Federal Register Vol. 82, No.217,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 217 (November 13, 2017)

Page Range52173-52642
FR Document

82_FR_217
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 52641 - Veterans Day, 2017PDF
82 FR 52264 - Government In The Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 52284 - Request for Information Regarding Consumers' Experience With Free Access to Credit ScoresPDF
82 FR 52173 - Federal Reserve Bank Capital StockPDF
82 FR 52286 - Notice of an Update to the Public List of Companies That Offer Customers Free Access to a Credit ScorePDF
82 FR 52299 - Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Modernization of the San Luis I Land Port of Entry (LPOE) ModernizationPDF
82 FR 52332 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-UHD Alliance, Inc.PDF
82 FR 52331 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-Vehicle Safety Communications 8 ConsortiumPDF
82 FR 52319 - United States v. Entercom Communications Corp., et al.; Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact StatementPDF
82 FR 52331 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-National Spectrum ConsortiumPDF
82 FR 52331 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-PDES, Inc.PDF
82 FR 52319 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-Cooperative Research Group on ROS-Industrial Consortium-AmericasPDF
82 FR 52318 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-Pistoia Alliance, Inc.PDF
82 FR 52333 - Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 52259 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; Reasonably Available Control Technology for Cement Kilns, Revisions to Portland Cement Manufacturing Plant and Natural Gas Compression Station Regulations, and Removal of Nitrogen Oxides Reduction and Trading Program Replaced by Other Programs and RegulationsPDF
82 FR 52174 - Small Business Investment Companies-Administrative FeesPDF
82 FR 52249 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; Quota TransferPDF
82 FR 52287 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Eligibility RegulationsPDF
82 FR 52224 - Secure TestsPDF
82 FR 52318 - Certain Network Devices, Related Software and Components Thereof (II); Notice of Correction Concerning the Institution of Modification ProceedingPDF
82 FR 52316 - Filing of Plats of Survey: Oregon/WashingtonPDF
82 FR 52317 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Oil Shale ManagementPDF
82 FR 52213 - Modernizing Copyright RecordationPDF
82 FR 52221 - Fees for Electronic Recordation and Notices of Intention To Obtain a Compulsory LicensePDF
82 FR 52305 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Public Comment Request; Semiannual Performance Measures for the ACL Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program (ICR New)PDF
82 FR 52304 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 52301 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 52298 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
82 FR 52209 - Removal of Côte d'Ivoire Sanctions RegulationsPDF
82 FR 52282 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing PermitsPDF
82 FR 52248 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for Gulf Gray TriggerfishPDF
82 FR 52265 - Proposed Foreign-Trade Zone-Hitchcock, Texas; Amendment of ApplicationPDF
82 FR 52268 - Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative ReviewsPDF
82 FR 52276 - Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products From the People's Republic of China: Notice of Court Decision Not in Harmony With Amended Final Affirmative Countervailing Duty DeterminationPDF
82 FR 52275 - Certain Large Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe From Japan; Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe From Japan and Romania: Continuation of Antidumping Duty OrdersPDF
82 FR 52274 - Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe From the People's Republic of China: Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2016-2017PDF
82 FR 52353 - Bureau of the Fiscal Service; Senior Executive Service; Fiscal Service Performance Review BoardPDF
82 FR 52332 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Contribution Operations, ETA-581PDF
82 FR 52258 - Group Registration of Unpublished Works: Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 52297 - Notice of Issuance of Technical Bulletin 2017-2, Assigning Assets to Component Reporting EntitiesPDF
82 FR 52298 - Notice of Issuance of Technical Bulletin 2017-1, Intragovernmental Exchange TransactionsPDF
82 FR 52212 - Safety Zone, Delaware River; Pipeline RemovalPDF
82 FR 52278 - Fisheries of the South Atlantic; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingsPDF
82 FR 52280 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 52278 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 52281 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 52283 - Fisheries of the South Atlantic; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 52353 - Meeting of the Regional Energy Resource CouncilPDF
82 FR 52210 - Safety Zone; City of Oswego Fireworks Display; Oswego River, Oswego, NYPDF
82 FR 52288 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Supercritical CO2PDF
82 FR 52294 - Boulder Canyon Project-Rate Order No. WAPA-178PDF
82 FR 52312 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Public Comment Request; Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to States Program: Guidance and Forms for the Title V Application/Annual ReportPDF
82 FR 52311 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Public Comment Request; Be The Match® Patient Services Survey, OMB No. 0906-0004-RevisionPDF
82 FR 52314 - Advisory Commission on Childhood VaccinesPDF
82 FR 52308 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection: Public Comment Request; Information Collection Request Title: Voluntary Partner Surveys To Implement Executive Order 12862 in the Health Resources and Services Administration, OMB No. 0915-0212-ExtensionPDF
82 FR 52309 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Public Comment Request; Assessing Client Factors Associated With Detectable HIV Viral Loads; and Models of Care and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS ProgramPDF
82 FR 52311 - National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services; Notice of CorrectionPDF
82 FR 52315 - Information Collection Request to Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number[s]: 1625-0085PDF
82 FR 52277 - United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board: Meeting of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory BoardPDF
82 FR 52339 - CBOE Vest Financial, LLC, et al.PDF
82 FR 52338 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 52351 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 52337 - Vital Area Access Controls, Protection of Physical Security Equipment, and Key and Lock ControlsPDF
82 FR 52306 - S5(R3) Detection of Toxicity to Reproduction for Human Pharmaceuticals; International Council for Harmonisation; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 52265 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Arizona Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 52334 - Information Collection: Safeguards on Nuclear Material-Implementation of United States/International Atomic Energy Agency AgreementPDF
82 FR 52335 - Information Collection: DOE/NRC Form 740M, Concise Note; DOE/NRC Form 741, Nuclear Material Transaction Report; DOE/NRC Form 742, Material Balance Report; and DