph (g) of AD 2014-20-10, Amendment 39-17983 (79 FR 60331, October 7, 2014), at the modified area only; provided the actions are accomplished concurrently, or the actions specified below for Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-54-0028, Revision 1, dated December 10, 2013, are done after accomplishing the actions specified in paragraphs (g)(1) through (g)(5) of this proposed AD.

    • The actions specified in paragraphs (g)(1) through (g)(4) of this proposed AD on the left and right struts, done in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015; and the revision done as specified in paragraph (g)(5) of this proposed AD.

    • A one-time general visual inspection for hydraulic fluid contamination of the interior of the strut forward dry bay, and all applicable related investigative and corrective actions, done in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-54-0028, Revision 1, dated December 10, 2013.

    On August 14, 2015, we issued AD 2015-17-13, Amendment 39-18246 (80 FR 52948, September 2, 2015) for certain The Boeing Company Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines. AD 2015-17-13 currently requires repetitive functional checks for blockage of the forward strut drain line, and doing corrective actions (including cleaning or replacing any blocked drain lines) if necessary; and a one-time cleaning of certain forward strut drain lines. AD 2015-17-13 also includes an optional terminating action, which specifies accomplishing the actions in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015 and incorporating Airworthiness Limitation 54-AWL-01, “Forward Strut Drain Line” into the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable. AD 2015-17-13 was prompted by reports of blocked drain lines at the engine forward strut that caused flammable fluid to accumulate in a flammable leakage zone. The actions required by AD 2015-17-13 are intended to detect and correct blockage of forward strut drain lines, which could cause flammable fluids to collect in the forward strut area and potentially cause an uncontrolled fire or cause failure of engine attachment structure and consequent airplane loss.

    Accomplishment of the actions required by paragraph (g) of this proposed AD (doing the actions specified Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015; and incorporating Airworthiness Limitation 54-AWL-01, “Forward Strut Drain Line” as specified in Section D.4, Pratt and Whitney Forward Strut Drain Line, dated March 2014, of the Boeing 777 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document Section 9, Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) and Certification Maintenance Requirements (CMRs), D622W001-9, dated October 2014, into the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable) would terminate the actions required by paragraph (g) of AD 2015-17-13, Amendment 39-18246 (80 FR 52948, September 2, 2015), at the modified area only.

    Explanation of “RC” Steps in Service Information

    The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), to enhance the AD system. One enhancement was a new process for annotating which steps in the service information are required for compliance with an AD. Differentiating these steps from other tasks in the service information is expected to improve an owner's/operator's understanding of crucial AD requirements and help provide consistent judgment in AD compliance. The steps identified as Required for Compliance (RC) in any service information identified previously have a direct effect on detecting, preventing, resolving, or eliminating an identified unsafe condition.

    For service information that contains steps that are labeled as RC, the following provisions apply: (1) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD, and an AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures; and (2) steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 54 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on U.S. operators
    Installing new drain lines and insulation blankets, doing a leak check, and revising the maintenance or inspection program 16 work-hours × $85 per hour = $1,360 $17,080 $18,440 $995,760

    We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD.

    According to the manufacturer, some of the costs of this proposed AD may be covered under warranty, thereby reducing the cost impact on affected individuals. We do not control warranty coverage for affected individuals. As a result, we have included all costs in our cost estimate.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    We determined that this proposed AD would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

    (2) Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979),

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

    (4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2015-8130; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-175-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by February 16, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD affects the ADs specified in paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this AD.

    (1) AD 2014-20-10, Amendment 39-17983 (79 FR 60331, October 7, 2014).

    (2) AD 2015-17-13, Amendment 39-18246 (80 FR 52948, September 2, 2015).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 777-200 and -300 series airplanes, certificated in any category, equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 71, Powerplant.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by reports of blocked drain lines at the engine forward strut that caused flammable fluid to accumulate in a flammable leakage zone. We are issuing this AD to prevent blockage of forward strut drain lines, which could cause flammable fluids to collect in the forward strut area and potentially cause an uncontrolled fire or cause failure of engine attachment structure and consequent airplane loss.

    (f) Compliance

    Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

    (g) Actions

    Within 4,000 flight cycles or 750 days after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later: Accomplish the actions specified in paragraphs (g)(1) through (g)(4) of this AD on the left and right struts, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015; and accomplish the revision specified in paragraph (g)(5) of this AD.

    (1) Disconnect and remove the forward strut drain lines.

    (2) Clean the left system disconnect, the strut forward lower spar, and the forward fireseal pan drain lines.

    (3) Install new forward strut drain lines and insulation blankets.

    (4) Do a leak check of the forward strut drain lines, for any leak, and repair if any leak is found.

    (5) Revise the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate Airworthiness Limitation 54-AWL-01, “Forward Strut Drain Line” as specified in Section D.4, Pratt and Whitney Forward Strut Drain Line, dated March 2014, of the Boeing 777 Maintenance Planning Data (MPD) Document Section 9, Airworthiness Limitations (AWLs) and Certification Maintenance Requirements (CMRs), D622W001-9, dated October 2014. The initial compliance time for Airworthiness Limitation 54-AWL-01 is within 2,000 flight cycles or 1,500 days, whichever occurs first, after doing the actions specified in paragraphs (g)(1) through (g)(4) of this AD.

    (h) No Alternative Actions or Intervals

    After accomplishing the revision required by paragraph (g)(5) of this AD, no alternative actions (e.g., inspections) or intervals may be used unless the actions or intervals are approved as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD.

    (i) Terminating Action for Other ADs

    (1) Accomplishing the actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD terminates the actions required by paragraph (g) of AD 2015-17-13, Amendment 39-18246 (80 FR 52948, September 2, 2015, at the modified area only.

    (2) Accomplishing the actions specified in paragraphs (i)(2)(i) and (i)(2)(ii) of this AD terminates the inspections required by paragraph (g) of AD 2014-20-10, Amendment 39-17983 (79 FR 60331, October 7, 2014), at the modified area only, provided the actions are accomplished concurrently, or the actions specified in paragraph (i)(2)(ii) of this AD are done after accomplishing the actions specified in paragraph (i)(2)(i) of this AD.

    (i) The actions specified in paragraphs (g)(1) through (g)(4) of this AD on the left and right struts are done in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, Revision 1, dated April 15, 2015; and the revision specified in paragraph (g)(5) of this AD is done.

    (ii) A one-time general visual inspection for hydraulic fluid contamination (including contamination caused by hydraulic fluid in its liquid, vapor, and/or solid (coked) form) of the interior of the strut forward dry bay, and all applicable related investigative and corrective actions (including checking drain lines for blockage due to hydraulic fluid coking, and cleaning or replacing drain lines to allow drainage) are done in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-54-0028, Revision 1, dated December 10, 2013, except where Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-54-0028, Revision 1, dated December 10, 2013, specifies to contact Boeing for repair, the repair must be done using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (k) of this AD.

    (j) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 777-71-0055, dated June 12, 2014, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (k) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (l)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

    (2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

    (3) For service information that contains steps that are labeled as Required for Compliance (RC), the provisions of paragraphs (k)(3)(i) and (k)(3)(ii) apply.

    (i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

    (ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    (l) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Kevin Nguyen, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6501; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 21, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32852 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-8132; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-127-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by a report of cracks found during maintenance inspections on certain lugs of the 10VU rack side fittings in the cockpit. This proposed AD would require repetitive inspections for cracking of the lugs on the 10VU rack side fittings, and repair of any cracking. We are proposing this AD to prevent loss of flight-critical information displayed to the flightcrew during a critical phase of flight, such as an approach or takeoff, which could result in loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com.

    You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8132; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1405; fax 425-227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-8132; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-127-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2015-0170, dated August 18, 2015 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. The MCAI states:

    During an unscheduled maintenance operation on an A330 aeroplane, the 10VU rack was removed for access and cracks were discovered on 10VU rack side fittings on lugs 1, 3, and 4. As a similar design is installed on A320 family aeroplanes, a sampling review was done to determine the possible fleet impact. The result showed that several aeroplanes had cracked or broken 10VU rack side fittings.

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to a high vibration level on the primary flight- and navigation displays during critical flight phases (takeoff and landing), possibly creating reading difficulties for the crew.

    Prompted by these findings, Airbus developed mod 35869 to reinforce the affected rack fitting lugs. For in-service aeroplanes, Airbus published Service Bulletin (SB) A320-92-1087 to provide inspection and repair instructions.

    For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD requires repetitive detailed inspections (DET) of the affected 10VU rack fitting lugs and, depending on findings, accomplishment of a repair.

    You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8132.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-92-1087, Revision 02, dated November 25, 2014. The service information describes procedures for repetitive inspections for cracking of the lugs on the 10VU rack side fittings, and repair of any cracking. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this AD.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, we have been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of these same type designs.

    Explanation of “RC” Procedures and Tests in Service Information

    The FAA worked in conjunction with industry, under the Airworthiness Directive Implementation Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), to enhance the AD system. One enhancement was a new process for annotating which procedures and tests in the service information are required for compliance with an AD. Differentiating these procedures and tests from other tasks in the service information is expected to improve an owner's/operator's understanding of crucial AD requirements and help provide consistent judgment in AD compliance. The procedures and tests identified as RC (required for compliance) in any service information have a direct effect on detecting, preventing, resolving, or eliminating an identified unsafe condition.

    As specified in a Note under the Accomplishment Instructions of the specified service information, procedures and tests that are identified as RC in any service information must be done to comply with the proposed AD. However, procedures and tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an alternative method of compliance (AMOC), provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC will require approval of an AMOC.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 959 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We also estimate that it would take about 2 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this proposed AD, and 1 work-hour per product to report inspection findings. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $244,545, or $255 per product.

    In addition, we estimate that any necessary repair would take about 84 work-hours, for a cost of $7,140 per product. We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide part cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these actions.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    A federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a current valid OMB control number. The control number for the collection of information required by this AD is 2120-0056. The paperwork cost associated with this AD has been detailed in the Costs of Compliance section of this document and includes time for reviewing instructions, as well as completing and reviewing the collection of information. Therefore, all reporting associated with this AD is mandatory. Comments concerning the accuracy of this burden and suggestions for reducing the burden should be directed to the FAA at 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591, ATTN: Information Collection Clearance Officer, AES-200.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. “Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs,” describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in “Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    We determined that this proposed AD would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    1. Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866;

    2. Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979);

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

    4. Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2015-8132; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-127-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by February 16, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to the Airbus airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(4) of this AD, certificated in any category; except airplanes on which Airbus Modification 35869 has been embodied in production.

    (1) Airbus Model A318-111, -112, -121, and -122 airplanes.

    (2) Airbus Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, -115, -131, -132, and -133 airplanes.

    (3) Airbus Model A320-211, -212, -214, -231, -232, and -233 airplanes.

    (4) Airbus Model A321-111, -112, -131, -211, -212, -213, -231, and -232 airplanes.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 25, Equipment/Furnishings.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by a report of cracks found during maintenance inspections on certain lugs of the 10VU rack side fittings in the cockpit. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of flight-critical information displayed to the flightcrew during a critical phase of flight, such as an approach or takeoff, which could result in loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery.

    (f) Compliance

    Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

    (g) Repetitive Inspections and Repair

    At the later of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2) of this AD: Do a detailed inspection for cracking of the lugs on the 10VU rack side fittings in the cockpit, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-92-1087, Revision 02, dated November 25, 2014. If any crack is found, before further flight, repair in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-92-1087, Revision 02, dated November 25, 2014. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 20,000 flight cycles or 40,000 flight hours, whichever occurs first. Repair of the 10VU rack lugs does not terminate the repetitive inspections required by this paragraph.

    (1) Before the accumulation of 30,000 total flight cycles or 60,000 total flight hours, whichever occurs first since the airplane's first flight.

    (2) Within 24 months after the effective date of this AD.

    (h) Reporting Requirement

    Submit a report of any findings (positive and negative) of any inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD to Airbus at the address specified in paragraph (j)(2) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD.

    (1) If the inspection was done on or after the effective date of this AD: Submit the report within 90 days after the inspection.

    (2) If the inspection was done before the effective date of this AD: Submit the report within 90 days after the effective date of this AD.

    (i) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Sanjay Ralhan, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1405; fax 425-227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]. Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

    (2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

    (3) Reporting Requirements: A federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a current valid OMB Control Number. The OMB Control Number for this information collection is 2120-0056. Public reporting for this collection of information is estimated to be approximately 5 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, completing and reviewing the collection of information. All responses to this collection of information are mandatory. Comments concerning the accuracy of this burden and suggestions for reducing the burden should be directed to the FAA at: 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591, Attn: Information Collection Clearance Officer, AES-200.

    (4) Required for Compliance (RC): If any service information contains procedures or tests that are identified as RC, those procedures and tests must be done to comply with this AD; any procedures or tests that are not identified as RC are recommended. Those procedures and tests that are not identified as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the procedures and tests identified as RC can be done and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition. Any substitutions or changes to procedures or tests identified as RC require approval of an AMOC.

    (j) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Airworthiness Directive 2015-0170, dated August 18, 2015, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8132.

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 18, 2015. Jeffrey E. Duven, Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32885 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-8133; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-101-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by reports of heavy corrosion and chrome damage on the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left main landing gears (MLGs). This proposed AD would require repetitive lubrication of the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left MLGs; repetitive inspections of these assemblies for corrosion and chrome damage, and related investigative and corrective actions if necessary; and the installation of new or modified trunnion pin assembly components, which would terminate the repetitive lubrication and repetitive inspections. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct heavy corrosion and chrome damage on the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left MLGs, which could result in cracking of these assemblies and collapse of the MLGs.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by February 16, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    Mail: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8133.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8133; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Alan Pohl, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6450; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2015-8133; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-101-AD at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    We received reports of heavy corrosion and chrome damage of the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left main MLGs on Boeing Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series airplanes. Investigation revealed that the lubrication between the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies and the outer cylinder assembly bushings and the lubrication of the aft trunnion bearing ball was not sufficient to prevent wear and corrosion. It was also determined that the clearances between the forward and aft trunnion pin cross bolt bushings and the cross bolts could affect the rate of wear and corrosion of the MLG trunnion pin assemblies. Corrosion and chrome damage of the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left main MLGs, if not corrected, could result in cracking of these assemblies and collapse of the MLGs.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. The service information describes procedures for lubricating the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies on the left and right MLGs, inspecting the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies for corrosion or damage, and performing corrective actions. In addition, the service information describes procedures for installing a new forward trunnion pin housing assembly, seal, and retainer configuration. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously, except as discussed under “Differences Between this Proposed AD and the Service Information.” For information on the procedures and compliance times, see this service information at http://regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-8133.

    The phrase “related investigative actions” is used in this proposed AD. “Related investigative actions” are follow-on actions that (1) are related to the primary actions, and (2) further investigate the nature of any condition found. Related investigative actions in an AD could include, for example, inspections.

    The phrase “corrective actions” is used in this proposed AD. “Corrective actions” are actions that correct or address any condition found. Corrective actions in an AD could include, for example, repairs.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 1,023 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on U.S.
  • operators
  • Lubrication 2 work-hours × $85 per hour = $170, per lubrication cycle $0 $170 $173,190, per lubrication cycle (1,023 airplanes). Inspection (Groups 1 and 2, Configuration 1 airplanes) 51 work-hours × $85 per hour = $4,335, per inspection cycle 0 4,335 $4,282,980, per inspection cycle (988 airplanes). Inspection (Group 3 airplanes) 93 work-hours × $85 per hour = $7,905, per inspection cycle 0 7,905 $276,675, per inspection cycle (35 airplanes). Replacement/overhaul (Groups 1 and 2) 84 work-hours × $85 per hour = $7,140 0 7,140 7,054,320 (988 airplanes). Replacement/overhaul (Group 3 airplanes) 86 work-hours × $85 per hour = $7,310 0 7,310 $255,850 (35 airplanes).

    We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    Title 49 of the United States Code specifies the FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety. Subtitle I, section 106, describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII: Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the Agency's authority.

    We are issuing this rulemaking under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart III, Section 44701: “General requirements.” Under that section, Congress charges the FAA with promoting safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations for practices, methods, and procedures the Administrator finds necessary for safety in air commerce. This regulation is within the scope of that authority because it addresses an unsafe condition that is likely to exist or develop on products identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

    We determined that this proposed AD would not have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132. This proposed AD would not have a substantial direct effect on the States, on the relationship between the national Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

    (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866,

    (2) Is not a “significant rule” under the DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034, February 26, 1979),

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska, and

    (4) Will not have a significant economic impact, positive or negative, on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

    Air transportation, Aircraft, Aviation safety, Incorporation by reference, Safety.

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, under the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the FAA proposes to amend 14 CFR part 39 as follows:

    PART 39—AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES 1. The authority citation for part 39 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40113, 44701.

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2015-8133; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-101-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by February 16, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to certain The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 32, Landing Gear.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by reports of heavy corrosion and chrome damage of the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left main landing gears (MLG). We are issuing this AD to detect and correct heavy corrosion and chrome damage of the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the right and left MLGs, which could result in cracking of these assemblies and collapse of the MLGs.

    (f) Compliance

    Comply with this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done.

    (g) Repetitive Lubrication of MLG Trunnion Pin Assemblies

    For airplanes in Groups 1 and 2, Configuration 1, and airplanes in Group 3, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015: Except as required by paragraph (k) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in Table 1 or Table 2 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015, lubricate the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies of the left and right MLGs, in accordance with Work Package 1 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. Repeat the lubrication thereafter at intervals not to exceed those specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. Accomplishment of paragraph (i) of this AD terminates the repetitive lubrication required by this paragraph.

    (h) Repetitive Inspections, Corrective Actions, and Lubrication

    For airplanes in Groups 1 and 2, Configuration 1, and airplanes in Group 3, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015: Except as required by paragraph (k) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in Table 1 or Table 2 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015, do a general visual inspection of the left and right MLGs at the forward and aft trunnion pin locations and the visible surfaces of the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies for signs of corrosion or chrome plating damage and lubricate the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies, in accordance with Work Package 2 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. Repeat the general visual inspections thereafter at intervals not to exceed those specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. If any discrepancy is found during any inspection required by this paragraph, before further flight, do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions in accordance with Work Package 2 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737 32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. Accomplishment of the actions required by paragraph (i) of this AD terminates the repetitive inspections required by this paragraph.

    (i) Modification of MLG Trunnion Pin Assemblies

    For airplanes in Groups 1 and 2, Configuration 1, and airplanes in Group 3, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015: Except as required by paragraph (k) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in Table 1 or Table 2 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015, modify and lubricate the left and right MLG trunnion pin assemblies, and do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions, in accordance with Work Package 3 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015. Accomplishment of the actions in Work Package 3 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015, terminates the repetitive lubrication required by paragraph (g) of this AD and the repetitive inspections required by paragraph (h) of this AD.

    (j) Replacement of MLG Forward Trunnion Pin Housing Assembly Seal and Retainer

    For airplanes in Groups 1 and 2, Configuration 2, as identified in Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015: At the applicable time specified in Table 3, paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015, replace the seal, retainer, and support ring assembly with a new seal and retainer configuration, install the forward trunnion pin assembly into the housing assembly, and lubricate the forward and aft trunnion pin assemblies for the left and right MLGs, in accordance with Work Package 4 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015.

    (k) Exception to Service Information Specification

    Where paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, Revision 1, dated May 29, 2015, specifies a compliance time “from the original issue date on this service bulletin,” this AD requires compliance within the specified compliance time “after the effective date of this AD.”

    (l) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for the requirements of paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-32-1448, dated May 19, 2011, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (m) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (n) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected].

    (2) Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (n) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Alan Pohl, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA Seattle Aircraft Certification Office, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6450; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected].

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 21, 2015. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32850 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Parts 679 and 680 [Docket No. 150904826-5826-01] RIN 0648-BF35 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska; Fixed-Gear Commercial Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program; Cost Recovery Authorized Payment Methods AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS issues a proposed rule to revise the authorized methods for payment of cost recovery fees for the Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Program and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program. This proposed rule is necessary to improve data security procedures and to reduce administrative costs of processing cost recovery fee payments. The proposed rule is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, and other applicable laws.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before February 1, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0113, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2015-0113, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Electronic copies of the following documents are available from http://www.regulations.gov or from the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov:

    • The Regulatory Impact Review/Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (RIR/IRFA) (collectively referred to as the “Analysis”) and the Categorical Exclusion prepared for this action.

    Written comments regarding the burden-hour estimates or other aspects of the collection-of-information requirements contained in this action may be submitted by mail to NMFS at the above address; by email to [email protected]; or by fax to 202-395-5806.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Keeley Kent, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for Action

    NMFS manages the groundfish fisheries in the Federal exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Alaska under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) prepared the fishery management plans (FMPs) under the authority of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMPs appear at 50 CFR parts 600 and 679.

    The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) and NMFS manage fishing for Pacific halibut through regulations established under the authority of the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982 (Halibut Act). The IPHC promulgates regulations governing the halibut fishery under the Convention between the United States and Canada for the Preservation of the Halibut Fishery of the Northern Pacific Ocean and Bering Sea (Convention). The IPHC's regulations are subject to approval by the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). NMFS publishes the IPHC's regulations as annual management measures pursuant to 50 CFR 300.62. The Halibut Act, at sections 773c(a) and (b), provides the Secretary with general responsibility to carry out the Convention and the Halibut Act. The Halibut Act, at section 773c(c), also provides the Council with authority to develop regulations, including limited access regulations, that are in addition to, and not in conflict with, approved IPHC regulations. Regulations developed by the Council may be implemented by NMFS only after approval by the Secretary. The Council developed the Individual Fishing Quota Program (IFQ Program) for the commercial halibut and sablefish fisheries, codified at 50 CFR part 679, under the authority of section 773 of the Halibut Act and section 303(b) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    The king and Tanner crab fisheries in the EEZ of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands are managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP). The Crab FMP was prepared by the Council under the Magnuson-Stevens Act as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-199, section 801). Regulations implementing the Crab FMP, including the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program (CR Program), are located at 50 CFR part 680.

    Background

    This proposed rule would revise authorized payment methods in the cost recovery fee programs for the IFQ Program and the CR Program. The proposed rule would improve data security procedures for protecting financial information submitted to NMFS for payment of cost recovery fees by eliminating manual processing of credit card payments by NMFS and requiring use of the Federal Government's online payment system, pay.gov, for all credit card payments. This proposed rule would also reduce administrative costs for the cost recovery programs by eliminating manual processing of paper check and money order payments and requiring electronic payment of all cost recovery fee payments to NMFS using pay.gov or Fedwire Funds Service (Fedwire) beginning with the cost recovery fee payment due in 2020. Reduced administrative costs to NMFS would result in lower expenses subject to cost recovery fees. Therefore, this action would be expected to reduce fees for participants in the IFQ Program and CR Program subject to a cost recovery fee relative to the status quo.

    The following sections describe authorities for and operation of cost recovery programs, the cost recovery program for the IFQ Program, the cost recovery program for the CR Program, the current authorized cost recovery fee payment methods, the need for this proposed rule, and the proposed rule to improve administration of the cost recovery programs.

    Cost Recovery—General

    Section 304(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act specifies that the Secretary is authorized, and shall collect a fee, to recover the actual costs directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement of any limited access privilege program (LAPP) and community development quota program (CDQ) that allocates a percentage of the total allowable catch of a fishery to such program. Section 304(d) also specifies that such fee shall not exceed three percent of the ex-vessel value of fish harvested under any such program.

    The IFQ Program is a LAPP as defined in section 304(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. NMFS implemented a cost recovery fee program for the IFQ Program in 2000 (65 FR 14919, March 20, 2000). Regulations implementing the IFQ Program cost recovery program are located at § 679.45. The CR Program is also a LAPP as defined in section 304(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Section 313(j) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act provided supplementary authority to section 304(d) and additional detail for cost recovery provisions specific to the CR Program. NMFS implemented a cost recovery fee program with the final rule to implement the CR Program in 2005 (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005). Regulations implementing the CR Program cost recovery program are located at § 680.44.

    NMFS recovers the incremental costs of managing and enforcing the IFQ Program and CR Program annually through a fee paid by persons who hold a permit granting an exclusive access privilege to a portion of the total allowable catches in IFQ Program and CR Program fisheries. NMFS calculates cost recovery fees for fish that are landed and deducted from the total allowable catch in the fisheries subject to cost recovery.

    To calculate the annual cost recovery fee for each permit holder in the IFQ Program and the CR Program, NMFS (1) calculates the ex-vessel value for each landing of a fishery species allocated under the program; (2) calculates the total ex-vessel value of all fish landed under the program by adding together the ex-vessel values of each fishery species under the program; (3) calculates the total program cost by adding together the incremental costs of management, data collection, and enforcement for each fishery under the program that would not have been incurred but for the implementation of the program; (4) calculates a fee percentage (not to exceed three percent of the ex-vessel value of fish harvested under any such program) for the program by dividing total program costs by the total ex-vessel value for all fishery species under the program; and (5) calculates the fee amount that will be assessed for each permit holder by multiplying the fee percentage by the permit holder's total ex-vessel value of landings under the program. The final figure is the annual cost recovery fee owed by each permit holder. The amount of cost recovery fees collected varies annually because total ex-vessel value and total program costs fluctuate from year to year.

    Cost Recovery for the IFQ Program

    The Council recommended the IFQ Program in 1992, and NMFS published a final rule to implement the IFQ Program on November 9, 1993 (58 FR 59375). Fishing under the program began on March 15, 1995. The IFQ Program limits access to the halibut and sablefish fisheries to those persons holding quota shares (QS) in specific regulatory areas. QS equate to individual harvesting privileges that are given effect annually through the issuance of IFQ permits. An annual IFQ permit authorizes the permit holder to harvest a specified amount of IFQ halibut or sablefish in a regulatory area.

    The final rule to implement the cost recovery program for the IFQ fishery was published in March 2000 (65 FR 14919, March 20, 2000). Section 679.45 specifies the process that NMFS uses to determine, assess, and collect cost recovery fees for the IFQ Program. As described above in the “Cost Recovery—General” section, NMFS annually calculates the cost recovery fee percentage for halibut and sablefish IFQ permit holders by dividing total program costs for the IFQ Program by the total ex-vessel value of the catch subject to the IFQ cost recovery fee for the current year. The IFQ Program fishing year takes place within a calendar year, generally beginning in March and ending in November. The method used by NMFS to calculate the IFQ cost recovery fee percentage is described at § 679.45(d)(2)(ii). Regulations at § 679.45(d)(1) and (d)(3)(i) require NMFS to publish the IFQ cost recovery fee percentage and the IFQ standard prices used to calculate the total ex-vessel value of IFQ halibut and sablefish landed in the Federal Register during the last quarter of each calendar year. NMFS published the 2014 IFQ cost recovery fee percentage and IFQ standard prices on December 9, 2014 (79 FR 73045).

    Each December, NMFS sends IFQ permit holders a bill for the cost recovery fee liability with an itemization of their IFQ halibut and sablefish landings for the year. The IFQ permit holder is responsible for submitting this payment to NMFS on or before the due date of January 31 following the year in which the IFQ halibut and sablefish landings were made.

    If an IFQ permit holder who owes a fee fails to submit payment in full by January 31 following the year in which the landings were made, NMFS sends the permit holder an Initial Administrative Determination (IAD) with the amount of fee liability owed. If a permit holder fails to make payment after receiving the IAD, NMFS may disapprove any transfer of IFQ or QS to or from the permit holder until the fee liability is reconciled. If further action is necessary, NMFS may invalidate any IFQ fishing permits held by the permit holder. Additional information on the administration of the IFQ Program cost recovery program is provided in Section 3.5.1.2 of the Analysis.

    Cost Recovery for the CR Program

    NMFS published the final rule to implement the CR Program in 2005 (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005). The CR Program allocates QS for nine crab fisheries under the Crab FMP: Bristol Bay red king crab, Bering Sea C. opilio (snow crab), Eastern Bering Sea C. bairdi (Tanner crab), Western Bering Sea C. bairdi (Tanner crab), Pribilof Islands blue and red king crab, St. Matthew Island blue king crab, Western Aleutian Islands (Adak) golden king crab, Eastern Aleutian Islands (Dutch Harbor) golden king crab, and Western Aleutian Islands (Adak) red king crab.

    NMFS originally issued QS to eligible harvesters as determined by eligibility criteria and participation in the CR Program fisheries during qualifying years. Additionally, NMFS issued processor quota shares (PQS) to eligible processing entities that met the criteria based on crab processing activities during the qualifying years. Each year, individual QS holders are issued IFQ to harvest a portion of the annual total allowable catch in a CR Program fishery. PQS holders are similarly issued annual individual processing quota (IPQ) that allow entities to receive deliveries of CR Program crab.

    NMFS issues three classes of IFQ: A shares, B shares, and C shares. Three percent of the total IFQ pool for each fishery is issued as C shares for captains and crew. The remaining IFQ pool is split with 90 percent issued as A shares and 10 percent issued as B shares. Class A shares carry the requirement of matching, on a one-to-one basis, with IPQ. Both Class B and Class C shares do not have a matching requirement and may be delivered to any registered crab receiver (RCR). RCRs include shoreside processors, catcher/processors, entities holding PQS with custom processing agreements with other shoreside processors, and communities holding PQS.

    The cost recovery regulations for the CR Program were published in the final rule to implement the CR Program on March 2, 2005 (70 FR 10174). Section 680.44 specifies the process that NMFS uses to determine, assess, and collect cost recovery fees for the CR Program. As described above in the “Cost Recovery—General” section, NMFS annually calculates the cost recovery fee percentage for the CR Program by dividing total program costs for the CR Program by the total ex-vessel value of the catch subject to the CR Program cost recovery fee for the current year. The CR Program cost recovery billing cycle matches that of the crab fishing year—July 1 to June 30. The method used by NMFS to calculate the CR Program cost recovery fee percentage is described at § 680.44(c)(2). As specified in the final rule to implement the CR Program, the CR Program processing sector, specifically RCRs, are responsible for collecting cost recovery fee payments from the harvesters and submitting this payment and their own self-collected fee payments to NMFS by the specified deadline. Catcher/processors, vessels that harvest and process crab, pay the full CR Program cost recovery fee for every pound of crab harvested and processed.

    Regulations at § 680.44(c)(1) require NMFS to publish the CR Program cost recovery fee percentage in the Federal Register during the first quarter of the crab fishing year, which is used by CR Program permit holders and RCRs to collect cost recovery fees throughout the crab fishing year. This is different from the IFQ Program, which applies the fee percentage to the landings that occurred during the most recent fishing year. NMFS published the 2015/2016 CR Program cost recovery fee percentage in July 2015 (80 FR 42792, July 20, 2015). NMFS provides an itemized bill of cost recovery fee liabilities to all RCRs during the last quarter of the crab fishing year. The RCR is responsible for submitting payment to NMFS on or before the due date of July 31, following the crab fishing year in which payment for the crab is made.

    If an RCR owes fees and fails to submit full payment for the previous crab fishing year by July 31, the Regional Administrator may disapprove any transfer of IFQ, IPQ, QS, or PQS to or from the RCR and may withhold issuance of any new CR crab permits, including IFQ, IPQ, or RCR permits for the subsequent crab fishing year. Additional information on the administration of the CR Program cost recovery program is provided in Section 3.5.2.2 of the Analysis.

    Authorized Cost Recovery Payment Methods

    Cost recovery regulations for the IFQ Program and CR Program (§ 679.45(a)(4)(iv) and § 680.44(a)(4)(iv), respectively) currently allow permit holders to pay their fee in U.S. dollars by personal check drawn on a U.S. bank account, money order, bank-certified check, or credit card. NMFS has established specific procedures for processing payments. IFQ Program and CR Program permit holders may submit cost recovery fee payments either electronically or non-electronically. Electronic payments can be made using credit card or electronic check via the pay.gov web-based system, or by wiring payment directly from the permit holder's financial institution via the Fedwire funds transfer system. Non-electronic payments can be made by submitting a paper form to NMFS with credit card information via mail or facsimile, or by submitting a paper check or money order via mail. This section provides additional detail on each authorized payment method regarding the security of permit holders' financial information and the administrative costs incurred by NMFS to process the payments.

    Electronic Payments

    Electronic payments via the pay.gov system and the Fedwire system are the most secure methods of transmitting financial information and result in the lowest administrative costs for NMFS. Permit holders may make electronic cost recovery payments directly through pay.gov. Pay.gov is operated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and offers the highest level of security for the personal and financial information submitted to pay fees to NMFS. Pay.gov uses the latest industry-standard methods and encryption to safely collect, store, and transmit information that is submitted.

    IFQ Program and CR Program permit holders can access pay.gov through the NMFS Alaska Region online system called eFISH. The eFISH system is a web-based application that provides permit holders with access to their NMFS permit accounts (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/webapps/efish/login). When an IFQ Program or CR Program permit holder logs on to eFISH to pay a cost recovery fee liability, the system automatically loads the amount owed by that permit holder into pay.gov.

    Through pay.gov, permit holders can make cost recovery payments using a credit card, debit card, or direct debit (electronic check). Due to the transaction fee incurred by the Treasury, there is a payment limit of $24,999.99 on credit card transactions through pay.gov (see notice online at: http://tfm.fiscal.treasury.gov/v1/announc/a-14-04.html). There is currently no payment limit on debit card or direct debit payments. Payments made through pay.gov automatically update the NMFS internal cost recovery payment tracking system to reflect the payment.

    Under the current regulations, permit holders may also make cost recovery fee payments through Fedwire. Fedwire is a real-time transfer system that allows financial institutions to electronically transfer funds. Fedwire allows wire transfers of fee payments from any bank or wire transfer service to NMFS to fulfill cost recovery fee obligations. To make a Fedwire payment, a permit holder must provide his or her financial institution the routing number and account information for the Treasury, the beneficiary name and account number for NMFS, and the amount owed. The permit holder's financial institution then initiates the transaction. Payments are made directly to the Federal Reserve Bank, which then notifies NMFS of the payment. Payments are processed individually through Fedwire, which uses a highly secure electronic network. NMFS must log Fedwire payments in the internal cost recovery payment tracking system.

    Non-Electronic Payments

    Non-electronic submission of payment information to NMFS via mail or facsimile is less secure and results in higher administrative costs than electronic payments because it results in transmission of permit holders' financial information over the NMFS information network and requires NMFS to manually process payments. Under current regulations, permit holders may pay a cost recovery fee with a credit card by submitting a form via mail or facsimile with their credit card information to NMFS. Manual credit card processing results in the possession and transmission of IFQ Program and CR Program permit holders' credit card information over the NMFS information network. Manual credit card processing is a less secure method of payment than the permit holder directly entering their credit card information into pay.gov, and results in higher administrative costs for NMFS. Administrative costs to collect fees are subject to cost recovery. Therefore, the higher administrative costs to process credit cards manually results in an increased fee liability for the IFQ and CR Programs relative to electronic payments.

    Permit holders may also pay a cost recovery fee with a paper check, money order, or bank-certified check. NMFS processes these payments using a Treasury web-based application (https://www.fiscal.treasury.gov/fsservices/gov/rvnColl/otcnet/rvnColl_otcnet.htm). The checks are scanned into the internal cost recovery payment tracking system and batched for deposit the following day. NMFS must then check the system to ensure that each check has cleared. NMFS manually updates the internal cost recovery payment tracking system to reflect the payment. Discrepancies or errors between the cost recovery amount owed and the amount paid by check must be addressed by NMFS. Payment with paper check, money order, or bank-certified check results in higher administrative costs for NMFS, and those additional costs increase the fee liability for the IFQ and CR Programs relative to electronic payments.

    In 2014 for the IFQ Program, NMFS received 2,038 total cost recovery fee payments from IFQ permit holders, with an average payment size of $2,440 (Table 4 of the Analysis). Of the total payments made, 528 cost recovery fee payments required manual credit card processing (Table 2 of the Analysis), which represented 26 percent of the total cost recovery payments made that year. The number of payments requiring manual credit card processing increased slightly from 2013 to 2014. In 2014, there were 986 payments made by paper check (48 percent of payments) and 19 made by money order (0.9 percent of payments). Overall, manual processing for credit card, paper check, and money order payments was required for 75 percent of cost recovery fee payments made under the IFQ Program for 2014 (1,533 payments); the remaining 25 percent of payments were made electronically primarily via pay.gov (Table 4 of Analysis).

    In 2014 for the CR Program, NMFS received 20 total cost recovery fee payments from CR Program permit holders, with an average payment size of $78,310 (Table 5 of the Analysis). There were no cost recovery payments made from 2012 through 2014 by CR Program RCRs that required manual credit card processing (Table 3 of the Analysis). This may be because the CR Program payments are considerably larger than the IFQ Program payments due to the payment liability structure that requires RCRs to submit cost recovery fee payments on behalf of the CR Program harvesting and processing sectors. In 2014, 50 percent of payments (10 payments) were made with paper checks and required manual processing (Table 3 of the Analysis), and the remaining 50 percent of payments (10 payments) were made electronically using pay.gov and Fedwire.

    Need for This Proposed Rule

    The purpose of this proposed rule is to improve security procedures for protecting financial information and to reduce costs associated with administering the cost recovery programs. The current regulations for the IFQ Program and the CR Program cost recovery programs allow permit holders to submit credit card information for manual credit card processing by NMFS. This results in the possession and electronic transmission of financial information on the NMFS information network, which is a security vulnerability and an administrative cost to both the permit holder and to NMFS. As a result of this security vulnerability, the NMFS Alaska Region has been directed by the NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer to cease manual processing of credit card payments for cost recovery fees.

    This proposed rule would also reduce administrative costs for the IFQ Program and CR Program by eliminating other non-electronic payment methods that require manual processing. As described in the previous section, all manual processing of cost recovery fee payments made by check and money order generates significant costs for the administration of these programs. Eliminating these non-electronic payment methods from authorized payment method options would reduce the staffing burden for processing cost recovery fee payments and further reduce the costs of administering the cost recovery programs. Reduced administrative costs would result in lower overall fee liabilities for the IFQ and CR Programs.

    Proposed Rule

    NMFS proposes to revise the authorized cost recovery fee payment methods for the IFQ and CR Programs by revising regulations at § 679.45(a)(4)(ii) through (iv) and § 680.44(a)(4)(iii) and (iv). This proposed rule would eliminate the option for IFQ permit holders and CR Program RCRs to submit credit card payment information by mail or facsimile upon the effective date of the final rule, if approved. NMFS anticipates the final rule, if approved, would be effective prior to the date cost recovery fee payments are due for the 2015/2016 CR Program crab fishing year and the 2016 IFQ Program fishing year. The cost recovery fee payment for the CR Program 2015/2016 crab fishing year would be due on July 31, 2016. The cost recovery fee payment for the 2016 IFQ Program fishing year would be due on January 31, 2017.

    This proposed rule would also revise the cost recovery regulations to eliminate paper checks, money orders, and bank-certified checks as authorized payment methods beginning with the cost recovery fee payment that would be due by January 31, 2020 for the IFQ Program and July 31, 2020 for the CR Program. If approved, the final rule would require all permit holders to submit payments through pay.gov or Fedwire beginning with the cost recovery fee payment due for the 2019 fishing year for IFQ Program permit holders and for the 2019/2020 CR Program crab fishing year for CR Program RCRs. To implement this provision, NMFS proposes that all cost recovery fee payments must be made electronically for any payment made on or after the first day of the billing cycle for IFQ Program and CR Program cost recovery fee payments that would be due in 2020. The billing cycle is considered the time period that begins when NMFS calculates cost recovery fees and mails out cost recovery payment notices and ends when the cost recovery fee payment is due. The first day of the 2020 IFQ Program cost recovery billing cycle would be December 1, 2019. The first day of the 2019/2020 CR Program cost recovery billing cycle would be June 1, 2020. NMFS is proposing allowing non-electronic payments via paper check or money order until the 2020 cost recovery fee cycle to provide a transition period for those permit holders who do not make electronic payments to become familiar with, and begin transitioning to, electronic payment methods.

    Table 1 contains the anticipated implementation schedule for the proposed rule to revise authorized cost recovery fee payment methods.

    Table 1—Implementation Schedule for Proposed Changes to Authorized Cost Recovery Fee Payment Methods Payment type Current authorized options 2016-2019 fee payment cycle
  • authorized options
  • 2020 and future year fee payment cycle
  • authorized options
  • Non-electronic Credit card form. Paper check Paper check Money order Money order Electronic Pay.gov
  • Fedwire
  • Pay.gov
  • Fedwire
  • Pay.gov.
  • Fedwire.
  • NMFS anticipates that this proposed rule would affect 1,533 IFQ Program permit holders and 10 CR Program RCRs who would need to change their payment method. This proposed rule would require the 528 IFQ permit holders who made non-electronic credit card payments in 2014 to change to an alternative payment method upon the effective date of the final rule, if approved. Beginning with the 2020 cost recovery billing cycle, the 1,005 IFQ permit holders and 10 CR Program RCRs who paid by paper check or money order in 2014 would be required to use an alternative payment method.

    Under this proposed rule, permit holders paying cost recovery fees would benefit from the increased security of their financial information and a reduction in the total amount of cost recovery fees collected due to the reduced administrative costs of processing fee payments. The actual administrative cost savings of this proposed rule are difficult to predict due to the unknown staff costs required to help permit holders transition to new payment methods and how quickly permit holders may change payment methods prior to the 2020 fee collection cycle. After 2020, NMFS expects the administrative costs of processing payments to decrease as compared to the current costs. The costs to permit holders of changing payment methods are difficult to assess. However, both IFQ Program permit holders and CR Program RCRs are currently required to submit fishery landings information to NMFS using electronic reporting methods; so it is expected that requiring electronic cost recovery fee payments would be a manageable cost for most participants.

    NMFS anticipates that this proposed rule would have minimal impacts on net benefits to the Nation. Overall, this action would likely result in a small net benefit from the reduction in the total amount of cost recovery fees collected due to the reduced administrative costs of processing cost recovery fee payments.

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 305(d) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined this proposed rule is consistent with the FMPs, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration of comments received during the public comment period.

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. Copies of the IRFA prepared for this proposed rule are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

    The IRFA describes the action, why this action is being proposed, the objectives and legal basis for this proposed rule, the type and number of small entities to which this proposed rule would apply, and the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of this proposed rule. It also identifies any overlapping, duplicative, or conflicting Federal rules and describes any significant alternatives to this proposed rule that would accomplish the stated objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable statues and that would minimize any significant adverse economic impact of this proposed rule on small entities. The description of this proposed rule, its purpose, and its legal basis are described in the preamble and are not repeated here.

    Number and Description of Small Entities Directly Regulated by the Proposed Rule

    The entities directly regulated by this proposed rule are permit holders who make halibut and sablefish landings in the IFQ Program fisheries and RCRs who receive landings of crab in the CR Program fisheries. The universe of entities was defined based on who is directly billed by NMFS for cost recovery fees, and therefore who would be directly impacted by a change in the authorized payment methods. The Small Business Administration defines a small commercial finfish fishing entity as one that has annual gross receipts, from all activities of all affiliates, of less than $20.5 million (79 FR 33647, June 12, 2014). Based upon available data, and more general information concerning the probable economic activity of vessels in the IFQ Program fisheries, no entity could have landed more than $20.5 million in combined gross receipts in 2014. Therefore, all 2,038 IFQ permit holders are classified as small entities. Under the CR Program, 11 RCRs are classified as small entities. Section 4.6 of the IRFA prepared for this proposed rule provides more information on these entities.

    Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

    This proposed rule would require modifications to the current recordkeeping and reporting requirements for the IFQ Program and CR Program cost recovery programs in the Alaska Cost Recovery and Observer Fee collection (OMB Control Number 0648-0711). Specifically, this proposed rule would eliminate the option for payment by credit card using the paper fee submission form submitted to NMFS by mail or facsimile. Beginning with the 2020 cost recovery fee billing cycle, the paper fee submission form will be eliminated completely for the CR Program as permit holders will be required to submit all cost recovery fee payments electronically through the pay.gov or Fedwire systems. For the IFQ Program, beginning in 2020, the paper fee submission form would be revised to specify that all fee payments must be made electronically through pay.gov or the Fedwire systems.

    Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With This Proposed Rule

    The Analysis did not reveal any Federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with this proposed rule.

    Description of Significant Alternatives to This Proposed Rule That Minimize Economic Impacts on Small Entities

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires that participants in LAPP and CDQ programs pay up to three percent of the ex-vessel value of the fish they are allocated to cover specific costs that are incurred by the management agencies as a direct result of implementing the programs. NMFS has identified this proposed rule as necessary to improve data security procedures for permit holders' financial information and to reduce administrative costs of processing cost recovery payments. There are no alternatives outside those evaluated in the Analysis that, consistent with applicable law, will accomplish the objectives of this rule, and result in lower adverse economic impacts on directly regulated small entities.

    NMFS considered eliminating the submission of credit card payment information by phone, in person, facsimile, and mail and retaining the use of paper checks and money orders as authorized payment methods under Alternative 2 in the Analysis. However, Alternative 2 failed to meet the objective of reducing administrative costs associated with administering the cost recovery programs because processing these payments results in a greater staff burden than processing payments made by the pay.gov or Fedwire systems (see Section 3.7 of the Analysis). NMFS also considered Alternative 3, which would have simultaneously implemented both the elimination of credit card payment by phone, in person, facsimile, and mail, and the elimination of paper check and money order payment (see Section 3.8 of the Analysis). However, NMFS rejected Alternative 3 in favor of Alternative 3 Option 1 which accommodated for the transition costs to permit holders in complying with the proposed rule by delaying full implementation of the proposed changes until the applicable cost recovery fee payment due date in 2020. NMFS determined that Alternative 3 Option 1 would provide an opportunity for the permit holders to become familiar with either pay.gov or Fedwire and change to a new payment method. Additionally, Alternative 3 Option 1 would spread out any transition costs for NMFS staff in providing customer service to help permit holders affected by the change (see Section 3.8.1 of the Analysis).

    Collection-of-Information Requirements

    This proposed rule contains collection-of-information requirements subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). NMFS has submitted these requirements to OMB for approval under Control Number 0648-0711. Public reporting burden per response is estimated to average one minute for electronic fee submission and 30 minutes for non-electronic fee submission. Estimates for public reporting burden include the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information.

    Public comment is sought regarding whether these proposed collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Send comments on these or any other aspects of the collection of information to NMFS at the ADDRESSES above and by email to [email protected], or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. All currently approved NOAA collections of information may be viewed at: http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prasubs.html.

    List of Subjects 50 CFR Part 679

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    50 CFR Part 680

    Alaska, Fisheries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: December 22, 2015 Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS proposes to amend 50 CFR part 679 and 50 CFR part 680 as follows:

    PART 679—FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 679 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 1801 et seq.; 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 111-281.

    2. In § 679.45, revise paragraphs (a)(4)(ii) through (iv) to read as follows:
    § 679.45 IFQ cost recovery program.

    (a) * * *

    (4) * * *

    (ii) Payment recipient. Make payment payable to NMFS.

    (iii) Payment address. Submit payment and related documents as instructed on the fee submission form. Payments may be made electronically through the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Instructions for electronic payment will be made available on both the payment Web site and a fee liability summary letter mailed to the IFQ permit holder.

    (iv) Payment method—(A) Prior to December 1, 2019, payment must be made in U.S. dollars by personal check drawn on a U.S. bank account, money order, bank-certified check, or electronically by credit card.

    (B) On or after December 1, 2019, payment must be made electronically in U.S. dollars by automated clearing house, credit card, or electronic check drawn on a U.S. bank account.

    PART 680—SHELLFISH FISHERIES OF THE EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE OFF ALASKA 3. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 680 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1862; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    4. In § 680.44, revise paragraphs (a)(4)(iii) and (iv) to read as follows:
    § 680.44 Cost recovery.

    (a) * * *

    (4) * * *

    (iii) Payment address. Submit payment and related documents as instructed on the fee submission form. Payments may be made electronically through the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. Instructions for electronic payment will be made available on both the payment Web site and a fee liability summary letter mailed to the RCR permit holder.

    (iv) Payment method—(A) Prior to June 1, 2020, payment must be made in U.S. dollars by personal check drawn on a U.S. bank account, money order, bank-certified check, or electronically by credit card.

    (B) On or after June 1, 2020, payment must be made electronically in U.S. dollars by automated clearing house, credit card, or electronic check drawn on a U.S. bank account.

    [FR Doc. 2015-32966 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    80 251 Thursday, December 31, 2015 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food Safety and Inspection Service [Docket No. FSIS-2015-0043] RIN 0583-AD40 2016 Rate Changes for the Basetime, Overtime, Holiday, and Laboratory Services Rates AGENCY:

    Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing the 2016 rates that it will charge meat and poultry establishments, egg products plants, and importers and exporters for providing voluntary, overtime, and holiday inspection and identification, certification, and laboratory services. The 2016 basetime, overtime, holiday, and laboratory services rates will be applied beginning the first FSIS pay period approximately 30 days after the publication of this notice. This pay period begins on February 7, 2016.

    DATES:

    FSIS will charge the rates announced in this notice beginning February 7, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information contact Michael Toner, Director, Budget Division, Office of Management, FSIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 2159, South Building, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700; Telephone: (202) 690-8398, Fax: (202) 690-4155.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On April 12, 2011, FSIS published a final rule amending its regulations to establish formulas for calculating the rates it charges meat and poultry establishments, egg products plants, and importers and exporters for providing voluntary, overtime, and holiday inspection and identification, certification, and laboratory services (76 FR 20220).

    In the final rule, FSIS stated that it would use the formulas to calculate the annual rates, publish the rates in a Federal Register notice before the start of each calendar year, and apply the rates on the first FSIS pay period at the beginning of the calendar year.

    This notice announces the 2016 rates, which will be applied starting on February 7, 2016.

    2016 Rates and Calculations

    The following table lists the 2016 Rates per hour, per employee, by type of service:

    Service 2016 Rate
  • (estimates rounded to reflect billable quarters)
  • Basetime $54.56 Overtime 69.20 Holiday 83.84 Laboratory 69.96

    The regulations state that FSIS will calculate the rates using formulas that include the Office of Field Operations (OFO) and Office of International Affairs (OIA) inspection program personnel's previous fiscal year's regular direct pay and regular hours (9 CFR 391.2, 391.3, 391.4, 590.126, 590.128, 592.510, 592.520, and 592.530). In 2013, an Agency reorganization eliminated the OIA program office and transferred all of its inspection program personnel to OFO. Therefore, pay and hours of inspection program personnel are identified in the calculations as “OFO inspection program personnel's” pay and hours.

    FSIS determined the 2016 rates using the following calculations:

    Basetime Rate = The quotient of dividing the OFO inspection program personnel's previous fiscal year's regular direct pay by the previous fiscal year's regular hours, plus that quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage cost-of-living increase, plus the benefits rate, plus the travel and operating rate, plus the overhead rate, plus the allowance-for-bad-debt rate.

    The calculation for the 2016 basetime rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 OFO Regular Direct Pay divided by the previous fiscal year's Regular Hours ($463,753,574/15,838,653)] = $29.28 + ($29.28 * 0.00% (calendar year 2016 Cost-of-Living Increase)) = $29.28 + $9.42 (benefits rate) + $0.90 (travel and operating rate) + $14.95 (overhead rate) + $0.01 (bad-debt-allowance rate) = $54.56.

    Overtime Rate = The quotient of dividing OFO inspection program personnel's previous fiscal year's regular direct pay by the previous fiscal year's regular hours, plus that quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage cost-of-living increase, multiplied by 1.5 (for overtime), plus the benefits rate, plus the travel and operating rate, plus the overhead rate, plus the allowance-for-bad-debt rate.

    The calculation for the 2016 overtime rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 OFO Regular Direct Pay divided by previous fiscal year's Regular Hours ($463,753,574/15,838,653)] = $29.28 + ($29.28 * 0.00% (calendar year 2016 Cost-of-Living Increase)) = $29.28 * 1.5 = $43.92 + $9.42 (benefits rate) + $0.90 (travel and operating rate) + $14.95 (overhead rate) + $.01 (bad-debt-allowance rate) = $69.20.

    Holiday Rate = The quotient of dividing the OFO inspection program personnel's previous fiscal year's regular direct pay by the previous fiscal year's regular hours, plus that quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage cost-of-living increase, multiplied by 2 (for holiday pay), plus the benefits rate, plus the travel and operating rate, plus the overhead rate, plus the allowance for bad debt rate.

    The calculation for the 2016 holiday rate per hour per program employee calculation is:

    [FY 2015 OFO Regular Direct Pay divided by Regular Hours ($463,753,574/15,838,653)] = $29.28 + ($29.28 * 0.00% (calendar year 2016 Cost-of-Living Increase)) = $29.28 * 2 = $58.56 + $9.42 (benefits rate) + $0.90 (travel and operating rate) + $14.95 (overhead rate) + $.01 (bad-debt-allowance rate) = $69.20.

    Laboratory Services Rate = The quotient of dividing the Office of Public Health Science (OPHS) previous fiscal year's regular direct pay by the OPHS previous fiscal year's regular hours, plus the quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage cost-of-living increase, plus the benefits rate, plus the travel and operating rate, plus the overhead rate, plus the allowance-for-bad-debt rate.

    The calculation for the 2016 laboratory services rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 OPHS Regular Direct Pay/OPHS Regular hours ($25,098,630/561,724)] = $44.68 + ($44.68 * 0.00% (calendar year 2016 Cost-of-Living Increase)) = $44.68 + $9.42 (benefits rate) + $0.90 (travel and operating rate) + $14.95 (overhead rate) + $.01 (bad-debt-allowance rate) = $69.96. Calculations for the Benefits, Travel and Operating, Overhead, and Allowance for Bad Debt Rates

    These rates are components of the basetime, overtime, holiday, and laboratory services rates formulas.

    Benefits Rate: The quotient of dividing the previous fiscal year's direct benefits costs by the previous fiscal year's total hours (regular, overtime, and holiday), plus that quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage cost-of-living increase. Some examples of direct benefits are health insurance, retirement, life insurance, and Thrift Savings Plan basic and matching contributions.

    The calculation for the 2016 benefits rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 Direct Benefits/(Total Regular hours + Total Overtime hours + Total Holiday hours) ($174,514,989/18,525,441)] = $9.42 + ($9.42 * 0.00% (calendar year 2016 Cost-of-Living Increase) = $9.42.

    Travel and Operating Rate: The quotient of dividing the previous fiscal year's total direct travel and operating costs by the previous fiscal year's total hours (regular, overtime, and holiday), plus that quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage of inflation.

    The calculation for the 2016 travel and operating rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 Total Direct Travel and Operating Costs/(Total Regular hours + Total Overtime hours + Total Holiday hours) ($16,376,630/18,525,441)] = $0.88 + ($0.88 * 1.8% (2016 Inflation) = $0.90.

    Overhead Rate: The quotient of dividing the previous fiscal year's indirect costs, plus the previous fiscal year's information technology (IT) costs in the Public Health Data Communication Infrastructure System Fund, plus the previous fiscal year's Office of Management Program cost in the Reimbursable and Voluntary Funds, plus the provision for the operating balance less any Greenbook costs (i.e., costs of USDA support services prorated to the service component for which fees are charged) that are not related to food inspection by the previous fiscal year's total hours (regular, overtime, and holiday) worked across all funds, plus the quotient multiplied by the calendar year's percentage of inflation.

    The calculation for the 2016 overhead rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 Total Overhead/(Total Regular hours + Total Overtime hours + Total Holiday hours) ($272,078,819/18,525,441)] = $14.69 + ($14.69 * 1.8% (2016 Inflation) = $14.95.

    Allowance-for-Bad-Debt Rate = Previous fiscal year's total allowance for bad debt (for example, debt owed that is not paid in full by plants and establishments that declare bankruptcy) divided by previous fiscal year's total hours (regular, overtime, and holiday) worked.

    The 2016 calculation for bad-debt rate per hour per program employee is:

    [FY 2015 Total Bad Debt/(Total Regular hours + Total Overtime hours + Total Holiday hours) = ($133,215/18,525,441)] = $.01. Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy development is important. Consequently, FSIS will announce this Federal Register publication on-line through the FSIS Web page located at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.

    FSIS also will make copies of this publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information that could affect or would be of interest to our constituents and stakeholders. The Update is available on the FSIS Web page. Through the Web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse audience. In addition, FSIS offers an email subscription service which provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news and information. This service is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information, regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their accounts.

    USDA Non-Discrimination Statement

    No agency, officer, or employee of the USDA shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, or political beliefs, exclude from participation in, deny the benefits of, or subject to discrimination any person in the United States under any program or activity conducted by the USDA.

    How To File a Complaint of Discrimination

    To file a complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, which may be accessed online at http://www.ocio.usda.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2012/Complain_combined_6_8_12.pdf, or write a letter signed by you or your authorized representative.

    Send your completed complaint form or letter to USDA by mail, fax, or email:

    Mail U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410. Fax (202) 690-7442. Email [email protected]

    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Done, at Washington, DC on: December 22, 2015. Alfred V. Almanza, Acting Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32944 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE361 Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings and Hearings AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability of reports; public meetings, and hearings.

    SUMMARY:

    The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) has begun its annual preseason management process for the 2016 ocean salmon fisheries. This document announces the availability of Pacific Council documents as well as the dates and locations of Pacific Council meetings and public hearings comprising the Pacific Council's complete schedule of events for determining the annual proposed and final modifications to ocean salmon fishery management measures. The agendas for the March and April 2016 Pacific Council meetings will be published in subsequent Federal Register documents prior to the actual meetings.

    DATES:

    Written comments on the salmon management alternatives must be received by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, April 3, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents will be available from, and written comments should be sent to Ms. Dorothy Lowman, Chair, Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220-1384, telephone: (503) 820-2280 (voice) or (503) 820-2299 (fax). Comments can also be submitted via email at [email protected] or through the Internet at the Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments, and include the I.D. number in the subject line of the message. For specific meeting and hearing locations, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

    Council Address: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Mike Burner, telephone: (503) 820-2414.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Tentative Schedule for Document Completion and Availability

    February 19, 2016: “Review of 2015 Ocean Salmon Fisheries, Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Document for the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan” is scheduled to be posted on the Pacific Council Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org.

    February 26, 2016: “Preseason Report I—Stock Abundance Analysis and Environmental Assessment Part 1 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations” is scheduled to be posted on the Pacific Council Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org.

    March 23, 2016: “Preseason Report II—Proposed Alternatives and Environmental Assessment Part 2 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations” and public hearing schedule is scheduled to be posted on the Pacific Council Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org. The report will include a description of the adopted salmon management alternatives and a summary of their biological and economic impacts.

    April 20, 2016: “Preseason Report III—Council-Adopted Management Measures and Environmental Assessment Part 3 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations” scheduled to be posted on the Pacific Council Web site at http://www.pcouncil.org.

    May 1, 2016: Federal regulations for 2016 ocean salmon regulations will be published in the Federal Register and implemented.

    Meetings and Hearings

    January 19-22, 2016: The Salmon Technical Team (STT) will meet at the Pacific Council office in a public work session to draft “Review of 2015 Ocean Salmon Fisheries” and to consider any other estimation or methodology issues pertinent to the 2016 ocean salmon fisheries.

    February 16-19, 2016: The STT will meet at the Pacific Council office in a public work session to draft “Preseason Report I—Stock Abundance Analysis and Environmental Assessment Part 1 for 2016 Ocean Salmon Fishery Regulations” and to consider any other estimation or methodology issues pertinent to the 2016 ocean salmon fisheries.

    March 28-29, 2016: Public hearings will be held to receive comments on the proposed ocean salmon fishery management alternatives adopted by the Pacific Council. Written comments received at the public hearings and a summary of oral comments at the hearings will be provided to the Pacific Council at its April meeting.

    All public hearings begin at 7 p.m. at the following locations:

    March 28, 2016: Chateau Westport, Beach Room, 710 West Hancock, Westport, WA 98595, telephone: (360) 268-9101.

    March 28, 2016: Red Lion Hotel, South Umpqua Room, 1313 North Bayshore Drive, Coos Bay, OR 97420, telephone: (541) 267-4141.

    March 29, 2016: Motel 6, Convention Room, 400 South Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, telephone: (707) 964-4761.

    Although nonemergency issues not contained in the STT meeting agendas may come before the STT for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal STT action during these meetings. STT action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this document and to any issues arising after publication of this document requiring emergency action under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the STT's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    These public meetings and hearings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at (503) 820-2280 (voice), or (503) 820-2299 (fax) at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32927 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Estuarine Research Reserve System AGENCY:

    Stewardship Division, Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Approval for the Mission-Aransas, Texas National Estuarine Research Reserve Management Plan revision.

    SUMMARY:

    Under 15 CFR 921.33(d), notice is hereby given that the Stewardship Division, Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce approves the Mission-Aransas, Texas National Estuarine Research Reserve Management Plan revision. The Mission-Aransas Reserve revised plan will replace the plan approved in 2006.

    The revised management plan outlines the administrative structure; the research/monitoring, stewardship, education, and training programs of the reserve; and the plans for future land acquisition and facility development to support reserve operations.

    The Mission-Aransas Reserve takes an integrated approach to management, linking research, education, coastal training, and stewardship functions. The Reserve has outlined how it will manage administration and its core program providing detailed actions that will enable it to accomplish specific goals and objectives. Since the last management plan, the Reserve has built out its core programs and monitoring infrastructure; constructed several facilities including a L.E.E.D. certified Estuarine Research Center that serves as the reserve headquarters and includes laboratories, offices, classrooms, interpretative areas and dormitories; and built new partnerships with organizations along the Coastal Bend of Texas.

    On October 1, 2015, NOAA issued a notice of a thirty day public comment period for the Mission-Aransas Reserve revised plan (80 FR 59138). Responses to the written and oral comments received, and an explanation of how comments were incorporated into the final revised plan, are available in Appendix K to the revised plan (http://missionaransas.org/sites/default/files/manerr/files/final_2015-2020_manerr_management_plan_appendices_dec_2015.pdf).

    With the approval of this management plan, the Mission-Aransas Reserve will increase their total acreage from 185,708 acres to 186,189. The change is attributable to the recent acquisitions of several parcels by Reserve partners, totaling 481 acres. All of the proposed additions are owned by existing Reserve partners and will be managed for long-term protection and conservation value. These parcels have high ecological value and will enhance the Reserve's ability to provide increased opportunities for research, education, and stewardship. The revised management plan will serve as the guiding document for the expanded 186,189 acre Mission-Aransas Reserve for the next five years. The 2015-2020 Mission-Aransas, Texas Reserve Management Plan, which contains a more detailed description of the boundary change and acquired parcels, is available at (https://sites.cns.utexas.edu/manerr/about/management-plan).

    The impacts of the revised management plan have not changed and the initial Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared at the time of designation is still valid. NOAA has made the determination that the revision of the management plan will not have a significant effect on the human environment and therefore qualifies for a categorical exclusion under NOAA Administrative Order 216-6. An environmental assessment will not be prepared.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Matt Chasse at (301) 563-1198 or Erica Seiden at (301) 563-1172 of NOAA's National Ocean Service, Stewardship Division, Office for Coastal Management, 1305 East-West Highway, N/ORM5, 10th floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    Dated: October 22, 2015. John King, Deputy Director, Office for Coastal Management, National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32942 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-08-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE380 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Trawl Rationalization Program; 2016 Cost Recovery AGENCY:

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice; 2016 cost recovery fee percentages and mothership (MS) pricing.

    SUMMARY:

    This action provides participants in the Pacific coast groundfish trawl rationalization program with the 2016 fee percentages and “MS pricing” needed to calculate the required payments for trawl rationalization program cost recovery fees due in 2016. For calendar year 2016, NMFS announces the following fee percentages by sector: 3.0 percent for the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program; 2.5 percent for the MS Coop Program; and 0.7 percent for the Catcher/Processer (C/P) Coop Program. For 2016, the MS pricing to be used as a proxy by the C/P Coop Program is: $0.11/lb for Pacific whiting.

    DATES:

    Effective January 1, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher Biegel, Cost Recovery Program Coordinator, (503) 231-6291, fax (503) 872-2737, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Magnuson‐Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) requires NMFS to collect fees to recover the costs directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement of a limited access privilege program (LAPP) (16 U.S.C. 1854(d)(2)), also called “cost recovery.” The Pacific coast groundfish trawl rationalization program is a LAPP, implemented in 2011, and consists of three sectors: The Shorebased IFQ Program, the MS Coop Program, and the C/P Coop Program. In accordance with the MSA, and based on a recommended structure and methodology developed in coordination with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, NMFS began collecting mandatory fees of up to three percent of the ex‐vessel value of groundfish from each sector (Shorebased IFQ Program, MS Coop Program, and C/P Coop Program) in 2014. NMFS collects the fees to recover the incremental costs of management, data collection, and enforcement of the trawl rationalization program. Additional background can be found in the cost recovery proposed and final rules, 78 FR 7371 (February 1, 2013) and 78 FR 75268 (December 11, 2013), respectively. The details of cost recovery for the groundfish trawl rationalization program are in regulation at 50 CFR 660.115 (trawl fishery cost recovery program), § 660.140 (Shorebased IFQ Program), § 660.150 (MS Coop Program), and § 660.160 (C/P Coop Program).

    By December 31 of each year, NMFS must announce the next year's fee percentages, and the applicable MS pricing for the C/P Coop Program. NMFS calculated the 2016 fee percentages by sector using the best available information. For 2016, the fee percentages by sector, which must not exceed three percent of the ex-vessel value of fish harvested, are:

    • 3.0 percent for the Shorebased IFQ Program,

    • 2.5 percent for the MS Coop Program

    • 0.7 percent for the C/P Coop Program.

    To calculate the fee percentages, NMFS used the formula specified in regulation at § 660.115(b)(1), where the fee percentage by sector equals the lower of three percent or direct program costs (DPC) for that sector divided by total ex-vessel value (V) for that sector multiplied by 100 (Fee percentage = the lower of 3% or (DPC/V) × 100).

    “DPC,” as defined in the regulations at § 660.115(b)(1)(i), are the actual incremental costs for the previous fiscal year directly related to the management, data collection, and enforcement of each sector (Shorebased IFQ Program, MS Coop Program, and C/P Coop Program). Actual incremental costs means those net costs that would not have been incurred but for the implementation of the trawl rationalization program, including both increased costs for new requirements of the program and reduced costs resulting from any program efficiencies. Similar to previous years, NMFS only included the cost of employees' time (salary and benefits) spent working on the program in calculating DPC rather than all incremental costs of management, data collection, and enforcement. NMFS is still evaluating how to incorporate additional costs and may, in coordination with the Pacific Fishery Management Council, do so in the future.

    “V”, as specified at § 660.115(b)(1)(ii), is the total ex-vessel value, as defined at § 660.111, for each sector from the previous calendar year. To calculate “V” for use in determining 2016 fee percentages, electronic fish ticket data in the Pacific Fisheries Information Network (PacFIN) are used for the Shorebased IFQ Program. The MS Coop Program and the C/P Coop Program values are calculated using the average price of whiting derived from those reported on the MS Coop Program cost recovery form from calendar year 2014. This average price ($0.11) and the retained catch estimates (weight) from the observer data (as reported in PacFIN from NORPAC) were used to calculate the “V” for the MS and C/P Coop Programs.

    Ex-vessel values and amounts landed each year fluctuate, and the amount NMFS collects each year in cost recovery fees also fluctuate accordingly. When the cost recovery fees collected by NMFS are greater or less than the actual net incremental costs incurred for a given year, the fee percentage for the following year will be adjusted accordingly (as specified § 660.115(b)(1)(i)).

    It is expected that, in 2015, the Shorebased IFQ Program will have paid $292,051.99 less than the 2014 DPC used to calculate its 2015 fee percentage. As the Shorebased IFQ Program fee percentage for 2016 has already been capped at the maximum 3.0 percent, there will be no fee adjustment for that sector.

    It is expected that, in 2015, the MS Coop Program will have paid $82,642.35 less than the 2014 DPC used to calculate its 2015 fee percentage. Therefore, the MS Coop Program DPC used to calculate the 2016 fee percentage will be adjusted upward by $82,642.35.

    The adjustment to the C/P Coop program costs used to determine the 2015 fee percentage showed that NMFS anticipated collecting $15,295.71 more than the costs used to determine the 2015 fee, resulting in a fee percentage of negative 0.1. However, because a fee percentage cannot be negative, NMFS set the 2015 C/P Coop program cost recovery fee at 0.0 percent (79 FR 78400) and is now deducting $15,295.71 from the DPC used to calculate the 2016 fee percentage.

    FY 2014 DPC used for
  • 2015 calculation
  • 2015 Fees expected Adjustment for 2016
    Shorebased IFQ Program $1,546,740.00 $1,254,688.01 N/A MS Coop Program $177,110.00 $94,467.65 $82,642.35 C/P Coop Program N/A $0.00 ($15,295.71)

    The adjustments for the MS Coop and C/P Coop programs are included, and increase or reduce their DPC values which are shown below in the fee percentage calculations for that sector.

    Shorebased IFQ Program—3.0% = the lower of 3% or ($2,310,729.95/$52,052,455) × 100 MS Coop Program—2.5% = the lower of 3% or ($372,976.40/$15,189,237) × 100 C/P Coop Program—0.7% = the lower of 3% or ($168,971.09/$25,219,201) × 100.

    MS pricing is the average price per pound that the C/P Coop Program will use to determine their fee amount due (MS pricing multiplied by the value of the aggregate pounds of all groundfish species harvested by the vessel registered to a C/P-endorsed limited entry trawl permit, multiplied by the C/P fee percentage, equals the fee amount due). In past years, MS pricing was based on the average price per pound of Pacific whiting as reported in PacFIN from the Shorebased IFQ Program. In other words, data from the IFQ fishery was used as a proxy for the MS average price per pound to determine the “MS pricing” used in the calculation for the C/P sector's fee amount due. For 2016 MS pricing, NMFS used values derived from those reported on the MS Coop Program cost recovery form from calendar year 2014 as this was determined to be the best information available. NMFS has calculated the 2016 MS pricing to be used as a proxy by the C/P Coop Program as: $0.11/lb for Pacific whiting.

    Cost recovery fees are submitted to NMFS by Fish buyers via Pay.gov (https://www.pay.gov/paygov/). Fish buyers registered with Pay.gov can login in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. Fish buyers not registered with Pay.gov can go to the cost recovery forms directly from the Web site below. Click on the link to Pacific Coast Groundfish Cost Recovery for your sector (IFQ, MS, or C/P): https://www.pay.gov/public/search/global?searchString=pacific+cost+recovery&formToken=4e5bc6b4-6ba8-4db4-9850-e73756a06775.

    As stated in the preamble to the cost recovery proposed and final rules, in the spring of each year, NMFS will release an annual report documenting the details and data used for the above calculations. The report will include information such as the fee percentage calculation, program costs, and ex-vessel value by sector. The annual report for fishing year 2013 and calculation for 2014 is available at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/fishery_management/trawl_program/analytical%20docs/cost_recovery_annual_report_01.pdf.

    The annual report for fishing year 2015 and calculation for 2016 will be made available to the public electronically via the NMFS West Coast Region Groundfish Web site http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/groundfish_catch_shares/index.html.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32946 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title: Highly Migratory Species Tournament Registration and Reporting.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0323.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 300.

    Average Hours per Response: Tournament registration, 2 minutes; tournament reporting, 20 minutes.

    Burden Hours: 600.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Under the provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible for management of the nation's marine fisheries. Existing regulations require operators of tournaments involving Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS: Atlantic swordfish, sharks, billfish, and tunas) to register four weeks in advance of the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Tournament. Operators must provide contact information and the tournament's date(s), location(s), and target species. If selected by NMFS, operators are required to submit an HMS tournament summary report within seven days after tournament fishing has ended. Most of the catch data in the summary report is routinely collected in the course of regular tournament operations. NMFS uses the data to estimate the total annual catch of HMS and the impact of tournament operations in relation to other types of fishing activities. In addition, HMS tournament registration provides a method for tournament operators to request educational and regulatory outreach materials from NMFS.

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations; not for profit institutions.

    Frequency: Annually and on occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to [email protected] or fax to (202) 395-5806.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32915 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Procurement List; Addition AGENCY:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.

    ACTION:

    Addition to the Procurement List.

    SUMMARY:

    This action adds a product to the Procurement List that will be furnished by nonprofit agency employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: 1/30/2016

    ADDRESSES:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, 1401 S. Clark Street, Suite 715, Arlington, Virginia 22202-4149.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Barry S. Lineback, Telephone: (703) 603-7740, Fax: (703) 603-0655, or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Addition

    On 11/20/2015 (80 FR 72710-72711), the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled published notice of proposed addition to the Procurement List.

    After consideration of the material presented to it concerning capability of qualified nonprofit agency to furnish the product and impact of the addition on the current or most recent contractors, the Committee has determined that the product listed below is suitable for procurement by the Federal Government under 41 U.S.C. 8501-8506 and 41 CFR 51-2.4.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    I certify that the following action will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The major factors considered for this certification were:

    1. The action will not result in any additional reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance requirements for small entities other than the small organization that will furnish the product to the Government.

    2. The action will result in authorizing small entities to furnish the product to the Government.

    3. There are no known regulatory alternatives which would accomplish the objectives of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (41 U.S.C. 8501-8506) in connection with the product proposed for addition to the Procurement List.

    End of Certification

    Accordingly, the following product is added to the Procurement List:

    Product NSN—Product Name: 6135-01-446-8310—1.5V Alkaline Non-rechargeable Battery Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Eastern Carolina Vocational Center, Inc., Greenville, NC Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Columbus, OH Mandatory Purchase for: Total Government Requirement Distribution: A-List Barry S. Lineback, Director, Business Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32949 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353-01-P
    COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Procurement List; Proposed Deletions AGENCY:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.

    ACTION:

    Proposed Deletions From the Procurement List.

    SUMMARY:

    The Committee is proposing to delete products from the Procurement List that was previously furnished by nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

    Comments Must Be Received on or Before: 1/30/2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, 1401 S. Clark Street, Suite 715, Arlington, Virginia 22202-4149.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION OR TO SUBMIT COMMENTS CONTACT:

    Barry S. Lineback, Telephone: (703) 603-7740, Fax: (703) 603-0655, or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This notice is published pursuant to 41 U.S.C. 8503(a)(2) and 41 CFR 51-2.3. Its purpose is to provide interested persons an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed actions.

    Deletions

    The following products are proposed for deletion from the Procurement List:

    Products NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7530-01-047-3738—Paper, Writing Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Louisiana Association for the Blind, Shreveport, LA Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, New York, NY NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7520-00-240-5498—Clipboard, Arch Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Industries of the Blind, Inc., Greensboro, NC Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, New York, NY NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7210-01-035-3342—Pillow, Bed Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Ed Lindsey Industries for the Blind, Inc., Nashville, TN Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 6545-00-NSH-2000—Module, Medical System, FRSS Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Louise W. Eggleston Center, Inc., Norfolk, VA Contracting Activity: Dept of the Navy, Commander, Quantico, VA NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7920-00-NIB-0373—Shovel, Ergo Snow Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Industries for the Blind, Inc., West Allis, WI Contracting Activity(ies): General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Department of Veterans Affairs, NAC, Hines, IL NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7210-00-082-2081—Cover, Mattress Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Lions Services, Inc., Charlotte, NC Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7210-00-935-6619—Cover, Mattress, Natural, 36″ × 82″ Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Lions Services, Inc., Charlotte, NC Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, PA NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7920-00-926-5492—Mophead, Wet Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, San Francisco, CA Mississippi Industries for the Blind, Jackson, MS Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7920-00-240-2559—Sponge, Cellulose Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Mississippi Industries for the Blind, Jackson, MS Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 7920-00-NIB-0301—Handle, Wood Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: LC Industries, Inc., Durham, NC Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Product Name(s)—NSN(s): Flatware, Plastic, Totally Degradable 7340-01-486-1858 7340-01-486-1859 7340-01-486-2767 7340-01-486-3657 Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: LC Industries, Inc., Durham, NC Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Product Name(s)—NSN(s): Pen, Essential LVX Translucent and refills 7510-01-454-1172 7510-01-454-1175 Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Industries for the Blind, Inc., West Allis, WI Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, New York, NY NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 6840-00-NIB-0044—Prof Lysol Brand II Aerosol Disinfectant Spray Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: LC Industries, Inc., Durham, NC Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, New York, NY NSN(s)—Product Name(s): 6840-01-383-0739—Disinfectant, Detergent—CPAL Item 7930-01-398-0947—Glass Cleaner—CPAL Item 7930-01-398-0948—Glass Cleaner—CPAL Item 7930-01-398-0949—Detergent, General Purpose—CPAL Item 7930-01-463-5064—Floor Care Products Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Lighthouse for the Blind of Houston, Houston, TX Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Product Name(s)—NSN(s): Bedspread 7210-00-728-0177 7210-00-728-0178 7210-00-728-0179 7210-00-728-0190—Cream, 63″ × 103″ 7210-00-728-0191—Dark Green, 63″ × 103″ Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Alabama Industries for the Blind, Talladega, AL Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Product Name(s)—NSN(s): Cover, Mattress 7210-00-205-3082—Pre-Shrunk, White, 85″ × 40″ × 61/8 7210-00-205-3083—Bleached, White, 36″ × 81″ × 61/8 7210-00-230-1041—Bleached, Pre-Shrunk, White, Twin, 771/2″ × 31″ 7210-00-291-8419—White, 36″ × 77″ × 61/8 7210-00-883-8492—White, 431/2″ × 821/2 Mandatory Source(s) of Supply: Lions Services, Inc., Charlotte, NC LC Industries, Inc., Durham, NC The Arkansas Lighthouse for the Blind, Little Rock, AR Contracting Activity: General Services Administration, Fort Worth, TX Barry S. Lineback, Director, Business Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32948 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army [Docket ID: USA-2015-HQ-0050] Proposed Collection: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Warrior Transition Command, U.S. Army, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Office of Warrior Transition Command announces a proposed public information collection and seeks public comment on the provision thereof. Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have the practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the information collection on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by February 29, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number and title, by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, Directorate of Oversight and Compliance, Regulatory and Audit Matters Office, 9010 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-9010.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name, docket number and title for this Federal Register document. The general policy for comments and other submissions from members of the public is to make these submissions available for public viewing on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov as they are received without change, including any personal identifiers or contact information.

    Any associated form(s) for this collection may be located within this same electronic docket and downloaded for review/testing. Follow the instructions at http://www.regulations.gov for submitting comments. Please submit comments on any given form identified by docket number, form number, and title.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on this proposed information collection or to obtain a copy of the proposal and associated collection instruments, please write to: LTC Luis A. Fregoso, Warrior Transition Command, 200 Stovall Street, Suite 7S37, Alexandria VA 22332-5000 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The following information collection requirement is necessary to plan and execute the 2016 Warrior Games. Created in 2010, the Warrior Games showcases the resilient spirit of today's wounded, ill or injured service members from all branches of the military. Wounded, ill and/or injured athletes from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations Command compete in eight sports (archery, cycling, shooting, swimming, track, field, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball) in a display of courage and resilience. The 2016 Warrior Games (WG16), to be held June 15 through June 21, 2016 at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, New York, is being organized by the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) of the U.S. Army.

    Title; Associated Form; and OMB Number: Warrior Games Registration Forms; OMB Control Number 0702-XXXX.

    Needs and Uses: The information collected is necessary in order to plan and manage the 2016 Warrior Games.

    Affected Public: Individuals.

    Annual Burden Hours: 25.38 hours.

    Number of Respondents: 245.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 245.

    Average Burden per Response: 7 minutes.

    Frequency: On Occasion.

    Respondents are individuals that will be participating in the 2016 Warrior Games as: Athletes, non-medical assistants, coaches, volunteers, family members, distinguished visitors and members of the media. All registration forms will be accessed, completed and submitted online.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register, Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32952 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Defense Acquisition Regulations System [Docket No. DARS-2015-0071] Negotiation of a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding With the Ministry of Defense of Japan AGENCY:

    Department of Defense (DoD).

    ACTION:

    Request for public comments.

    SUMMARY:

    On behalf of the U.S. Government, DoD is contemplating negotiating and concluding a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defense of Japan. DoD is requesting industry feedback regarding its experience in public defense procurements conducted by or on behalf of the Japanese Ministry of Defense or Armed Forces.

    DATES:

    Submit written comments to the address shown below on or February 1, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments to Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, Attn: Ms. Patricia Foley, 3060 Defense Pentagon, Room 5E621, Washington, DC 20301-3060; or by email to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Patricia Foley, Senior Analyst, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)), Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, Contract Policy and International Contracting; Room 5E621, 3060 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3060; telephone (703) 693-1145.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    DoD has concluded Reciprocal Defense Procurement (RDP) Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with 23 “qualifying countries” at the level of the Secretary of Defense and his counterpart. The purpose of RDP MOUs is to promote rationalization, standardization, and interoperability of conventional defense equipment with allies and other friendly governments. These MOUs provide a framework for ongoing communication regarding market access and procurement matters that enhance effective defense cooperation.

    RDP MOUs generally include language by which the Parties agree that their defense procurements will be conducted in accordance with certain implementing procedures. These procedures relate to—

    • Publication of notices of proposed purchases;

    • The content and availability of solicitations for proposed purchases;

    • Notification to each unsuccessful offeror;

    • Feedback, upon request, to unsuccessful offerors concerning the reasons they were not allowed to participate in a procurement or were not awarded a contract; and

    • Provision for the hearing and review of complaints arising in connection with any phase of the procurement process to ensure that, to the extent possible, complaints are equitably and expeditiously resolved.

    Based on the MOU, each country affords the other country certain benefits on a reciprocal basis consistent with national laws and regulations. The benefits that the United States accords to the products of qualifying countries include—

    • Offers of qualifying country end products are evaluated without applying the price differentials otherwise required by the Buy American statute and the Balance of Payments Program;

    • The chemical warfare protection clothing restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 2533a and the specialty metals restriction in 10 U.S.C. 2533b(a)(1) do not apply to products manufactured in a qualifying country; and

    • Customs, taxes, and duties are waived for qualifying country end products and components of defense procurements.

    If DoD (for the U.S. Government) concludes an RDP MOU with the Ministry of Defense of Japan, then Japan would be listed as one of the “qualifying countries” in the definition of “qualifying country” at DFARS 225.003, and offers of products of Japan or that contain components from Japan would be afforded the benefits available to all qualifying countries. This also means that U.S. products would be exempt from any analogous “Buy Japan” laws or policies applicable to procurements by the Japan Ministry of Defense or Armed Forces.

    While DoD is evaluating Japan's laws and regulations in this area, DoD would benefit from U.S. industry's experience in participating in Japan's public defense procurements. DoD is, therefore, asking U.S. firms that have participated or attempted to participate in procurements by or on behalf of Japan's Ministry of Defense or Armed Forces to let us know if the procurements were conducted with transparency, integrity, fairness, and due process in accordance with published procedures, and if not, the nature of the problems encountered.

    DoD is also interested in comments relating to the degree of reciprocity that exists between the United States and Japan when it comes to the openness of defense procurements to offers of products from the other country.

    Jennifer L. Hawes, Editor, Defense Acquisition Regulations System.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32945 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Judicial Proceedings Since Fiscal Year 2012 Amendments Panel (Judicial Proceedings Panel); Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing this notice to announce the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Judicial Proceedings since Fiscal Year 2012 Amendments Panel (“the Judicial Proceedings Panel” or “the Panel”). The meeting is open to the public.

    DATES:

    A meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel will be held on Friday, January 15, 2016. The Public Session will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:45 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston, 4610 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Julie Carson, Judicial Proceedings Panel, One Liberty Center, 875 N. Randolph Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203. Email: [email protected] Phone: (703) 693-3849. Web site: http://jpp.whs.mil.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This public meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.150.

    Purpose of the Meeting: In Section 576(a)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Pub. L. 112-239), as amended, Congress tasked the Judicial Proceedings Panel to conduct an independent review and assessment of judicial proceedings conducted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) involving adult sexual assault and related offenses since the amendments made to the UCMJ by section 541 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Pub. L. 112-81; 125 Stat. 1404), for the purpose of developing recommendations for improvements to such proceedings. At this meeting, the Panel will deliberate on its analysis, conclusions and recommendations regarding Article 120 of the UCMJ. The Panel will also continue deliberations on issues relating to retaliation against individuals who report incidents of sexual assault within the military. The Panel is interested in written and oral comments from the public, including non-governmental organizations, relevant to these issues or any of the Panel's tasks.

    Agenda:

    —9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Deliberations: Article 120 of the UCMJ —12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. Lunch —1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Deliberations and Review of Draft Report: Retaliation against Victims of Sexual Assault Crimes —4:30 p.m.-4:45 p.m. Public Comment

    Availability of Materials for the Meeting: A copy of the January 15, 2016 public meeting agenda or any updates or changes to the agenda, to include individual speakers not identified at the time of this notice, as well as other materials provided to Panel members for use at the public meeting, may be obtained at the meeting or from the Panel's Web site at http://jpp.whs.mil.

    Public's Accessibility to the Meeting: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, and the availability of space, this meeting is open to the public. Seating is limited and is on a first-come basis.

    Special Accommodations: Individuals requiring special accommodations to access the public meeting should contact the Judicial Proceedings Panel at [email protected] at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

    Procedures for Providing Public Comments: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.140 and section 10(a)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the public or interested organizations may submit written comments to the Panel about its mission and topics pertaining to this public session. Written comments must be received by the JPP at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting date so that they may be made available to the Judicial Proceedings Panel for their consideration prior to the meeting. Written comments should be submitted via email to the Judicial Proceedings Panel at [email protected] in the following formats: Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word. Please note that since the Judicial Proceedings Panel operates under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, all written comments will be treated as public documents and will be made available for public inspection. If members of the public are interested in making an oral statement, a written statement must be submitted along with a request to provide an oral statement. Oral presentations by members of the public will be permitted from 4:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. on January 15, 2016 in front of the Panel members. The number of oral presentations to be made will depend on the number of requests received from members of the public on a first-come basis. After reviewing the requests for oral presentation, the Chairperson and the Designated Federal Officer will, if they determine the statement to be relevant to the Panel's mission, allot five minutes to persons desiring to make an oral presentation.

    Committee's Designated Federal Officer: The Panel's Designated Federal Officer is Ms. Maria Fried, Department of Defense, Office of the General Counsel, 1600 Defense Pentagon, Room 3B747, Washington, DC 20301-1600.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32934 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Docket ID: DoD-2015-OS-0143] Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Fast Track Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary of Defense, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of a Federal Government-wide effort to streamline the process to seek feedback from the public on service delivery, we are seeking comment on the development of the following proposed Generic Information Collection Request (Generic ICR): “Fast Track Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery” for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et. seq.). This notice announces our intent to submit this collection to OMB for approval and solicits comments on specific aspects for the proposed information collection.

    A copy of the draft supporting statement is available at www.regulations.gov (see Docket ID: DoD-2015-OS-0143).

    DATES:

    Consideration will be given to all comments received by February 29, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments by one of the following methods:

    • Web site: www.regulations.gov. Direct comments to Docket ID: DoD-2015-OS-0143.

    • Mail: Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, Directorate of Oversight and Compliance, Regulatory and Audit Matters Office, 9010 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-9010.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice may be made available to the public through www.regulations.gov. For this reason, please do not include in your comments information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or proprietary information. Please note that responses to this public comment request containing any routine notice about the confidentiality of the communication will be treated as public comments that may be made available to the public notwithstanding the inclusion of the routine notice.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Information Collections Branch, Directives Division, Attn: Mr. Frederick Licari, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 02G09, Alexandria, VA 22350-3100, Phone: 571-372-0493.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title and OMB Number: Fast Track Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery; 0704-TBD.

    Needs and Uses: The proposed information collection activity provides a means to garner qualitative customer and stakeholder feedback in an efficient, timely manner, in accordance with the Administration's commitment to improving service delivery. By qualitative feedback we mean information that provides useful insights on perceptions and opinions, but are not statistical surveys that yield quantitative results that can be generalized to the population of study. This feedback will provide insights into customer or stakeholder perceptions, experiences and expectations, provide an early warning of issues with service, or focus attention on areas where communication, training or changes in operations might improve delivery of products or services. These collections will allow for ongoing, collaborative and actionable communications between the Agency and its customers and stakeholders. It will also allow feedback to contribute directly to the improvement of program management.

    The solicitation of feedback will target areas such as: Timeliness, appropriateness, accuracy of information, courtesy, efficiency of service delivery, and resolution of issues with service delivery. Responses will be assessed to plan and inform efforts to improve or maintain the quality of service offered to the public. If this information is not collected, vital feedback from customers and stakeholders on the Agency's services will be unavailable.

    The Agency will only submit a collection for approval under this generic clearance if it meets the following conditions:

    • The collections are voluntary;

    • The collections are low-burden for respondents (based on considerations of total burden hours, total number of respondents, or burden-hours per respondent) and are low-cost for both the respondents and the Federal Government;

    • The collections are non-controversial and do not raise issues of concern to other Federal agencies;

    • Any collection is targeted to the solicitation of opinions from respondents who have experience with the program or may have experience with the program in the near future;

    • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected only to the extent necessary and is not retained;

    • Information gathered will be used only internally for general service improvement and program management purposes and is not intended for release outside of the agency;

    • Information gathered will not be used for the purpose of substantially informing influential policy decisions; and

    • Information gathered will yield qualitative information; the collections will not be designed or expected to yield statistically reliable results or used as though the results are generalizable to the population of study.

    Feedback collected under this generic clearance provides useful information, but it does not yield data that can be generalized to the overall population. This type of generic clearance for qualitative information will not be used for quantitative information collections that are designed to yield reliably actionable results, such as monitoring trends over time or documenting program performance. Such data uses require more rigorous designs that address: The target population to which generalizations will be made, the sampling frame, the sample design (including stratification and clustering), the precision requirements or power calculations that justify the proposed sample size, the expected response rate, methods for assessing potential non-response bias, the protocols for data collection, and any testing procedures that were or will be undertaken prior to fielding the study. Depending on the degree of influence the results are likely to have, such collections may still be eligible for submission for other generic mechanisms that are designed to yield quantitative results.

    As a general matter, information collections will not result in any new system of records containing privacy information and will not ask questions of a sensitive nature, such as sexual behavior and attitudes, religious beliefs, and other matters that are commonly considered private.

    Current Actions: Processing Information Collection as Fast Track Generic.

    Type of Review: New.

    Affected Public: Individuals or Households; Business or Other For-Profit; Not-For-Profit Institutions; Farms; Federal Government; State, Local, or Tribal Government.

    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 100,000.

    Below we provide projected average burden estimates for the next three years:

    Average Expected Annual Number of Activities: 100.

    Average Number of Respondents per Activity: 1,000.

    Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Annual Responses: 100,000.

    Average Minutes per Response: 10 minutes.

    Annual Burden Hours: 16,667 hours.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Request for Comments: Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval. Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and (e) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information. Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; to develop, acquire, install and utilize technology and systems for the purpose of collecting, validating and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; to train personnel and to be able to respond to a collection of information, to search data sources, to complete and review the collection of information; and to transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

    All written comments will be available for public inspection on regulations.gov.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget Control Number.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register, Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32947 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity AGENCY:

    U.S. Department of Education National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Membership.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice lists the members of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). This notice is required under Section 114(e) (1) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NACIQI's Statutory Authority and Function

    The NACIQI is established under Section 114 of the HEA and is composed of 18 members appointed—

    (A) On the basis of the individual's experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment;

    (B) From amongst individuals who are representatives of, or knowledgeable concerning, education and training beyond secondary education, representing all sectors and types of institutions of higher education; and,

    (C) On the basis of the individual's technical qualifications, professional standing, and demonstrated knowledge in the fields of accreditation and administration of higher education.

    The NACIQI meets at least twice a year and provides recommendations to the Secretary of Education pertaining to:

    • The establishment and enforcement of the standards of accrediting agencies or associations under subpart 2 of part H of Title IV, HEA.

    • The recognition of specific accrediting agencies or associations.

    • The preparation and publication of the list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies and associations.

    • The eligibility and certification process for institutions of higher education under Title IV of the HEA.

    • The relationship between (1) accreditation of institutions of higher education and the certification and eligibility of such institutions and (2) State licensing responsibilities with respect to such institutions.

    • Any other advisory functions relating to accreditation and institutional eligibility that the Secretary may prescribe by regulation.

    ADDRESSES:

    U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, 1990 K Street NW., Room 8072, Washington, DC 20006.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer Hong, Executive Director/Designated Federal Official, NACIQI, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street, NW., Room 8073, Washington, DC 20006-8129, telephone: (202) 502-7696, fax: (202) 502-7874, or email [email protected]

    What are the Terms of office for the committee members?

    The term of office of each member is six years. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which the member's predecessor was appointed is appointed for the remainder of the term.

    Who are the current members of the committee?

    The current members of the NACIQI are:

    Members Appointed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan With Terms Expiring September 30, 2019

    • Susan D. Phillips, Ph.D., NACIQI Chair, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, University at Albany/SUNY, Albany, New York.

    • Simon J. Boehme (Student Member), Mitchell Scholar, Maynooth University, Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

    • Roberta L. Derlin, Ph.D., Associate Provost Emeritus, New Mexico State University, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    • John Etchemendy, Ph.D., Provost, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

    • Frank H. Wu, J.D., Chancellor and Dean, University of California Hastings College of Law, San Francisco, California.

    • Federico Zaragoza, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Economic and Workforce Development, Alamo Colleges, San Antonio, Texas.

    Members Appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives With Terms Expiring September 30, 2020

    • Kathleen Sullivan Alioto, Ed.D., Strategic Advisor, Fundraiser, and Consultant, New York, New York, San Francisco, California, and Boston, Massachusetts.

    • George T. French, Jr., Ph.D., President, Miles College, Fairfield, Alabama.

    • Arthur E. Keiser, Ph.D., NACIQI Vice Chair, Chancellor, Keiser University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    • William Pepicello, Ph.D., President Emeritus, University of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona.

    • Arthur J. Rothkopf, J.D., President Emeritus, Lafayette College, Washington, DC.

    • Ralph Wolff, J.D., Independent Consultant, Oakland, California.

    Members Appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate With Terms Expiring September 30, 2016

    • George “Hank” Brown, President Emeritus, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado.

    • Jill Derby, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, Gardnerville, Nevada.

    • Paul J. LeBlanc, Ph.D., President, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, New Hampshire.

    • Anne D. Neal, J.D., President, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Washington, DC.

    • Richard F. O'Donnell, Founder and CEO, Skills Fund, Austin, Texas.

    • Cameron C. Staples, J.D., President and CEO, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Burlington, Massachusetts.

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site. You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1011c.

    Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32933 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION Sunshine Act Meetings AGENCY:

    Election Assistance Commission.

    DATE & TIME:

    Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at 10 a.m.

    PLACE:

    Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, 1250 S. Hayes Street, Arlington, VA 22202, Phone: (703) 415-5000.

    STATUS:

    This meeting will be open to the public.

    ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AND CONSIDERATION:

    • Recommendation and Discussion on VVSG1.1 Transition Date • Recommendation of Policy Regarding Employee Participation with Outside Organizations AGENDA:

    The Commission will receive a presentation on a recommendation for a Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG 1.1) transition date and consider the proposal for adoption. The Commission will receive a presentation for discussion on a draft Recommendation of Policy Regarding Employee Participation with Outside Organizations. The Commission may consider other administrative matters.

    PERSON TO CONTACT FOR INFORMATION:

    Bryan Whitener, Telephone: (301) 563-3961.

    Dated: December 29, 2015. Bryan Whitener, Director of Communications & Clearinghouse.
    [FR Doc. 2015-33082 Filed 12-29-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 6820-KF-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. OR16-9-000] Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership; Notice of Filing of Supplement to Facilities Surcharge Settlement

    Take notice that on December 15, 2015, Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership (Enbridge Energy),with the support of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), submitted a Supplement to the Facilities Surcharge Settlement approved by the Commission on June 30, 2004, in Docket No. OR04-2-000, at 107 FERC ¶ 61, 336 (2004).

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214 (2014)) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on Enbridge Energy.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on January 7, 2016.

    Dated: December 24, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32918 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. TX16-2-000] Arkansas River Power Authority; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on December 23, 2015, Arkansas River Power Authority submitted its Application for Interconnection and Transmission Service and Request for Expedited Consideration.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. On or before the comment date, it is not necessary to serve motions to intervene or protests on persons other than the Applicant.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on January 14, 2016.

    Dated: December 24, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32919 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings

    Take notice that the Commission has received the following Natural Gas Pipeline Rate and Refund Report filings:

    Filings Instituting Proceedings

    Docket Numbers: RP15-23-010

    Applicants: Transwestern Pipeline Company, LLC

    Description: Compliance filing per 154.203: RP15-23-009 Settlement Compliance Filing Correction to be effective 12/1/2015

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5166

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15

    Docket Numbers: RP16-319-000

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Bantry Waiver Amendment to be effective 1/1/2016

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5154

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/4/16

    Docket Numbers: RP16-320-000

    Applicants: Alliance Pipeline L.P.

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Seasonal Service Jan 1-Mar 31 2016 to be effective 1/1/2016

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5155

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/4/16

    Docket Numbers: RP16-321-000

    Applicants: Questar Pipeline Company

    Description: § 4(d) rate filing per 154.204: Updated CHDP Zone map and related provisions, and certain balancing provisions to be effective 1/25/2016

    Filed Date: 12/24/15

    Accession Number: 20151224-5028

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/5/16

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and § 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: December 24, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
    [FR Doc. 2015-32921 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC16-55-000

    Applicants: Central Antelope Dry Ranch C LLC

    Description: Application for Authorization Under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act for the Disposition of Jurisdictional Facilities, Request for Expedited Consideration and Confidential Treatment of Central Antelope Dry Ranch C LLC.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5244

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    Docket Numbers: EC16-56-000

    Applicants: Entergy Louisiana, LLC

    Description: Application of Entergy Louisiana, LLC, for transaction approval under FPA Section 203.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5253

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    Docket Numbers: EC16-57-000

    Applicants: PacifiCorp

    Description: Application under Section 203 for Approval of Acquisition of Jurisdictional Assets of PacifiCorp.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5254

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    Take notice that the Commission received the following exempt wholesale generator filings:

    Docket Numbers: EG16-30-000

    Applicants: Goal Line L.P.

    Description: Notice of Material Change of Facts and Self-Recertification of Exempt Wholesale Generator Status of Goal Line L.P.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5231

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    Docket Numbers: EG16-31-000

    Applicants: Voyager Wind I, LLC

    Description: Notice of Self-Certification of Exempt Wholesale Generator Status of Voyager Wind I, LLC.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5233

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER15-861-007

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation

    Description: Compliance filing: Limited Tariff Waiver Petition: Modify ABC Effective Date & Short Comment Period to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5237

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/30/15

    Docket Numbers: ER16-634-000

    Applicants: AltaGas Pomona Energy Inc.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: AltaGas Pomona Energy Inc. MBR Tariff to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/24/15

    Accession Number: 20151224-5000

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/14/16

    Docket Numbers: ER16-635-000

    Applicants: Entergy Louisiana, LLC

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: ELL-SRMPA 6th Extension of Interim Agreement to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 12/24/15

    Accession Number: 20151224-5034

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/14/16

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric securities filings:

    Docket Numbers: ES16-16-000

    Applicants: PJM Settlement, Inc.

    Description: Application of PJM Settlement, Inc. under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act for an Order Authorizing Issuances of Securities and Approving Guaranty.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5242

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    Docket Numbers: ES16-17-000

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: Application of PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. Under Section 204 of the Federal Power Act for an Order Authorizing the Issuance of Securities.

    Filed Date: 12/23/15

    Accession Number: 20151223-5243

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 1/13/16

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: December 24, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32916 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL11-66-000] Martha Coakley, Massachusetts Attorney General; Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority; Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities; New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission; Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel; Maine Office of the Public Advocate; George Jepsen, Connecticut Attorney General; New Hampshire Office of Consumer Advocate; Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; Vermont Department of Public Service; Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company; Associated Industries of Massachusetts; The Energy Consortium; Power Options, Inc.; and the Industrial Energy Consumer Group, v. Bangor Hydro-Electric Company; Central Maine Power Company; New England Power Company d/b/a National Grid; New Hampshire Transmission LLC d/b/a NextEra; NSTAR Electric and Gas Corporation; Northeast Utilities Service Company; The United Illuminating Company; Unitil Energy Systems, Inc. and Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Company; Vermont Transco, LLC; Notice of Filing

    Take notice that on December 23, 2015, the New England Transmission Owners (NETOs) submitted tariff filing per: Refund Report to be effective N/A, pursuant to the Commission's Opinion No. 531-A, issued on October 16, 2014.1

    1Martha Coakley, Mass. Attorney Gen., et al. v. Bangor Hydro-Elec. Co., et al., Opinion No. 531, 147 FERC ¶ 61,234 (2014) (Opinion No. 531), order on paper hearing, Opinion No. 531-A, 149 FERC ¶ 61,032 (2014) (Opinion No. 531-A).

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant and all the parties in this proceeding.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the “eFiling” link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the “eLibrary” link and is available for electronic review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an “eSubscription” link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on January 13, 2016. Dated: December 24, 2015. Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32917 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [ER-FRL-9024-7] Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of Availability

    Responsible Agency: Office of Federal Activities, General Information (202) 564-7146 or http://www2.epa.gov/nepa

    Weekly receipt of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) Filed 12/21/2015 Through 12/24/2015 Pursuant to 40 CFR 1506.9. Notice

    Section 309(a) of the Clean Air Act requires that EPA make public its comments on EISs issued by other Federal agencies. EPA's comment letters on EISs are available at: http://cdxnodengn.epa.gov/cdx-nepa-public/action/eis/search.

    EIS No. 20150363, Draft, USFS, MT, Center Horse Landscape Restoration Project, Comment Period Ends: 02/16/2016, Contact: Tami Paulsen 406-329-3731. EIS No. 20150364, Second Draft Supplemental, NRC, NY, Generic—License Renewal of Nuclear Plants, Supplement 38, Volume 5, Regarding Indian Point Nuclear Generating Unit Nos. 2 and 3, Comment Period Ends: 03/04/2016, Contact: Michael Wentzel 301-415-6459. EIS No. 20150365, Final, USACE, CA, Panoche Valley Solar Project, Review Period Ends: 02/01/2016, Contact: Lisa Gibson 916-557-5288. EIS No. 20150366, Draft, USFS, MT, Lower Yaak, O'Brien, Sheep Project, Comment Period Ends: 02/16/2016, Contact: Miles Friend 406-295-4693. EIS No. 20150367, Draft, USACE, CA, Upper Llagas Creek Flood Project, Comment Period Ends: 02/16/2016, Contact: Jim Mazza 415-503-6775. Dated: December 28, 2015. Dawn Roberts, Management Analyst, NEPA Compliance Division, Office of Federal Activities.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32971 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company

    The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire shares of a bank or bank holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)).

    The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than January 15, 2016.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Ivan Hurwitz, Vice President) 33 Liberty Street, New York, New York 10045-0001:

    1. Pathfinder Bank Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust, Oswego, New York; to acquire additional voting shares of Pathfinder Bancorp Inc., Oswego, New York.

    B. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland (Nadine Wallman, Vice President) 1455 East Sixth Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44101-2566:

    1. The McComb Family, as a group, consisting of Gregory Scott McComb, Blacklick, Ohio, Camilla Lorraine McComb, Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Debra L. McComb, New Albany, Ohio; to retain voting shares of Heartland BancCorp, and thereby indirectly retain voting shares of Heartland Bank, both in Gahanna, Ohio.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, December 28, 2015. Michael J. Lewandowski, Associate Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32956 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    GULF COAST ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION COUNCIL [Document ID: 112312015-1111-11] Request for Applications for Funding for the 12/09/2015 Funded Priorities List AGENCY:

    Federal Agency Name: Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

    SUMMARY:

    This announcement provides guidance to members of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) to apply for funding under the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (33 U.S.C. 1321(t)(2)) to implement projects and programs approved on the 12/09/2015 Funded Priorities List (FPL) Addendum to the Initial Comprehensive Plan.

    RFA Name: Council-Selected Restoration Component 12/09/2015 Funded Priorities List Grant and Interagency Agreement Application Requirements.

    Announcement Type: Supplemental announcement to Council Member Summary Notice of Application Process for Council-Selected Restoration Component Projects and Programs, published on May 4, 2015 (80 FR 25294).

    Funding Opportunity Number: GCC-FPL-16-001.

    Fiscal Year: FY 2016 and 2017.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 87.051 Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Comprehensive Plan Component Program.

    Funding Instrument: Grant or Interagency Agreement.

    Funding Amount: $156,553,618.

    Closing Date for Submissions: Applications are due by December 31, 2016. Eligible applicants may submit their applications for Council-Selected Restoration Component projects and programs beginning upon publication of the 12/09/2015 Funded Priorities List (FPL) Addendum to the Initial Comprehensive Plan and continuing through and including December 31, 2016.

    Funding Opportunity Description: Through this announcement, members of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) may submit applications to fund projects and programs under the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (33 U.S.C. 1321(t)(2)). Council members include the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the governors of the Gulf Coast States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The submission process is composed of two phases: (1) The submission of proposals to the Council for inclusion in a Funded Priorities List (FPL) (proposal phase), and (2) once a project or program has been approved by the Council for inclusion in an FPL, the submission of a grant or interagency agreement (IAA) application in order to receive funding (application phase).

    The first phase of the process (proposal phase) is complete for the 12/09/2015 FPL. This announcement provides guidance to eligible entities on the necessary steps to complete the second phase of submitting their grant application if a proposal was selected for funding in the 12/09/2015 FPL (available at: https://www.restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/FPL_FINAL_Dec9Vote_EC_Library_Links.pdf).

    Council members are the only entities eligible to submit applications under this funding announcement and are the only entities eligible to receive Council-Selected Restoration Component funds under grant awards or IAAs.

    Full Announcement Text Funding Opportunity Description A. Program Description

    Through this announcement, member agencies and States of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (Council) may submit applications to fund projects and programs under the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act) (33 U.S.C. 1321(t)(2)). Council members include the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, the Interior, and Homeland Security, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the governors of the Gulf Coast States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The submission process is composed of two phases: (1) The submission of proposals to the Council for inclusion in a Funded Priorities List (FPL), (proposal phase) and (2) once a project or program has been approved by the Council for inclusion in an FPL, the submission of a grant application in order to receive grant funding (application phase). The first phase (proposal phase) was completed with the approval of an FPL by the Council on December 9, 2015 and publication of the FPL in the Federal Register on December 15, 2015. 80 FR 77585. This announcement provides guidance to eligible entities on the necessary steps to complete the second phase of submitting their grant application if a proposal was selected for funding in the 12/09/2015 FPL (available at: https://www.restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/FPL_FINAL_Dec9Vote_EC_Library_Links.pdf).

    1. Background

    Passed in July 2012, the RESTORE Act dedicates 80 percent of certain Clean Water Act administrative and civil penalties paid by responsible parties in connection with the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund (Trust Fund). The RESTORE Act also outlines a structure by which the funds can be utilized to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, coastal wetlands, and economy of the Gulf Coast region.

    In order to carry out certain functions of the RESTORE Act, Congress established the Council, which is comprised of governors from the five affected Gulf Coast States (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas); the Secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, the Interior, and Homeland Security; and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Gulf States recommended, and President Obama appointed, the Secretary of Commerce as the Council's initial Chairperson. The Council was tasked with publishing a Comprehensive Plan under which the Council will fund and implement projects and programs to restore and protect the natural resources, ecosystems, fisheries, marine and wildlife habitats, beaches, and coastal wetlands of the Gulf Coast region (known as the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the RESTORE Act). 33 U.S.C. 1321(t)(2).

    The Council approved the Initial Comprehensive Plan in August of 2013 (available at: https://restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/Final%20Initial%20Comprehensive%20Plan.pdf). The Initial Comprehensive Plan guides decision-making related to the evaluation, approval, funding, and implementation of projects and programs under the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the RESTORE Act in the form of an FPL. On August 21, 2014, the Council published on its Web site, the Council Member Proposal Submission Guidelines for Comprehensive Plan Funded Priorities List of Projects and Programs (“Submission Guidelines”, available at https://www.restorethegulf.gov/sites/default/files/Submission_Guidelines_Final%20Aug%202014_0.pdf). These Guidelines outlined the process for the first phase of the submission process for the grants and interagency agreements (IAAs) that are the subject of this announcement. On May 4, 2015, the Council published the Council Member Summary Notice of Application Process for Council-Selected Restoration Component Projects and Programs which outlined the entire two-phase process for the Council-Selected Restoration Component. 80 FR 25294. Council members submitted proposals detailing projects and programs for possible inclusion in the first FPL. Submitted proposals were independently reviewed against a set of specific criteria; the results of this review are available online (https://www.restorethegulf.gov/council-selected-restoration-component/draft-initial-funded-priorities-list). Based on this independent review, the Council developed and approved a draft FPL and solicited public comment. After taking into account public comments, the initial FPL was approved by Council vote on December 9, 2015. The number and type of projects and programs contained in the initial 12/09/2015 FPL was based, in part, on the amount and timing of funds currently available in the Trust Fund.

    As additional funds become available in the future, the Council will periodically request proposals from its eleven State and federal members in order to develop additional FPLs. The Council may also carry forward proposals submitted under prior requests for proposals when formulating future FPLs. Council members are the only entities eligible to submit proposals or receive Council-Selected Restoration Component funds under grant awards or IAAs.

    Now that the Council has published the initial 12/09/2015 FPL, the Council will accept applications for grant awards from its five Gulf Coast State members or IAAs from its six federal agency members in order to fund each project and program included in the FPL.

    The remainder of this Notice of Funding Opportunity details the requirements for grant and IAA applications to carry out the projects and programs in the FPL. Funding to State Council members will be provided through grants. Funding to federal Council members will be provided through IAAs.

    2. Program Authority

    33 U.S.C. 1321(t)(2).

    B. Federal Award Information

    The application phase is not competitive. Rather, once a proposal for a project or program has been selected under phase 1 (see section A(1) of this announcement for discussion of the proposal phase) the grants to be awarded (to State Council members) or IAAs are entered into (with federal agency Council members) through the administrative process detailed in this announcement.

    All State Council member proposals selected for funding under phase 1 of this announcement must apply for a grant through the Restoration Assistance and Awards Management System (RAAMS) to implement the project or program described in the approved project proposal. All federal agency Council member proposals selected for funding under phase 1 of this announcement must submit an application through RAAMS prior to entering into an IAA to implement a project or program described in the approved project proposal.

    1. Funding Availability

    Up to $156,553,618 is available to fund grants and IAAs under this announcement. These funds are expected to fund 45 projects and programs. The exact number of grants and IAAs required to fund these 45 projects and programs depends on the State or federal member applicant. The Council may request an applicant split an application into more than one application for administrative efficiency. The amount of each grant or IAA will depend on the exact project(s) or program(s) contained therein. The amount is not to exceed the amount approved in the 12/09/2015 FPL.

    2. Project/Award Period

    The duration of projects and programs under this announcement is anticipated to be three to ten years; however, subject to Council approval projects may have a longer duration. Award start dates will depend on when the applicant submits a complete application.

    3. Type of Funding Instrument

    The funding instrument for awards to Council member States will be a grant. The funding mechanism for Council member federal agencies will be an IAA. Funding for contractual arrangements for services and products for delivery to the Council is not available under this announcement.

    C. Eligibility Information 1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants are limited to members of the Council, or their administrative agents, that have had a proposal selected for funding pursuant to phase 1, found in section (A)(1) of this announcement. Council members include: The States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas; the Departments of Agriculture, the Army, Commerce, Homeland Security and the Interior; and the Environmental Protection Agency. No other entity is eligible to apply under this announcement.

    2. Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement

    None.

    3. Other Criteria That Affect Eligibility

    Applications are limited to the category 1 restoration activities included in the 12/09/2015 FPL.

    D. Application and Submission Information 1. Address To Request Application Package

    Eligible entities can access the link to RAAMS and download application forms and other materials necessary to apply for funding through the RESTORE Council Web site at https://restorethegulf.gov/gcerc-grants-office.

    2. Content and Form of Application for Awards and Agreements

    Please refer to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Recipient Proposal and Award Guide (RPAG) (available at: https://restorethegulf.gov/gcerc-grants-office) for comprehensive guidance on all phases of the submission, application, and award implementation process.

    The following application requirements are for grants to Gulf Coast States and IAAs with federal Servicing Agencies. A complete application will include all of the below information, which is entered directly into RAAMS or uploaded as an attachment(s). Application material will include all data from required federal standard forms and may include Council-specific supporting information and schedules.

    a. Data from OMB Standard Form (SF) SF-424A “Application for Federal Assistance” and associated forms.

    b. Certifications:

    i. RESTORE Council Applicant Certifications; and

    ii. Appropriate SF-424 Assurances:

    (1) For applications involving construction or real property/land acquisition, complete the SF-424D “Assurances—Construction Programs”.

    (2) For non-construction applications, complete the SF-424B “Assurances—Non-Construction Programs”.

    c. A copy of the applicant's Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (IDCRA), if applicable.

    d. Executive Summary.

    e. Project/Program Narrative:

    i. Description of how the project/program meets statutory requirements and commitments the Council made in the Initial Comprehensive Plan including identification of objectives and goals as well as focus and emphasis areas.

    ii. Metrics for gauging the success of the project or program.

    iii. Milestones, including activity-based costs and any deliverables for each milestone.

    iv. Description of leveraged resources.

    f. Observational Data Plan.

    g. Preliminary Data Management Plan.

    h. Location information and map(s).

    i. Budget documentation:

    i. This documentation is more detailed than the budget required to be submitted in phase 1.

    ii. SF-424 budget information:

    (1) For all projects/programs, data equivalent to that provided on the SF-424A “Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs” is required.

    (2) For construction projects or real property/land acquisition, data equivalent to that provided on the SF-424C “Budget Information—Construction Programs” is required in addition to the SF-424A data.

    (3) Budget data must also be provided by SF-424A and/or SF-424C object classes for leveraged funding that is required to complete the objectives of the project/program (i.e., “co-funding”).

    (4) Where the applicant will “pass through” or otherwise provide funds to one or more subrecipients, a separate detailed budget using object categories from the SF-424A and/or SF-424C, as appropriate, must be provided for each proposed subaward that is known at the time the application is submitted.

    (5) Any program income anticipated during the award period should be included in the budget.

    iii. Budget Narrative/Justification:

    (1) A detailed description of the expenses listed on the budget forms and how they address the proposed work is required.

    (2) Item descriptions and justifications must be provided for each applicable object class from the SF-424A and/or C, including salaries, fringe benefits, equipment, supplies, travel, construction, etc.

    (3) Applicants who will not be requesting funds for salaries for contributing personnel, must still list those personnel, indicating their estimated time of commitment.

    (4) Purchases of equipment greater than $5,000 must include a purchase versus lease justification.

    (5) Where the applicant plans to procure goods and services through a contractual or subrecipient relationship, information is required on the proposed method of selection, period of performance scope of work, and method(s) of accountability.

    (6) A description of any leveraged funding that is required to complete the objectives of the project/program must be provided, including the source(s), amount of funding and work to be accomplished.

    (7) Detailed information must be provided regarding any pre-award costs requested including a justification for each item. Such costs are allowable only to the extent that they would have been allowable if incurred after the grant award date and only with the written approval of the Grants Officer. All costs incurred before the Council awards the grant are at the recipient's risk. Requests for pre-award costs should be kept to a minimum. Generally, the period for such costs should not exceed 90 days prior to the start of the award period.

    j. Cash Forecasting. The applicant must forecast cash requirements/draws throughout the life of the award in semi-annual increments.

    k. Current and pending support. Applicants must submit a list of all current and pending federal support that includes project title, supporting agency with grant number, dollar value, and duration. Requested values should be listed for pending support.

    l. DUNS Number. All applications must have a DUNS (Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System) number when applying for federal grants. No application is deemed complete without the DUNS number, and only the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) may grant exceptions.

    m. Environmental Compliance Documentation. The Council must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, as applicable, before approving funding under the Council-Selected Restoration Component. In addition, the Council must address, as applicable, Executive Order 11988 (“Floodplain Management”), Executive Order 11990 (“Protection of Wetlands”), Executive Order 12898 (“Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low Income Populations”) and Executive Order 13653 (“Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change”). These laws and Executive Orders requirements have been addressed, where applicable, for all activities listed in Category 1 of the FPL. Documentation regarding compliance with the foregoing requirements for each FPL Category 1 activity can be found on the Council Web site (available at https://www.restorethegulf.gov/funded-priorities-list). Prior to awarding a grant or entering into an IAA under the Council-Selected Restoration Component, the Council must also comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act, Coastal Barrier Resources Act and Farmland Protection Policy Act, as applicable. Applicants should submit information indicating whether the above requirements have been met, and if not, the status of any efforts to meet the requirements. Applicants are also responsible for complying with all other applicable federal environmental laws prior to full disbursement of grant or IAA funding. Specifically, applicants are responsible for identifying other applicable federal environmental laws and providing the Council with information regarding compliance with such laws.

    i. Applicants may be required to provide detailed information on the activities to be conducted, locations, sites, species, and habitat to be affected, possible construction activities, and any environmental concerns that may exist (e.g., the use and disposal of hazardous or toxic chemicals, introduction of non-indigenous species, impacts to endangered and threatened species, aquaculture projects, and impacts to coral reef systems).

    ii. Applicants may also be required to cooperate with the Council in identifying feasible measures to reduce or avoid any identified adverse environmental impacts of their application. Any failure to do so shall be grounds for deeming an application incomplete. In some cases if additional information is required after an application is submitted, funds may be withheld by the Grants Officer pursuant to a special award condition requiring the recipient to submit additional environmental compliance information sufficient to enable the Council to make an assessment of any impacts that a project may have on the environment.

    iii. Applicants also must submit documentation to the Council demonstrating that all applicable permits or authorizations from other state, federal or local agencies have been secured. Funds may be withheld by the Grants Officer pursuant to a special award condition requiring the recipient to submit all required permits and authorizations prior to implementation.

    Additional requirement for State applications for grant funding:

    Organizational Self-Assessment (OSA). Each non-federal applicant must certify and submit the Council's Organizational Self-Assessment form. The form must be received by the Council no later than the application submission date of the entity's first grant application to the Council. The OSA will be updated annually.

    Additional requirements for IAAs with Federal Servicing Agencies:

    A completed and approved application will be followed by an IAA. The IAA will contain information indicating whether the above requirements have been met, and if not, the status of any efforts to meet the requirements. Servicing Agencies are also responsible for all applicable federal environmental laws and requirements prior to full disbursement of grant or interagency agreement funding.

    All applicants are required to: (i) Be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM) before submitting its application; (ii) provide a valid unique entity identifier in its application; and (iii) continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active federal award or an application or plan under consideration by a federal awarding agency. The Council will not make an award to an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable unique entity-identifier and SAM requirements and, if an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements by the time the Council is ready to make a Federal award, the Council may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award.

    4. Submission Dates and Times

    Subject to Section D.7 below, applications may be submitted at any time after publication of the initial FPL but no later than December 31, 2016. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and are to be submitted through RAAMS.

    5. Intergovernmental Review

    Applications under this program are not subject to Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.

    6. Funding Restrictions

    Of the amounts received by an eligible entity in a grant or IAA under this announcement, not more than three percent (3%) may be used for administrative costs. The three percent limit is applied to the total amount of funds received by a recipient under each grant or IAA. The three percent limit does not apply to the administrative costs of subrecipients. All subrecipient costs are subject to the cost principles in federal law and policies on grants. Administrative costs means those indirect costs for administration incurred by the eligible entity that are allocable to activities authorized under the Act. Administrative costs do not include indirect costs that are identified specifically with, or readily assignable to, facilities as defined in 2 CFR 200.414. See the https://restorethegulf.gov/gcerc-grants-office/gcerc-grants-resources Web page for an example of administrative cost calculations.

    Fees and profit are disallowed.

    7. Other Submission Requirements

    Applications will be completed and submitted electronically by way of the Council's Restoration Assistance and Award Management System (RAAMS) (https://raams.restorethegulf.gov). Applicants will not be eligible to submit an application until they have completed RAAMS training. There will be multiple training opportunities available starting in January 2016.

    E. Application Review Information 1. Criteria

    At the organizational level, the Council will conduct risk assessments of first-time non-federal recipients in order to effectively implement the statutory, regulatory, administrative, and program requirements of a potential federal award. Once an initial assessment has been made, it will be reviewed on an annual basis. As the Council-Selected Restoration Component of the RESTORE Act is a new federal program, all non-federal recipients will be treated as first-time recipients for the initial Council awards.

    Upon receipt of an application through RAAMS, the Council will review the application for completeness. Once it has been determined that the application is complete, the staff will review this funding opportunity announcement, the application and supporting documentation, the System for Award Management, and any other information available to determine the following:

    • Whether the recipient and any subrecipients are eligible for funding;

    • Whether the project or program as described in the application is compliant with the proposal contained in the FPL or the Full SEP, whichever is applicable;

    • Whether award activities are eligible and attainable;

    • Whether staff time is appropriate to perform proposed tasks;

    • Whether best available science is applied;

    • Whether the recipient has established a suitable monitoring plan;

    • Whether milestones and metrics are feasible, measurable and achievable;

    • Whether observational data and management plans are adequate (if applicable);

    • Whether environmental compliance requirements have been met;

    • Whether budget line items are allowable, allocable, and reasonable;

    • Whether any proposed procurement complies with applicable laws and policies;

    • Whether budget line items are accurately calculated;

    • Whether pre-award costs are requested, and if so, is the documentation sufficient;

    • Whether the period of performance requires an adjustment; and

    • Whether any special award conditions are needed.

    2. Review and Selection Process

    The review and selection process was completed with the approval of an FPL on 12/09/2015 and publication of the FPL in the Federal Register on December 15, 2015. 80 FR 77585. However, the detailed project or program narrative description of activities will be closely reviewed and compared to the project narrative description submitted in the initial proposal to verify the scope of the activities in the application.

    3. Agency Review of Information Concerning Recipient Integrity and Performance

    The Council is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313). The applicant may, at its option, review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that a federal awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM. Furthermore, the Council consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in 2 CFR 200.205, “Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.”

    4. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

    Applications will be received on a rolling basis. It is anticipated that awards will be made within 90 days of submission of a complete grant application.

    F. Award Administration Information 1. Federal Award Notices

    a. For State Council members, official notification of grant funding, signed by the Council Executive Director, is the authorizing document that allows the project or program to begin. Notifications will be issued to the Authorizing Official designated by the Council member for the project or program.

    b. For federal Council members, an IAA is the mechanism for transferring funds from the Council to the member agency. IAAs will be executed and finalized in accordance with applicable federal requirements. All federal Council members having proposals selected for funding under phase 1 of this announcement must work with the Council to establish an IAA. Pursuant to 31 CFR 34.803(d), any federal Council member (“Servicing Agency”) must use funds only for the purposes identified in the IAA. All activities under the IAA must meet the eligibility requirements for the Council-Selected Restoration Component as defined in 31 CFR 34.202.

    c. The Servicing Agency, and all non-federal entity recipients and subrecipients, must comply and require each of its contractors and subcontractors employed in the completion of the project to comply with all applicable statutes, regulations, Executive Orders (E.O.s), Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars, terms and conditions, agreements and approved applications. Any inconsistency or conflict in terms and conditions specified in the IAA will be resolved according to the following order of precedence: Public laws, regulations, applicable notices published in the Federal Register, E.O.s, OMB circulars, and the IAA's terms and conditions. The Servicing Agency shall also administer the project in compliance with the Servicing Agency's existing statutes, regulations, and grant policies.

    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    The Council Pre-Award Notification Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements contained in the Federal Register notice of November 24, 2014 (https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-27719) is applicable to this announcement.

    The Council's Financial Assistance Standard Terms and Conditions (STCs) contained in the Federal Register notice of August 31, 2015 (https://federalregister.gov/a/2015-21417) are applicable to grants awarded under this announcement. The Council's IAA Standard Terms and Conditions (IAA STCs) are applicable to IAAs executed under this announcement. Both the STCs and the IAA STCs may be found at https://restorethegulf.gov/resources/council-documents-foia-library.

    3. Reporting

    Award recipients are required to submit financial, technical progress, performance and outcome reports. These reports are to be submitted electronically via RAAMS.

    Reporting Periods: Semi-annual reporting periods will be specified in the award for either the periods ending:

    • March 31 and September 30, or any portion thereof; or

    • June 30 and December 31, or any portion thereof.

    Due Dates: Semi-annual performance reports are due no later than 30 days following the end of each reporting period. A final performance report is due within 90 days after the expiration of the project period.

    As part of the required Data Management Plan (DMP), the recipient will develop a data/information management plan and submit appropriate data and information with progress reports on a yearly basis. Due dates will be included in the award agreement.

    Applicants must also comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This Act includes a requirement for awardees of applicable federal grants to report information about first-tier sub-awards and executive compensation under federal assistance awards issued in FY 2011 or later. All awardees of applicable grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Sub-award Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.FSRS.gov on all sub-awards over $25,000.

    If the award will include more than $500,000 over the period of performance, applicants must also comply with the post award reporting requirements reflected in 2 CFR part 200 Appendix XII—Award Term and Condition for Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters.

    G. Agency Contacts Kristin Smith, Senior Grants Management Officer, [email protected], 504-444-3558. H. Other Information

    Please refer to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Recipient Proposal and Award Guide (RPAG), available at https://restorethegulf.gov/gcerc-grants-office, for comprehensive guidance on all phases of the submission, application, and award implementation process.

    Will D. Spoon, Program Analyst, Gulf Coast Ecosystem, Restoration Council.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32924 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Patient Safety Organizations: Voluntary Relinquishment from the Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc. AGENCY:

    Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice of Delisting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 299b-21 to b-26, (Patient Safety Act) and the related Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Final Rule, 42 CFR part 3 (Patient Safety Rule), published in the Federal Register on November 21, 2008, 73 FR 70732-70814, provide for the formation of Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs), which collect, aggregate, and analyze confidential information regarding the quality and safety of health care delivery. The Patient Safety Rule authorizes AHRQ, on behalf of the Secretary of HHS, to list as a PSO an entity that attests that it meets the statutory and regulatory requirements for listing. A PSO can be “delisted” by the Secretary if it is found to no longer meet the requirements of the Patient Safety Act and Patient Safety Rule, when a PSO chooses to voluntarily relinquish its status as a PSO for any reason, or when a PSO's listing expires. AHRQ has accepted a notification of voluntary relinquishment from the Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc. of its status as a PSO, and has delisted the PSO accordingly. The Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc. submitted this request for voluntary relinquishment during expedited revocation proceedings for cause.

    DATES:

    The directories for both listed and delisted PSOs are ongoing and reviewed weekly by AHRQ. The delisting was effective at 12:00 Midnight ET (2400) on December 15, 2015.

    ADDRESSES:

    Both directories can be accessed electronically at the following HHS Web site: http://www.pso.ahrq.gov/listed.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Eileen Hogan, Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, AHRQ, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 06N94B, Rockville, MD 20857; Telephone (toll free): (866) 403-3697; Telephone (local): (301) 427-1111; TTY (toll free): (866) 438-7231; TTY (local): (301) 427-1130; Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    The Patient Safety Act authorizes the listing of PSOs, which are entities or component organizations whose mission and primary activity are to conduct activities to improve patient safety and the quality of health care delivery.

    HHS issued the Patient Safety Rule to implement the Patient Safety Act. AHRQ administers the provisions of the Patient Safety Act and Patient Safety Rule relating to the listing and operation of PSOs. The Patient Safety Rule authorizes AHRQ to list as a PSO an entity that attests that it meets the statutory and regulatory requirements for listing. A PSO can be “delisted” if it is found to no longer meet the requirements of the Patient Safety Act and Patient Safety Rule, when a PSO chooses to voluntarily relinquish its status as a PSO for any reason, or when a PSO's listing expires. Section 3.108(d) of the Patient Safety Rule requires AHRQ to provide public notice when it removes an organization from the list of federally approved PSOs.

    AHRQ has accepted a notification from the Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc., PSO number P0012, to voluntarily relinquish its status as a PSO. Accordingly, the Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc. was delisted effective at 12:00 Midnight ET (2400) on December 15, 2015. The Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc. submitted this request for voluntary relinquishment during expedited revocation proceedings for cause.

    The Texas Patient Safety Organization, Inc. has patient safety work product (PSWP) in its possession. The PSO has met the requirements of section 3.108(c)(2)(i) of the Patient Safety Rule regarding notification to providers that have reported to the PSO. In addition, according to sections 3.108(c)(2)(ii) and 3.108(b)(3) of the Patient Safety Rule regarding disposition of PSWP, the PSO has 90 days from the effective date of delisting and revocation to complete the disposition of PSWP that is currently in the PSO's possession.

    More information on PSOs can be obtained through AHRQ's PSO Web site at http://www.pso.AHRQ.gov/index.html.

    Sharon B. Arnold, AHRQ Deputy Director.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32914 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4160-90-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS-3323-NC] Request for Information: Certification Frequency and Requirements for the Reporting of Quality Measures Under CMS Programs AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HHS.

    ACTION:

    Request for information.

    SUMMARY:

    This request for information seeks public comment regarding several items related to the certification of health information technology (IT), including electronic health records (EHR) products used for reporting to certain CMS quality reporting programs such as, but not limited to, the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). In addition, we are requesting feedback on how often to require recertification, the number of clinical quality measures (CQMs) a certified Health IT Module should be required to certify to, and testing of certified Health IT Module(s).

    DATES:

    To be assured consideration, comments must be received at one of the addresses provided below, no later than 5 p.m. on February 1, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    In commenting, refer to file code CMS-3323-NC. Because of staff and resource limitations, we cannot accept comments by facsimile (FAX) transmission.

    You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

    1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments on this regulation to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the “Submit a comment” instructions.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3323-NC, P.O. Box 8013, Baltimore, MD 21244-8013.

    Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.

    3. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: CMS-3323-NC, Mail Stop C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    4. By hand or courier. Alternatively, you may deliver (by hand or courier) your written comments ONLY to the following addresses:

    a. For delivery in Washington, DC—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.

    (Because access to the interior of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building is not readily available to persons without Federal government identification, commenters are encouraged to leave their comments in the CMS drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available for persons wishing to retain a proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the comments being filed.)

    b. For delivery in Baltimore, MD—Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21244-1850.

    If you intend to deliver your comments to the Baltimore address, call telephone number (410) 786-9994 in advance to schedule your arrival with one of our staff members.

    Comments erroneously mailed to the addresses indicated as appropriate for hand or courier delivery may be delayed and received after the comment period.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lisa Marie Gomez, 410-786-1175.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Inspection of Public Comments: All comments received before the close of the comment period are available for viewing by the public, including any personally identifiable or confidential business information that is included in a comment. We post all comments received before the close of the comment period on the following Web site as soon as possible after they have been received: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the search instructions on that Web site to view public comments.

    Comments received timely will also be available for public inspection as they are received, generally beginning approximately 3 weeks after publication of a document, at the headquarters of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244, Monday through Friday of each week from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment to view public comments, phone 1-800-743-3951.

    I. Background

    The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (Title IV of Division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and Title XIII of Division A of the ARRA) authorizes incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid for the adoption of and meaningful use of certified EHR technology (CEHRT) and downward payment adjustments under Medicare for failure to demonstrate meaningful use. Eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) that seek to qualify for incentive payments or avoid negative payment adjustments under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs are required to use CEHRT. Some CMS quality reporting programs, such as the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program and Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), either require or provide the option to use certified EHR technology, as defined under the EHR Incentive Program, for reporting quality data.

    The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONC's) “2015 Edition Health Information Technology (Health IT) Certification Criteria, 2015 Edition Base Electronic Health Record (EHR) Definition, and ONC Health IT Certification Program Modifications Final Rule” (80 FR 62601) (2015 Edition final rule), establishes the capabilities and specifies the related standards and implementation specifications that CEHRT needs to include to support the achievement of meaningful use by EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs. ONC's Health IT Certification Program provides a process by which Health IT Module(s) can be certified so that they meet the standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria that have been adopted by the Secretary. CEHRT is defined for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs in 42 CFR 495.4. The definition establishes the requirements for EHR technology that must be used by providers to meet the MU objectives and measures or to qualify for an incentive payment under Medicaid for adopting, implementing, or upgrading CEHRT. For example, a Health IT Module is presented for certification to a criterion with a percentage-based measure and the Health IT Module can meet the “automated numerator recording” criterion or “automated measure calculation” criterion. The CQM data reported to us must originate from EHR technology that is certified in accordance with the ONC Health IT Certification Program's requirements (77 FR 54053).

    As stated in the Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program—Stage 3 and Modifications to Meaningful Use in 2015 through 2017 final rule (80 FR 62894), in 2017, all EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs have two options to report CQM data, either through attestation or use of established methods for electronic reporting where feasible. However, starting in 2018, EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must electronically report CQMs using CEHRT where feasible; and attestation to CQMs will no longer be an option except in certain circumstances where electronic reporting is not feasible.

    II. Solicitation of Comments

    We are soliciting public input on the following areas of certification and testing of health IT, particularly relating to how often to require recertification, the number of CQMs a certified Health IT Module should be required to certify to, and the testing of certified Health IT Module(s) in order to reduce the burden and further streamline the process for providers and health IT developers while ensuring such products are certified and tested appropriately for effectiveness. The feedback will inform CMS and ONC of elements that may need to be considered for future rules relating to the reporting of quality measures under CMS programs. This request for information is part of the effort of CMS to streamline/reduce EP, eligible hospital, CAH, and health IT developer burden.

    A. Frequency of Certification

    We conduct an annual analysis of CQM specifications in order to ensure measure efficacy, accuracy, and clinical relevance. Any updates to the calculation of a CQM through this process are released with the annual updates to the electronic specifications for EHR submission published by CMS (https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/eCQM_Library.html). Because we require the most recent version of the CQM specifications to be used for electronic reporting methods (79 FR 67906 and 80 FR 49760), we understand that health IT developers must make CQM updates annually and providers must regularly implement those updates to stay current with the most recent CQM version. To ensure accuracy of the implementation of these updates, we have considered requiring recertification of already certified EHR products with these annual updates. We understand that standards for electronically representing CQMs continue to evolve, and believe there may be value in retesting certified Health IT Modules (including CEHRT) periodically to ensure that CQMs are being accurately calculated and represented, and that they can be reported as required. However, we have not required this recertification to date. With the continuing evolution of technology and clinical standards, as well as the need for a predictable cycle from measure development to provider data submission, we indicated, in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems (IPPS) and Long-term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) final rule (80 FR 49760) (hereinafter referred to as the FY 2016 IPPS/LTCH PPS final rule), that we would be issuing a request for information on the establishment of an ongoing cycle for the introduction and certification of new measures, the testing of updated measures, and the testing and certification of submission capabilities.

    While we believe that health IT developers should test and certify their products to the most recent version of the electronic specifications for the CQMs when feasible, we understand the burdens associated with this requirement and therefore, have not historically required re-certification of previously certified products when updates are made to CQM electronic specifications or to the standards required for reporting. During the FY 2016 IPPS/LTCH PPS rulemaking process, we received comments and requests from stakeholders to change this policy. We acknowledge that the certification process can be burdensome to health IT developers and believe that annual certification could compress the timeline for CQM and standard updates. We also acknowledge that stakeholders and providers reporting electronic CQMs have an interest in ensuring that their Health IT Module is tested and certified to the most recent version of electronic CQM specifications. We are soliciting feedback regarding testing and recertification, particularly relating to: The requirement for CEHRT products to be recertified when a new version of the CEHRT is available in order to ensure the accuracy of implementation; and the requirement for Health IT Modules to undergo annual CQM testing through CMS approved testing tools and the ONC Health IT Certification Program. We are also seeking comment on the following.

    • What is the burden (both time and money) of additional testing and recertification?

    • What are the benefits of requiring additional testing and recertification?

    • How will it affect the timeline for CQM and standard updates?

    • What are the benefits and challenges of establishing a predictable cycle from measure development to provider data submission?

    B. Changes to Minimum CQM Certification Requirements

    The Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program—Stage 3 and Modifications to Meaningful Use in 2015 through 2017 final rule (80 FR 62761) specifies the meaningful use criteria that EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs must meet in order to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments and avoid downward payment adjustments under Medicare. We believe EHRs should be certified to more than the minimum number of CQMs as required by the ONC 2014 Edition Base EHR definition of a minimum of 9 CQMs for EPs or 16 for eligible hospitals and CAHs (80 FR 16771, see also 45 CFR 170.102). With health IT developers having EHRs certified to the minimum number of CQMs, EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs may have limited CQMs available to them and may not be able to report on CQMs that are applicable to their patient population or scope of practice. As stated in the preamble of the final rule (80 FR 62895), we believe EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs should have a choice of which CQMs to report so that they can report on those CQMs most applicable to their patient population or scope of practice. Accordingly, we are soliciting comment on the following policy options that could provide greater choice for EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs. Specifically, we are soliciting comment on: The feasibility of health IT developers complying with the requirements of each option in the first year in which the requirements would become effective; the impact of each option on EPs, eligible hospitals/CAHs, and health IT developers; and what we would need to consider when assessing each of these options.

    Option 1: Require EP health IT developers to certify Health IT Modules to all CQMs in the EP selection list; and require eligible hospital/CAH health IT developers to certify to all CQMs in the selection list for eligible hospitals and CAHs.

    Option 2: Incrementally increase the number of CQMs required to be certified each year until Health IT Modules are certified for all CQMs available for reporting by EPs, eligible hospitals, and CAHs to meet their CQM reporting requirements. For Option 2, we invite input on the advantages and disadvantages of an incremental increase in the number of CQMs required to be certified each year.

    Option 3: Require EP health IT developers to certify health IT products to more than the current minimum number of CQMs required for reporting, but not to all available CQMs.

    For Option 3, we invite stakeholders' input regarding the following approaches that are specific examples of implementation of the policy goal:

    Option A: An approach that would set a minimum number of measures health IT developers must certify to for EP settings or eligible hospital/CAH settings that is greater than the minimum number required for provider reporting. For example, EP health IT developers could be required to certify to a minimum of 15 measures, and eligible hospital/CAH health IT developers could be required to certify to a minimum number of 25 measures. We note that these numbers are provided as examples only, and we solicit comment on the appropriate number health IT developers could be required to certify to. Under this approach, health IT developers could choose from any measures in the list of available CQMs.

    Option B: An EP-specific approach that would require an EP health IT developer to certify to all the measures in a core/required set and all the measures in at least one specialty measure set relevant to the scope of practice for which the product is intended. We are looking for feedback on the general concept of requiring health IT developers to ensure that they are certified to the types of measures that are most relevant to their client base. For example, if a product serves multiple specialties, then it needs to be certified to the measures that are most likely needed by all of the specialties it serves. On the other hand, if the product is a niche product, such as a dental product, then it only needs to be certified to the measures that are relevant for that particular section of the market. As another example, we have provided a pediatric recommended core set 1 and an adult recommended core set 2 of measures. Note that none of the measures in the core sets are currently required for health IT developer certification, but only recommended. We solicit comment on whether we should require health IT developers to certify to all the measures in a core set depending on whether the product is intended to serve pediatric or adult settings. We are considering a structure for providing specialty measure sets similar to those recommended under the PQRS 3 which have been developed by CMS together with specialty societies. These specialty measure sets have been developed to ensure that measures represented within Specialty Measure Sets accurately illustrate measures that are relevant within a particular clinical area. While soliciting general comment on this proposed alternate approach, we recognize that there may not be a specialty measure set for every specialty type eligible to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs. We are working on increasing the number of specialties for which there is a Specialty Measure Set in PQRS, but solicit comment on what additional specialties would benefit from a Specialty Measure Set and whether there are efforts underway to establish a list we could consider for our programs. We also acknowledge that there may not be e-specified CQMs available for every Specialty Measure Set and solicit comments on whether this approach would achieve the desired goal for all specialty types to have certified measures relevant to their scope of practice available in their certified Health IT Module.

    1http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/Downloads/2014_CQM_PrediatricRecommended_CoreSetTable.pdf.

    2http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/Downloads/2014_CQM_AdultRecommend_CoreSetTable.pdf.

    3http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/PQRS/MeasuresCodes.html.

    Option C: Another approach with 3 options from which a health IT developer must choose one:

    ++ Multispecialty health IT developer—certifies all CQMs.

    ++ Primary care health IT developer—certifies a set of primary care CQMs.

    ++ Specialty provider health IT developer—certifies a minimum number of CQMs on an “a la carte” basis.

    For this approach, we solicit comment on the number of measures that would be reasonable to require for certification under the “primary care health IT developer” option as well as the “specialty provider health IT developer” option. We invite general comment on this overall approach.

    We are soliciting public input on other ways of grouping or classifying measures to ensure applicability and selection for providers. For example, one method of grouping measures could be by those that are invasive (for example, surgical), non-invasive, and cognitive. Another method could be by setting of care/venue.

    As stated in the Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program—Stage 3 and Modifications to Meaningful Use in 2015 through 2017 final rule (80 FR 62895), any specific proposals for the number of measures vendors would be required to certified to would be outlined in separate notice and comment rulemaking such as the Physician Fee Schedule or Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems rules.

    C. CQM Testing and Certification

    ONC offers health IT certification for CQMs to record and export, import and calculate, and electronically report CQMs through its ONC Health IT Certification Program. This year, ONC has adopted a new edition of certification criteria in the 2015 Edition final rule (80 FR 62601). One objective of testing for the 2015 Edition CQM criteria (80 FR 62651) is to increase testing robustness (for example, increasing number of test records, robustly testing pathways by which a patient can enter the numerator or denominator of a measure), thereby ensuring that all certified products have capabilities commensurate to the increased requirements enumerated in the 2015 Edition final rule.

    In the 2011 and 2014 Editions of certification criteria, the certification program sought to test basic capabilities and minimum requirements. Our expectation is that as time progresses and technology improves, EHR systems will have to demonstrate they are able to perform to increasing levels of complexity, including requirements to identify errors, consume larger numbers of test cases, and demonstrate stricter adherence to standards. This is to ensure that investments into certified products yield the functionality expected to improve health care. Certification criteria also includes optional and required elements that allow end users and quality improvement leaders to view, filter, and export quality measure data. These data enable point-of-care, iterative quality improvement efforts to identify patients whose care and conditions are not compliant with evidence-based guidelines, take action to improve their engagement with care processes, and achieve better outcomes.

    CMS and ONC's Health IT Certification Program test CQM functionality (for example, by testing a health IT system's ability to import, export, capture, calculate, and report CQM data according to certain standards) through the Cypress Testing and Certification Tool by enabling repeatable and rigorous testing of a product's capability to accurately calculate CQMs.4 There are potential areas of improvement to increase the robustness of that testing. Therefore, we are requesting information on the following:

    4http://projectcypress.org/.

    • What changes to testing are recommended (or are not recommended) to increase testing robustness?

    • How could CMS and ONC determine how many test cases are needed for adequate test coverage?

    • Are there recommendations for the format of test cases that could be entered both manually and electronically?

    • What kind of errors should constitute warnings rather than test failures?

    • Are there recommendations for or against single measure testing?

    • How could the test procedures and certification companion guides published by ONC be improved to help you be more successful in preparing for and passing certification testing?

    CMS and ONC believe that increased testing robustness adds value to the process of certification, but acknowledge that it would increase health IT developer burden in certifying their products. Therefore, we welcome comments on the following:

    • How can the CQM certification process be made more efficient and how can the certification tools and resources be augmented or made more useable?

    • What, if any, adverse implications could the increased certification standards have on providers?

    • What levels of testing will ensure that providers and other product purchasers will have enough information on the usability and effectiveness of the tool without unduly burdening health IT developers?

    • Would flexibility on the vocabulary codes allowed for test files reduce burden on health IT developers?

    • What are other ways in which the Cypress testing tool could be improved?

    • When 45 CFR 170.315(c)(1) requires users to export quality measure data on demand, how would you want that to be accessed by users and what characteristics are minimally required to make this feature useful to end users?

    • ONC finalized a 2015 Edition certification criterion for filtering of CQMs (45 CFR 170.315(c)(4)) to the following filters:

    ++ Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

    ++ National Provider Identifier (NPI).

    ++ Provider type.

    ++ Practice site address.

    ++ Patient insurance.

    ++ Patient age.

    ++ Patient sex.

    ++ Patient race and ethnicity.

    ++ Patient problem list data.

    How useful are the “filtering” criteria to end users of systems for the purpose of safety and quality improvement? To quality improvement staff and organizations?

    • Are there additional filters/data would be helpful to stratify CQM-Filters (45 CFR 170.315(c)(4)) data by?

    • What, if anything additional, regarding this testing/certification should be published via the Certified Health IT Product List?

    III. Collection of Information Requirements

    This document does not impose information collection requirements, that is, reporting, recordkeeping or third-party disclosure requirements. Consequently, there is no need for review by the Office of Management and Budget under the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

    IV. Response to Comments

    Because of the large number of public comments we normally receive on Federal Register documents, we are not able to acknowledge or respond to them individually. We will consider all comments we receive by the date and time specified in the DATES section of this preamble, and, when we proceed with a subsequent document, we will respond to the comments in the preamble to that document.

    Dated: December 3, 2015. Andrew M. Slavitt, Acting Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32931 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [Document Identifier: CMS-R-284] Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing an opportunity for the public to comment on CMS' intention to collect information from the public. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (the PRA), federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information (including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information) and to allow 60 days for public comment on the proposed action. Interested persons are invited to send comments regarding our burden estimates or any other aspect of this collection of information, including any of the following subjects: (1) The necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency's functions; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by February 29, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    When commenting, please reference the document identifier or OMB control number. To be assured consideration, comments and recommendations must be submitted in any one of the following ways:

    1. Electronically. You may send your comments electronically to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for “Comment or Submission” or “More Search Options” to find the information collection document(s) that are accepting comments.

    2. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address:

    CMS, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs, Division of Regulations Development, Attention: Document Identifier/OMB Control Number __ Room C4-26-05, 7500 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850.

    To obtain copies of a supporting statement and any related forms for the proposed collection(s) summarized in this notice, you may make your request using one of following:

    1. Access CMS' Web site address at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PaperworkReductionActof1995.

    2. Email your request, including your address, phone number, OMB number, and CMS document identifier, to [email protected]

    3. Call the Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Contents

    This notice sets out a summary of the use and burden associated with the following information collections. More detailed information can be found in each collection's supporting statement and associated materials (see ADDRESSES).

    CMS-R-284 Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS) and Transformed—Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS)

    Under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. The term “collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA requires federal agencies to publish a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, CMS is publishing this notice.

    1. Type of Information Collection Request: Revision of a currently approved collection. Title of Information Collection: Medicaid Statistical Information System (MSIS) and Transformed—Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS); Use: The data reported in MSIS/T-MSIS are used by federal, state, and local officials, as well as by private researchers and corporations to monitor past and projected future trends in the Medicaid program. These data provide the only national level information available on enrollees, beneficiaries, and expenditures. They also provide the only national level information available on Medicaid utilization. This information is the basis for analyses and for cost savings estimates for the Department's cost sharing legislative initiatives to Congress. The collected data are also crucial to our actuarial forecasts. Form Number: CMS-R-284 (OMB control number: 0938-0345); Frequency: Quarterly and monthly; Affected Public: State, Local, or Tribal Governments; Number of Respondents: 51; Total Annual Responses: 804; Total Annual Hours: 8,040. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact Camiel Rowe at 410-786-0069.)

    Dated: December 24, 2015. William N. Parham, III, Director, Paperwork Reduction Staff, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32880 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2015-D-4803] Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (“Emerging Signals”); Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of the draft guidance entitled “Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (‘Emerging Signals’).” This guidance describes the Agency's policy for notifying the public about medical device “emerging signals.” Historically, FDA has communicated important medical device postmarket information after having completed an analysis of available data and, in most cases, after having reached a decision about relevant recommendations for the device user community and about whether further regulatory action is warranted. However, in addition to these types of public communications, we believe there also is a need to notify the public about emerging signals that the Agency is monitoring or analyzing, even when the information has not been fully analyzed, validated, or confirmed, and for which the Agency does not yet have specific recommendations. This draft guidance is not final nor is it in effect at this time.

    DATES:

    Although you can comment on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that the Agency considers your comment of this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by February 29, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to http://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2015-D-4803 for “Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (‘Emerging Signals’).” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Division of Dockets Management between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on http://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Division of Dockets Management. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/dockets/default.htm.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    An electronic copy of the draft guidance document is available for download from the Internet. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for information on electronic access to the guidance. Submit written requests for a single hard copy of the draft guidance document entitled “Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (‘Emerging Signals’)” to the Office of the Center Director, Guidance and Policy Development, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5431, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca Nipper, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 1540, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-6527.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    All medical devices have benefits and risks. Health care providers, patients, and consumers must weigh these benefits and risks when making health care decisions. FDA weighs probable benefit to health from the use of the device against any probable risk of injury or illness from such use in determining the safety and effectiveness of a device. However, not all information regarding benefits and risks for a given device may be fully known or characterized prior to the device reaching the market. New information about the safety and/or effectiveness of the device often becomes available once the device is more widely distributed and used under real-world conditions of actual clinical practice.

    FDA is issuing this draft guidance to describe the Agency's policy for notifying the public about medical device “emerging signals.” For the purposes of this guidance, an emerging signal is new information about a medical device used in clinical practice: (1) That the Agency is monitoring or analyzing, (2) that has the potential to impact patient management decisions and/or alter the known benefit-risk profile of the device, (3) that has not yet been fully validated or confirmed, and (4) for which the Agency does not yet have specific recommendations.

    We believe there is a need to notify the public about emerging signals that the Agency is monitoring or analyzing, even when the information has not been fully analyzed, validated, or confirmed, and for which the Agency does not yet have specific recommendations. Timely communication about emerging signals is intended to provide health care providers, patients, and consumers with access to the most current information concerning the potential benefits and risks of marketed devices, so that they can make informed treatment choices bases on all available information. Therefore, because of the evolving nature of this information, FDA would be sharing it with the public at an early stage of the Agency's assessment and evaluation of the signal.

    II. Significance of Guidance

    This draft guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of FDA on “Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (‘Emerging Signals’).” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the draft guidance may do so by downloading an electronic copy from the Internet. A search capability for all Center for Devices and Radiological Health guidance documents is available at http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/default.htm. Guidance documents are also available at http://www.regulations.gov. Persons unable to download an electronic copy of “Public Notification of Emerging Postmarket Medical Device Signals (‘Emerging Signals’)” may send an email request to [email protected] to receive an electronic copy of the document. Please use the document number 1500027 to identify the guidance you are requesting.

    IV. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This draft guidance refers to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR parts 801 and 808, regarding labelling, have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0485 and the collections of information in 21 CFR part 803, regarding medical device reporting, have been approved under OMB control numbers 0910-0291, 0910-0437, and 0910-0471.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32920 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Proposed Collection; 60 Day Comment Request; The Framingham Heart Study (NHLBI) AGENCY:

    National Institutes of Health, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the requirement of Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, for opportunity for public comment on proposed data collection projects, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will publish periodic summaries of proposed projects to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval.

    Written comments and/or suggestions from the public and affected agencies are invited on one or more of the following points: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the function of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To obtain a copy of the data collection plans and instruments, submit comments in writing, or request more information on the proposed project, contact: Paul Sorlie, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7936, Bethesda, MD 20892, or call non-toll-free number (301) 435-0456, or Email your request to: [email protected]. Formal requests for additional plans and instruments must be requested in writing.

    Comments Due Date: Comments regarding this information collection are best assured of having their full effect if received within 60 days of the date of this publication.

    Proposed Collection: The Framingham Heart Study, Revision, 0925-0216 Expiration Date: 10/31/2016, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    Need and Use of Information Collection: This proposal is to extend the Framingham Study to examine the Generation Three Cohort, New Offspring Spouses and Omni Group 2 Cohort, as well as to continue to monitor the morbidity and mortality which occurs in all Framingham Cohorts. The contractor, with the collaborative assistance of NHLBI Intramural staff, will invite study participants, schedule appointments, administer examinations and testing, enter information into computer databases for editing, and prepare scientific reports of the information for publication in appropriate scientific journals. All participants have been examined previously and thus the study deals with a stable, carefully described group. Data are collected in the form of an observational health examination involving such components as blood pressure measurements, venipuncture, electrocardiography and a health interview, including questions about lifestyles and daily living situations. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute uses the results of the Framingham Study to: (1) Characterize risk factors for cardiovascular and lung diseases so that national prevention programs can be designed and implemented; (2) evaluate trends in cardiovascular diseases and risk factors over time to measure the impact of overall preventive measures; and (3) understand the etiology of cardiovascular and lung diseases so that effective treatment and preventive modalities can be developed and tested. Most of the reports of study results have been published in peer reviewed medical journals and books.

    OMB approval is requested for 3 years. There are no costs to respondents other than their time. The total estimated annualized burden hours are 8,382.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Table A.12-1.1—Estimate of Respondent Burden, Original Cohort [Annualized] Type of respondent Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average time per response (in hours) Total annual burden hour
    I. PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP a. Records Request 30 1 15/60 8 b. Health Status Update 30 1 15/60 8 SUB-TOTAL: PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS * 30 15 II. NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS A. Informant Contact (Pre-exam and Annual Follow-up) 15 1 10/60 3 B. Records Request (Annual follow-up) 30 1 15/60 8 SUB-TOTAL: NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS 45 10 TOTAL: PARTICIPANT AND NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS 75 25 * Number of participants as reflected in Row I.b. above.
    Table A.12-1.2—Estimate of Respondent Burden, Offspring Cohort and Omni Group 1 Cohort [Annualized] Type of respondent Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average time per response (in hours) Total annual burden hour
    I. PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP a. Records Request 1,500 1 15/60 375 b. Health Status Update 1,700 1 15/60 425 SUB-TOTAL: PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS * 1,700 800 II. NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS A. Informant contact (Pre-exam and Annual Follow-up) 150 1 10/60 25 B. Records Request (Annual follow-up) 1,500 1 15/60 375 SUB-TOTAL: NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS 1,650 400 TOTAL: PARTICIPANT AND NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS 3,350 1,200 * Number of participants as reflected in Row I.b. above.
    Table A.12-1.3—Estimate of Respondent Burden, Generation 3 Cohort, NOS and Omni Group 2 Cohort [Annualized] Type of respondent Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Average time per response
  • (hours per year)
  • Total annual burden hour
    I. PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS A. PRE-EXAM: 1.Telephone contact for appointment 1,450 1 10/60 242 2. Exam appointment, scheduling, reminder and instructions 1,270 1 35/60 741 B. EXAM CYCLE 3: 1. Exam at study center 1,200 1 110/60 2,200 2. Home or nursing home visit 35 1 60/60 35 C. POST-EXAM: eFHS Mobile Technology for Collection of CVD Risks 1,100 18 9/60 2,970 D. ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP: 1. Records Request 1,200 1 15/60 300 2. Health Status Update 1,400 1 15/60 350 Sub-Total: Participant Components * 2,850 6,830 II. NON-PARTICIPANT COMPONENTS—ANNUAL FOLLOW-UP A. INFORMANT CONTACTS 180 1 10/60 30 B. RECORD REQUEST 1,155 1 15/60 289 Sub-Total: Non-Participant Components 1,335 319 Total: Participant And Non-Participant Components 4,185 7,157 * Number of participants as reflected in Rows I.A.1 and I.D.2 above.
    Dated: December 22, 2015. Valery Gheen, NHLBI Project Clearance Liaison, National Institutes of Health.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32940 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of a meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors, NIDA.

    The meeting will be closed to the public as indicated below in accordance with the provisions set forth in section 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended for the review, discussion, and evaluation of individual intramural programs and projects conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, including consideration of personnel qualifications and performance, and the competence of individual investigators, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Board of Scientific Counselors, NIDA.

    Date: February 1-2, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate personal qualifications and performance, and competence of individual investigators.

    Place: Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, Baltimore, MD 21223.

    Contact Person: Joshua Kysiak, Program Specialist, Biomedical Research Center, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 251 Bayview Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21224, 443-740-2465, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos.: 93.279, Drug Abuse and Addiction Research Programs, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 28, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32939 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable materials, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Tools for Monitoring and Manipulating RNA Modifications (R41, R42, R43, R44).

    Date: February 18, 2016.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hilton Garden Inn Bethesda, 7301 Waverly Street, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Jagadeesh S. Rao, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4234, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 02892, 301-443-9511, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos.: 93.279, Drug Abuse and Addiction Research Programs, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 28, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32937 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Special Emphasis Panel; Partnerships for the Development of Novel Assays to Predict Vaccine Efficacy.

    Date: February 3-4, 2016.

    Time: 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Room 3G61, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Brenda Lange-Gustafson, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, NIAID/NIH/DHHS, Scientific Review Program, 5601 Fishers Lane, Room 3G13, Rockville, MD 20852, 240-669-5047, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.855, Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research; 93.856, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 23, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32911 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health Special Emphasis Panel; Clinical Research on Mind-Body Interventions.

    Date: March 25, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, MD 20817.

    Contact Person: Hungyi Shau, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Suite 401, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-480-9504, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.213, Research and Training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 24, 2015. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32909 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Notice of Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the meetings of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

    The meetings will be open to the public as indicated below, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting. The open sessions will be videocast and can be accessed from the NIH Videocasting and Podcasting Web site (http://videocast.nih.gov).

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Cancer Advisory Board, and National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse

    Open: February 11, 2016.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    Agenda: Presentation of NIAAA, NCI, and NIDA Director's Update, Scientific Reports, and other topics within the scope of the Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN).

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Terrace Conference Rooms, 5635 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892.

    Contact: Abraham P. Bautista, Ph.D., Director, Office of Extramural Activities, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, 5635 Fishers Lane, Room 2085, Rockville, MD 20852, 301-443-9737, [email protected]

    Paulette S. Gray, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W444, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-276-6340, [email protected]

    Susan Weiss, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, 6001 Executive Boulevard, NSC, Room 5274, 301-443-6487, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

    Closed: February 11, 2016.

    Time: 2:15 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Terrace Conference Rooms, 5635 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892.

    Open: February 12, 2016.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: Presentations and other business of the Council.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Terrace Conference Rooms, 5635 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20892.

    Contact Person: Abraham P. Bautista, Ph.D., Executive Secretary, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, 5635 Fishers Lane, Room 2085, Rockville, MD 20852, 301-443-9737, [email protected]

    Any interested person may file written comments with the committee by forwarding the statement to the Contact Person listed on this notice. The statement should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person.

    Information is also available on the Institute's/Center's home page: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/AboutNIAAA/AdvisoryCouncil/Pages/default.aspx, where an agenda and any additional information for the meeting will be posted when available.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.271, Alcohol Research Career Development Awards for Scientists and Clinicians; 93.272, Alcohol National Research Service Awards for Research Training; 93.273, Alcohol Research Programs; 93.891, Alcohol Research Center Grants; 93.701, ARRA Related Biomedical Research and Research Support Awards., National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 28, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32941 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant and contract applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant and contract applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel; NCI SBIR Targeted Radiation Therapy.

    Date: January 27, 2016.

    Time: 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate contract applications.

    Place: National Cancer Institute Shady Grove, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W538, Rockville, MD 20850, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Ivan Ding, MD, Scientific Review Officer, Special Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W412, Bethesda, MD 20892-9750, 240-276-6444, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel; Physical Sciences-Oncology Projects.

    Date: February 9-10, 2016.

    Time: 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Doubletree by Hilton Bethesda, 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Gerald G. Lovinger, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Research and Technology and Contract Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W266, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-276-6385, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Initial Review Group; Subcommittee I-Transition to Independence.

    Date: February 23-24, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Tushar Baran Deb, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Research and Training Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W624, Rockville, MD 20850, 240-276-6132 [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Initial Review Group; Subcommittee J—Career Development.

    Date: March 2-3, 2016.

    Time: 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda Marriott, Suites 6711, Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20817.

    Contact Person: Robert E. Bird, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Research and Training Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W110, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-276-6344, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel; NCI Omnibus R03 & R21 SEP-1.

    Date: March 3-4, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Doubletree by Hilton Bethesda, 8120 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814.

    Contact Person: Zhiqiang Zou, MD, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Special Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W242, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-276-6372, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel; Cancer Diagnosis.

    Date: April 4-5, 2016.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate contract applications.

    Place: Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Road, Bethesda, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Bratin K. Saha, Ph.D., Program Coordination & Referral Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W556, Rockville, MD 20850, 240-276-6411, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel; NCI Provocative Questions Review—PQ 12.

    Date: April 6, 2016.

    Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Cancer Institute, Shady Grove, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W126, Rockville, MD 20850, (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Caron A. Lyman, Ph.D., Chief, Scientific Review Officer, Research Program Review Branch, Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute, NIH, 9609 Medical Center Drive, Room 7W126, Bethesda, MD 20892-9750, 240-276-6348, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.392, Cancer Construction; 93.393, Cancer Cause and Prevention Research; 93.394, Cancer Detection and Diagnosis Research; 93.395, Cancer Treatment Research; 93.396, Cancer Biology Research; 93.397, Cancer Centers Support; 93.398, Cancer Research Manpower; 93.399, Cancer Control, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 28, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32935 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.

    The meeting will be open to the public as indicated below, with attendance limited to space available. Individuals who plan to attend and need special assistance, such as sign language interpretation or other reasonable accommodations, should notify the Contact Person listed below in advance of the meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and/or contract proposals and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications and/or contract proposals, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse.

    Date: February 10, 2016.

    Closed: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications and/or proposals.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Open: 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: This portion of the meeting will be open to the public for announcements and reports of administrative, legislative, and program developments in the drug abuse field.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852.

    Contact Person: Susan R.B. Weiss, Ph.D., Director, Division of Extramural Research, Office of the Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, NSC, Room 5274, MSC 9591, Rockville, MD 20892, 301-443-6487, [email protected].

    Any member of the public interested in presenting oral comments to the committee may notify the Contact Person listed on this notice at least 10 days in advance of the meeting. Interested individuals and representatives of organizations may submit a letter of intent, a brief description of the organization represented, and a short description of the oral presentation. Only one representative of an organization may be allowed to present oral comments and if accepted by the committee, presentations may be limited to five minutes. Both printed and electronic copies are requested for the record. In addition, any interested person may file written comments with the committee by forwarding their statement to the Contact Person listed on this notice. The statement should include the name, address, telephone number and when applicable, the business or professional affiliation of the interested person.

    Information is also available on the Institute's/Center's home page: www.drugabuse.gov/NACDA/NACDAHome.html, where an agenda and any additional information for the meeting will be posted when available.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos.: 93.279, Drug Abuse and Addiction Research Programs, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 28, 2015. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32938 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.), notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Special Emphasis Panel, T1D Risk Assessment and Early Intervention Technologies (SBIR).

    Date: January 25, 2016.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Two Democracy Plaza, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Thomas A. Tatham, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Review Branch, Dea, Niddk, National Institutes of Health, Room 760, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892-5452, (301) 594-3993, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Special Emphasis Panel, Closed Loop Diabetes Technology (SBIR).

    Date: January 28, 2016.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Two Democracy Plaza, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Thomas A. Tatham, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Review Branch, Dea, Niddk, National Institutes of Health, Room 760, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892-5452, (301) 594-3993, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Special Emphasis Panel, NIDDK DEM Fellowship Grant Review.

    Date: January 31-February 2, 2016.

    Time: 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Melrose Hotel, 2430 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20037.

    Contact Person: Carol J. Goter-Robinson, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Review Branch, Dea, Niddk, National Institutes of Health, Room 748, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892-5452, (301) 594-7791, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Special Emphasis Panel, NEW NIDDK PARs on Pragmatic Research and Natural Experiments.

    Date: February 8, 2016.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Bethesda Marriott Suites, 6711 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20817.

    Contact Person: Michele L. Barnard, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Review Branch, Dea, Niddk, National Institutes of Health, Room 753, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892-2542, (301) 594-8898, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Special Emphasis Panel—PAR-15-067: NIDDK Multi-Center Clinical Study (U01).

    Date: February 8, 2016.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Two Democracy Plaza, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Dianne Camp, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Review Branch, Dea, Niddk, National Institutes of Health, Room 756, 6707 Democracy Boulevard, Bethesda, Md 20892-2542, 301-5947682, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.847, Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Research; 93.848, Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Research; 93.849, Kidney Diseases, Urology and Hematology Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: December 24, 2015. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32910 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute; Amended Notice of Meeting

    Notice is hereby given of a change in the meeting of the National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel, February 2-3, 2016 08:00 a.m. to 05:00 p.m., Hilton Washington DC/Rockville, Rockville, MD 20852 which was published in the Federal Register on December 7, 2015 80 FR 76026.

    The meeting notice is amended to change the title from “NCI P01 Meeting II” to “NCI Program Project Meeting III”. The meeting is closed to the public.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Melanie J. Gray, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32936 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Notice To Announce Commission of a Surgeon General's Report on Substance Use, Addiction, and Health AGENCY:

    Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    On behalf of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of the Surgeon General announce the commission of the first-ever Surgeon General's Report presenting the state of the science on substance use, addiction, and health. The report will examine the health effects of drug and alcohol misuse from the perspectives of prevention, treatment, recovery, neurobiology, and delivery of care.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jinhee Lee, Pharm.D., Public Health Advisor, SAMHSA/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Scope of Problem: Substance use/misuse and addiction represent a significant and substantial public health challenge. Data from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveal that an estimated 27.0 million Americans aged 12 or older were currently illicit drug users (defined as using any of the following in the past 30 days: Marijuana/hashish, cocaine/crack, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or non-medical use of prescription-type psychotherapeutics such as pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) and 16.3 million were heavy drinkers (defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on five or more days in the past 30 days). Approximately 6.5 million people aged 12 and older reported currently using psychotherapeutics non-medically.

    According to the 2014 NSDUH, 21.5 million Americans aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year. Among them, 14.4 million Americans had dependence or abuse of alcohol but not illicit drugs, while another 4.5 million had dependence or abuse of illicit drugs but not alcohol, and 2.6 million had dependence or abuse of both alcohol and illicit drugs. People with alcohol or illicit drug dependence or abuse were defined in the 2014 NSDUH as meeting the diagnostic criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth edition (DSM-IV).

    The Affordable Care Act and new mental health parity protections are expanding mental health and substance abuse treatment benefits to 60 million Americans. Despite this historic expansion of health insurance coverage and other advances, too many Americans are not benefiting from treatment services. Based on the 2014 NSDUH data, although 21.5 million people aged 12 or older met the DSM-IV criteria for alcohol or illicit drug dependence or abuse, only an estimated 2.3 million received substance use treatment in the past year.

    Drug poisoning (overdose) was responsible for about 47,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2014 (now the latest year for which national data are available). Furthermore, substance misuse (to include excessive alcohol use) and related disorders contribute to injury and chronic illness, lost productivity, family disruptions, and increased transmission of sexually and injection-related infectious diseases; are associated with higher rates of domestic violence and child abuse; and prevent many individuals from realizing their full potential.

    Approach: The report's scope is intended to be broad and comprehensive, with the goal of capturing the current landscape of the impact of alcohol and drug issues on health, referencing data sources such as NSDUH, the Monitoring the Future Survey, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, and the National Comorbidity Survey. These sources highlight trends over time as well as underscore the critical nature of this public health issue. The report is intended to: (1) Provide a comprehensive review of the research literature on substance use, addiction, and health, summarizing the science on substance misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery; (2) outline potential future direction; and (3) educate, encourage, and call upon all Americans to take action.

    Potential Areas of Focus: Areas of focus in the report may include the history of the prevention, treatment, and recovery fields; components of the substance use continuum (i.e., prevention, treatment, and recovery); epidemiology of substance use, misuse, and substance use disorders; etiology of substance misuse and related disorders; neurobiological base of substance misuse and related disorders; risk and protective factors; application of scientific research in the field, including methods, challenges, and current and future directions; social, economic, and health consequences of substance misuse; co-occurrence of substance use disorders and other diseases and disorders; the state of health care access and coverage as it relates to substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery; integration of substance use disorders, mental health, and physical health care in clinical settings; national, state, and local initiatives to assess and improve the quality of care for substance misuse and related disorders; organization and financing of prevention, treatment, and recovery services within the health care system; ethical, legal, and policy issues; and potential future directions.

    Summer King, Statistician.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32929 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4162-20-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services; Notice of Meeting

    Pursuant to Public Law 92-463, notice is hereby given that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) National Advisory Council will meet February 24, 2016, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    The meeting is open to the public and will include discussion of the Center's policy issues, and current administrative, legislative, and program developments. The meeting will be held at the SAMHSA building, Conference Room 5E29, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857. Attendance by the public will be limited to space available. Interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the Committee. Written submissions should be forwarded to the contact person on or before February 14, 2016. Oral presentations from the public will be scheduled at the conclusion of the meeting. Individuals interested in making oral presentations are encouraged to notify the contact on or before February 14, 2016. Five minutes will be allotted for each presentation.

    The meeting may be accessed via telephone and web conferencing might be available. To attend on site, obtain the call-in number, access code, and/or web access link; submit written or brief oral comments, or request special accommodations for persons with disabilities, please register on-line at: http://nac.samhsa.gov/Registration/meetingsRegistration.aspx, or communicate by contacting the CMHS National Advisory Council Designated Federal Official, Ms. Deborah DeMasse-Snell (see contact information below).

    Committee Name: SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services National Advisory Council.

    Date/Time/Type: February 24, 2016; 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., OPEN.

    Place: SAMHSA Building, 5600 Fishers Lane, Conference Room 5E29, Rockville, Maryland 20857.

    Contact: Deborah DeMasse-Snell, M.A. (Than), Designated Federal Official, SAMHSA CMHS National Advisory Council, 5600 Fishers Lane, Room 14E53C, Rockville, Maryland 20857, Telephone: (240) 276-1861, Fax: (240) 276-1850, Email: [email protected]

    Summer King, Statistician, SAMHSA.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32922 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4162-20-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT [Docket No. FR-5843-N-11] Privacy Act of 1974; Systems of Records—Republication of HUD's Routine Use Inventory Notice AGENCY:

    Office of Administration, HUD.

    ACTION:

    Routine Use Inventory republication.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a), notice is hereby given that the Department of Housing and Urban Development proposes to update and combine into one notice its Routine Use Inventory notice published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2012 at 72 FR 52572. The subsequent revisions will: (1) Implement substantive revisions for “two” of the original routine use statements, to provide greater clarity of what is to be expected by the disclosure requirements; (2) encompass editorial updates to the original formatted routine use statements to ensure that these statements are up-to-date and constructed in a format that is easier to understand and use; and (3) assign a specific “category” to each routine use condition to allow each condition to be sorted and referenced by a specific heading relevant to its disclosure purpose. This notice proposal supersedes and retires the Department's Routine Use Inventory published in the Federal Register on July 17, 2012, and supplements prior instances translated by former systems of records.

    DATES:

    Effective date: The substantive changes being made to this proposal shall become effective February 1, 2016, unless comments are received on or before that date that would result in a contrary determination.

    All other changes shall be effective immediately without further notice, upon publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

    Comments Due Date: February 1, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments regarding the amended routine use statements or notice update to the Rules Docket Clerk, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0500. Communications should refer to the above docket number and title. Faxed comments are not acceptable. A copy of each communication submitted will be available for public inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at the above address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Frieda B. Edwards, Acting Chief Privacy Officer, 451 Seventh Street SW., Room 10139, Washington, DC 20410, telephone number 202-402-4254 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals who are hearing- and speech-impaired may access this number via TTY by calling the Federal Relay Service telephone number at 800-877-8339 (this is a toll-free number).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department's Routine Use Inventory describes disclosure requirements commonly used by more than one of the Department's systems of records. This amendment modifies routine uses (10) and (14), under the original notice. Routine use (10) stated that records could be disclosed “To other Federal agencies or non-Federal entities, including but not limited to, state and local government entities with whom HUD has a contract, service agreement, grant, cooperative agreement, or computer matching agreement to assist such agencies with preventing and detecting improper payments, or fraud, or abuse in major programs administered by the Federal Government, or abuse by individuals in their operations and programs, but only to the extent that the information is necessary and relevant to preventing improper payments for services rendered under a particular Federal or non-federal benefits programs of HUD or any of their components to verify pre-award and pre-payment requirements prior to the release of Federal funds.” Routine use (14) stated that records could be disclosed “To a court, magistrate, administrative tribunal in the course of presenting evidence, including disclosures to opposing counsel or witnesses in the course of civil discovery, litigation, mediation, or settlement negotiations or in connection with criminal law proceedings or in response to a subpoena or to a prosecution request when such records to be released are specifically approved by a court provided order.” Subsequently, these routine use conditions precisely specified that records could only be disclosed for purposes relevant to a HUD specific program, or to a specific set of individuals or entities, limiting the Department's ability to respond to and share its records as warranted. Accordingly, this notice corrects these misrepresentations and amends the routine use conditions under the original publication. The amended routine use conditions appear under this revised notice proposal at heading (6) entitled “Prevention of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Disclosure Routine Use” and heading (11) entitled, “Disclosures for Law Enforcement Investigations Routine Uses.” Further, the Department implements minor editorial changes to simplify and implement administrative changes needed to keep published information in an up-to-date format that is easier to understand and use.

    Title 5 U.S.C. 552a, as amended (e)(r) and (11) requires that the public be afforded a 30-day period in which to comment on any use of information by this notice and requires published notice of the existence and characters of the systems of records impacted by this change. The new system report, as required by 5 U.S.C. 552a(r) of the Privacy Act, was submitted to the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to paragraph 4c of Appendix I to OMB Circular No. A-130, Federal Agency Responsibilities for Maintaining Records about Individuals, dated June 25, 1993 (58 FR 36075, July 2, 1993). The Department permits disclosure(s) from its systems of records to be made from its systems of records to such agencies, entities, and persons in the following instances, when authorized by statute, to assist in connection with its mission. The existence and characters of the HUD's Privacy Act systems of records are available for review on the Department's privacy Web site at http://www.hud.gov/offices/cio/privacy/pia/fednotice.cfm and are listed below by title.

    HUD Systems of Records, by Title, That Contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII) • Government National Mortgage Association Registry of Foreclosure Attorneys • Mortgage-Backed Securities Unclaimed Funds System • Master Subservicer System • Enterprise-Wide Operational Data Store • HUD Central Accounting and Program System • Personal Services Cost Reporting Subsystem • Financial Data Mart • Line of Credit Control System • moveLINQS • Home Equity Reverse Mortgage Information Technology • HUD Integrated Acquisition Management System • Equal Employment Management Information System • Relocation Files • Office of General Counsel Electronic Discovery Management System • HUD Enforcement Management System • Property Improvement and Manufactured [Mobile] Home Loan-Default • Real Estate Management/Integrated Real Estate Management System • Single Family Construction Complaints Files • Architects and Engineers • Property Disposition Files • Consumer Complaint Handling System • Telephone Numbers of HUD Officials • Claims Collection Records • Housing Compliance Files • Single Family Computerized Homes Underwriting Management System • Single Family Section 518 Files [Constructed complaints] • Tenant Housing Assistance and Contract Verification Data • Property Management Records • Congregate Housing Services Program Data Files • Single Family Insurance System • Application Submission and Processing System • Single Family Acquired Asset Management System • Single Family Neighborhood Watch Early Warning System • Identity Management System • Asset Disposition and Management System • Lender Electronic Assessment Portal (LEAP) • Single Family Housing Enterprise Data Warehouse • Fee Inspectors and Appraisers and Mortgage Credit Examiners • Loan Application Management System • OIG Giglio Information Files • Independent Auditor Monitoring Files • Auto Audit • Hotline Information Subsystem • Investigative Files Subsystem • Training Information System (TRAI) • Personnel Travel System • Auto Investigation and Case Management Information Subsystem • Accidents, Employees and/or Government Vehicles • Veterans Homelessness Preventive Demonstration Evaluation Data Files System • Real Estate Settlement Cost Research Files • Section 8 Program Research Data Files • Housing Counseling Research Data Files • Training Announcement, Nomination, and Confirmation System • Personal Security Files • Grievance Records • Pay and Leave Records of Employees • Previous Participation Review System and Active Partners Performance System Previous Participation Files • Single Family Insurance CLAIMS Subsystem • Single Family Mortgage Notes Recovery Technology System • Housing Counseling System/Client Activity Reporting System • Debt Collection Asset Management • Distributive Shares and Refund System • Ideas Program Case Files • Intergovernmental Personnel Act Assignment Records • Single Family Mortgage Notes Recovery Technology System • Nonprofit Data Management System (NPDMS) • Grants Interface Management System • Development Application Processing System • Single Family Default Monitoring System • Pay and Leave Records of Employees • Relocation Assistance Files • Parking Permit Application Files • Telephone Numbers of HUD Officials • Computerized Homes Underwriting Management System • Employee Counseling and Occupational Health Records • HUD Government Motor Vehicle Operators Records • HUD Employee Locator Files • Government Property on Personal Charge Files • Executive Emergency Cascade Alerting System • Priority Consideration/Special Reassignment Files • Long Distance Telephone Call Detail System • Security Clearance Information System • Correspondence Tracking System

    Accordingly, the Department's Routine Use Inventory includes routine use statements implemented at the Department level for instances that may be utilized by more than one of the Department's systems of records referenced in the aforementioned list. In addition, the text of many of these routine uses model best practices that have already been adopted by several agencies, including the Department of Justice.

    In addition to the disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b), and the routine uses specifically described in each system of records notice, information in the systems of records maintained by the Department may be disclosed pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) as described below under Appendix I, provided that no routine use specified herein shall be construed to limit or waive any other routine use or exemption specified in the text of the individual system of records notice.

    Further, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(k)(2), records in the systems of records, referenced by the above titles, and any others that reflect records designated as exempt from the requirements of subsections (c)(3); (d); (e)(1); (e)(4)(G), (H), and (I); and/or (f) of 5 U.S.C. 552a under a promulgated rule, or those that are restricted from release by statutory or regulatory requirements, are prohibited from disclosure (which shall apply only if those exemptions have been established in the records system notice for the particular system).

    Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 552a.

    Dated: December 15, 2015. Patricia A. Hoban-Moore, Senior Agency Official for Privacy. Appendix I—Notice No.: ADMIN/AHFDC.01 HUD's Routine Use Inventory Notice

    Identifies authorized disclosures applicable to one or more of the Department's Privacy Act system of records notices. The Privacy Act allows HUD to disclose records from its systems of records, from the following headings (1)−(13), to appropriate agencies, entities, and persons, when the records being disclosed are compatible with the purpose for which the system was developed. The routine use statements specified in this notice shall not be used to construe, limit, or waive any other routine use condition or exemption specified in the text of an individual system of records, and may overlap in some cases. The routine use statements and their conditions for disclosure are categorized below.

    (1) General Service Administration Information Disclosure Routine Use:

    To the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) for records having sufficient historical or other value to warrant its continued preservation by the United States Government, or for inspection under authority of Title 44, Chapter 29, of the United States Code.

    (2) Congressional Inquiries Disclosure Routine Use:

    To a congressional office from the record of an individual, in response to an inquiry from the congressional office made at the request of that individual.

    (3) Health and Safety Prevention Disclosure Routine Use:

    To appropriate Federal, State, and local governments, or persons, pursuant to a showing of compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety or vital interest of an individual or data subject, including assisting such agencies or organizations in preventing the exposure to or transmission of a communicable or quarantinable disease, or to combat other significant public health threats, if upon such disclosure appropriate notice was transmitted to the last known address of such individual to identify the health threat or risk.

    (4) Consumer Reporting Agency Disclosure Routine Use:

    To a consumer reporting agency, when trying to collect a claim owed on behalf of the Government, in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(e).

    (5) Computer Matching Program Disclosure Routine Use:

    To Federal, State, and local agencies, their employees, and agents for the purpose of conducting computer matching programs as regulated by the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552a).

    (6) Prevention of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Disclosure Routine Use:

    To Federal agencies, non-Federal entities, their employees, and agents (including contractors, their agents or employees; employees or contractors of the agents or designated agents); or contractors, their employees or agents with whom HUD has a contract, service agreement, grant, cooperative agreement, or computer matching agreement for the purpose of: (1) Detection, prevention, and recovery of improper payments; (2) detection and prevention of fraud, waste, and abuse in major Federal programs administered by a Federal agency or non-Federal entity; (3) detection of fraud, waste, and abuse by individuals in their operations and programs, but only to the extent that the information shared is necessary and relevant to verify pre-award and prepayment requirements prior to the release of Federal funds, prevent and recover improper payments for services rendered under programs of HUD or of those Federal agencies and non-Federal entities to which HUD provides information under this routine use.

    (7) Research and Statistical Analysis Disclosure Routine Uses:

    (a) To contractors, grantees, experts, consultants, Federal agencies, and non-Federal entities, including, but not limited to, State and local governments and other research institutions or their parties, and entities and their agents with whom HUD has a contract, service agreement, grant, or cooperative agreement, when necessary to accomplish an agency function, related to a system of records, for the purposes of statistical analysis and research in support of program operations, management, performance monitoring, evaluation, risk management, and policy development, or to otherwise support the Department's mission. Records under this routine use may not be used in whole or in part to make decisions that affect the rights, benefits, or privileges of specific individuals. The results of the matched information may not be disclosed in identifiable form.

    (b) To a recipient who has provided the agency with advance, adequate written assurance that the record provided from the system of records will be used solely for statistical research or reporting purposes. Records under this condition will be disclosed or transferred in a form that does not identify an individual.

    (8) Information Sharing Environment Disclosure Routine Uses:

    To contractors, grantees, experts, consultants and their agents, or others performing or working under a contract, service, grant, or cooperative agreement with HUD, when necessary to accomplish an agency function related to a system of records. Disclosure requirements are limited to only those data elements considered relevant to accomplishing an agency function. Individuals provided information under these routine use conditions are subject to Privacy Act requirements and disclosure limitations imposed on the Department.

    (9) Data Testing for Technology Implementation Disclosure Routine Use:

    To contractors, experts and consultants with whom HUD has a contract, service agreement, or other assignment of the Department, when necessary to utilize relevant data for the purpose of testing new technology and systems designed to enhance program operations and performance.

    (10) Data Breach Remediation Purposes Routine Use:

    To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when:

    (a) HUD suspects or has confirmed that the security or confidentiality of information in a system of records has been compromised;

    (b) HUD has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, identity theft, or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of systems or programs (whether maintained by HUD or another agency or entity) that rely upon the compromised information; and

    (c) The disclosure made to such agencies, entities, and persons is reasonably necessary to assist in connection with HUD's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm for purposes of facilitating responses and remediation efforts in the event of a data breach.

    When appropriate, HUD may disclose records compatible to one of its system of records notices during case specific circumstances, as follows: information relating to, but not in and of itself constituting, law enforcement information, as defined below, may only be disclosed upon a showing by the requester that the information is pertinent to the conduct of investigation.

    (11) Disclosures for Law Enforcement Investigations Routine Uses:

    (a) To appropriate Federal, State, local, tribal, or governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations responsible for investigating or prosecuting the violations of, or for enforcing or implementing, a statute, rule, regulation, order, or license, where HUD determines that the information would assist in the enforcement of civil or criminal laws.

    (b) To third parties during the course of a law enforcement investigation, to the extent necessary to obtain information pertinent to the investigation, provided the disclosure of such information is appropriate to the proper performance of the official duties of the officer making the disclosure.

    (12) Court or Law Enforcement Proceedings Disclosure Routine Uses:

    (a) To a court, magistrate, administrative tribunal, or arbitrator in the course of presenting evidence, including disclosures to opposing counsel or witnesses in the course of civil discovery, litigation, mediation, or settlement negotiations; or in connection with criminal law proceedings; or in response to a subpoena or to a prosecution request when such records to be released are specifically approved by a court provided order.

    (b) To appropriate Federal, State, local, tribal, or governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations responsible for investigating or prosecuting the violations of, or for enforcing or implementing, a statute, rule, regulation, order, or license, where HUD determines that the information would assist in the enforcement of civil or criminal laws.

    (c) To third parties during the course of a law enforcement investigation to the extent necessary to obtain information pertinent to the investigation, provided disclosure is appropriate to the proper performance of the official duties of the officer making the disclosure.

    (d) To another agency or to an instrumentality of any governmental jurisdiction within or under the control of the United States for a civil or criminal law enforcement activity if the activity is authorized by law, and if the head of the agency or instrumentality has made a written request to the agency that maintains the record, specifying the particular portion desired and the law enforcement activity for which the record is sought.

    (13) Department of Justice for Litigation Disclosure Routine Use:

    To the Department of Justice (DOJ) when seeking legal advice for a HUD initiative or in response to DOJ's request for the information, after either HUD or DOJ determine that such information is relevant to DOJ's representatives of the United States or any other components in legal proceedings before a court or adjudicative body, provided that, in each case, the agency also determines prior to disclosure that disclosure of the records to DOJ is a use of the information contained in the records that is compatible with the purpose for which HUD collected the records. HUD on its own may disclose records in this system of records in legal proceedings before a court or administrative body after determining that the disclosure of the records to the court or administrative body is a use of the information contained in the records that is compatible with the purpose for which HUD collected the records.

    [FR Doc. 2015-32964 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210-67-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT [Docket No. FR-5173-N-07] Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Assessment Tool: Announcement of Final Approved Document AGENCY:

    Office of the Assistance Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, HUD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces the Assessment Tool developed by HUD for use by local governments that receive Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), or Housing for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) formula funding from HUD when conducting and submitting their own Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH). The Assessment Tool will also be used for AFHs conducted by joint and regional collaborations between: (1) Such local governments; (2) one or more such local governments with one or more public housing agency (PHA) partners; and (3) other collaborations in which such a local government is designed as the lead for the collaboration. For purposes of this Assessment Tool, no AFH will be due before October 4, 2016. Please see HUD's Web page at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/ for the schedule of submission dates of AFHs.

    The requirement to conduct and submit an AFH is set forth in HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulations, and this Assessment Tool has completed the notice and comment process required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and approved. The Assessment Tool announced in this notice, and the guidance accompanying this Assessment Tool (the Guidebook) can be found at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/.

    This Federal Register notice also highlights changes made by HUD to the Assessment Tool based on comments submitted in response to HUD's July 16, 2015, notice, which solicited comment on the Assessment Tool for a period of 30 days. HUD will issue separate Assessment Tools for use by States and Insular areas and PHAs that will also be used for: (1) Joint and regional collaborations where the State or Insular Area is designated as the lead entity; and (2) joint collaborations with only PHA partners.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    George D. Williams, Sr., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Legislative Initiatives and Outreach, Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 5246, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 866-234-2689 (toll-free) or 202-402-1432 (local). Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and individuals with speech impediments may access this number via TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service during working hours at 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background The AFFH Proposed Rule

    On July 19, 2013, at 78 FR 43710, HUD published for public comment its AFFH proposed rule. The July 19, 2013, AFFH rule proposed a new approach that would enable program participants to more fully incorporate fair housing considerations into their existing planning processes and assist them in complying with their duty to affirmatively further fair housing as required by the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act) and other authorities. The new process, the Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH), builds upon and refines the prior fair housing planning process, called the analysis of impediments to fair housing choice (AI). As part of the new AFH process HUD advised that it would issue an “Assessment Tool” for use by program participants in completing and submitting their AFHs. The Assessment Tool, which includes instructions and nationally-uniform data provided by HUD, consists of a series of questions designed to help program participants identify, among other things, areas of racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, patterns of integration and segregation, disparities in access to opportunity, and disproportionate housing needs.

    At the time of publication of the July 19, 2013, AFFH proposed rule, HUD also posted and sought public comment on a draft “Data Documentation” paper online at http://www.huduser.gov/portal/affht_pt.html and at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/ (under the heading Data Methodology). HUD requested public comments on the categories, sources, and format of data that would be provided by HUD to program participants to assist them in completing their AFH, and many program participants responded with comments on the Data Documentation.

    The 60-Day Notice on the Assessment Tool (Initial Assessment Tool)

    On September 26, 2014, at 79 FR 57949, HUD issued a notice for public comment on the Assessment Tool found at http://www.huduser.gov/portal/affht_pt.html. As noted in the Summary, the Assessment Tool was designed for use by local governments that receive CDBG, HOME, ESG, or HOPWA formula funding from HUD when conducting and submitting their own AFH; that is the Assessment Tool was designed for use by local governments and consortia required to submit consolidated plans under HUD's Consolidated Plan regulations, codified in 24 CFR part 91, specifically subparts C and E, which pertain to local governments and consortia.1 In this notice, HUD uses the term “local governments” to refer to those consolidated plan program participants for which this tool is primarily designed. The Assessment Tool is also designed for joint and regional AFHs conducted by joint and regional collaborations between: (1) Such local governments; (2) one or more such local governments with one or more PHA partners; and (3) other collaborations in which such a local government is designed as the lead for the collaboration. While the Assessment Tool was designed for local governments and for joint or regional submissions by local governments and PHAs, HUD invited comments by all types of program participants, as it, “present[ed] the basic structure of the Assessment Tool to be used by all program participants, and is illustrative of the questions that will be asked of all program participants.”

    1 In HUD's AFFH proposed rule published on July 19, 2013, at 78 FR 43710, HUD noted that a consortium participating in HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships program (HOME program), and which term (consortium) is defined 24 CFR 91.5, must submit an AFH. HUD stated that a HOME consortium is considered a single unit of general local government (see 78 FR at 43731).

    In developing the Assessment Tool, HUD had four key objectives in mind. First, the Assessment Tool must ask questions that would be sufficient to enable program participants to perform a meaningful assessment of key fair housing issues and contributing factors 2 and set meaningful fair housing goals and priorities. Second, the Assessment Tool must clearly convey the analysis of fair housing issues and contributing factors that program participants must undertake in order for an AFH to be accepted by HUD. Third, the Assessment Tool must be designed so program participants would be able to use it to prepare an AFH that would be accepted by HUD without unnecessary burden. Fourth, the Assessment Tool must facilitate HUD's review of the AFHs submitted by program participants, since the AFFH rule requires HUD to determine, within a certain period of time, whether to accept or not accept each AFH or revised AFH submitted to HUD.

    2 The term “fair housing determinants” was changed to “fair housing contributing factors” in the AFFH final rule. This notice therefore uses the term “fair housing contributing factors.”

    With these objectives in mind, HUD issued a first version of the Assessment Tool (Initial Assessment Tool) for public comment for a period of 60 days. The 60-day notice provided a detailed description of the five main sections of the Assessment Tool: Section I—Cover Sheet and Certification; Section II—Executive Summary; Section III—Community Participation Process; Section IV—Analysis; and Section V—Fair Housing Goals and Priorities.

    By the close of the comment period on November 25, 2014, HUD received 281 public comments. Commenters included PHAs, grantees of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), including States and local governments, advocacy groups, nonprofit organizations, and various individuals. All public comments received in response to the 60-day notice can be found at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=HUD-2014-0080-0001.

    The January 15, 2015 Notice on AFH Staggered Submission Deadlines

    On January 15, 2015, at 80 FR 2062, HUD published a notice that solicited public comment on a staggered submission deadline for AFHs to be submitted for specific types of program participants. In the January 2015 notice, HUD advised that it was considering providing certain HUD program participants—States, Insular Areas, qualified PHAs,3 and jurisdictions receiving a CDBG grant under $500,000 with the option of submitting their first AFH at a date later than would otherwise be required of entitlement jurisdictions. In addition to proposing a staggered submission deadline, HUD had previously announced that it would be developing separate assessment tools for certain types of program participants, including for States and Insular Areas, and for PHAs not submitting an AFH in a joint or regional collaboration with a local government.

    3 Section 2702 of title II of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) defined “qualified PHAs” as PHAs that have fewer than 550 units, including public housing and section 8 vouchers.

    The AFFH Final Rule

    On July 16, 2015, at 80 FR 42272, HUD published the AFFH final rule. The AFFH final rule provides, at § 5.160, for staggered submission deadlines for program participants, an aspect of the final rule for which HUD first solicited public comment on January 15, 2015. The final rule provides that each category of program participants listed in § 5.160 their first AFH shall be submitted no later than 270 days prior to the start of (1) their program year or fiscal year for which a new consolidated plan is due, or for which, in the case of PHAs, except qualified PHAs, a new 5-year plan is due. The action that commences the count of 270 days is issuance of an approved Final Assessment Tool for the specific category of program participants. The final rule also provides that if the first AFH submission date results in a preparation period for the AFH that is less than 9 months after the date of publication of the Assessment Tool that is applicable to the program participant or the lead entity if the submission is to be a regional AFH, then the submission deadline will be extended to a date that is not less than 9 months from the date of publication of the applicable Assessment Tool.

    Under the AFFH final rule, program participants that received less than a $500,000 CDBG grant in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 and qualified PHAs, as such term is defined in the rule, will have additional time to conduct and submit their first AFH.

    The 30-Day Notice on the Revised Assessment Tool

    On July 16, 2015, at 80 FR 42108, HUD published, in accordance with the PRA, its notice soliciting public comment for a period of 30 days, on a revised Assessment Tool (Revised Assessment Tool) in response to comments submitted on the 60-day notice. The July 2015 notice responded to significant issues public commenters on HUD's 60-day notice raised and requested comments on specific questions, at 80 FR 42116 and 42117. The changes that HUD made to the Revised Assessment Tool in response to comments received on the 60-day notice are described in the July 16, 2015, notice, at 80 FR 42111 through 42114.

    By the close of the comment period on August 17, 2015, HUD received 40 public comments. All public comments received in response to the 30-day notice can be found at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;so=ASC;sb=docId;po=0;dct=PS;D=HUD-2015-0063.

    Solicitation of Comment on Specific Questions. Many of the commenters directly responded to questions on which HUD specifically solicited comment, and these questions were as follows.

    1. Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    2. The accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information;

    3. Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;

    4. Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses;

    5. Whether Option A or Option B of the Revised Assessment Tool would be the most effective and efficient way of conducting the analysis with respect to the selection of contributing factors.4 If one option is preferred over the other, please state the reasons for the preference;

    4 As discussed in the following section of this preamble, HUD submitted for public comment, two formats on how to structure the Assessment Tool.

    6. While the Revised Assessment Tool was designed to set minimum AFH requirements as well as providing a straightforward process for HUD to review the AFH, how might program participants use the template to conduct broader collaborations including more comprehensive cross-sector collaborations? How could the Revised Assessment Tool provide greater flexibility for participants to collaborate and expand upon the framework HUD has set in the Revised Assessment Tool? How could the Revised Assessment Tool allow program participants to incorporate better or additional data, alternative mapping tools, or other data presentations; and

    7. Whether additional changes to the Revised Assessment Tool would better facilitate regional collaboration among program participants.

    Response to the 30-Day Notice-Overview. Many of the commenters expressed support for the Revised Assessment Tool, stating that HUD adopted several of the changes recommended by the commenters in response to the 60-day notice. Revisions to the Assessment Tool for which commenters expressed appreciation included: The listing of local knowledge received from the community participation process and reasons for not using certain local knowledge obtained; inclusion of language regarding “displacement of residents due to economic pressures”; the inclusion of “school enrollment policies” and their impact on students' abilities to attend proficient schools; increased discussion of language barriers and identification of limited English proficiency (LEP) populations; and descriptions of contributing factors and the detailed instructions for how to complete the template section-by-section.

    Other commenters, however, stated that the Revised Assessment Tool reflected that HUD did not consider important changes recommended by the commenters, that the analysis was still highly burdensome, was largely incomprehensible, and showed little understanding of the dynamics of successful housing integration, and some commenters requested that HUD withdraw the Assessment Tool and commence the PRA process anew with a new version.

    For those commenters recommending changes and identifying areas in need of improvement, the majority of commenters focused on the following: (1) That, in their view, the Assessment Tool does not account for the resource limitations of program participants and actions that program participants can reasonably take; (2) the data HUD is providing and the Data Tool; (3) the contributing factors—both with respect to the lists included and specific revisions to the explanations provided in Appendix C; (4) the process for setting goals; and (5) how HUD will evaluate submitted AFHs.

    With respect to the two formats for structuring the Assessment Tool, Option A and Option B, offered in the 30-day notice, commenters expressed their preference for Option B, but those expressing preference for Option B recommended revisions that they thought would improve the utility of Option B. Overall, commenters on the 30-day notice provided detailed suggestions on how they believed the Assessment Tool could be structured to reduce burden, provide greater clarity, and improve the fair housing assessment process. Other commenters stated that, regardless of format, this Assessment Tool was not appropriate for certain program participants, such as States.

    Certain commenters submitted comments on the AFFH rule, raising comments previously submitted and addressed by HUD in the rulemaking process, such as HUD has no authority to issue this rule, the rule is an unfunded mandate, HUD lacks the capacity to administer this rule, and HUD needs to establish safe harbors. Since the rulemaking process has been completed and the 30-day notice (and the 60-day notice) sought comment on the Assessment Tool, HUD is not responding to these comments in this notice.

    Development of Assessment Tools for Specific Program Participants

    HUD will be issuing separate Assessment Tools for States and Insular Areas, and for PHAs that are not submitting an AFH as part of a joint submission or regional collaboration. While HUD will take into consideration the issues raised by commenters about States in developing the State Assessment Tool, HUD will not respond to those comments in this notice. The State and Insular Areas Assessment Tool, and the PHA Assessment Tool, will all undergo the full PRA process that provides the public with two opportunities for comment.

    HUD is also considering how burden may be reduced for small entities and qualified PHAs. HUD will soon be publishing a notice that seeks advance comment on how the Assessment Tool can best be used by small entities without jeopardizing the ability to undertake a meaningful assessment of fair housing.

    HUD appreciates all comments on the Assessment Tool received in response to the 30-day notice, and, in developing this final version of the Assessment Tool all comments were carefully considered. The significant issues commenters raised and HUD's responses to these issues are addressed in Section II.B. of this notice. Additionally, HUD has posted on its Web site at http://www.huduser.gov/portal/affht_pt.html and https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/, a comparison of the Final Assessment Tool compared to the Option B version of the Revised Assessment Tool (Compare Assessment Tool) so that program participants and the public can see all changes made.

    II. The Final Assessment Tool A. Highlights of the Final Assessment Tool

    This section highlights the key features of the final Assessment Tool, and those that differ from the Revised Assessment Tool.

    Format of Final Assessment Tool. This final Assessment Tool is based on the “Option B” format presented in the 30-day notice. As provided in the 30-day notice, the two formats did not differ in content or analysis, but differed with respect to where the analysis of contributing factors was placed. For the commenters who responded to HUD's question as to which format was preferred, the majority favored Option B, but offered suggestions on how Option B could be improved.

    Content of the Assessment—Highlight of Changes to Option B. The Final Assessment Tool now contains additional questions in the Community Participation Process section; asks questions on homeownership in certain sections; clarifies questions commenters advised were unclear; augments the Fair Housing Enforcement, Outreach Capacity, and Resources section; provides direction to program participants on questions where they may describe relevant ongoing activities relating to, among other things, housing preservation, community revitalization, and mobility; clarifies instructions on how to identifying and prioritizing contributing factors and setting goals; includes additional information in the descriptions of certain contributing factors, located in Appendix C; and provides additional examples of possible sources of information program participants may use, in addition to the HUD-provided data, in completing the assessment.

    B. Public Comments Received in Response to the 30-Day Notice and HUD's Responses

    This section provides a summary of the most significant issues raised by commenters and HUD's responses.

    Issues on Overall View of the Assessment Tool

    Issue: The Assessment Tool has little utility. Several comments stated that the Assessment Tool is unreasonably detailed such that it is a technocratic study of the conditions at play in a program participant's jurisdiction and region. Commenters stated that many of these conditions lay outside the control of the program participant and therefore the Assessment Tool is nothing more than an academic exercise with little ability to advance the goals of the Fair Housing Act. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool does not align the required analysis with the programmatic tools available to each program participant, or account for resource limitations with respect to the setting of goals that can be realistically achieved. In terms of resource limitations, commenters raised concerns about both: (1) The resources available to program participants, including but not limited to small entities, to conduct and complete the assessment itself; and (2) whether the Assessment Tool and HUD's review and acceptance or non-acceptance of the AFH adequately recognize resource limitations of program participants in setting and achieving goals and their ability to influence any contributing factors as having a significant impact. Other commenters stated that because program participants do not have control or are unable to directly influence issues relating to disparities in access to opportunity the analysis will have no utility. Certain commenters stated that the collection of information will have more relevance and value for larger program participants that administer a wide range of housing and community development activities, but not for smaller program participants. For smaller program participants, they stated that the information collection will be a significant burden with little value added.

    HUD Response: HUD believes that the Assessment Tool will be helpful and will have utility for program participants in assessing fair housing issues, identifying contributing factors, formulating realistic goals, and ultimately meeting their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing. One of the primary purposes of the Assessment Tool is to consider a wide range of policies, practices, and activities underway in a program participant's jurisdiction and region and to consider how its policies, practices, or activities may facilitate or present barriers to fair housing choice and access to opportunity, and to further consider actions that a program participant may take to overcome such barriers.

    In terms of resource limitations, HUD reiterates here what HUD has stated previously, and that is that HUD is aware that program participants may be limited in the actions that they can take to overcome barriers to fair housing choice and that the AFH process does not mandate specific outcomes. However, that does not mean that no actions can be taken, or that program participants should not strive to overcome barriers to fair housing choice or disparities in access to opportunity. With respect to small program participants, HUD continues to consider ways to better enable small entities in complying with their obligation to affirmatively further fair housing while recognizing their resource limitations. In this regard and, as further discussed below, HUD will be issuing an advance notice for comment on how the Assessment Tool can best be used by small entities while providing for meaningful assessment of fair housing issues, contributing factors, and goal setting. As HUD explained in the preamble to the final rule, “HUD recognizes that smaller program participants do not have the same capacity as larger participants and therefore burdens can be greater. HUD has strived in this final rule to reduce costs and burden involved in implementation of the new AFH as much as possible, especially for smaller program participants. The guidance that HUD intends to provide will further refine the application of the rule's requirements to specific types of program participants, especially smaller PHAs and local government agencies with limited staff and resources.”

    Issue: Ways to enhance the utility of the Assessment Tool. Commenters suggested ways that would enhance the utility of the Assessment Tool. These suggestions included the following: When using tables to compare groups, provide guidance on what HUD considers significant differences; acknowledge that while historical data has significance, if more recent data is not provided to program participants, the data will have limited relevance for the fair housing assessment; and provide technical assistance through national capacity builders.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions, and has incorporated some examples in the Guidebook. With respect to the data contained in the maps and tables, HUD has strived, and will continue to strive, to make these more user friendly, and, as new data becomes available or updated, HUD will make that data available to program participants.

    Issue: Ways to reduce burden. Several commenters stated that the completion of the Assessment Tool will require tremendous expenditure of time and resources on the part of program participants, and that HUD underestimated the time and resources that would be needed to complete the Assessment Tool. Commenters offered suggestions on ways that burden could be reduced. These suggestions included the following: HUD providing for batch exports of maps and data tables, rather than exporting only one map or table at a time; allowing for electronic submission of AFHs; HUD providing Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data at the census tract level; allowing program participants to identify actions they can realistically take and then prioritize those actions based on potential impacts; HUD should not only reference that data is available at the census tract level but should identify the census tracts to allow larger program participants to match them against community areas within an urban county; and having tables show data at both the city-wide and census tract level. Commenters suggested that HUD should identify where there is an absence of valid, appropriate data to reduce any time that may be spent searching for such data. Finally, commenters suggested that HUD allow each collaborating participant in a joint or regional AFH to conduct their own, separate local analysis.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the comments regarding improved functionality for the HUD-provided data and HUD is taking all comments into account in its continuing design and improvements of the online tools that will be made available to program participants. These online tools include the Data Tool (which will also be publicly available) that contains the maps and tables, as well as the online web-based portal (“user interface”) that HUD is creating to allow program participants to conduct and submit their AFHs while incorporating the tables and maps form the Data Tool.

    While HMDA data is currently available from public sources, HUD did not require its use at this time. HUD is continuing to work to provide for batch exports of maps and data tables. With respect to identifying where there is an absence of data, the Final Assessment Tool identifies where local data and knowledge may be particularly helpful. Community participation is also expected to provide supplemental local data.

    With respect to program participants setting goals that they can realistically be expected to achieve, as noted in response to an earlier comment, although program participants are required to affirmatively further fair housing, HUD has repeatedly stated that the AFH process does not dictate specific actions, goals, or outcomes, which will depend on local fair housing issues, contributing factors, and the program participants' designation of goals to address them. The AFH process provides basic parameters to help guide program participants in their public sector housing and community development planning and investment decisions by being better informed about fair housing concerns.

    With respect to the comment that collaborating participants should be allowed to conduct their own separate local analysis, the AFFH final regulations state that while program participants may divide work as they choose, all collaborating program participants are accountable for the analysis and any joint goals and priorities to be included in the collaborative AFH, and they are also accountable for their individual analysis, goals, and priorities to be included in the collaborative AFH.

    Issue: Ways to enhance community participation. Several commenters offered suggestions on how community participation could be enhanced. These suggestions included: HUD providing lists of organizations that program participants may wish to consult, such as transportation advocacy groups, transportation planners, public health advocates, and community based organizations; requiring program participants to engage in partnerships with fair housing and other civil rights organizations; requiring program participants to identify and consult with any subrecipient of HUD funds to which program participants or others provide HUD funding, along with any other partners, that will provide for a more collaborative effort in achieving fair housing goals.

    HUD Response: The community participation requirements for the AFH process are largely based on the existing citizen participation requirements in HUD's Consolidated Plan regulations in 24 CFR part 91 and the comparable requirements in HUD's Public Housing regulations in 24 CFR part 903. It was HUD's view at the time of development of the AFFH rule that these requirements, longstanding and familiar to consolidated plan participants and PHAs were appropriate for the AFH, and this continues to be HUD's view. However, these are the minimum requirements, and program participants are always permitted and in fact encouraged to exceed the minimum requirements. Through the Guidebook, HUD offers ways in which community participation may be enhanced. In response to public comment, the Final Assessment Tool, however, does include additional questions in the Community Participation Process section included to help program participants better evaluate the success of the community participation process they undertook.

    Issue: Ways to enhance joint and regional collaboration. Commenters commended HUD for encouraging program participants to collaborate by allowing program participants to align their program years. Commenters offered the following suggestions to further promote regional collaboration: HUD should offer deadline extensions or offer other incentives that would encourage program participants to continue collaboration in succeeding AFH submission years; establishing an optional regional section of the template to facilitate jurisdictions and PHAs collaborating and informing each of their analyses; encouraging a consortium structure, which a commenter stated could help establish equity advocates and disadvantaged communities' leaders' decisionmaking roles, contribute to meaningful understanding of regional housing markets and patterns of segregation and isolation of opportunity, and enhance the ability to address these issues; allowing collaborating jurisdictions to decide about what types of data are available and most relevant; and promoting advisory councils with cross-sector representatives to help overcome any lack of local political interest or will in collaborating.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these suggestions on how to promote joint and regional collaboration. Many of the steps suggested by commenters are beyond the scope of this Assessment Tool and would require additional regulatory and programmatic changes. HUD will continue to consider the options available to it with respect to promoting these sorts of collaborations. While the Final Assessment Tool does not incorporate these suggestions, HUD will give consideration to these recommendations for future changes to the Assessment Tool. Several of the suggestions may also be addressed not in this Assessment Tool, but in the Guidebook and additional guidance documents.

    HUD encourages both regional and joint submissions of AFHs. Both types of submissions have the potential to greatly increase the positive impact of fair housing planning as well as potentially reducing the burden of completing the AFH for many entities. All program participants are encouraged to consider options for either a joint or regional submission. In such consideration, program participants should consult the AFFH final rule for all requirements on joint or regional collaboration, including submission deadlines.

    Issue: Format of the Assessment Tool. Some commenters stated that the two options presented differences without distinctions. Most commenters stated that Option B was preferable because it presents a list of contributing factors after the analysis of each fair housing issue and it was more straightforward. The commenters stated that since the nature of contributing factors can vary depending on the type of fair housing issue, a list of factors tailored to a given issue would elicit more complete and appropriate responses. However, other commenters stated that Option A is preferable because the contributing factors are more specifically outlined, and they thought Option B was less clear for program participants than Option A. Other commenters suggested that both Options A and B have strengths, but that HUD should allow program participants to decide which option best suits their needs.

    HUD Response: As noted earlier, the Final Assessment Tool is based on Option B. HUD appreciates those commenters who responded to HUD's request for comment on the structure of the Assessment Tool. Neither of the formats was unanimously endorsed by commenters as a format that should be adopted without change, and HUD has made several changes to the Option B format in response to public comment. At this time, HUD cannot offer program participants the ongoing option to choose which format works best for them but will evaluate whether it is feasible to do so at some future time. HUD notes that program participants, however, may complete the Final Assessment Tool in any order they choose, which may provide some additional flexibility or avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, so long as all elements of the AFH are completed. For example, program participants may choose to complete all questions in the template and then identify significant contributing factors.

    The Final Assessment Tool still retains the streamlined consideration of contributing factors that was adopted following the first round of public comments. As stated in HUD's 30-day notice on the Revised Assessment Tool, “The Initial Assessment Tool would have required contributing factors to be identified twice, once separately and again in answering specific questions. The Revised Assessment Tool only requires that contributing factors be identified once. The contributing factors analysis has also been revised by removing the previous requirements to list all contributing factors and then rate their degree of significance. In the Revised Assessment Tool, program participants are required to identify those contributing factors that significantly impact specific fair housing issues, and for the purposes of setting goals prioritize them, giving the highest priority to those factors that limit or deny fair housing choice or access to opportunity, or negatively impact compliance with fair housing or civil rights law.” In addition, the Guidebook provides guidance to assist program participants in identifying and prioritizing contributing factors.

    Issue: Preservation of Affordable Housing. A number of commenters requested clarification of the continuing importance of affordable housing preservation and rehabilitation and how these vital program activities can be addressed in different parts of the Assessment Tool.

    A commenter requested that specific housing preservation strategies should be included in the analysis questions and/or instructions, and suggested mentioning strategies such as, “preventing Project-based Section 8 contract opt outs, providing rehab assistance for existing subsidized projects, and recapitalizing and extending affordability for projects with maturing mortgages or expiring use restrictions.”

    One commenter stated the explanation of the potential contributing factor on Lack of Community Revitalization should have explicitly mentioned housing preservation as, “an important tool within comprehensive community revitalization strategies and should be included.”

    One specific suggestion made by commenters was to clarify the description of the contributing factor on “Siting selection policies” to remove the reference to housing rehabilitation in two places in the description, including in the sentence, “[t]he term `siting selection' refers here to the placement of new or rehabilitated publicly supported housing developments.”

    A commenter requested that questions should be added to the analysis, “asking jurisdictions to identify affordable housing developments in areas of opportunity that are threatened with loss.”

    HUD Response. HUD appreciates these comments and made a number of clarifications to the Final Assessment Tool to respond to the concerns within the overall fair housing planning context of the AFH.

    First, the additional information questions in the analysis section of the Assessment Tool were clarified to indicate that they provide an opportunity for program participants to include information on the role of affordable housing as it relates to the analysis of the fair housing issues in each relevant section.

    Regarding the comment suggesting the list of specific preservation activities, HUD has clarified in the instructions to the additional information questions that housing preservation activities that are related to fair housing issues may be discussed there. Also a change was made to the contributing factor on “displacement due to economic pressures” to clarify that economic pressures can include the loss of affordability restrictions, which can include items mentioned in the commenter's list.

    Regarding the comment on the description of the Lack of Community Revitalization contributing factor, HUD amended the contributing factor description to include, “When a community is being revitalized, the preservation of affordable housing units can be a strategy to promote integration.” Moreover, fair housing considerations relating to housing preservation are also already covered in a number of other contributing factors, including displacement of persons due to economic pressures; and location and type of affordable housing. In addition, throughout the Assessment Tool, program participants also must identify “other” contributing factors that are not included in the HUD provided list.

    The “Siting selection policies” contributing factor was clarified by deleting two references to rehabilitated housing where they originally appeared and adding this more precise description: “Placement of new housing refers to new construction or acquisition with rehabilitation of previously unsubsidized housing. State and local policies, practices, and decisions can significantly affect the location of new publicly supported housing.” This change was made to distinguish between rehabilitation activities relating to the preservation of subsidized housing and the siting of new subsidized housing that sometimes can involve acquisition of a previously unsubsidized building. Fair housing issues relating to the location of existing publicly supported housing would be addressed under the Location and Type of Publicly Supported Housing contributing factor. HUD notes that program participants still have the ability to consider other relevant factors when comparing the very different program activities of new construction and rehabilitation, such cost-effectiveness and trends in the overall market availability of units affordable to those with the lowest incomes.

    HUD declined to adopt the commenters' suggestion that new questions be added to the analysis to identify specific affordable housing developments at risk of loss or conversion because HUD believes that the Assessment Tool provides adequate opportunities to discuss such concerns in several sections of the analysis and through the contributing factors analysis. HUD did respond, however, by amending the contributing factor, “displacement of residents due to economic pressures” to clarify that it can be applied to individual buildings at risk of loss of affordability as well as to neighborhoods undergoing rapid economic change and where preservation may be an appropriate fair housing related goal.

    There were additional clarifications that were made in response to the general concerns raised, as reflected in the Compare Assessment Tool.

    Issue: Loss of Affordable Housing. One commenter requested that the contributing factors identified in the Tool for the “Fair Housing Issues Analysis” section should explicitly acknowledge that the loss of affordable housing—whether it be in the form of the failure to preserve existing affordable housing, or the failure to produce more affordable housing units—impacts fair housing choice for many families.

    HUD Response. HUD declined to add the new suggested contributing factor, but did clarify the instructions to the Demographics section by adding the following language: “Program participants may also describe trends in the availability of affordable housing in the jurisdiction and region for that time period.” HUD also believes that the “Additional Information” question in the Disproportionate Housing Needs section would be an appropriate place to include such local data and local knowledge and, for purposes of assessing fair housing concerns, any resulting disparities that may be experienced by certain protected class groups. In addition, HUD amended the language on the potential contributing factor, “Displacement of Residents Due to Economic Pressures” to clarify this factor can include the loss of affordability restrictions at individual buildings as well as in particular geographic areas.

    Issue: Community Assets, Organizations and Characteristics. Commenters requested that questions be included in the Assessment Tool to allow program participants to include information beyond the HUD-provided data related to a wide variety of local and regional issues, assets and socio-economic conditions and trends. Many commenters provided often extensive lists of specific issues that HUD should include or call out for analysis or contributing factors sections or in the instructions. The comments covered a wide variety of issues, assets, organizations, strategies and activities related to their region, jurisdiction and neighborhoods. For example, one commenter requested questions on, “responsive community-based organizations, community development corporations that have worked for years to help revitalize the neighborhood, active tenant organizations, and other important social network and cultural support infrastructures.”

    Several commenters also requested a question or other space to provide information on immigrant communities including, “cultural and religious organizations and social networks in local neighborhoods and communities.”

    HUD Response. In reviewing commenters' suggestions, HUD was mindful of the information collection burden that would be involved in adding mandatory questions on a wide variety of issues that may be relevant in some jurisdictions and regions but not in others. For this reason, HUD declined to adopt the suggested addition of new questions in the analysis section. HUD has clarified the “additional information” questions in each section of the analysis to provide program participants the opportunity to supplement with information they determine relevant to an assessment of fair housing in their jurisdiction and region. These questions provide a space for discussion of issues that are relevant to the assessment of fair housing issues without creating additional mandatory questions.

    While HUD declined to add specific questions or instructions on immigrant communities and their various characteristics, program participants may address fair housing issues relating to immigrant communities in several sections of the Assessment Tool, including the additional information questions as well as the descriptive narrative and analysis in the Demographics section. HUD is familiar with the research on immigrant communities and recognizes that there are complex issues associated with them, as noted in the preamble to the AFFH final rule (see 80 FR. 42279-42280).

    Issue: Colonias. One commenter recommended that issues related to the Colonias be added to the contributing factor on “access to financial services” by adding a reference to “contract for sale” arrangements.

    HUD Response. HUD declined to make this revision because such financing mechanisms can already be considered under the contributing factor, “access to financial services” and the new contributing factor on lending discrimination. Fair housing concerns related to Colonias can also be considered under the “other” category which allows program participants to add contributing factors not identified on the HUD-provided list.

    Issue: The Data Tool has promise but needs adjustment. Several commenters commended the Data Tool, advising that it has the potential to provide data that could not be previously accessed, and that it provides important opportunity metrics. Commenters however, requested improvements to the Data Tool in ways they stated would be more useful. Commenters requested that HUD enlarge the contrast and size of the dots because as currently presented, the contrast and size of dots is not large enough to allow for differentiation between the dots, and that some dots appear to be located where no one lives. Commenters also requested that the Data Tool provide information to communities where multiple program participants choose to collaborate, stating that the current Data Tool does not have this functionality and it is not possible for program participants to generate maps and tables for each of the entities that are collaborating and combine them without getting inaccurate results. Another commenter added that if the data, information, and analysis of various program participants in the region were shared with others, collaboration could be better facilitated. Another commenter stated that it was unable to generate or download tables over a two-week period, and therefore was unable to assess them. Commenters stated that it is not clear from the Data Tool whether the lack of identified racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty (R/ECAPs) in non-metropolitan communities is an artifact of the tool or whether these communities really do not include R/ECAPs. A commenter stated that the Data Tool identifies far fewer R/ECAPs due to the 40 percent threshold set. Another commenter stated that certain data elements in the Data Tool are incompatible with the Fair Housing Act, specifically with respect to foreign-born populations. The commenter stated that the foreign-born data from the census questionnaire does not track exactly with the definition of national origin under the Fair Housing Act.

    Additional suggestions on how the Data Tool could be improved included the following: Make the User Guide for the Data Tool easier to find without having to click through several screens before finding it; make both maps and tables exportable; divide the User Guide into two parts, one on maps and one on tables, and better define the terminology used in the Data Tool; add shape files (a data format for geographic information) for R/ECAPs that are available for download as well as different color options for shading census tracts to improve the readability of the maps; clarify that dot density maps defining R/ECAPs does provide a complete picture of segregation; better address family cluster indicators because they are not precisely geocoded, which may misrepresent the location of families away from community assets and away from opportunities and closer to hazards; if HUD is using sophisticated mapping software there is no reason why the maps provided by HUD cannot contain more layers, more symbols and more contrasting colors; clarify whether the data on the maps represents the distribution of publicly supported housing units within a census tract based on actual unit counts in the buildings located within the tract or if the count assumes that all units in a project are in a single building; include an “identify” tool that can provide existing information on the population in assisted developments; and allow program participants to overlay their own maps and data.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the detailed comments received about the Data Tool. HUD continues to make adjustments, refinements, and improvements to the Data Tool, many of which will address the concerns raised by commenters regarding its utility and functionality. HUD hopes to be able to provide the public with raw data, which may be used by program participants in their analyses, so long as any manipulated data is submitted along with the AFH submitted to HUD for review. HUD has also added an instruction in the Final Assessment Tool to address the concern about the location of publicly supported housing units, since HUD allows PHAs to group buildings under asset management projects (AMPs), which results in a single project displayed on a the map for a given asset management project.

    Issue: Application of HUD-provided data to jurisdictions. Many commenters expressed concern that various individual components of the HUD-provided data, including indices, R/ECAP measures, and maps were not always useful or applicable to their jurisdiction's own characteristics or demographic composition. For instance, some commenters noted that R/ECAPs were not always applicable to their local demographics (e.g., majority-minority cities).

    HUD Response. The HUD-provided data are intentionally based on nationally available uniform data sources. The indices and measures adopted by HUD are intended to provide a baseline to facilitate the analysis for the jurisdiction and region. Program participants are required to use additional local data and local knowledge to provide a more complete fair housing analysis. This may include consideration of additional data sources, alternate measures, and qualitative analysis. As stated in the preamble to the AFFH final rule, “HUD has worked to identify a comprehensive set of data that allows a multisector assessment. Moreover, because research on measuring access to community assets is continually evolving, HUD is committed to reviewing the data on an ongoing basis for potential improvements. As with all data metrics, the measures in each category have strengths as well as limitations, and no criteria should be assessed in isolation from the other measures or required assessments.” The preamble addressed other known strengths and limitations of specific components of the HUD-provided data, as well as provided a discussion of their applicability to individual program participant's unique local conditions.

    Issue: The indices in the Data Tool are unwieldy, difficult to understand, and several are not well-conceived. Commenters stated that the use of complex social science indices is largely unintelligible to most users and the general public. Another commenter stated that the use of opportunity indices may be related either directly or indirectly, and the meaning of differences between them may be unclear to program participants. A commenter stated that the data should be able to be used by the broadest possible audience, but in its current form it is too cryptic and too oriented toward the use of technical terms rather than plain language. A commenter stated that the dissimilarity index has several shortfalls and it should either be removed all together or HUD should explain its weaknesses in detail. Another commenter made a similar suggestion, stating that HUD needs to clarify how the dissimilarity index is being calculated to clarify for jurisdictions and how to interpret it for program participants that lack the knowledge or expertise to analyze the dissimilarity index. A commenter stated that instead of providing the various opportunity indices, HUD should require collection and analysis of data with respect to these issues. In contrast to these commenters, other commenters suggested that HUD provide the “exposure index” and the “race and income index” in addition to the “dissimilarity index.”

    Other commenters offered recommendations on specific indices. Commenters offered the following comments: With respect to the Poverty Index, instead of using a poverty rate, HUD should construct a poverty index that is the average of the family poverty rate and the percentage of households receiving public assistance; the Neighborhood School Proficiency Index captures the percentage of elementary school students who pass state tests in math and reading in the schools in a given neighborhood, but the commenters stated that this is measure of school quality, and there is no attempt to measure value added or even quality-adjust schools based upon the characteristics of its students; the Job Access Model measures the distance to job centers but does not make much of an attempt to match jobs to the skills of workers; explain the advantage of aggregating the factors considered by the labor market engagement index and the poverty index—that it would seem more practical to report the difference between the census tract and the national or regional rate and conduct a test for statistical significance.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the suggestions made by commenters, as with the comments on enhancing the availability of data, HUD has strived and will continue to strive to have the indices provide greater aid in the assessment of disparities. The HUD-provided indices of common indicators of opportunity—poverty, education, employment, transportation, and environmental health—were selected because existing research suggests that from a fair housing perspective, they have a bearing on a range of important outcomes. As with all of the HUD-provided data, these indices are based on nationally available data sources and one or more may have limited application for some jurisdictions, and may not include all protected classes required for analysis under the Fair Housing Act. As noted above in response to an earlier comment, HUD hopes to be able to provide the raw data from the Data Tool to the public. Regarding the comments on use of the “exposure index” and the “race and income index,” HUD notes that it is providing the dissimilarity index in conjunction with dot density maps that, taken together, can often present a fuller picture of the levels and patterns of segregation and integration in the jurisdiction and region. However, use of outside, additional measures is by no means prohibited in the Final Assessment Tool and program participants may use these additional measures of segregation as well as information obtained from the community participation process.

    Issue: Concern with HUD's ability to implement web-based information collections. Commenters expressed concerns about HUD's ability to implement web-based information collections. The commenters stated that in the past HUD has often failed to keep existing systems and information up-to-date. Commenters stated that the concern is enhanced here because of the complexity of the Assessment Tool.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these concerns, and takes them seriously. Many commenters also provided specific and helpful feedback on functionality, that HUD aims to incorporate into the user interface that HUD is developing. HUD has administered web-based systems for many years and anticipates the Assessment Tool and associated web-based applications, such as the Data Tool and Assessment Tool Interface, will assist program participants in completing AFHs. HUD is taking appropriate measure so that the systems function properly.

    Issue: Enhance the ability to access Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) data. Commenters commended HUD for including LIHTC properties in the Assessment Tool, stating that the inclusion of these properties is important to a meaningful assessment of fair housing. While commenters appreciated the inclusion of LIHTC data, several recommended that HUD develop a plan to collect LIHTC data in a uniform way from State housing finance agencies, or in the alternative, HUD should acknowledge that the variation in State data may affect program participants' abilities to complete the AFH. Another commenter expressed concern that HUD does not have zip codes for 16 percent of the LIHTC inventory and that obtaining this information and making it available should be a straightforward process for HUD. Another commenter recommended inclusion of a table that identifies the numbers of units or any other characteristics of LIHTC developments since LIHTC is responsible for the majority of assisted housing in the nation. Commenter notes that the tables do not include the address or census tract of each publicly supported and LIHTC property.

    HUD Response: HUD acknowledges the limited availability of LIHTC data on tenant characteristics at the development level. HUD is continuing its efforts to collect and report on this data. However, commenters should also be aware that information at the development-level will often not be available due to federal privacy requirements and the small project sizes in a large portion of the LIHTC inventory.

    HUD will include census tract information in the HUD-provided data through the online AFFH Data and Mapping Tool. The Data and Mapping Tool will include a query tool that will allow users to filter and sort demographic data for both developments and census tracts by common characteristics for public housing, project-based Section 8, and Other HUD Multifamily housing (including Section 202 and Section 811). The query tool will include census tract demographic characteristics for LIHTC developments. The Data and Mapping Tool will also allow users to export tables showing this data from the query tool or the resulting comparisons from a query. These changes are intended to reduce grantee burden, improve the accuracy of analyses and reduce the risk of incorrect results (for example from drawing incorrect correlations from potentially complex data), as well as to better inform the community participation process.

    Issue: Clarify use of local data and local knowledge and efforts to obtain such information. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool should provide examples of local knowledge such as: Efforts to preserve publicly-supported housing; community-based revitalization efforts; public housing Section 8 demolition or disposition application proposals; Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion applications; transit-oriented development plans; major redevelopment plans; comprehensive planning or zoning updates; source of income ordinance campaigns; and inclusive housing provision campaigns. Other commenters requested that HUD include examples of available local data, such as neighborhood crime statistics; school demographic and school performance data, State and local health department data by neighborhood; lead paint hot spots; data about the institutionalization of persons with disabilities and the availability of community-based services from state and local Medicaid agencies and disability services departments; and reports and studies already completed by state and local research and advocacy groups.

    Other commenters suggested that HUD require program participants to describe their efforts to identify supplemental data and local knowledge such as from universities, advocacy organizations, service providers, planning bodies, transportation departments, school districts, healthcare departments, employment services, unions, and business organizations. Other commenters went further, suggesting that HUD require program participants to conduct research for topics on which HUD is not providing data. Another commenter stated that local data should not be subject to a determination of statistical validity because such data is generally combined with local knowledge, which is not always statistical. Other commenters asked that HUD encourage all local data be made publicly available on Web sites prior to the community participation process, and that HUD-provided data must be publicly available as well. Another commenter requested that the Assessment Tool include a separate section on local knowledge or provide for local knowledge to be included in each question for each section in the Assessment.

    HUD Response: HUD notes that the HUD-provided data will be made publicly available. HUD anticipates that in some cases the data and mapping tool will allow program participants to set thresholds when using the data, for instance by adjusting the display of some mapping features to better reflect their local demographics. Since thresholds may have a significant effect on the analysis conducted, any thresholds set by program participants in using these data must be disclosed in the AFH made public during the community participation process and in the AFH submitted to HUD.

    While HUD has not adopted the commenter's suggestion to establish a separate section on local knowledge, HUD has added to the instructions many additional references to local knowledge and local data, to identify where HUD believes such knowledge and data would be particularly helpful in responding to questions. HUD believes these additional references provide the clarity that commenters sought. Additionally, HUD expects that local data and local knowledge will often be made available to program participants through the community participation process, and HUD will further addresses local data and local knowledge in the Guidebook to provide additional examples of local data and local knowledge and where such sources can be accessed.

    HUD declines to impose additional requirements on program participants to searching for local data and to require program participants to describe their efforts to identify supplemental local data and local knowledge. HUD requires program participants to supplement HUD-provided data with local data and local knowledge because HUD acknowledges that it is not able to provide data on all areas relevant to a fair housing assessment from nationally uniform sources, and local data may be able to fill such gaps. For example, program participants may find valuable data through a variety of sources, including from other federal and state agencies Web sites. Some examples of federal online data sources include: The Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institution's Information Mapping System (https://www.cdfifund.gov/Pages/mapping-system.aspx), the EPA's Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (http://www2.epa.gov/ejscreen), the General Services Administration's Data.Gov Web site, and HUD's own resources (e.g. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/gis.html). Additionally, local data may be the more recent and relevant data to rely on compared to the HUD-provided data. However, HUD has repeatedly said that local data and local knowledge constitute information which can be found, through a reasonable amount of searching, are readily available at little or no cost, and are necessary for the completion of the AFH.

    With respect to the requirement that local data is subject to a determination of statistical validity, HUD notes that this is a requirement of the Final Rule itself, but as stated in the Preamble to the Final Rule this provision is intended to, “clarify that HUD may decline to accept local data that HUD has determined is not valid [and not] that HUD will apply a rigorous statistical validity test for all local data.”

    Issue: HUD needs to provide certain data. Commenters offered suggestions on data that HUD should provide. These suggestions included the following: Data on voucher holders; project-level data for each separate housing program for each jurisdiction and region, or at least provide guidance on how program participants may collect project-level data; cross-tabulated data on disability, race, and poverty; 2008-2012 American Community Survey data (5-year data); data on persons with disabilities living in segregated settings; data on local crime; ratings from the Community Development Financial Institution distress index; data on access to broadband infrastructure; and data for all categories of publicly supported housing, including those outside the control of PHAs. With respect to the last suggestion, commenters stated that if HUD cannot provide such data, PHAs should not be required to address this area. Commenters asked that HUD not provide any data that is not statistically significant or geographically appropriate. Commenters also stated that HUD establish a process for program participants to identify data discrepancies or missing data and hold program participants harmless from not using resources that are inconsistent for the covered entity's first round of submitting an AFH.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the suggestions made by commenters. HUD has strived and will continue to strive to provide program participants with as much nationally uniform data as possible. HUD anticipates that it will be able to add to the data that it makes available over the years. With respect to areas where HUD has not provided data, as HUD stated in response to the preceding comment, program participants must use relevant local data that they can find through a reasonable amount of search, are available at little or no cost, and are necessary for the completion of the Assessment Tool. If such local data cannot be found, then local knowledge gained through the community participation process may be helpful in this regard. HUD staff in the applicable HUD program offices are available to provide technical assistance on the data and mapping tool and the user interface.

    Issue: Do not relegate maps and tables to appendices and separate housing cost burdens. A commenter stated that the maps and tables should not be relegated to appendices and that separating the data from the parts of the document in which program participants will conduct their analysis increases the risk that some key data points or geographic patterns will not be addressed in the analysis. Other commenters stated that the maps and tables should allow for separation on the basis of housing cost burdens, crowding, and lack of facilities, and that the housing cost burdens need to further filter out higher income households where higher costs are not the actual measure of distress.

    HUD Response: The listing of maps and tables in appendices is a convenient organizational structure to advise program participants of the maps and tables that HUD is providing as part of the Assessment Tool for the purposes of public comment. HUD anticipates that the user interface and the data and mapping tool will allow the program participant to incorporate maps and tables directly into the body of the template. HUD appreciates the suggestion to improve the provision of data on housing needs and these comments will be taken into account in further refinement of the HUD-provided data.

    Issues on Specific Content of Assessment Tool

    Issue: Additional guidance needed about the community participation process. Commenters stated that this section of the template needs to provide more guidance for program participants and should afford stakeholders a means of assessing the thoroughness of a program participant's efforts to encourage and provide community participation. Another commenter requested that HUD revise the community participation section in a way that ensures program participants are accountable for community engagement. A commenter requested that HUD add a question that requires program participants that are unsuccessful in eliciting community participation to assess possible reasons for low participation rates, stating that such an explanation is particularly important when historically underserved populations exhibit low participation rate.

    Other commenters stated that the program participants should be required to list the organizations they consulted, and further to provide a detailed list of the specific participation activities and the comments received or delivered at public hearings so that advocates can assess if the groups that participated represented a balance of opinions. Some commenters stated that program participants should be required to report on the discussions with residents of public and assisted housing and residents of R/ECAPs in places where community revitalization efforts existed or are planned to be undertaken in order to determine if residents wish to remain in their homes and communities or to relocate to areas that may offer other opportunities. A commenter stated that community participation should be given as much weight, if not more, than the data analysis conducted by program participants.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the many comments that it received on the community participation process. These comments and the earlier comments on community participation addressed in this preamble appear to underscore the importance of the community participation that program participants will obtain and consider in producing a meaningful assessment of fair housing. With respect to certain of the recommendations made by the commenters, the Final Assessment Tool does ask program participants to list the organizations with which they consulted, to describe the types of outreach activities undertaken and dates of public hearings or meetings held, and to explain how these outreach activities were designed to reach the broadest audience possible. In addition to these changes, HUD has provided additional instructions pertaining to the community participation process. The community participation process required for the AFH is largely based on longstanding community participation processes and outreach in the Consolidated Plan and Public Housing regulations. These are processes with which program participants are well familiar and have long undertaken. For these reasons, HUD does not find, at least at this time, which is the outset of the AFH process, that more requirements beyond the additional questions added in the Final Assessment Tool need to be imposed.

    Issue: HUD must accurately address individuals covered by the AFH. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool needs to better clarify who will be covered by the AFH, particularly populations that do not fall under current protected classes. They stated that the template could be improved by clearly delineating which groups are required to be focused on, as well as providing guidance on how to engage with each group. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool inappropriately elevates persons on the basis of income to a protected class. Other commenters stated that HUD must be diligent in making sure that racial and ethnic groups are consistently identified in the Assessment Tool and all AFH materials. Other commenters stated that all groups need to be treated the same in the Assessment Tool, stating as an example that immigrants should not be treated differently from native born residents, and women should not be treated differently from men.

    HUD Response: The AFH covers protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, and these classes are identified in the instructions accompanying the tool, and addressed in the Assessment Tool. HUD has added a question to the Fair Housing Enforcement, Outreach Capacity, and Resources section of the Final Assessment Tool, which asks program participants about any protected characteristics covered by State or local fair housing laws. HUD believes the revised instructions better guide program participants in addressing questions pertaining to the various protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.

    Issue: Information required by the Analysis Section is not reduced by fewer questions. Commenters stated that while it appears there are fewer questions, the consolidated questions require no less information than was previously being requested. Other commenters stated that compound questions make it difficult for stakeholders to extract the information they need from the AFH and increases the likelihood that certain questions may not be answered and may not allow for program participants to think critically about these issues and devise effective and creative strategies to advance true change. Another commenter stated that many of the questions are still very broad and complex, and consolidation only adds to the complexity.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments and on further review, HUD could see that certain questions were too broad. HUD has restructured several questions to better clarify the information sought.

    Issue: Provide more targeted questions, and seek specific information from program participants. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool should contain more exact questions to allow program participants to better describe their selection and rationale for their fair housing strategy. Commenters stated that many questions are open-ended and will require program participants to make assumptions. Other commenters stated that HUD should provide more specific, guided questions with the appropriate guidance as to the types of data sets for each question.

    Other commenters stated that “additional information” questions should require more specific information from program participants; that program participants should describe efforts that are planned, have been made, or that are underway to preserve project-based section 8 developments at risk of opting out of the program, or other HUD multifamily-assisted developments from leaving the affordable housing stock due to FHA mortgage maturity. Commenters also stated that program participants should be required to describe such efforts with respect to LIHTC developments, including at Year 15 and beyond Year 30.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments. These commenters stated similar concerns expressed by commenters in the preceding issue. Again, HUD has strived to structure questions so that they are more targeted, and solicit more specific information from program participants. HUD has also revised the “additional information” questions in each section to allow program participants to include relevant information about “activities such as place-based investments and mobility options for protected class groups.” HUD has included these “additional information” questions to provide program participants with the discretion and latitude to include any other relevant information they wish to provide.

    Issue: The Analysis Section does not reflect a balanced approach. Commenters stated that the choice of long-time low income residents, especially residents who are members of protected classes, to remain in their publicly supported affordable housing in communities where they have social, cultural, and language ties, even if those communities are racially or ethnically segregated, is not accounted for in the Assessment Tool. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool should specify that “displacement” includes both direct displacement, resulting from acquisition and demolition as well as economic displacement caused by increased rents and evictions. Other commenters stated that because the analysis section only raises questions about racial and ethnic concentrations of poverty and disparities in access to opportunity the template could be contrary to the AFFH final rule by suggesting that there is a prohibition on the use of resources in neighborhoods that have such concentrations or that lack opportunities. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool must provide guidance reflecting that the obligation to affirmatively further fair housing means preserving affordable housing or revitalizing areas of racial or ethnic concentrations of poverty, as well as enhancing access to opportunity. A commenter stated that the AFH and the final rule do not include safeguards ensuring that a balanced approach be taken. Another commenter stated that publicly supported housing and disparities in access to opportunity sections should foster a more balanced approach. A commenter stated that it is important to make a concerted effort to continue investing in R/ECAPs to ensure communities thrive and reap the benefits of urban change.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates these comments and made a number of key changes to the Assessment Tool to better reflect the balanced approach to fair housing planning as discussed in the preamble to the final AFFH rule. These changes and clarifications include additional references to housing preservation, community revitalization efforts, and mobility options to emphasize the importance of a balanced approach in overcoming fair housing contributing factors and related fair housing issues, in order to ensure fair housing choice and eliminate disparities in access to opportunity.

    Issue: The Assessment Tool relies on a disparate impact analysis. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool relies on a disparate impact analysis, requiring communities to review their policies and practices and assess their outcomes, even if these policies and practices are facially neutral. These commenters stated that based on the recent Supreme Court decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 576 U.S. ___ (2015), the AFH must be able to establish a causal connection between the policy or practice and disparate impact.

    HUD Response: HUD disagrees with these commenters and notes that the analysis required to determine whether a policy or practice violates the Fair Housing Act because it has an unjustified disparate impact is not the same as an analysis of the fair housing issues and contributing factors that a program participant would address through a goal to affirmatively further fair housing pursuant to HUD's AFFH rule. In conducting an AFH, the program participant need not prove that a policy or practice has an unjustified disparate impact in order to identify fair housing issues, factors that contribute to those issues, and goals to affirmatively further fair housing. However, HUD notes that should a program participant find, as part of its assessment of fair housing, that a particular group is facing discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act because of the unjustified disparate impact of one of its policies or practice, HUD would certainly expect the program participant to take prompt steps to remedy such discrimination. If such discrimination did not involve a policy or practice of the program participant, but instead involved another individual or entity covered by the Fair Housing Act, the program participant should bring such discrimination to HUD's attention.

    Issue: The Assessment Tool is challenging for rural areas. Commenters stated that the required analysis will be challenging for rural areas because of the limited availability of some basic opportunities. Commenters stated that in these areas there is little public transportation and personal transportation is a dominant variable in settlement patterns, creating or diffusing population concentrations. The commenter explains that mobility affects the other opportunities, such as jobs or the choice of school system.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates that program participants in rural areas may be challenged because of the greater undeveloped area and generally lower population that may present challenges in assessing fair housing. HUD will continue to work to provide additional guidance for program participants with regard to rural data and analysis issues. HUD agrees that the issue of public transportation versus personal transportation is worth consideration and has added instructions addressing this issue in the Disparities in Access to Opportunity section of the Final Assessment Tool. HUD has also revised the transportation data it is providing to include two indices—the transit trips index and the transit cost index, to better reflect access to affordable transportation in a variety of settings.

    Issue: The Disability and Access Section needs additional revisions. Commenters stated that in looking at the population profile of persons with disabilities, the analysis should include examples of sources of local data and local knowledge concerning the population of persons with disabilities to help guide program participants in accessing such information. Commenters stated that Question 2(a) in the Disability and Access section should read “individuals with mobility disabilities,” rather than “individuals who use wheelchairs,” and this section should include a description of efforts to ensure that new construction complies with the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act and Section 504. A commenter stated that the analysis in this section would benefit from an assessment of the extent to which persons with disabilities are more likely than other groups to experience housing cost burden, overcrowding, and substandard housing, as well as what the greatest housing burden for persons with disabilities is in the jurisdiction and region. The commenter stated that the analysis should also include an assessment of the extent to which persons with disabilities experience disparities in access to environmentally healthy neighborhoods and to employment. Other commenters stated that even though there is a separate section on disability and access issues, including Olmstead, program participants should be required to analyze these issues throughout the AFH.

    HUD Response: HUD has made revisions to the Assessment Tool and the instructions to address many of these comments, including identifying possible sources of local data and local knowledge program participants may use to conduct their assessments of fair housing. HUD declined to substantially modify the structure of the Final Assessment Tool by scattering questions related to disability and access issues in each section to allow program participants to complete a more focused assessment of the fair housing issues faced by persons with disabilities, but has included additional questions in response to commenters related to homeownership and disproportionate housing needs.

    Issue: Important required analyses are missing from the Assessment Tool. Commenters identified certain analyses that they stated were not covered in the Assessment Tool, or not adequately covered and should be included in the Assessment Tool as required analyses. Commenters stated that the template does not contain a meaningful discussion of homeownership and mortgage lending, and requested that HUD provide data on the federal mortgage tax deduction to estimate the proportion of homeowners that qualify for the deduction. Commenters suggested that program participants be required to analyze the trends of homeownership for each protected class and how that has changed over the past five years, including an analysis of how homeownership may result in segregation among homeowners, the ability to access to homeowners insurance, disparate foreclosure patterns, and the comparative maintenance and management of foreclosed properties in communities of color.

    Other commenters recommended that the transportation analysis be required to cross-reference to Title VI, environmental justice, and other civil rights obligations under federal transportation guidance, including but not limited to relevant Federal Transit Administration circulars. Commenters stated that an analysis of LIHTC properties should be required for all program participants so that patterns of the distribution of government assisted housing is placed in the proper context, stating that LIHTC properties are often concentrated in certain neighborhoods and that there is an unacceptably high level of segregation in and among LIHTC properties. Commenters stated that an analysis of patterns of location and segregation within each government assisted housing program is an important analysis that must be included in the AFH. Commenters added that this analysis should be required for all program participants on a regional level in each AFH so that the pattern of government assisted housing distribution is placed in context.

    Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool does not properly recognize the changing factors of majority-minority localities that are experiencing an urban renewal renaissance where higher income and non-minority populations are migrating from the suburbs to urban centers of large cities. Commenters stated that the analysis of disparities in access to opportunity should include an analysis of rates of voter registration and participation, representation by different racial and ethnic groups on elected and appointed boards and commissions, and representation among staff in the school district, police force, and other municipal departments. These commenters also stated that exposure to adverse community factors should include a description of public health issues and health disparities among neighborhoods within the jurisdiction and between the jurisdiction and region, including disparities in low birth weight, infant mortality, sentinel health conditions, deaths due to fire, homicide, and gun violence, pedestrian auto fatalities, rates of premature death, and life expectancy. Commenters also advised that environmental factors should be included, such as water pollution, flooding caused by loss of wetlands, and mobile sources of air pollution.

    HUD Response: HUD agrees with commenters that recommended inclusion of homeownership and mortgage lending and HUD has added questions on homeownership to certain sections of the Final Assessment Tool and included an additional contributing factor of “lending discrimination.” HUD has also enhanced instructions pertaining to transportation to help program participants better identify barriers to transportation opportunities. With respect to requiring an analysis of LIHTC properties of all program participants, LIHTC is the primary financing tool for affordable housing in the United States. The Final Assessment Tool retains the same analysis of LIHTC properties as the Revised Assessment Tool. HUD did not agree with the commenters that the questions in the publicly supported housing section should be changed. The questions were carefully worded to match the program categories (e.g., public housing, LIHTC, etc.) for analysis, as well as the analysis of individual buildings and developments within program categories. With respect to the myriad of other factors recommended by the commenters, HUD has not added the majority of factors, such as low birth weight, infant mortality, deaths due to fire, pedestrian auto fatalities, and rates of premature death. However, program participants are permitted and encouraged to include any information that they believe to be relevant to assessing fair housing issues and contributing factors in their jurisdiction and region.

    Issue: Assessment Tool does not use or refer to geographic areas and geographic patterns appropriately. Commenters stated that HUD has overemphasized the geographic patterns analysis in the disproportionate housing needs section. Commenters stated that the emphasis of this section raises concerns, as it implies that small geographic areas with the greatest housing needs should be the primary recipients of additional low income housing assistance, while small geographic areas with the least need are “off the hook.” Commenters recommended eliminating this section or replacing it with a more meaningful regional fair share analysis. Other commenters stated that HUD should not conflate location with other factors that are unrelated to housing.

    HUD Response: HUD disagrees with these commenters and believes that an analysis of disproportionate housing needs in the jurisdiction and region is a necessary component of the assessment of fair housing.

    Issue: Restore the Mobility Section to the Assessment Tool. Several commenters requested that HUD add the section on mobility and Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) back into the template. A commenter stated that omitting a discussion of aspects of the program that relate to mobility that PHAs are required to use for fair housing planning would be akin to not asking a local government to discuss its site selection policies with respect to the developments that receive HOME funds. Other commenters stated that even if an entitlement jurisdiction is not collaborating with a PHA, they still have a stake in HCV mobility issues and a policy toolkit they can use to help overcome barriers.

    HUD Response: In the Revised Assessment Tool, HUD made the decision to address many issues related to mobility in the contributing factors including in an expanded contributing factor on “Impediments to Mobility,” rather than in the publicly supported housing analysis section. The term “mobility” can include mobility for Housing Choice Voucher recipients as well as unassisted persons and families. While HUD has not included a separate section on mobility in the Final Assessment Tool, the additional information question in several subsections of the analysis references mobility. The Compare Assessment Tool reflects the many additional places where HUD requires program participants to consider mobility options and other considerations for housing choice vouchers.

    Issue: Include a reference to publicly supported housing in all sections of the Assessment Tool. Commenters stated that publicly supported housing should be consistently referred to throughout the template and that all categories of publicly supported housing should be included in each question.

    HUD Response: HUD declines to include references to publicly supported housing in each section of the Final Assessment Tool. Similar to HUD's response to commenters' requests that disability and access issues be references throughout the template, HUD believes that a designated section on publicly supported housing will provide a more focused and in-depth analysis of the fair housing issues faced by residents of publicly supported housing. HUD notes, however, that some specific questions related to publicly supported housing are included outside of the designated section on publicly supported housing—including the disability and access and the disproportionate housing needs sections.

    Issue: Require examination of fair housing compliance. Commenters stated that HUD should require program participants to examine various types of complaints and other evidence that point to trends or emerging issues in fair housing compliance. Commenters stated that additional questions should be added to the Fair Housing Enforcement, Outreach Capacity, and Resources section of the template, and that these questions should capture information about any protected class under State or local law. Other commenters suggested that jurisdiction should be required to identify fair housing or other civil rights organizations operating in their area so that these organizations can be involved in the process.

    HUD Response: HUD agrees with some of the suggestions made by commenters and has added additional questions and instructions to the Fair Housing Enforcement, Outreach Capacity, and Resources section of the Final Assessment Tool.

    Issue: The Demographic Summary should clearly indicate demographic patterns. Commenters stated that the demographic summary should more clearly indicate which demographic patterns and trends should be described, including increases and decreases in the number of census tracts with greater than 20 percent, 30 percent, and 40 percent poverty, and increases or decreases in the number of persons residing in such census tracts. Another commenter stated that it appears that neighborhood demographics can shift in relatively short periods of time, and asked about the risk that the lag in data availability, which appears to be 2-3 years at minimum, leads to outdated estimates.

    HUD Response: HUD agrees with some of these commenters that additional clarity regarding the types of demographic trends that program participants are expected to analyze is necessary. Accordingly, HUD has provided additional instructions for this section to better explain what program participants must analyze in this portion of the Final Assessment Tool. With respect to the latter comment, HUD recognizes that the data being provided may not always be the most recent available or may not be as current as actual local conditions. HUD recognizes that a program participant's assessment of fair housing issues will reflect the data that HUD provided as well as any information revealed through local data and local knowledge, including information made available to the program participant in the community participation process.

    Issue: Contributing factors are confusing and often contradictory. Certain commenters stated that the focus on contributing factors with respect to housing segregation, both community-wide and in specific government housing programs, is consistent with the history and purpose of the Fair Housing Act, and they stated that such focus is a crucial step forward and will help program participants engage in constructive analyses to comply with their Fair Housing Act obligations. However, other commenters stated that the template is confusing in how it describes factors that may contribute to fair housing issues. Other commenters stated that many of the factors are ambiguous and potentially contradictory.

    While commenters stated that it is helpful that HUD has identified factors to be analyzed, the commenters stated that the list and descriptions of factors are characterized in ways that assume there is always a fair housing impact. Commenter stated that any potential bias should be removed. Commenters recommended that the list of contributing factors be referenced as “Factors to be Considered.” Other commenters stated that the term “contributing factors” continues to suffer from the same lack of underlying validity, resulting in the creation of policy on the basis of incomplete information and personal perceptions, casting doubt on the Assessment Tool's ability to truly increase fair housing choice.

    Commenters stated that market driven forces should not be included in the list of contributing factors, because “location of employers” is an important issue driven by the free market, and that the factor of displacement of residents due to economic pressures is ill conceived. Commenters stated that there are inconsistencies between the lists of contributing factors in Options A and B and they must be reconciled in the final version. To add some clarity to contributing factors, a commenter recommended that HUD include a general statement that contributing factors may differ depending on local context.

    HUD Response: HUD believes the Final Assessment Tool reflects (as highlighted by the Compare Assessment Tool) the many changes made in response to public comment, to enhance clarity of the contributing factors. Many of the changes were made in the descriptions of and the instructions for selecting the contributing factors. With respect to commenters' concern that the list and descriptions of factors are characterized in ways that assume a fair housing impact, that is in fact the purpose of HUD's identification of contributing factors—to assess their impact on related fair housing issues. The Assessment Tool is unambiguous that the contributing factors listed by HUD are factors to be considered by the program participant in conducting the assessment—not predetermined factors that program participants are required to select even when they are not applicable. However, HUD did change the title of Appendix C to “Descriptions of Potential Contributing Factors.” Additionally, HUD agrees with the comment stating that contributing factors are not contributing factors until selected by program participants as being significant. Therefore, HUD has revised the language in each section of the Final Assessment Tool to read, “Consider the listed factors and any other factors affecting the jurisdiction and region. Identify factors that create, contribute to, perpetuate, or increase the severity of [segregation, R/ECAPs, disparities in access to opportunity, or disproportionate housing needs.]”

    With respect to commenters' request that market driven forces be removed from the list of contributing factors, HUD disagrees and has not removed these factors. Such factors may have fair housing implications and are included for program participants to consider as part of their analysis.

    Issue: Restore certain contributing factors removed in the Assessment Tool provided in the 30-Day Notice, and include certain additional factors. Commenters stated that HUD eliminated critical contributing factors from the Assessment Tool that were the subject of comment for 30 days and these contributing factors should be restored. Commenters stated that HUD eliminated the following important contributing factors from the Assessment Tool: Foreclosure patterns; major private investments; residential steering; and the availability of units with two or more bedrooms. Commenters further stated that there are contributing factors that should be added to the lists in the segregation/integration and R/ECAPs sections of the template. A commenter recommended that State and local funding be included as contributing factors under the “other” category. Commenters provided lengthy lists of additional contributing factors that they recommended be included in the Assessment Tool.

    HUD Response: HUD evaluated the inclusion of additional contributing factors and factors previously included, but removed, from the Revised Assessment Tool. HUD determined that many of the issues raised by commenters concerning the contributing factors were similar to existing contributing factors and HUD modified the descriptions of existing contributing factors to include such concerns. HUD did include one new contributing factor—“lending discrimination”—in response to requests from commenters. Note, however, that program participants are required to identify contributing factors outside of the list provided in the Final Assessment Tool if those factors are significant.

    Issue: Restore the three levels of significance for contributing factors. Commenters stated that the three levels of significance—highly significant, moderately significant, and not significant—should be restored in the analysis of contributing factors. Commenters stated that by requiring program participants to explicitly identify the significance of a factor would provide the public with a basis for raising objections to HUD reviewers. Commenters stated that this system provided a stronger basis for analysis, transparency, and accountability than the approach in the version of the Assessment Tool that was the subject of the 30-day notice.

    HUD Response: HUD did not include the three levels of significance in the Final Assessment Tool. HUD wants to give program participants the flexibility to prioritize contributing factors in a manner that works best for them. Commenters can prioritize contributing factors as highly significant, moderately significant or minimally significant, program participants can use a numbering system to prioritize contributing factors, or any other method of prioritization that program participants may wish to employ. The only requirement is that the prioritization method utilized by the program participant must prioritize significant contributing factors by giving highest priority to those factors that limit or deny fair housing choice or access to opportunity, or negatively impact fair housing or civil rights compliance.

    Issue: Source of income discrimination should not be a contributing factor. Commenters stated that there are many reasons for landlords to refuse tenant-based rental assistance and that the landlord's choice to avoid administrative burden should not be considered discrimination and should not be used as an example of discrimination.

    HUD Response: HUD has included source of income discrimination as a contributing factor because regardless of the reasons why a landlord may refuse to accept payment for rent based on certain sources of income, such refusals are a common barrier to fair housing choice and access to opportunity for many persons who rely on such income to pay for housing, including many members of minority groups and many persons with disabilities. Source of income discrimination is, therefore, an important consideration in a fair housing analysis. In response to comments on this specific contributing factor, HUD amended the language to clarify that it may apply to either Housing Choice Vouchers specifically or more broadly to other sources of income, such as Social Security Disability Insurance. HUD further clarified the last sentence of the factor to state, “The elimination of source of income discrimination and acceptance of payment for housing, regardless of source or type of income, increases fair housing choice and access to opportunity.” In addition, the description of the contributing factor on “Impediments to Mobility” was amended to add a reference to discrimination based on source of income.

    Issue: Include strategies and actions in the Assessment Tool. Commenters stated that program participants should include their strategies and actions to implement the goals and priorities of the Assessment Tool, even though the final rule calls for strategies and actions only in the consolidated plan or PHA plan, or that, at a minimum, there should be an opportunity for program participants to mention specific strategies that can connect with the Consolidated Plan and the PHA plan. Commenters stated that providing a set of recommended actions in the Assessment Tool would more firmly and link the AFH to the subsequent planning processes. Other commenters requested that HUD provide examples of effective fair housing strategies and evidenced-based best practices.

    HUD Response: Program participants are free to include in the Final Assessment Tool strategies and actions to implement the priorities and goals set in their assessments of fair housing. However, HUD declines to mandate such inclusion. HUD believes that the inclusion of strategies and actions in the consolidated plan and PHA plan allows for full consideration of needs, resources, and objective of program participants. As provided in the final AFFH rule, the strategies and actions in the consolidated plan and PHA plan must be informed by the goals and priorities in the AFH.

    Issue: Recommended goal-setting changes. Commenters requested a number of changes and clarifications to the Fair Housing Goals and Priorities section and its instructions. Commenters stated that an additional column for “Timeframe” should be added to the goal-setting table. Commenters stated that this would provide a prompt to program participants to include a timeframe for achieving fair housing goals. Other commenters suggested that HUD establish specific metrics and timeframes for evaluating progress toward meeting fair housing goals. Other comments stated that while the formulation of goals is appropriately left with the program participants, HUD should ensure that examples of goals should be sufficient and diverse enough to aid program participants in developing goals to meet the needs of their communities. Other commenters stated that guidance on goal setting with examples is critical.

    Commenters requested that HUD require more than one goal and require robust and specific goals. Commenters stated that it is highly unlikely that a local government that sets just one goal would be doing enough to meaningfully address particularly complex issues like exclusionary zoning.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the suggestions made by commenters and has made changes to the Final Assessment Tool based on these suggestions. HUD has included “timeframe for achievement” as part of the metrics and milestones column of the goal-setting chart, and has added an additional column for “responsible program participants.” HUD recognizes that events may occur that make the metrics and milestones unachievable in the timeframe for achievement set by program participants; nonetheless, program participants must still take meaningful actions that address goals to affirmatively further fair housing. With respect to requiring program participants to establish more than one goal, this issue was addressed in the AFFH final rule, and HUD stated that it believes it would be a rare situation in which a program participant has only one goal but that HUD does not disregard the possibility that a program participant may identify a single contributing factor and have only one goal for addressing that contributing factor, or that a program participant that has more than one contributing factor may have the same goal for addressing each of those contributing factors. HUD further stated that it is interested in the substance of the goals and how a program participant's goal or goals would address contributing factors and related fair housing issues.

    By providing data and a framework for analysis, however, the AFH is intended to assist program participants in prioritization of fair housing contributing factors that inform policies and how best to allocate resources to meet identified local needs and comply with their duty to affirmatively further fair housing.

    “A basic tenet of planning and performance management is recognition of “external factors” and other barriers to achieving goals, and which are beyond an organization to control (See, e.g., the Federal Government Performance and Results Act). This rule allows grantees to identify such barriers. Included in such considerations is the identification of funding dependencies and contingencies.” The purpose of the AFH process is to set goals that will lead to meaningful actions that affirmatively further fair housing.

    With respect to providing examples of goals, HUD included such examples in the Guidebook.

    Issue: Vulnerability of program participants to litigation. Commenters stated that once a program participant has set goals, the program participant may be left vulnerable to litigation based on its ability to meet its goals. Other commenters stated that without concrete guidance and safe harbors, the Assessment Tool does not remedy the uncertainty about the legal liability of program participants.

    HUD Response: HUD emphasizes once again that the AFH process is a planning process, and the goals are objectives the program participant will strive to achieve. HUD recognizes that events may occur that may make the goals unachievable or unachievable within the timeframe initially established by the program participant. In the preamble to the final rule, since program participants are required to affirmatively further fair housing, HUD encouraged program participants to set goals that they believed they will be able to achieve.

    Issue: The Assessment Tool should include detailed guidance. Commenters stated that by including detailed guidance in the Assessment Tool, HUD will minimize the need for program participants to toggle between the final rule, subsequent guidance, and the Assessment Tool. Other commenters stated that HUD should provide additional guidance on the analysis of the fair housing issues and the formulation of goals, either through more comprehensive instructions or through a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) document. Other commenters stated that clear definitions of terms, such as national origin, color, family status, are important for helping to reduce burden. Commenters stated that Appendix C is very helpful, but requested that HUD provide additional guidance on contributing factors, along with examples where possible, as more elaboration on certain factors such as land use and zoning would be helpful. Commenters further requested that HUD provide clarification on several areas, such as admissions and occupancy policies and procedures, including preferences in publicly supported housing; community opposition; deteriorated and abandoned properties; lack of affordable in-home or community-based supportive services; lack of affordable, integrated housing for individuals who need supportive services; lack of State or local fair housing laws; land use and zoning laws; and location and type of affordable housing.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the comments provided, and to the Guidebook complements the Assessment Tool. However, HUD has concluded that guidance is not appropriate for inclusion in the Final Assessment Tool itself or the instructions for completing the template. Official HUD guidance on AFFH and the Assessment Tool, such as the Guidebook, will be posted on the HUD Exchange Web site at https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/.

    Issue: Instructions need to be worded more clearly. Commenters stated that the instructions could be clearer by providing examples and more explanatory language. Commenters stated that while HUD did a good job of explaining the indices, the instructions could be clearer by providing more guidance on how to interpret them. Other commenters stated that the instructions related to disability and access “residency preferences” are ambiguous, stating that the instruction could either be referring to preferences that give priority for assistance to households that reside within a given jurisdiction or preferences that give priority to persons with disabilities. The commenters stated that the first type of preference raises serious fair housing concerns and often perpetuates residential racial segregation, while the second type may be a necessary component of a strategy to overcome the historical legacy of discrimination against persons with disabilities and to promote meaningful community integration.

    Commenters stated that the descriptions of how to interpret the indices and dot density maps are helpful, and other commenters commended HUD for including a definition of “siting selection.” However, they stated while the term is correctly assigned to new developments, the definition conflates the issue of siting with respect to existing developments and this could lead to confusion. Commenters added that LIHTC is not a siting mechanism, but instead the primary financing tool for both rehabilitation and new construction of affordable housing. Other commenters stated that the outline for the template and instructions are not consistent and make it difficult to refer back and forth between the documents. To be more helpful, commenters suggested that the instructions should specifically note where local data and local knowledge may be relevant and provide examples of the types of local data and local knowledge that may be helpful. Other commenter stated that the instructions should emphasize the fact that program participants are required to supplement their responses for all questions when local data and local knowledge are available, even though HUD data is provided.

    HUD Response: As the Compare Assessment Tool reflects, HUD made considerable changes to the instructions to provide the clarity program participants requested, and to eliminate any contradictions identified by HUD.

    Issue: Guidance is needed for assessing fair housing issues for persons living in institutional settings. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool should identify examples of policies that encourage or discourage individuals with disabilities living in integrated settings. Commenters state that the revised Assessment Tool is a step backward with respect to this analysis and that without this type of guidance, program participants will not be able to undertake fair housing planning and will be unable to adequately assess and address the fair housing needs of persons with disabilities who are institutionalized.

    HUD Response: HUD appreciates the comments and the need for guidance to identify strategies to address fair housing issues for individuals with disabilities, including individuals with disabilities living in institutional settings. HUD is evaluating the need for guidance in a variety of areas, including the disability context, and has provided some examples in the Guidebook. In the Final Assessment Tool, the contributing factor of “lack of assistance for transitioning from institutional settings to integrated housing” addresses the policy concerns raised by commenters. In addition, HUD directs program participants to the “Statement of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the Role of Housing in Accomplishing the Goals of Olmstead,” located at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=OlmsteadGuidnc060413.pdf.

    Issue: Clearly specify minimum requirements for acceptance of an AFH and HUD review of AFHs. Commenters stated that the Assessment Tool lacks clarity about the minimal expectations for program participants' AFHs to be accepted by HUD. Commenters recommended these requirements and explicit evaluation criteria be included in the Assessment Tool. Another commenter stated that HUD has not publicized a description of the standards it will use to accept or non-accept AFHs. Commenters requested that the standards for monitoring compliance be made public. Other commenters recommended that the “Comments” section on the cover page include a specific checklist of key compliance items.

    Commenters asked how HUD staff will review the AFH, including the contributing factors, and what metrics HUD staff will use to ensure clear and consistent review. Another commenter stated that metrics are needed to help HUD staff in reviewing a submitted AFH, and that similarly, metrics and benchmarks for contributing factors should be provided to help program participants and HUD staff to evaluate them. Other commenters requested that HUD identify the HUD reviewers of the AFH expressing concern that review may be conducted by an employee who does not have direct knowledge of the core functions of the program participant. Another commenter stated that the underlying principal behind the AFH must be to establish a causal connection between the policy or practice and the disparate impact. The commenter stated that Justice Kennedy has said that, “it may be difficult to establish causation because of the multiple factors” that go into a particular decision. Commenter suggested that this is the standard HUD should apply to the analysis in the AFH.

    HUD Response: The AFFH final rule, in § 5.162, “Review of AFH,” sets forth standards under which HUD will review an AFH. Section 5.162(a) provides that HUD's review of an AFH is to determine whether the program participant has met the requirements for providing its analysis, assessment, and goal setting, as set forth in § 5.154(d). Section 5.154(d) of the AFFH regulations specifies the minimum required content of the AFH, which is a summary of fair housing issues and capacity, analysis of data, assessment of fair housing issues, identification of fair housing priorities and goals, strategies and actions planned to be taken by the program participant, and a summary of the community participation process. For each AFH submitted after the first AFH submission, the AFFH regulations provide that the program participant must provide a summary or progress achieved in meeting the goals and associated metrics and milestones of the prior submitted AFH, and must identify any barriers that impeded or prevented achievement of the program participant's goals.

    In § 5.162(b) HUD provides the bases for HUD's non-acceptance of an AFH. This section provides that HUD will not accept an AFH if HUD finds that the AFH or a portion of the AFH is inconsistent with fair housing or civil rights requirements or is substantially incomplete. In § 5.162(b)(i) and (ii), HUD provides, respectively, examples of an AFH that is inconsistent with fair housing and civil rights requirements, and an AFH that is substantially incomplete. For a regional or joint AFH, § 5.162(b) provides that a determination by HUD to not accept the AFH with respect to one program participant does not necessarily affect the acceptance of the AFH with respect to another program participant.

    Through these regulatory provisions, HUD sets out the standard for review of AFHs. HUD is further committed to providing technical assistance and examples that will help guide program participants as to what it means to have an AFH that is substantially incomplete or one that is inconsistent with fair housing or civil rights laws. HUD can, and will, provide a checklist to help program participants ensure they have responded to all required elements of the Assessment Tool.

    Issue: The certification statement for the Assessment Tool is too broad. A commenter stated that it is unreasonable to require broad certification of AFFH compliance without providing program participants with the standards HUD will use to assess that compliance. Another commenter suggested that HUD revise the certification language to read, “All information provided by the signatory entity in this assessment is true, complete, and accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief as of the date of this submission.” The commenter stated that this will better facilitate submissions for program participants that will submit a single AFH on behalf of multiple agencies.

    HUD Response: Several changes were made to both the certification language itself to align it with the certification provisions in the AFFH final rule and clarifying language was also added to the instructions accompanying the Assessment Tool that pertain to the certification. First, a new item was added to the certification, reflecting the AFFH final rule:

    By this signature, I am authorized to certify on behalf of the program participant that the program participant will take meaningful actions to further the goals identified in its AFH conducted in accordance with the requirements in §§ 5.150 through 5.180 and 24 CFR 91.225(a)(1), 91.325(a)(1), 91.425(a)(1), 570.487(b)(1), 570.601, 903.7(o), and 903.15(d), as applicable.

    Second, an instruction was added for the certification that states: “Please note, for a joint or regional AFH, each collaborating program participant must authorize a representative to sign the certification on the program participant's behalf. In a joint or regional AFH, when responding to each question, collaborating program participants may provide joint analyses and individual analyses. The authorized representative of each program participant certifies only to information the program participant provides individually or jointly in response to each question in the assessment. The authorized representative does not certify for information applicable only to other collaborating program participants' analyses, if any.” HUD believes this additional instruction will provide greater clarity and further encourage joint and regional AFH submissions.

    As the AFFH final rule itself makes clear, joint and regional submitting agencies are both responsible for the joint portions of the Assessment, including joint goals, and for their own individual portions of the assessment, including their agencies individual goals and priorities. They are therefore not responsible for other agencies' individual goals and priorities. As stated in § 5.156 (a)(3) of the AFFH final rule:

    Collaborating program participants must designate, through express written consent, one participant as the lead entity to oversee the submission of the joint or regional AFH on behalf of all collaborating program participants. When collaborating to submit a joint or regional AFH, program participants may divide work as they choose, but all program participants are accountable for the analysis and any joint goals and priorities, and each collaborating program participant must sign the AFH submitted to HUD. Collaborating program participants are also accountable for their individual analysis, goals, and priorities to be included in the collaborative AFH.

    HUD encourages program participants to enter into joint and regional collaborations. Doing so can have benefits for both the analysis of issues, which often cross-jurisdictional boundaries and for setting goals. HUD will work with all joint and regional participating entities to facilitate their cooperation and further clarify the roles and responsibilities of these agencies through additional technical assistance and guidance documents.

    III. Summary

    In issuing this Final Assessment Tool, HUD has strived to reach the appropriate balance in having program participants produce a meaningful assessment of fair housing that carefully considers barriers to fair housing choice and accessing opportunity and how such barriers can be overcome in respective jurisdictions and regions without being unduly burdensome. HUD has further committed to addressing program participant burden by providing data, guidance, and technical assistance, and such assistance will occur throughout the AFH process.

    Dated: December 22, 2015. Gustavo Velasquez, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32680 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210-67-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service [NPS-NER-FIIS-18941; PXXNR5E2150001] Notice of Availability of the Final White-Tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement, Fire Island National Seashore, New York AGENCY:

    National Park Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Park Service (NPS) announces the availability of the Final White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Final Plan/EIS) for Fire Island National Seashore, New York. The Final Plan/EIS identifies Alternative D as the NPS preferred alternative. When approved, the management plan will guide management of white-tailed deer at Fire Island National Seashore through the use of integrated tools and strategies to control the deer population and support preservation of the natural and cultural landscape, protection and restoration of native vegetation and other natural and cultural resources.

    DATES:

    The NPS will prepare a Record of Decision (ROD) no sooner than 30 days following publication by the Environmental Protection Agency of a Notice of Availability of the Final Plan/EIS in the Federal Register.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Final Plan/EIS is available electronically at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/fiis. A limited number of printed copies will be available upon request by contacting the Superintendent's office.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Morgan Elmer, NPS Denver Service Center, 303-969-2317, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Fire Island National Seashore (the Seashore), a unit of the National Park System, is located along the south shore of Long Island in Suffolk County, New York. The Seashore encompasses 19,579 acres of upland, tidal, and submerged lands along a 26-mile stretch of the 32-mile barrier island—part of a much larger system of barrier islands and bluffs stretching from New York City to the very eastern end of Long Island at Montauk Point. The Seashore sustains a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population that has expanded since the late 1960s to the extent that impacts from high densities of deer have been, and continue to be, a complex issue for National Park Service (NPS) managers. As a result, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Seashore prepared a Draft White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Plan/EIS) to develop a deer management strategy that supports preservation of the natural and cultural landscape through population management and the protection of native vegetation. The Draft Plan/EIS was prepared in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS-DEC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS).

    The NPS released the Draft Plan/EIS for public and agency review and comment beginning July 31, 2014 and ending October 10, 2014. The Draft Plan/EIS evaluated a no action alternative (A) and three action alternatives (B, C, and D). Each action alternative presented a different strategy to protect native plant communities and cultural plantings, promote forest regeneration, further reduce undesirable human-deer interactions, and reduce the deer population in the Seashore.

    Alternative A would continue existing deer management and monitoring efforts throughout the Seashore. These actions include continued public education/interpretation efforts, vegetation monitoring, and deer population and behavior surveys.

    Alternative B provides a nonlethal deer reduction option to implement nonsurgical reproductive control of does when an acceptable reproductive control agent is available that meets NPS established criteria. Large fence exclosures would also protect forested areas and vegetation to allow restoration of the maritime holly forest, other natural vegetation and the culturally important vegetation at the William Floyd Estate.

    Alternative C provides a lethal deer reduction option through the use of sharpshooting with firearms, and possible capture and euthanasia to reduce deer populations to the target density and maintain that level.

    Alternative D, identified as the NPS preferred alternative, provides a combined lethal and nonlethal deer reduction option through the use of sharpshooting with firearms, and possible capture and euthanasia to reduce deer populations to a desirable level. Once the target density has been reached, use of nonsurgical reproductive control of does may be used to maintain that level when an acceptable reproductive control agent is available that meets NPS established criteria.

    Comments were accepted on the Draft Plan/EIS during the 60-day public comment period. After reviewing and considering all comments received, the NPS has prepared this Final White-tailed Deer Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Final Plan/EIS). The Final Plan/EIS identifies Alternative D as the NPS preferred alternative with no changes from the Draft Plan/EIS and presents the likely environmental consequences of implementing the preferred alternative, as well as the other alternatives considered. The Final Plan/EIS also discusses the comments received on the Draft Plan/EIS and responds to substantive comments.

    Dated: August 5, 2015. Michael A. Caldwell, Regional Director, Northeast Region, National Park Service.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32970 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-WV-P
    JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES Hearings of the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure AGENCY:

    Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Judicial Conference of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Notice of cancellation of public hearing.

    SUMMARY:

    The following public hearing on proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure has been canceled: Bankruptcy Rules Hearing on January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Announcements for this meeting were previously published in 80 FR 48120, 80 FR 50324 and 80 FR 51604. The public hearing on proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure scheduled for January 29, 2016, in Pasadena, California, remains scheduled, subject to sufficient expressions of interest.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Rules Committee Secretary, Rules Committee Support Office, Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Washington, DC 20544, telephone (202) 502-1820.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Rebecca A. Womeldorf, Rules Committee Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32923 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 2210-55-P
    DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decrees Under the Clean Water Act

    On December 23, 2015, the Department of Justice lodged two proposed consent decrees with the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in the lawsuit entitled United States v. The Municipality of San Juan, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Civil Action No. 3:14-cv-1476-CCC.

    One proposed consent decree resolves the United States' claims against the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (“DNER”) under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387, concerning CWA violations at three of its storm water pump stations located within San Juan. The proposed consent decree requires DNER to apply for a permit and implement a Storm Water Management Program, to undertake certain capital and operation improvements to its pump stations, and to provide financial support for investigations and work performed in the pump station service areas. The proposed consent decree resolves only the violations alleged against DNER in the Complaint through the date of lodging of the consent decree and does not resolve claims against the other Defendants. Due to financial challenges currently facing the Commonwealth, no civil penalties for past violations will be recovered under this consent decree.

    The second proposed consent decree resolves the United States' claims against the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works (“DTPW”) and the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (“HTA”) under the CWA, concerning CWA violations throughout their storm sewer systems located within San Juan. The proposed consent decree provides for injunctive relief to be implemented in a two-stage, multi-phased approach including the study and repair of their MS4s, in addition to other infrastructure and operational improvements. The proposed consent decree resolves only the violations alleged against DTPW and HTA in the Complaint through the date of lodging of the consent decree and does not resolve claims against the other Defendants. Due to financial challenges currently facing the Commonwealth, no civil penalties for past violations will be recovered under this consent decree.

    The publication of this notice opens a period for public comment on the proposed consent decrees. Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division and should refer to United States v. The Municipality of San Juan, D.J. Ref. No. 90-5-1-1-09551. All comments must be submitted no later than thirty (30) days after the publication date of this notice. Comments may be submitted either by email or by mail:

    To submit comments: Send them to: By email [email protected] By mail Assistant Attorney General, U.S. DOJ—ENRD, P.O. Box 7611, Washington, DC 20044-7611

    During the public comment period, the proposed consent decrees may be examined and downloaded at this Justice Department Web site: http://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees. We will provide a paper copy of the proposed consent decrees upon written request and payment of reproduction costs. Please mail your request and payment to: Consent Decree Library, U.S. DOJ—ENRD, P.O. Box 7611, Washington, DC 20044-7611.

    Please enclose a check or money order for $10.25 (25 cents per page reproduction cost) for a copy of the DTPW/HTA proposed consent decree and $9.25 for a copy of the DNER proposed consent decree (copies of the appendices attached to the consent decrees are not included in this amount) payable to the United States Treasury.

    Maureen Katz, Assistant Section Chief, Environmental Enforcement Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division. BILLING CODE 4410-15-P Appendix EN31DE15.010 EN31DE15.011 EN31DE15.012
    [FR Doc. 2015-32908 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-15-C
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS U.S. Copyright Office [Docket No. 2015-7] Section 512 Study: Notice and Request for Public Comment AGENCY:

    U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Notice of inquiry.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a public study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. 512. Among other issues, the Office will consider the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process on large- and small-scale copyright owners, online service providers, and the general public. The Office will also review how successfully section 512 addresses online infringement and protects against improper takedown notices. To aid in this effort, and to provide thorough assistance to Congress, the Office is seeking public input on a number of key questions.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on March 21, 2016. The Office will be announcing one or more public meetings to discuss issues related to this study, to take place after initial written comments are received, by separate notice in the future.

    ADDRESSES:

    All comments should be submitted electronically. Specific instructions for the submission of comments will be posted on the Copyright Office Web site at http://www.copyright.gov/policy/section512 on or before February 1, 2016. To meet accessibility standards, all comments must be provided in a single file not to exceed six megabytes (MB) in one of the following formats: Portable Document File (PDF) format containing searchable, accessible text (not an image); Microsoft Word; WordPerfect; Rich Text Format (RTF); or ASCII text file format (not a scanned document). The form and face of the comments must include the name of the submitter and any organization the submitter represents. The Office will post all comments publicly in the form that they are received. If electronic submission of comments is not feasible, please contact the Office using the contact information below for special instructions.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jacqueline C. Charlesworth, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights, by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 202-707-8350; or Karyn Temple Claggett, Director of the Office of Policy and International Affairs and Associate Register of Copyrights, by email at [email protected] or by telephone at 202-707-8350.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    Congress enacted section 512 in 1998 as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).1 At that time, less than 5% of the world's population used the internet,2 and bulletin board services were the popular online platforms.3 Even then, however, Congress recognized that “the [i]nternet . . . made it possible for information—including valuable American copyrighted works—to flow around the globe in a matter of hours,” and, as a consequence, copyright law needed to be “set . . . up to meet the promise and the challenge of the digital world.” 4

    1 Pub. L. 105-304, 112 Stat. 2860 (1998).

    2See Internet Users, Internet Live Stats (Dec. 1, 2015), http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/#trend (In 1998, there were only 188 million internet users; today, there are over 3.25 billion.).

    3See The History of Social Networking, Digital Trends (Aug. 5, 2014), http://www.digitaltrends.com/features/the-history-of-social-networking/ (providing a timeline for the development of social networks).

    4 144 Cong. Rec. S11,889 (daily ed. Oct. 8, 1998) (statement of Sen. Orrin Hatch).

    In enacting section 512, Congress created a system for copyright owners and online entities to address online infringement, including limitations on liability for compliant service providers to help foster the growth of internet-based services.5 The system reflected Congress' recognition that the same innovative advances in technology that would expand opportunities to reproduce and disseminate content could also facilitate exponential growth in copyright infringement. Accordingly, section 512 was intended by Congress to provide strong incentives for service providers and copyright owners to “cooperate to detect and deal with copyright infringements that take place in the digital networked environment,” as well as to offer “greater certainty to service providers concerning their legal exposure for infringements that may occur in the course of their activities.” 6

    5See H.R. Rep. No. 105-551, pt. 2, at 21 (1998) (noting that the DMCA, including section 512 of title 17, “balance[s] the interests of content owners, on-line and other service providers, and information users in a way that will foster the continued development of electronic commerce and the growth of the [i]nternet”).

    6Id. at 49-50.

    Congress was especially concerned about the liability of online service providers for infringing activities of third parties occurring on or through their services. To address this issue, Congress created a set of “safe harbors”—i.e., limitations on copyright infringement liability—“for certain common activities of service providers.” 7 But the safe harbors are not automatic. To qualify for protection from infringement liability, a service provider must fulfill certain requirements, generally consisting of implementing measures to expeditiously address online copyright infringement.

    7 S. Rep. No. 105-190, at 19 (1998).

    Recent research suggests that the volume of infringing material accessed via the internet more than doubled from 2010 to 2012, and that nearly one-quarter of all internet bandwidth in North America, Europe, and Asia is devoted to hosting, sharing, and acquiring infringing material.8 While Congress clearly understood that it would be essential to address online infringement as the internet continued to grow, it was likely difficult to anticipate the online world as we now know it—where, each day, users post hundreds of millions of photos, videos and other items, and service providers receive over a million notices of alleged infringement.

    8See David Price, Sizing the Piracy Universe 3 (2013), http://www.netnames.com/digital-piracy-sizing-piracy-universe (infringing bandwidth use increased by 159% between 2010 to 2012 in North America, Europe, and [the] Asia-Pacific, which account for more than 95% of global bandwidth use).

    As observed by the House Judiciary Committee's Ranking Member in the course of the Committee's ongoing multi-year review of the Copyright Act, and consistent with the testimony of the Register of Copyrights in that hearing, the operation of section 512 poses policy issues that warrant study and analysis.9 Section 512 has also been a focus of the U.S. Department of Commerce in recent years, which has noted ambiguities in the application of the safe harbor and encouraged service providers and rightsholders to discuss and pursue voluntary improvements.10

    9Register's Perspective on Copyright Review: Hearing Before the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 114th Cong. 6 (2015) (statement of Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights and Director, U.S. Copyright Office) (“We are . . . recommending appropriate study of section 512 of the DMCA . . . . [T]here are challenges now that warrant a granular review.”); id. at 49 (statement of Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, H. Comm. on the Judiciary) (“[T]here are policy issues that warrant studies and analysis, including section 512, section 1201, mass digitization, and moral rights. I would like the Copyright Office to conduct and complete reports on those policy issues . . . .”).

    10 U.S. Dep't of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force, Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy 54, 56 (Jul. 2013), http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/news/publications/copyrightgreenpaper.pdf (“Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy”); Dep't of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force, DMCA Multistakeholder Forum, DMCA Notice-and-Takedown Processes: List of Good, Bad, and Situational Practices 3 (2015), http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/DMCA_Good_Bad_and_Situational_Practices_Document-FINAL.pdf (“Dep't of Commerce Multistakeholder Forum Recommended Practices”).

    The present study will review the statutory requirements of section 512 and evaluate its current effectiveness and impact on those who rely upon it. The key aspects of section 512 that are the subject of this review, including notable legal and practical developments, are summarized below.

    A. Overview of Section 512 Safe Harbors

    Section 512 provides safe harbors from infringement liability for online service providers that are engaged in qualifying activities and that also meet certain eligibility requirements. There are four distinct safe harbors, detailed in sections 512(a), (b), (c), and (d), respectively. These safe harbors are available when a service provider engages in one or more of the following corresponding activities: (a) Serving as a conduit for the automatic online transmission of material as directed by third parties; (b) caching (i.e., temporarily storing) material that is being transmitted automatically over the internet from one third party to another; (c) storing (i.e., hosting) material at the direction of a user on a service provider's system or network; or (d) referring or linking users to online sites using information location tools (e.g., a search engine).

    A service provider that meets the relevant eligibility requirements for one or more of the safe harbors is not liable for monetary relief and is subject only to limited injunctive relief for infringing activities conducted on or through its system or network.11 In the case of a service provider that qualifies for a safe harbor under 512(b), (c), or (d), this injunctive relief is limited to: (1) Disabling access to infringing material; (2) terminating the infringer's account(s); and (3) providing such other relief as may be necessary to address infringement at a particular online location; provided, however, that the relief is “the least burdensome [form of relief] to the service provider.” 12 For a service provider that qualifies for the 512(a) safe harbor, the court may order only termination of an infringer's account(s) or blocking of access to a “specific, identified, online location outside the United States.” 13

    11 17 U.S.C. 512(a)-(d).

    12Id. at 512(j)(1)(A).

    13Id. at 512(j)(1)(B).

    In order to qualify for the limitation on liability provided under section 512(a), (b), (c), or (d), the service provider must comply with certain threshold requirements. Two of these requirements apply to all four safe harbors: (1) The adoption and reasonable implementation of a policy to terminate “repeat infringers”; 14 and (2) the accommodation of “standard technical measures” that identify or protect copyrighted works and have been developed according to broad consensus between copyright owners and service providers, to the extent any such measures exist.15 A service provider that acts as a mere conduit for online transmissions qualifies for the limitation on liability provided by section 512(a) if the provider satisfies these two threshold requirements.

    14 A service provider must adopt, “reasonably implement[ ],” and inform subscribers and account holders of a policy “that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of . . . repeat infringers.” Id. at 512(i)(1)(A).

    15Id. at 512(i)(1)(B), (i)(2).

    Service providers seeking protection under the safe harbors in section 512(b), (c), or (d), however, must, in addition, maintain a compliant notice-and-takedown process by responding expeditiously to remove or disable access to material claimed to be infringing upon receipt of proper notice from a copyright owner or the owner's authorized agent.16 A service provider seeking to avail itself of the section 512(c) safe harbor for user-posted content is further required to designate an agent to receive notifications of claimed infringement and provide contact information for the agent on its Web site and to the Copyright Office, which, in turn, is to maintain a public directory of such agents.17

    16Id. at 512(b)(2)(E), (c)(1)(C), (d)(3). The process for notification under the 512(c) and (d) safe harbors is set out in 512(c)(3); the process differs somewhat under the 512(b) safe harbor in that, in addition to following the requirements of 512(c)(3), the complaining party must also confirm that the content or link has been removed or disabled by the originating site or that a court has ordered that it be removed or disabled.

    17Id. at 512(c)(2). Although section 512(d) does not itself expressly require service providers to designate an agent to receive notifications of infringement, it incorporates the notice provisions of section 512(c)(3), which require that notices be sent to “the designated agent of the service provider.” The statutory scheme thus indicates that service providers operating under section 512(d) would also designate agents to receive takedown notices. See id. at 512(c)(3).

    The statute prescribes that a copyright owner's takedown notice must include “substantially the following”: (i) The signature of the copyright owner or an authorized agent (i.e., the complaining party); (ii) identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple works are on a single site, “a representative list of such works”; (iii) identification of the infringing material or activity (or the reference or link to such material) and “information reasonably sufficient” to permit the service provider to locate the material (or the reference or link); (iv) contact information for the complaining party; (v) a statement that the complaining party has “a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law”; and (vi) a statement that the information is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.18 A copyright owner's communication that does not substantially comply with these criteria will not serve as effective notice for purposes of the statutory process.19 Further, under section 512(f), as discussed more fully below, “[a]ny person who knowingly materially misrepresents . . . that material or activity is infringing” can be held liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys' fees, incurred by an alleged infringer who is injured by the misrepresentation.

    18Id. at 512(c)(3)(A)(i)-(vi).

    19See id. at 512(c)(3)(B)(i) (“[A] notification . . . that fails to comply substantially . . . shall not be considered . . . in determining whether a service provider has actual knowledge or is aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent.”); see also Perfect 10, Inc. v. CCBill LLC, 488 F.3d 1102, 1112-14 (9th Cir. 2007) (“CCBill LLC”) (“[A] service provider will not be deemed to have notice of infringement when `the notification . . . fails to comply substantially with all the provisions of [17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)].' ”).

    In addition to responding to takedown notices, service providers that seek protection under the section 512(c) and (d) safe harbors must also act expeditiously to remove or disable access to material when they have “actual knowledge” of infringement or, in the absence of such actual knowledge, when they have “aware[ness] of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent”—the “awareness” standard often referred to as “red flag” knowledge.20 But, while service providers are not free to ignore infringement of which they have actual or red flag knowledge, section 512 at the same time provides that an online entity has no duty to “monitor[ ] its service or affirmatively seek[ ] facts indicating infringing activity, except to the extent consistent with a standard technical measure.” 21

    20See 17 U.S.C. 512(c), (d).

    21Id. at 512(m)(1).

    Finally, to qualify for the section 512(c) and (d) safe harbors, a service provider must not “receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, in a case in which the service provider has the right and ability to control such activity.” 22 The statutory financial benefit/right to control test does not incorporate a knowledge element.23

    22Id. at 512(c)(1)(B), (d)(2).

    23See id. at 512(c)(1)(B), (d)(2).

    In addition to the general limitations on infringement liability, the statute provides specific protections for service providers that remove material in response to takedown notices, as well as for users who post material that is claimed to be infringing. Under section 512, a service provider is not liable for the good-faith removal or disabling of access to material “claimed to be infringing or based on facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent”—even material not ultimately found to be infringing—so long as the provider takes reasonable steps to promptly notify the user who posted the material that it has been removed and also complies, as applicable, with a statutory counter-notification process.24

    24Id. at 512(g)(1).

    Section 512(g) allows a user whose content has been removed in response to a takedown notice to submit a counter notification to a service provider's designated agent requesting that the content be reposted. The counter notification must include: (i) The signature of the subscriber (i.e., the counter-notifying party); (ii) identification of the material that was removed or to which access was disabled, as well as the location where it previously appeared; (iii) a statement under penalty of perjury that the subscriber has a “good faith belief” that the material “was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled”; and (iv) the subscriber's contact information, as well as a statement that the subscriber consents to the jurisdiction of the federal district court for the relevant judicial district and agrees to accept service of process from the party who provided the takedown notice (or that party's agent).25 To preserve its safe harbor immunity, the service provider must repost the content within 10 to 14 business days of receiving the counter notification unless the service provider first receives notice from the party who provided the takedown notice that a judicial action has been filed “seeking . . . to restrain the subscriber from engaging in infringing activity relating to the material on the service provider's system or network.” 26 As in the case of misrepresentations in takedown notices, under section 512(f), any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that “material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification” may be held liable for monetary damages, including costs and attorneys' fees.27

    25Id. at 512(g)(3).

    26Id. at 512(g)(2)(C).

    27Id. at 512(f).

    B. Key Developments

    Since the enactment of section 512, stakeholders have adopted practices and systems to implement it, and courts have been called upon to interpret its provisions—from eligibility for safe harbors to the requirements for valid takedown notices to the standards that govern misrepresentations in the notification process. Some stakeholders have created best practices, entered into voluntary agreements to streamline enforcement procedures, and/or pursued other non-judicial approaches. Notwithstanding these developments, many on both sides of the equation express significant frustration with the process. A brief overview of the most salient issues follows.

    Notice-and-Takedown Process

    Today, copyright owners send takedown notices requesting service providers to remove and disable access to hundreds of millions of instances of alleged infringement each year.28 The number of removal requests sent to service providers has increased dramatically since the enactment of section 512. For example, one search engine now “receive[s] removal requests for more URLs every week than [it] did . . . from 1998 to 2010 combined.” 29 Technology has come to play a significant role in the notice-and-takedown process, as automated processes that use fingerprinting, hash values, and keyword/metadata searches can identify movies, sound recordings, and other types of content that is being posted and disseminated.30 But regardless of increasing technological capabilities, stakeholders frequently voice concerns about the efficiency and efficacy—not to mention the overall sustainability—of the system.31

    28See Section 512 of Title 17: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Courts, Intellectual Prop., & the Internet of the H. Comm. on the Judiciary, 113th Cong. 3 (2014) (“Section 512 Hearing”) (written statement of Rep. Jerrold Nadler) (noting that in 2013, Google received notices requesting removal of approximately 230 million items); Joe Mullin, Google Handled 345 Million Copyright Takedowns in 2014, Ars Technica (Jan. 6, 2015), http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/01/google-handled-345-million-copyright-takedowns-in-2014.

    29 Google, How Google Fights Piracy 15 (2013), https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwxyRPFduTN2dVFqYml5UENUeUE/edit?pli=1#!.

    30See, e.g., TheFlo, White Paper: Audio Fingerprinting, Maximum PC (Apr. 3, 2009), http://www.maximumpc.com/white-paper-audio-fingerprinting/ (explaining the use of algorithms to create unique “audio fingerprints” to identify sound recordings); What is a Hash Value?, Pinpoint Labs (Dec. 10, 2010), http://pinpointlabs.com/2010/12/what-is-a-hash-value/ (explaining use of hash values for text, audio, and video); Dep't of Commerce Multistakeholder Forum Recommended Practices (discussing use of automated tools to identify infringing material).

    31See, e.g., Section 512 Hearing at 9 (written statement of Sean M. O'Connor, Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, University of Washington (Seattle)) (“[T]here are takedown notices now filed on millions of posts every month. That is clearly unsustainable.”); Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy 56 (“[R]ight holders and ISPs alike have identified respects in which [the notice-and-takedown system's] operation can become unwieldy or burdensome.”).

    Many smaller copyright owners, for example, lack access to third-party services and sophisticated tools to monitor for infringing uses, which can be costly, and must instead rely on manual search and notification processes 32 —an effort that has been likened to “trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.” 33 In addition to the burden of policing infringement across the internet, copyright owners complain that material they succeed in having taken down is often promptly reposted on the same site—the so-called “whack-a-mole” problem.34 Under section 512 as it has been interpreted, providers are not required to filter out or prevent the reposting of copyrighted content through the use of content identification technologies or other means.35

    32See Section 512 Hearing at 100 (statement of Rep. Doug Collins) (“[I]ndividual songwriters and the independent filmmakers . . . often have limited or no technical expertise or software at their disposal . . . .”); id. at 88-89 (2014) (written statement of Sandra Aistars, Copyright Alliance) (Independent authors and creators “lack the resources of corporate copyright owners” and instead issue “takedown notices themselves, taking time away from their creative pursuits.”).

    33 Trevor Little, Google and Microsoft Outline the Challenges Facing Online Intermediaries, World Trademark Rev. (Mar. 1, 2013), http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/blog/detail.aspx?g=DFF24612-D6F7-4ED2-BFDB-383724E93D57 (quoting symposium comments by a vice president at Fox Group Legal).

    34Section 512 Hearing at 35 (written statement of Paul Doda, Elsevier) (The “same books are repeatedly re-uploaded on the same sites hundreds of times after being taken down . . . .”); id. at 57 (written statement of Maria Schneider, musician) (“As fast as I take my music down, it reappears again on the same site—an endless whac-a-mole game.”).

    35 17 U.S.C. 512(m); see UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Shelter Capital Partners LLC, 718 F.3d 1006, 1024 (9th Cir. 2013) (rejecting plaintiffs' argument that service provider should have “taken the initiative to use search and indexing tools to locate and remove from its Web site any other content by the artists identified in . . . notices”); Capitol Records, LLC v. Vimeo, LLC, 972 F. Supp. 2d 500, 525 (S.D.N.Y. 2013) (“512(m) and attendant case law make clear that service providers are under no affirmative duty to seek out infringement . . . [and t]his remains the case even when a service provider has developed technology permitting it to do so.”).

    Accordingly, some have proposed that the notice-and-takedown procedure be revised to become a “notice-and-stay-down” procedure—that is, once a service provider receives an effective and uncontested takedown notice for a particular work, the provider should be required to make commercially reasonable efforts to keep that work from reappearing on its site.36 Others, however, pointing to the very substantial efforts—especially of larger service providers—to respond promptly to takedown notices, are of the view that the existing system has “scaled well” over time to address the large volume of takedown notices, and does not need to be changed.37

    36See Section 512 Hearing at 14-15, 39, 58 (written statements of Sean M. O'Connor, Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, University of Washington (Seattle); Paul Doda, Elsevier; and Maria Schneider, musician).

    37Id. at 16 (statement of Annemarie Birdy, University of Idaho College of Law) (“The notice and takedown regime in [s]ection 512(c) has scaled well for enforcing copyrights in the voluminous content hosted by online service providers.”).

    Of course, the burdens of the notice-and-takedown process do not fall on copyright owners alone. Service providers must devote the time and resources necessary to respond to the increasing number of takedown notices sent each day. Smaller providers, in particular, may find the task to be a daunting one.38 In addition, service providers complain that some notices do not meet the statutory requirements or, as discussed below, concern materials and activities that are not in fact infringing.

    38See U.S. Dep't of Commerce, Multistakeholder Forum: Improving the Operation of the DMCA Notice and Takedown Policy: Second Public Meeting, Tr. 63:03-05 (May 8, 2014), http://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/ip/global/copyrights/2nd_forum_transcript.pdf (Fred von Lohmann, Google) (“[W]hat large service providers are capable of doing is very different from what smaller service providers are doing.”); U.S. Dep't of Commerce, Multistakeholder Forum: Improving the Operation of the DMCA Notice and Takedown Policy: First Public Meeting, Tr. 34:16-38:06 (Mar. 20, 2014), http://www.uspto.gov/ip/global/copyrights/First_Public_Meeting-Improving_Operation_of_DMCA_Notice_and_Takedown_Policy.pdf (Ron Yokubaitis, Giganews) (describing burden of processing non-standardized notices for a “small company [of] fifty-something people”).

    Since the passage of the DMCA, courts have been called upon to address the elements required for an “effective”—i.e., valid—takedown notice. Looking to section 512's requirement to provide “information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material,” courts have generally required a high degree of specificity, such as the particular link, or uniform resource locator (“URL”), where the infringing material is found.39 Likewise, service providers often request that the specific URL for each allegedly infringing use be included in a notice.40 Such a requirement can be burdensome in the case of a notice that references a large number of infringements at multiple locations throughout the same site. Additionally, copyright owners question whether this level of specificity is in conflict with the statute's express language allowing complaining parties to submit a “representative list” of works alleged to be infringed “at a single online site.” 41

    39See, e.g., Wolk v. Kodak Imaging Network, Inc., 840 F. Supp. 2d 724, 747 (S.D.N.Y. 2012), aff'd sub nom., Wolk v. Photobucket.com, Inc., 569 F. App'x 51 (2d Cir. 2014) (noting that an example of sufficient information in a notice allowing a service provider to locate the infringing material “would be a copy or description of the allegedly infringing material and the so-called `uniform resource locator' (URL) (i.e., Web site address)”) (citing Viacom Int'l, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., 718 F. Supp. 2d 514, 521 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), vacated in part on other grounds, 676 F.3d 19 (2d Cir. 2012)).

    40See, e.g., Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Notice, Automattic, https://automattic.com/dmca-notice (last visited Dec. 17, 2015); DMCA Copyright Notifications, Tumblr, https://www.tumblr.com/dmca (last visited Dec. 17, 2015); Copyright Infringement Notification, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/copyright_complaint_form (last visited Dec. 17, 2015).

    41 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)(ii).

    In addition, there is debate about whether search engine services must disable access to (e.g., “de-list”) entire sites that copyright owners report as consisting largely of infringing material.42 While the legislative history of section 512(d) observes that “safe harbor status for a provider that views [a pirate] site and then establishes a link to it would not be appropriate,” 43 service providers assert that de-listing could lead to censorship, and yet still not effectively address infringement, because the site would remain online.44

    42Compare MPAA, Comments on Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Development of the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement 17 (Oct. 16, 2015), http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=OMB-2015-0003-0058 (“Search engines should delist sites based on court orders or other comparable judicial determinations of infringement . . . [meaning that] no results from a particular site would appear in any search results.”) with Google, Comments on Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Development of the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement 7-8 (Oct. 16, 2015), http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=OMB-2015-0003-0061 (“Google, IPEC Comments”) (“[W]hole-site removal is ineffective and can easily result in censorship of lawful material . . . [and] would jeopardize free speech principles, emerging services, and the free flow of information online globally and in contexts far removed from copyright.”).

    43 S. Rep. No. 105-190, at 48 (1998).

    44 Google, IPEC Comments, at 7-8.

    Knowledge Standards

    A good deal of litigation relating to section 512 to date has focused on the legal standards for determining when a service provider has sufficient knowledge or awareness to require it to remove or disable infringing material in order to remain eligible for the safe harbor protections of section 512(c) or (d). Courts have held “actual knowledge” to require evidence that the service provider subjectively knew that specific material on its site infringed copyright.45 Alternatively, actual knowledge can be demonstrated with evidence that a service provider received information about specific infringing material through a statutorily effective takedown notice, i.e., a notice that includes “substantially” all of the information required under section 512(c)(3).46

    45See, e.g., UMG Recordings, 718 F.3d at 1025 (quoting Viacom Int'l, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., 676 F.3d 19, 31 (2d Cir. 2012) (“Viacom”)).

    46See UMG Recordings, 718 F.3d at 1020 (“[T]he DMCA notice protocol . . . [is] the most powerful evidence of a service provider's knowledge.”) (internal quotations omitted); cf. 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(B)(i) (stating that a notice “that fails to comply substantially” with the 512(c) notice requirements “shall not be considered . . . in determining whether a service provider has actual knowledge.”).

    Courts have also recognized the common law doctrine of willful blindness in addressing whether a service provider has actual knowledge of infringement.47 A service provider is considered to have engaged in willful blindness when it is “aware of a high probability” of infringement and has “consciously avoided confirming that fact.” 48 Accordingly, courts have held that a service provider's willful blindness to infringement on its site and failure to remove or disable access to infringing material can disqualify it from the protections of a section 512 safe harbor.49

    47See, e.g., Viacom, 676 F.3d at 35 (“[W]illful blindness doctrine may be applied, in appropriate circumstances, to demonstrate knowledge or awareness of specific instances of infringement under the DMCA.”).

    48Id. at 35 (quoting United States v. Aina-Marshall, 336 F.3d 167, 170 (2d Cir. 2003)). For example, a service provider was found to have “blinded itself” where it encouraged users to encrypt files so that the service provider could not know the contents of particular files. In re Aimster Copyright Litig., 334 F.3d 643, 653 (7th Cir. 2003) (“In re Aimster”).

    49See, e.g., Viacom, 676 F.3d at 30, 35; see also In re Aimster, 334 F.3d at 653, 655.

    As also noted above, sections 512(c) and (d) require a service provider to disable access to material or activity if it has “red flag” knowledge, i.e., is aware of “facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent.” 50 In enacting the statute, Congress explained that “a service provider [has] no obligation to seek out copyright infringement, but it [does] not qualify for the safe harbor if it . . . turn[s] a blind eye to `red flags' of obvious infringement.” 51 The legislative history of section 512 also suggests Congress' view that the red flag test “has both a subjective and an objective element . . . the subjective awareness of the service provider of the facts or circumstances in question . . . [and the objective assessment of] whether infringing activity would have been apparent to a reasonable person operating under the same or similar circumstances.” 52 With regard to information location tools, for example, Congress observed that if “an [i]nternet site is obviously pirate, then seeing it may be all that is needed for the service provider to encounter a ‘red flag.’ ” 53

    50 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(1)(A)(ii), (d)(1)(B).

    51 H.R. Rep. No. 105-551, pt. 2, at 57 (1998).

    52Id. at 53; S. Rep No. 105-190, at 44 (1998); accord Viacom, 676 F.3d at 31.

    53 H.R. Rep. No. 105-551, pt. 2, at 58 (1998); see also Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc. v. Fung, 710 F.3d 1020, 1043 (9th Cir. 2013) (“Fung”) (finding that a service provider had red flag knowledge where “material in question was sufficiently current and well-known that it would have been objectively obvious to a reasonable person that the material . . . was both copyrighted and not licensed to random members of the public”).

    Copyright owners have argued that Congress' intent in creating the red flag test was to “require[ ] less specificity than the actual knowledge” standard and to prevent service providers from qualifying for safe harbor protection when they are aware of widespread infringement.54 Courts, however, have largely rejected the notion that a general awareness of infringement is sufficient to establish red flag knowledge.55 Instead, courts have held that red flag knowledge requires “knowledge of specific and identifiable infringements” because, in order to retain the protection of the safe harbor, the service provider is required to expeditiously “remove or disable ‘the [infringing] material.’ ” 56

    54See, e.g., Viacom, 676 F.3d at 31-32 (internal quotations omitted).

    55See, e.g., UMG Recordings, 718 F.3d at 1022-23; Viacom, 676 F.3d at 32.

    56Viacom, 676 F.3d at 30-31 (emphasis omitted) (“[E]xpeditious removal is possible only if the service provider knows with particularity which items to remove.”).

    In assessing these knowledge requirements, courts have also looked to the language of section 512(m), which states that “[n]othing” in section 512 conditions the availability of safe harbor protection on “a service provider monitoring its service or affirmatively seeking facts indicating infringing activity, except to the extent consistent with a standard technical measure.” 57 Based on this language, courts have concluded that “the DMCA . . . place[s] the burden of policing copyright infringement . . . squarely on the owners of the copyright.” 58

    57 17 U.S.C. 512(m).

    58UMG Recordings, 718 F.3d at 1022 (quoting CCBill LLC, 488 F.3d at 1113).

    Financial Benefit/Right To Control

    Litigation regarding the Section 512(c) and (d) safe harbors has also addressed what it means for a service provider to receive a “financial benefit directly attributable” to infringing activity where it has the “right and ability to control” such activity.

    Like the traditional standard for vicarious liability under common law, the financial benefit/right to control test has been held not to turn on a service provider's knowledge of infringement.59 But courts have also indicated that “right and ability to control” in the context of section 512 means that the service provider “ ‘exert[s] substantial influence on the activities of users,’ ” i.e., “ `something more than' ” the basic ability to remove or block access to infringing materials.60 Such control may include, for example, taking an active role in the listing of infringing material on a Web site, assisting users in locating infringing files, or encouraging the uploading or downloading of particular copyrighted works.61 These courts have reasoned that because the takedown process itself requires the ability to remove or block access, Congress must have intended a greater degree of control than just this, or it would undermine the availability of the safe harbors.62

    59See Viacom, 676 F.3d at 36-38 (2d Cir. 2012) (“[17 U.S.C.] 512(c)(1)(B) does not include a specific knowledge requirement” because to “import[ ] a specific knowledge requirement into [17 U.S.C.] 512(c)(1)(B) renders the control provision duplicative of [17 U.S.C.] 512(c)(1)(A).”); H.R. Rep. No. 105-551, pt. 1, at 25-26 (1998) (“The financial benefit standard in subparagraph (B) is intended to codify and clarify the direct financial benefit element of vicarious liability. . . . The `right and ability to control' language in Subparagraph (B) codifies the second element of vicarious liability.”); 3 Melville Nimmer & David Nimmer, Nimmer on Copyright 12.04[A][2] (Matthew Bender rev. ed.) (“Notably lacking from the foregoing two elements [of vicarious liability] is knowledge.”).

    60UMG Recordings, 718 F.3d at 1029-31 (quoting Viacom, 676 F.3d at 38); Perfect 10, Inc. v. Cybernet Ventures, Inc., 213 F. Supp. 2d 1146, 1173, 1181-82 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (“Cybernet Ventures”).

    61Fung, 710 F.3d at 1043, 1046; see also Viacom, 676 F.3d at 38 & n.13 (“[C]ontrol may exist where the service provider is `actively involved in the listing, bidding, sale and delivery' of items.”) (quoting Hendrickson v. eBay, Inc., 165 F. Supp. 2d 1082, 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2001)); Cybernet Ventures, 213 F. Supp. 2d at 1173 (finding that service provider had control where it required user Web sites to comply with “detailed instructions regard[ing] issues of layout, appearance, and content”).

    62See, e.g., Viacom, 676 F.3d at 37.

    Sections 512(c) and (d) also exclude service providers from safe harbor protection when they “receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity.” 63 While the legislative history suggests that merely requiring a periodic payment for service does not constitute a direct financial benefit,64 courts have found such a benefit when the service provider charges a subscription fee to its users and the “infringing activity constitutes a draw for subscribers, not just an added benefit.” 65 Financial benefit has also been found when a service provider's “ability to attract advertisers” and the “amount of revenue” received from advertising are “tied directly to the infringing activity.” 66

    63 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(1)(B), (d)(2).

    64 H.R. Rep. No. 105-551, pt. 2, at 54 (1998) (noting that financial benefit is not established through a “one-time set-up fee [or] flat, periodic payments for service from a person engaging in infringing activities”).

    65CCBill LLC, 488 F.3d at 1117; Ellison v. Robertson, 357 F.3d 1072, 1079 (9th Cir. 2004)).

    66Fung, 710 F.3d at 1045-46.

    Repeat Infringers

    Under section 512(i), a service provider seeking to avail itself of any of the safe harbors is required to “adopt[ ] and reasonably implement[ ]” a policy to terminate “repeat infringers” in “appropriate circumstances.” 67 Congress, however, did not define these terms in the statute, so it has been left to courts to determine whether a service provider's repeat infringer policy is sufficient to qualify the provider for safe harbor protection. In interpreting this aspect of the statute, courts have held that a repeat infringer is a user “who repeatedly or blatantly infringe[s] copyright,” and that such a determination may be based upon information from valid takedown notices and does not require a court determination.68 Courts have further held that a reasonable policy, at a minimum, must provide a mechanism to identify and keep a record of users responsible for files referenced in takedown notices and, “under ‘appropriate circumstances,’ ” result in termination of “users who repeatedly or blatantly infringe copyright.” 69

    67 17 U.S.C. 512(i)(1)(A); BMG Rights Mgmt. (US) LLC v. Cox Commc'ns, Inc., No. 1:14-cv-1611, 2015 WL 7756130, at *14 (E.D. Va. Dec. 1, 2015) (“BMG Rights Mgmt.”) (denying 512(a) safe harbor protection to service provider because it did not reasonably implement a repeat infringer policy).

    68CCBill LLC, 488 F.3d at 1109; Disney Enters., Inc. v. Hotfile Corp., No. 11-20427-CIV, 2013 WL 6336286, at *20 (S.D. Fla. Sept. 20, 2013) (“Hotfile”); see also BMG Rights Mgmt., No. 1:14-cv-1611, 2015 WL 7756130, at *13.

    69CCBill LLC, 488 F.3d at 1109 (internal citation omitted); see also Hotfile, No. 11-20427-CIV, 2013 WL 6336286, at *21.

    Misuse of Takedown Process

    Service providers and advocacy groups have raised concerns about fraudulent and abusive section 512 notices that may restrain fair use, free speech, or otherwise misuse the notice-and-takedown process.70 Some of the concerns arise from takedown notices for content that appears to constitute an obvious fair use of a copyright work.71 Others relate to efforts to remove criticism or commentary—such as negative reviews—under the guise of copyright.72 While the posting party can invoke the counter-notification procedure of section 512(g) to have the material reinstated, some believe that posters may not be aware of this, or may be too intimidated to pursue a counter notification.73 A related concern is that the improper takedown of legitimate material, even if for a limited time, may harm important speech interests—for example, if a political advertisement is wrongly removed at a critical time in a campaign.74

    70See, e.g., Section 512 Hearing at 48, 63-67, 246-47 (written statements of Katherine Oyama, Google Inc.; Paul Sieminski, Automattic Inc.; and Library Copyright Alliance) (discussing misuse of takedown process).

    71See, e.g., id. at 65 (written statement of Paul Sieminski, Automattic Inc.) (noting concern for “companies who issue DMCA notices specifically against content that makes use of their copyrighted material as part of a criticism or negative review—which is classic fair use”).

    72See, e.g., Automattic Inc. v. Steiner, 82 F. Supp. 3d 1011, 1016 (N.D. Cal. 2015) (entering default judgment against the submitter of takedown notices for knowingly materially misrepresenting that a blog infringed its press release); Online Policy Grp. v. Diebold, Inc., 337 F. Supp. 2d 1195, 1204 (N.D. Cal. 2004) (finding voting machine manufacturer liable under section 512(f) for “knowingly materially misrepresent[ing]” that publication of email archive discussing technical problems with voting machines was infringing).

    73See, e.g., Brief for Org. for Transformative Works et al. as Amici Curiae Supporting Appellee and Cross-Appellant at 16, Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., 801 F.3d 1126 (9th Cir. 2015) (Nos. 13-16106, 13-16107) (noting that creators worry about sending a counter notice because they may have to provide their real names and addresses or become subject to a lawsuit they cannot afford).

    74See, e.g., Ctr. for Democracy & Tech., Campaign Takedown Troubles: How Meritless Copyright Claims Threaten Online Political Speech 1 (2010), https://cdt.org/files/pdfs/copyright_takedowns.pdf.

    As noted above, a takedown notice must include a statement that the complaining party has a “good faith belief” that the use is not authorized.75 Similarly, a counter notification must include a statement that the sender has a “good faith belief” that the material in question was removed as a result of “mistake or misidentification.” 76 Section 512(f) provides for a cause of action and damages if a sender “knowingly materially misrepresents” in a takedown notice that material is infringing, or, in a counter notification, was wrongfully removed.77

    75 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)(v).

    76Id. at 512(g)(3)(C).

    77Id. at 512(f).

    In a number of cases challenging the validity of takedown notices, courts have fleshed out the meaning and application of section 512(f). For example, courts have held that the “good faith belief” requirement of section 512(c)(3)(A)(v) “encompasses a subjective, rather than objective standard”; that is, the sender is not responsible for an “unknowing mistake,” even if the sender's assessment of infringement was objectively unreasonable.78 But it has also been held that before sending a takedown notice, the complaining party must “consider the existence of fair use” in forming the subjective good faith belief that the use is not authorized by the law.79 The need to consider fair use may present challenges in the context of automated takedown processes relied upon by copyright owners to address large-volume infringements, including how such processes might be calibrated to accommodate this requirement and the necessity, if any, for human review.80

    78Rossi v. Motion Picture Ass'n of Am. Inc., 391 F.3d 1000, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 2004); accord Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., 801 F.3d 1126, 1134 (9th Cir. 2015). The Rossi and Lenz courts reasoned that to hold otherwise would conflict with Congress' intent that a copyright owner only be penalized for “knowing” misrepresentations. Rossi, 391 F3d at 1004-05; accord Lenz, 801 F.3d at 1134.

    79Lenz, 801 F.3d at 1133.

    80See id. at 1135-36. In Lenz, the Ninth Circuit was “mindful of the pressing crush of voluminous infringing content that copyright holders face,” and noted, “without passing judgment, that the implementation of computer algorithms appears to be a valid and good faith middle ground for processing a plethora of content while still meeting the DMCA's requirements to somehow consider fair use.” Id. at 1135. The court further addressed how an algorithm might accommodate fair use, observing that it was “unaware of any [court] decision to date that actually addressed the need for human review.” Id.

    Voluntary Measures

    While interested parties continue to test and clarify aspects of section 512 in the courts, some stakeholders have chosen to work together to develop voluntary protocols and best practices to avoid litigation, improve online enforcement, and protect free speech and innovation. Several of these initiatives have been undertaken with the support of the U.S. government, including the Copyright Alert System, an effort supported by the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (“IPEC”),81 and the DMCA Notice-and-Takedown Processes: List of Good, Bad, and Situational Practices, stemming from the efforts of the Internet Policy Task Force,82 both of which seek to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of notice-and-takedown procedures, as well as the IPEC-led Payment Processor Best Practices, which seeks to cut off revenue to sites that promote infringement.83 Other multistakeholder initiatives include the Trustworthy Accountability Group certification process, aimed at curbing ad revenue supporting piracy Web sites,84 and the Principles for User Generated Content Services, which sets forth agreed principles for screening and addressing infringing content.85

    81See generally Ctr. For Copyright Info., The Copyright Alert System: Phase One and Beyond (May 28, 2014), http://www.copyrightinformation.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Phase-One-And_Beyond.pdf.

    82See generally Dep't of Commerce Multistakeholder Forum Recommended Practices (list of recommended practices developed by a diverse group of copyright owners, service providers, and public interest representatives).

    83See Intellectual Prop. Enforcement Coordinator, 2011 U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Annual Report on Intellectual Property Enforcement 46 (2012), https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/IPEC/ipec_annual_report_mar2012.pdf (describing a June 2011 agreement among American Express, Discover, MasterCard, PayPal, and Visa to abide by best practices to “stop sites distributing counterfeit and pirated goods from conducting financial transactions through payment processors”).

    84See Press Release, Trustworthy Accountability Group, Advertising Industry Launches Initiative to Protect Brands Against Piracy Web sites (Feb. 10, 2015), https://www.tagtoday.net/advertising-industry-launches-initiative-to-protect-brands-against-piracy-Web sites.

    85See Principles for User Generated Content Services, http://www.ugcprinciples.com (last visited Dec. 16, 2015).

    II. Subjects of Inquiry

    The Copyright Office seeks public input, including, where available, empirical data on the efficiency and effectiveness of section 512 for owners and users of copyrighted works and the overall sustainability of the system if, as appears likely, the volume of takedown notices continues to increase. The Office invites written comments in particular on the subjects below. A party choosing to respond to this Notice of Inquiry need not address every subject, but the Office requests that responding parties clearly identify and separately address each numbered subject for which a response is submitted.

    General Effectiveness of Safe Harbors

    1. Are the section 512 safe harbors working as Congress intended?

    2. Have courts properly construed the entities and activities covered by the section 512 safe harbors?

    3. How have section 512's limitations on liability for online service providers impacted the growth and development of online services?

    4. How have section 512's limitations on liability for online service providers impacted the protection and value of copyrighted works, including licensing markets for such works?

    5. Do the section 512 safe harbors strike the correct balance between copyright owners and online service providers?

    Notice-and-Takedown Process

    6. How effective is section 512's notice-and-takedown process for addressing online infringement?

    7. How efficient or burdensome is section 512's notice-and-takedown process for addressing online infringement? Is it a workable solution over the long run?

    8. In what ways does the process work differently for individuals, small-scale entities, and/or large-scale entities that are sending and/or receiving takedown notices?

    9. Please address the role of both “human” and automated notice-and-takedown processes under section 512, including their respective feasibility, benefits, and limitations.

    10. Does the notice-and-takedown process sufficiently address the reappearance of infringing material previously removed by a service provider in response to a notice? If not, what should be done to address this concern?

    11. Are there technologies or processes that would improve the efficiency and/or effectiveness of the notice-and-takedown process?

    12. Does the notice-and-takedown process sufficiently protect against fraudulent, abusive or unfounded notices? If not, what should be done to address this concern?

    13. Has section 512(d), which addresses “information location tools,” been a useful mechanism to address infringement that occurs as a result of a service provider's referring or linking to infringing content? If not, what should be done to address this concern?

    14. Have courts properly interpreted the meaning of “representative list” under section 512(c)(3)(A)(ii)? If not, what should be done to address this concern?

    15. Please describe, and assess the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of, voluntary measures and best practices—including financial measures, content “filtering” and takedown procedures—that have been undertaken by interested parties to supplement or improve the efficacy of section 512's notice-and-takedown process.

    Counter Notifications

    16. How effective is the counter-notification process for addressing false and mistaken assertions of infringement?

    17. How efficient or burdensome is the counter-notification process for users and service providers? Is it a workable solution over the long run?

    18. In what ways does the process work differently for individuals, small-scale entities, and/or large-scale entities that are sending and/or receiving counter notifications?

    Legal Standards

    19. Assess courts' interpretations of the “actual” and “red flag” knowledge standards under the section 512 safe harbors, including the role of “willful blindness” and section 512(m)(1) (limiting the duty of a service provider to monitor for infringing activity) in such analyses. How are judicial interpretations impacting the effectiveness of section 512?

    20. Assess courts' interpretations of the “financial benefit” and “right and ability to control” standards under the section 512 safe harbors. How are judicial interpretations impacting the effectiveness of section 512?

    21. Describe any other judicial interpretations of section 512 that impact its effectiveness, and why.

    Repeat Infringers

    22. Describe and address the effectiveness of repeat infringer policies as referenced in section 512(i)(A).

    23. Is there sufficient clarity in the law as to what constitutes a repeat infringer policy for purposes of section 512's safe harbors? If not, what should be done to address this concern?

    Standard Technical Measures

    24. Does section 512(i) concerning service providers' accommodation of “standard technical measures” (including the definition of such measures set forth in section 512(i)(2)) encourage or discourage the use of technologies to address online infringement?

    25. Are there any existing or emerging “standard technical measures” that could or should apply to obtain the benefits of section 512's safe harbors?

    Remedies

    26. Is section 512(g)(2)(C), which requires a copyright owner to bring a federal lawsuit within ten business days to keep allegedly infringing content offline—and a counter-notifying party to defend any such lawsuit—a reasonable and effective provision? If not, how might it be improved?

    27. Is the limited injunctive relief available under section 512(j) a sufficient and effective remedy to address the posting of infringing material?

    28. Are the remedies for misrepresentation set forth in section 512(f) sufficient to deter and address fraudulent or abusive notices and counter notifications?

    Other Issues

    29. Please provide any statistical or economic reports or studies that demonstrate the effectiveness, ineffectiveness, and/or impact of section 512's safe harbors.

    30. Please identify and describe any pertinent issues not referenced above that the Copyright Office should consider in conducting its study.

    Dated: December 28, 2015. Maria A. Pallante, Register of Copyrights, U.S. Copyright Office.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32973 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-30-P
    MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION [MCC FR 15-06] Report on the Selection of Eligible Countries for Fiscal Year 2016 AGENCY:

    Millennium Challenge Corporation.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This report is provided in accordance with section 608(d)(1) of the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003, Pub. L. 108-199, Division D, (the “Act”), 22 U.S.C. 7708(d)(1).

    Dated: December 18, 2015. Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong, Vice President and General Counsel, Millennium Challenge Corporation. Report on the Selection of Eligible Countries for Fiscal Year 2016 Summary

    This report is provided in accordance with section 608(d)(1) of the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003, as amended, Public Law 108-199, Division D, (the “Act”) (22 U.S.C. 7707(d)(1)).

    The Act authorizes the provision of Millennium Challenge Account (“MCA”) assistance under section 605 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7704) to countries that enter into compacts with the United States to support policies and programs that advance the progress of such countries in achieving lasting economic growth and poverty reduction, and are in furtherance of the Act. The Act requires the Millennium Challenge Corporation (“MCC”) to determine the countries that will be eligible to receive MCA assistance for the fiscal year, based on their demonstrated commitment to just and democratic governance, economic freedom, and investing in their people, as well as on the opportunity to reduce poverty and generate economic growth in the country. The Act also requires the submission of reports to appropriate congressional committees and the publication of notices in the Federal Register that identify, among other things:

    1. The countries that are “candidate countries” for assistance for fiscal year (“FY”) 2016 based on their per-capita income levels and their eligibility to receive assistance under U.S. law, and countries that would be candidate countries but for specified legal prohibitions on assistance (section 608(a) of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7707(a)));

    2. The criteria and methodology that the Board of Directors of MCC (the “Board”) will use to measure and evaluate the policy performance of the “candidate countries” consistent with the requirements of section 607 of the Act in order to select “eligible countries” from among the “candidate countries” (section 608(b) of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7707(b))); and

    3. The list of countries determined by the Board to be “eligible countries” for FY 2016, with justification for eligibility determination and selection for compact negotiation, including with which of the eligible countries the Board will seek to enter into compacts (section 608(d) of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7707(d))).

    This is the third of the above-described reports by MCC for FY 2016. It identifies countries determined by the Board to be eligible under section 607 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7706) for FY 2016 and countries with which the MCC will seek to enter into compacts under section 609 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7708), as well as the justification for such decisions. The report also identifies countries determined by the Board to be eligible for MCC's Threshold Program under section 616 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7715).

    Eligible Countries

    The Board met on December 16, 2015, to select countries that will be eligible for assistance under section 607 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7706) for FY 2016. The Board selected the following countries as eligible for such assistance for FY 2016: Cote d'Ivoire, Kosovo, and Senegal. The Board also reselected the following countries as eligible for FY 2016 compact assistance: Niger, Nepal, and the Philippines. The Board did not vote on the re-selection of Tanzania and Lesotho. The Board also reaffirmed its support for Mongolia's continued effort to develop its compact proposal that will access funds appropriated to MCC when Mongolia was a candidate country.

    Criteria

    In accordance with the Act and with the “Report on the Criteria and Methodology for Determining the Eligibility of Candidate Countries for Millennium Challenge Account Assistance in Fiscal Year 2016” formally submitted to Congress on September 22, 2015, selection was based primarily on a country's overall performance in three broad policy categories: Ruling Justly, Encouraging Economic Freedom, and Investing in People. The Board relied, to the maximum extent possible, upon transparent and independent indicators to assess countries' policy performance and demonstrated commitment in these three broad policy areas. The Board compared countries' performance on the indicators relative to their income-level peers, evaluating them in comparison to either the group of low income countries (“LIC”) or the group of lower middle income countries (“LMIC”).

    The criteria and methodology used to assess countries on the annual scorecards are outlined in the “Report on the Criteria and Methodology for Determining the Eligibility of Candidate Countries for Millennium Challenge Account Assistance in Fiscal Year 2016.” 1 Scorecards reflecting each country's performance on the indicators are available on MCC's Web site at www.mcc.gov/scorecards.

    1 Available at https://www.mcc.gov/resources/doc/report-selection-criteria-and-methodology-fy16.

    The Board also considered whether any adjustments should be made for data gaps, data lags, or recent events since the indicators were published, as well as strengths or weaknesses in particular indicators. Where appropriate, the Board took into account additional quantitative and qualitative information, such as evidence of a country's commitment to fighting corruption, investments in human development outcomes, or poverty rates. For example, for additional information in the area of corruption, the Board considered how a country is evaluated by supplemental sources like Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, the Global Integrity Report, Open Government Partnership status, and the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, among others, as well as on the defined indicator. The Board may also take into account the margin of error around an indicator, when applicable. In keeping with legislative directives, the Board also considered the opportunity to reduce poverty and promote economic growth in a country, in light of the overall information available, as well as the availability of appropriated funds.

    This was the sixth year the Board considered the eligibility of countries for subsequent compacts, as permitted under section 609(k) of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7708(k)). The Board also considered the eligibility of countries for initial compacts. The Board sees the selection decision as an annual opportunity to determine where MCC funds can be most effectively invested to support poverty reduction through economic growth in relatively well-governed, poor countries. The Board carefully considers the appropriate nature of each country partnership—on a case by case basis—based on factors related to economic growth and poverty reduction, the sustainability of MCC's investments, and the country's ability to attract and leverage public and private resources in support of development.

    MCC's engagement with partner countries is not open-ended, and the Board is very deliberate when determining eligibility for follow-on partnerships. In determining subsequent compact eligibility, the Board considered—in addition to the criteria outlined above—the country's performance implementing its first compact, including the nature of the country's partnership with MCC, the degree to which the country has demonstrated a commitment and capacity to achieve program results, and the degree to which the country has implemented the compact in accordance with MCC's core policies and standards. To the greatest extent possible, this was assessed using pre-existing monitoring and evaluation targets and regular quarterly reporting. This information was supplemented with direct surveys and consultation with MCC staff responsible for compact implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. MCC published a Guide to the Supplemental Information Sheet 2 and a Guide to the Compact Survey Summary 3 in order to increase transparency about the type of supplemental information the Board uses to assess a country's policy performance and compact implementation performance. The Board also considered a country's commitment to further sector reform, as well as evidence of improved scorecard policy performance.

    2 Available at https://www.mcc.gov/resources/doc/guide-to-supplemental-information-fy16.

    3 Available at https://www.mcc.gov/resources/doc/guide-to-the-compact-survey-summary-fy15.

    As with previous years, a number of countries that performed well on the quantitative elements of the selection criteria (i.e., on the policy indicators) were not chosen as eligible countries for FY 2016. FY 2016 was a particularly competitive year: Several countries were already working to develop compacts, multiple countries passed the scorecard (some for the first time), and funding was limited due to budget constraints. As a result, only three countries that passed the scorecard were newly selected for MCC compact eligibility, and two others for the threshold program.

    Countries Newly Selected for Compact Eligibility

    Using the criteria described above, Cote d'Ivoire, Kosovo, and Senegal are the only candidate countries under section 606(a) of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7705(a)) that were newly selected as eligible for assistance under section 607 of the Act (22 U.S.C. 7706).

    Cote d'Ivoire: After years of working with MCC and MCC indicator institutions in order to strengthen their scorecard performance, Cote D'Ivoire went from passing 5 to 13 indicators over the last four years, due to updating data and pursuing policy reforms linked to the scorecard. In FY 2015, Cote D'Ivoire met the minimum scorecard criteria for the first time, passing 10 indicators, including both hard hurdles. Given the continued improvement from FY 2015 to FY 2016, selection for a compact program allows MCC to continue strengthen its relationship with Cote d'Ivoire while rewarding continued policy improvement.

    Kosovo: After years of working to improve data collection and quality, as well as improve policy outcomes, Kosovo passed the MCC scorecard for the first time in FY16, passing 13 of 20 indicators including both hard hurdles and passing Control of Corruption. The country remains one of the poorest in Europe with close to 30% of the population living on less than $2/day, and an economy highly dependent on remittances. A compact investment will serve as an opportunity to reduce poverty through sustainable economic development while also building on the positive relationship built over the past few years.

    Senegal: Senegal has consistently passed the scorecard criteria for eight consecutive years and scored above the 90th percentile in Control of Corruption for three consecutive years. Through its first compact, Senegal has proven to be a strong partner, successfully completing the compact ($540 million) in September 2015. In working on a second compact, MCC is able to continue to partner with the Government of Senegal to reduce poverty and support strong economic investments in the country.

    Countries Reselected To Continue Compact Development

    Three of the countries selected as eligible for compact assistance for FY 2016 were previously selected as eligible in FY 2015. These countries are Niger, Nepal and the Philippines. The Board reselected these countries based on their continued or improved policy performance since their prior selection. The Board also expressed its support for continued development of a compact with Mongolia using funds appropriated in FY 2015 and prior years, as the country moved in FY 2016 to the upper middle income category before its proposal was finalized. The Board deferred a vote on the selection of Tanzania and Lesotho and emphasized the seriousness with which it takes a country's commitment to MCC's eligibility criteria.

    Tanzania: The Board deferred a vote on Tanzania's reselection. The Board discussed the fact that due to ongoing concerns about the Zanzibar elections, as well as the use of Tanzania's Cyber Crimes legislation in the context of the national elections, a vote on reselection would be premature at this time. The Board may revisit its decision over the course of 2016 as more information becomes available.

    Lesotho: The Board deferred a vote on Lesotho's reselection. The Board discussed the fact that due to ongoing concerns over the rule of law and accountability in the country, and an expected report from the Southern Africa Development Community on these same issues, a vote on reselection would be premature at this time. The Board may revisit its decision over the course of 2016 as more information becomes available.

    Countries Selected as Eligible To Receive Threshold Program Assistance

    The Board selected Sri Lanka and Togo as eligible to receive threshold program assistance.

    Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka consistently passed the scorecard from FY 2011 through FY 2015. Though Sri Lanka failed the scorecard in FY 2016 due to failing the democratic rights indicators, this was largely due to the indicators reflecting events in 2014, and likely not yet capturing the democratic rights improvements following the 2015 elections. A threshold program investment is an opportunity to build on this positive momentum, and allows Sri Lanka the opportunity to further strengthen its scorecard performance. It also allows MCC the opportunity to work with the government on the country's ongoing efforts in policy reform.

    Togo: Togo has shown consistent improvements on the MCC scorecard over the past three years. A government committee has been strongly engaged with MCC to strategize and prioritize policy improvements, including reforming the family code to ensure gender equality and improving control of corruption. As a result, Togo moved from passing 5 of 20 indicators in FY 2014 to 10 of 20 indicators in FY 2016. Togo's eligibility for threshold program assistance will allow MCC to engage with Togo on continued policy reform, as well as offer Togo an opportunity to further strengthen its scorecard performance.

    Ongoing Review of Partner Countries' Policy Performance

    Once MCC has signed a compact with a country, MCC does not consider the country for reselection on an annual basis during the term of its compact. However, the Board emphasized the need for all partner countries to maintain or improve their policy performance. If it is determined during compact implementation that a country has demonstrated a significant policy reversal, MCC can hold it accountable by applying MCC's Suspension and Termination Policy.4

    4 Available at https://www.mcc.gov/resources/doc/policy-on-suspension-and-termination.

    [FR Doc. 2015-32353 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [Notice (15-121)] Notice of Intent To Grant an Exclusive License AGENCY:

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent to grant exclusive license.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice is issued in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 209(e) and 37 CFR 404.7(a)(1)(i). NASA hereby gives notice of its intent to grant an exclusive license in the United States to practice the inventions described and claimed in U.S. Patent No. 7,341,883 titled “Silicon Germanium Semiconductive Alloy and Method Of Fabricating Same,” NASA Case No. LAR-16868-1; U.S. Patent No. 7,514,726 titled “Graded Index Silicon Germanium on Lattice Matched Silicon Germanium Semiconductive Alloy,” NASA Case No. LAR-16872-1; U.S. Patent No. 7,558,371 titled “Method of Generating X-Ray Diffraction Data for Integral Detection of Twin Defects in Super-Hetero-Epitaxial Materials,” NASA Case No. LAR-17044-1; U.S. Patent No, 7,906,358 titled “Epitaxial Growth of Cubic Crystalline Semiconductor Alloys on Basal Plane of Trigonal or Hexagonal Crystal,” NASA Case No. LAR-17185-1; U.S. Patent No. 8,226,767 titled “Hybrid Bandgap Engineering for Super-Hetero-Epitaxial Semiconductor Materials, and Products Thereof,” NASA Case No. LAR-17405-1; U.S. Patent No. 8,257,491 titled “Rhombohedral Cubic Semiconductor Materials on Trigonal Substrate with Single Crystal Properties and Devices Based on Such Materials,” NASA Case No. LAR-17553-1; U.S. Patent No. 7,769,135 titled “X-ray Diffraction Wafer Mapping Method for Rhombohedral Super-Hetero-Epitaxy,” NASA Case No. LAR-17554-1; U.S. Patent Application No. 14/202,699 titled “High Mobility Transport Layer Structures for Rhombohedral Si/Ge/SiGe Devices,” NASA Case No. LAR-17841-1; U.S. Patent Application No. 14/204,535 titled “Double Sided Si(Ge)/Sapphire/III-Nitride Hybrid Structure,” NASA Case No. LAR-17922-1; U.S. Patent No. 8,044,294 titled “Thermoelectric Materials and Devices,” NASA Case No. LAR-17381-1; and U.S. Patent Application No. 14/279,614 titled “Integrated Multi-Color Light Emitting Device Made with Hybrid Crystal Structure,” NASA Case No. LAR-18133-1, to innoScience, Inc., having its principal place of business in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Certain patent rights in these inventions have been assigned to the United States of America as represented by the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The prospective exclusive license will comply with the terms and conditions of 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR 404.7.

    DATES:

    The prospective exclusive license may be granted unless, within fifteen (15) days from the date of this published notice, NASA receives written objections including evidence and argument that establish that the grant of the license would not be consistent with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR 404.7. Competing applications completed and received by NASA within fifteen (15) days of the date of this published notice will also be treated as objections to the grant of the contemplated partially exclusive license.

    Objections submitted in response to this notice will not be made available to the public for inspection and, to the extent permitted by law, will not be released under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.

    ADDRESSES:

    Objections relating to the prospective license may be submitted to Patent Counsel, Office of Chief Counsel, NASA Langley Research Center, MS 30, Hampton, VA 23681; (757) 864-3221 (phone), (757) 864-9190 (fax).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer L. Riley, Patent Attorney, Office of Chief Counsel, NASA Langley Research Center, MS 30, Hampton, VA 23681; (757) 864-5057; Fax: (757) 864-9190. Information about other NASA inventions available for licensing can be found online at http://technology.nasa.gov.

    Mark P. Dvorscak, Agency Counsel for Intellectual Property.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32718 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510-13-P
    NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD Sunshine Act Meetings: January 2016 TIME AND DATES:

    All meetings are held at 2:00 p.m.

    Tuesday, January 5;

    Wednesday, January 6;

    Thursday, January 7;

    Tuesday, January 12;

    Wednesday, January 13;

    Thursday, January 14;

    Tuesday, January 19;

    Wednesday, January 20;

    Thursday, January 21;

    Tuesday, January 26;

    Wednesday, January 27;

    Thursday, January 28;

    PLACE:

    Board Agenda Room, No. 5065, 1015 Half St., SE., Washington, DC 20570

    STATUS:

    Closed.

    MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED:

    Pursuant to § 102.139(a) of the Board's Rules and Regulations, the Board or a panel thereof will consider “the issuance of a subpoena, the Board's participation in a civil action or proceeding or an arbitration, or the initiation, conduct, or disposition . . . of particular representation or unfair labor practice proceedings under section 8, 9, or 10 of the [National Labor Relations] Act, or any court proceedings collateral or ancillary thereto.” See also 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(10).

    CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Gary Shinners, Executive Secretary, (202) 273-3737.

    Dated: December 29, 2015. William B. Cowen, Solicitor.
    [FR Doc. 2015-33089 Filed 12-29-15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 7545-01-P
    NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION Notice of Permits Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978 AGENCY:

    National Science Foundation.

    ACTION:

    Notice of permits issued under the Antarctic Conservation of 1978, Public Law 95-541.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is required to publish notice of permits issued under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978. This is the required notice.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nature McGinn, ACA Permit Officer, Division of Polar Programs, Rm. 755, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. Or by email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On November 12, 2015 the National Science Foundation published a notice in the Federal Register of a permit application received. The permit was issued on December 23, 2015 to:

    Laura K.O. Smith, Owner, Operator of Quixote Expeditions—Permit No. 2016-020.

    Nadene G. Kennedy, Polar Coordination Specialist, Division of Polar Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32925 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7555-01-P
    NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION [Docket No. 50-271; NRC-2015-0111] Entergy Operations, Inc.; Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station AGENCY:

    Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    ACTION:

    Exemption; issuance.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing exemptions in response to a February 13, 2015, request from Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc. (ENO or the licensee). The licensee requested that Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Vermont Yankee) be granted a permanent partial exemption from regulations that require retention of records for certain systems, structures, and components (SSCs) until the termination of the operating license.

    ADDRESSES:

    Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2015-0111 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information regarding this document. You may obtain publicly-available information related to this document using any of the following methods:

    Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2015-0111. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-415-3463; email: [email protected] For technical questions, contact the individual listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document.

    NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may obtain publicly available documents online in the ADAMS Public Documents collection at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select “ADAMS Public Documents” and then select “Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.” For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by email to [email protected] The ADAMS accession number for each document referenced in this document (if that document is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time that a document is referenced.

    NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    James Kim, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, telephone: 301-415-4125; email: [email protected]; U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington DC 20555-0001.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Vermont Yankee is a single unit General Electric 4, Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor located in Vernon, Vermont. Vermont Yankee was granted Operating License No. DPR-28 under part 50 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) on March 21, 1972, and subsequently shut down on December 29, 2014. The operating license for Vermont Yankee is held by ENO.

    On January 12, 2015, ENO submitted the certifications, pursuant to 10 CFR 50.82(a)(1), of permanent cessation of operations and permanent removal of fuel from the reactor (ADAMS Accession No. ML15013A426). Decommissioning activities will be carried out by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, and are described in the Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report submitted to the NRC on December 19, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14357A110). The SSCs that supported the generation of electric power are being prepared to enter the SAFSTOR phase. Completion of fuel transfer from the spent fuel pool (SFP) to an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) is scheduled for 2020. Preparation for dismantlement and license termination are scheduled to begin in 2068.

    II. Request/Action

    By letter dated February 13, 2015 (ADAMS Accession No. ML15069A439), ENO filed a request for NRC approval of a permanent exemption from the following recordkeeping requirements: 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII, 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3), and 10 CFR 50.71(c). The request was made pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, “Specific exemptions.”

    The licensee is requesting NRC approval of an exemption from 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII, which requires certain records be retained throughout the life of the unit; 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3), which requires records to be maintained “until the termination of an operating license”; and 10 CFR 50.71(c) where records required by license condition or technical specifications (TS) are to be retained until termination of the license. The licensee proposes that:

    (1) The need to maintain records for SSCs associated with nuclear power generation will be eliminated when those SSCs are removed from the licensing basis documents, such as TSs or the updated final safety analysis report (UFSAR), by appropriate change mechanisms.

    (2) The need to maintain records for SSCs associated with safe storage of fuel in the SFP will be eliminated when spent nuclear fuel has been completely transferred from the SFP to dry storage, and the SFP and associated SSCs are removed from licensing basis documents by appropriate change mechanisms.

    The licensee justifies the request by stating that when the associated SSCs are removed from the licensing basis documents, the SSCs will not serve any function regulated by the NRC. Therefore, the need to retain the records will be, on a practical basis, eliminated. The licensee cites precedents for records retention exemptions granted to Zion Nuclear Power Station, Units 1 and 2 (ADAMS Accession No. ML111260277), Millstone Power Station, Unit No. 1, (ADAMS Accession No. ML070110567), and Haddam Neck Plant (ADAMS Accession No. ML052160088).

    Records associated with residual radiological activity and with necessary programmatic controls, such as security and quality assurance, are addressed through current licensing documents and are therefore, not affected by the exemption request. Also, the licensee did not request an exemption from records associated with the Vermont Yankee ISFSI, records associated with retention of the spent fuel assemblies, or records associated with decommissioning or dismantlement. In addition, the licensee did not request an exemption from 10 CFR part 50, appendix A, Criterion 1, “Quality standards and records,” as had been granted in the cited precedents. Because Vermont Yankee was granted a construction license prior to February 1971, it is not subject to the requirements in 10 CFR part 50, appendix A.

    III. Discussion

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, the Commission may, upon application by any interested person or upon its own initiative, grant exemptions from the requirements of 10 CFR part 50 when (1) the exemptions are authorized by law, will not present an undue risk to public health or safety, and are consistent with the common defense and security, and (2) when special circumstances are present.

    Vermont Yankee permanently shut down on December 29, 2014, and subsequently removed the spent fuel from the reactor to the SFP. The nuclear reactor and SSCs associated with the nuclear steam supply system and balance of plant that had supported power generation have been drained as necessary and retired in place. Once these SSCs have been prepared for SAFSTOR, dismantlement, or demolition, they will no longer serve any purpose regulated by the NRC. Subsequently, these SSCs can be removed from NRC licensing basis documents, such as TSs or the UFSAR, by appropriate change mechanisms defined in regulations (e.g. 10 CFR 50.48(f), 10 CFR 50.59, 10 CFR 50.54(a), 10 CFR 50.54(p), or 10 CFR 50.54(q)). At that point, there will be no regulatory need to retain associated records until termination of the license. However, certain records associated with these SSCs, namely records pertaining to residual radioactivity and records pertaining to programmatic controls such as security or quality assurance, will continue to be governed by NRC regulation and addressed in licensing documents, and therefore, are not affected by these exemptions.

    The SSCs supporting the continued operation of the SFP remain operable at Vermont Yankee and will be configured for operational efficiency until the fuel is removed to permanent dry storage. The records associated with the SFP SSCs will be retained through the SFP's functional life. Similar to other plant SSCs, when the SFP is emptied of fuel, drained, and prepared for demolition, SSCs that support the SFP will be removed from licensing basis documents by appropriate change mechanisms. At that point, there will be no safety-related or regulatory basis to retain the records associated with SFP SSCs.

    The Exemption is Authorized by Law

    Section 50.71(d)(2) allows for the granting of specific exemptions to the retention of records required by regulations. Section 50.71(d)(2) states, in part, “the retention period specified in the regulations in this part for such records shall apply unless the Commission, pursuant to § 50.12 of this part, has granted a specific exemption from the record retention requirements specified in the regulations in this part.”

    Based on 10 CFR 50.71(d)(2), if the requirements of 10 CFR 50.12 are satisfied, an exemption from the recordkeeping requirements in 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3), and 10 CFR 50.71(c), as requested by the licensee, is authorized by law.

    Specific Exemption Presents No Undue Risk to Public Health and Safety

    As SSCs are prepared for SAFSTOR and eventual decommission and dismantlement, they will be removed from NRC licensing basis documents through appropriate change mechanisms, such as through the process stipulated by 10 CFR 50.59 or through a license amendment request approved by the NRC. These change processes involve either a determination by the licensee or an approval by the NRC that the affected SSC no longer serves any safety purpose regulated by the NRC. Therefore, the removal of the SSC would not present an undue risk to the public health and safety. In turn, removal of the records associated with the affected SSC would not cause any additional impact to public health and safety.

    The partial exemptions from the requested requirements of 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII; 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3); and 10 CFR 50.71(c) are administrative in nature and will have no impact on future decommissioning activities or radiological effluents. The partial exemptions will only advance the schedule for the removal of the records. Because the content of the records pertains to SSCs that have already been removed from licensing basis documents, elimination of the records on an advanced timetable will have no reasonable potential to present any undue risk to the public health and safety.

    The Exemption is Consistent With the Common Defense and Security

    The elimination of records associated with SSCs, which have already been removed from NRC licensing basis documents, is administrative in nature, and does not involve information or involve activities that could potentially impact the common defense or security. After the SSCs are removed from NRC licensing basis documents by appropriate change mechanisms, they are determined to no longer serve the purpose of safe operation or maintain conditions that would affect the ongoing health and safety of workers or the public. Therefore, removal of the associated records will also present no potential for impacting the safe operation of the plant or the defense or security of the workers or the public.

    The exemptions requested are administrative in nature and will merely advance the current schedule for removal of the specified records. Therefore, the partial exemptions from the recordkeeping requirements of 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII; 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3); and 10 CFR 50.71(c), and for the types of records as specified above, are consistent with the common defense and security.

    Special Circumstances

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, the Commission will consider granting an exemption if special circumstances are present. Section 50.12(a)(2)(ii) states, in part, that “Special circumstance are present whenever “Application of the regulation in the particular circumstances would not serve the underlying purpose of the rule, or is not necessary to achieve the underlying purpose of the rule.”

    Appendix B of 10 CFR part 50, Criterion XVII, states in part: “Sufficient records shall be maintained to furnish evidence of activities affecting quality. . . . Records shall be identifiable and retrievable.”

    Section 50.59(d)(3) states in part: “The records of changes in the facility must be maintained until the termination of an operating license under this part. . .”

    Section 50.71(c), states in part: “Records that are required by the regulations in this part or 10 CFR part 52 of this chapter, by license condition, or by technical specifications must be retained for the period specified by the appropriate regulation, license condition, or technical specification. If a retention period is not otherwise specified, these records must be retained until the Commission terminates the facility license. . . .”

    In the statements of consideration for the final rulemaking, effective July 26, 1988 (53 FR 19240; May 27, 1988) “Retention Periods for Records,” as a response to public comments during the rulemaking process, the NRC states that records must be retained “. . . so they will be available for examination by the Commission in any analysis following an accident, incident, or other problem involving public health and safety . . . [and] . . . for NRC to ensure compliance with the safety and health aspects of the nuclear environment and for the NRC to accomplish its mission to protect the public health and safety.”

    The statements of consideration express that the underlying purpose of the recordkeeping rule is to ensure that, in the event of an accident, incident, or condition that could impact public health and safety, the NRC has access to information in the records that would assist in the recovery from the event and prevent similar events or conditions, which would impact health and safety. These regulations do not consider the nature of the decommissioning process, in which safety-related SSCs are retired or disabled, and subsequently removed from NRC licensing basis documents by appropriate change mechanisms prior to the termination of the license.

    Appropriate removal of an SSC from the licensing basis requires either a determination by the licensee or an approval by the NRC of whether the SSC has the potential to cause an accident, event, or other problem, which would adversely impact the public health and safety. It follows that at a nuclear power generation plant in the decommissioning stage, SSCs that have been retired from service and removed from licensing basis documents have already been determined, through that evaluation, to no longer have an adverse impact on public health and safety.

    The records subject to removal under these exemptions are associated with SSCs that had been important to safety during power operation but are no longer important operationally or capable of causing an event, incident, or condition that would adversely impact public health and safety, as evidenced by their appropriate removal from licensing basis documents. If the SSCs no longer have the potential to cause an event, incident, or other problem, which would adversely impact public health and safety, then it is reasonable to conclude that the records associated with these SSCs would not reasonably be necessary for recovery from or prevention of such an event or incident, and therefore, their retention would not serve the underlying purpose of the rule to assist in recovery from an event or prevent future events, incidents, or problems. Once removed from licensing basis documents, SSCs are no longer governed by the NRC's regulations, and therefore, are not subject to compliance with the safety and health aspects of the nuclear environment. Therefore, retention of these records does not serve the underlying purpose of the rule of maintaining compliance with the safety and health aspects of the nuclear environment or to accomplish the NRC's mission.

    Records, which continue to serve the underlying purpose of the rule, that is, to maintain compliance and to protect public health and safety, will continue to be retained under regulations in 10 CFR part 50 and 10 CFR part 72. These retained records not subject to the exemption include those associated with programmatic controls, such as those pertaining to residual radioactivity, security, quality assurance, etc., and records associated with the ISFSI and spent fuel assemblies.

    Section 50.12(a)(2)(iii) states, in part, “Compliance would result in undue hardship or other costs that are significantly in excess of those contemplated when the regulation was adopted . . . .”

    The retention of records required by 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII, 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3), and 10 CFR 50.71(c) provides assurance that records associated with SSCs will be captured, indexed, and stored in an environmentally suitable and retrievable condition. Given the volume of records associated with the SSCs, compliance with the records retention rules results in a considerable cost to the licensee. Retention of the volume of records associated with these SSCs during the operations phase is appropriate to serve the underlying purpose of providing information to the Commission for examination in the case of an event, incident, or other problem involving the public health and safety, as discussed above. However, the cost effect of retaining operations phase records beyond the operations phase until the termination of the license was not fully considered or understood. Therefore, compliance with the rule would result in an undue cost in excess of that contemplated when the rule was adopted.

    The granted exemptions apply to records that are associated with SSCs that had supported the operations phase of electricity generation and wet storage of spent fuel assemblies, and that have been, or will be, retired in place, prepared for dismantlement, and removed from licensing basis documents. Records that continue to apply to retired SSCs during the SAFSTOR and decommissioning phase, such as records associated with programmatic controls pertaining to residual radioactivity, security, quality assurance, etc., and records associated with the ISFSI and spent fuel assemblies, will continue to be maintained in an environmentally suitable and retrievable condition.

    Environmental Considerations

    Under 10 CFR 51.22(c)(25), granting of an exemption from the requirements of any regulation in Chapter I of 10 CFR is a categorical exclusion provided that (i) there is no significant hazards consideration; (ii) there is no significant change in the types or significant increase in the amounts of any effluents that may be released offsite; (iii) there is no significant increase in individual or cumulative public or occupational radiation exposure; (iv) there is no significant construction impact; (v) there is no significant increase in the potential for or consequences from radiological accidents: And (vi) the requirements from which an exemption is sought are among those identified in 10 CFR 51.22(c)(25)(vi).

    The Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, has determined that approval of the exemption request involves no significant hazards consideration because allowing the licensee exemption from the recordkeeping requirements of 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII; 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3); and 10 CFR 50.71(c), at the permanently shutdown and defueled Vermont Yankee power reactor, does not (1) involve a significant increase in the probability or consequences of an accident previously evaluated; or (2) create the possibility of a new or different kind of accident from any accident previously evaluated; (3) involve a significant reduction in a margin of safety. Accordingly, there is no significant change in the types or significant increase in the amounts of any effluents that may be released offsite, and no significant increase in individual or cumulative public or occupational radiation exposure. The exempted regulation is not associated with construction, so there is no significant construction impact. The exempted regulation does not concern the source term (i.e., potential amount of radiation in an accident), nor mitigation. Therefore, there is no significant increase in the potential for, or consequences from radiological accidents.

    Allowing the licensee partial exemption from record retention requirements from which the exemption is sought involve recordkeeping requirements, reporting requirements of an administrative, managerial, or organizational nature.

    Therefore, pursuant to 10 CFR 51.22(b) and 51.22(c)(25), no environmental impact statement or environmental assessment need be prepared in connection with the approval of this exemption request.

    IV. Conclusions

    Accordingly, the Commission has determined that, pursuant to 10 CFR 50.12, that ENO's request for partial exemptions from recordkeeping requirements in 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII; 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3); and 10 CFR 50.71(c) are authorized by law, will not present an undue risk to the public health and safety, and are consistent with the common defense and security. Also, special circumstances are present. Therefore, the Commission hereby grants ENO's one-time partial exemptions from 10 CFR part 50, appendix B, Criterion XVII; 10 CFR 50.59(d)(3); and 10 CFR 50.71(c) to advance the schedule to remove records associated with SSCs that have been removed from NRC licensing basis documents by appropriate change mechanisms.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 22nd day of December 2015.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    George A. Wilson, Deputy Director, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
    [FR Doc. 2015-32932 Filed 12-30-15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF STATE [Public Notice: 9396] Request for Information for the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report SUMMARY:

    The Department of State (“the Department”) requests written information to assist in reporting on the degree to which the United States and foreign governments comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons (“minimum standards”) that are prescribed by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, (Div. A, Pub. L. 106-386) as amended (“TVPA”). This information will assist in the preparation of the Trafficking in Persons Report (“TIP Report”) that the Department submits annually to the U.S. Congress on governments' level of compliance with the minimum standards. Foreign governments that do not comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so may be subject to restrictions on nonhumanitarian, nontrade-related foreign assistance from the United States, as defined by the TVPA. Submissions must be made in writing to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State by January 19, 2016. Please refer to the ADDRESSES, Scope of Interest, and Information Sought sections of this Notice for additional instructions on submission requirements.

    DATES:

    Submissions must be received by 5 p.m. on January 19, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written submissions and supporting documentation may be submitted by the following methods:

    Email (preferred): [email protected] for submissions related to foreign governments and [email protected] for submissions related to the United States.

    Facsimile (fax): 202-312-9637

    Mail, Express Delivery, Hand Delivery and Messenger Service: U.S. Department of State, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), 1800 G Street NW., Suite 2148, Washington, DC 20520. Please note that materials submitted by mail may be delayed due to security screenings and processing.

    Scope of Interest: The Department requests information relevant to assessing the United States' and foreign governments' compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons in the year 2015. The minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons are listed in the Background section. Submissions must include information relevant and probative of the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and should include, but need not be limited to, answering the questions in the Information Sought section. Only those questions for which the submitter has direct professional experience should be answered and that experience should be noted. For any critique or deficiency described, please provide a recommendation to remedy it. Note the country or countries that are the focus of the submission.

    Submissions may include written narratives that answer the questions presented in this Notice, research, studies, statistics, fieldwork, training materials, evaluations, assessments, and other relevant evidence of local, state, and federal government efforts. To the extent possible, precise dates and numbers of officials or citizens affected should be included.

    Where applicable, written narratives providing factual information should provide citations to sources, and copies of the source material should be provided. If possible, send electronic copies of the entire submission, including source material. If primary sources are utilized, such as research studies, interviews, direct observations, or other sources of quantitative or qualitative data, details on the research or data-gathering methodology should be provided. The Department does not include in the Report, and is therefore not seeking, information on prostitution, human smuggling, visa fraud, or child abuse, unless such conduct occurs in the context of human trafficking.

    Confidentiality: Please provide the name, phone number, and email address of a single point of contact for any submission. It is Department practice not to identify in the Report information concerning sources to safeguard those sources. Please note, however, that any information submitted to the Department may be releasable pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act or other applicable law. When applicable, portions of submissions relevant to efforts by other U.S. government agencies may be s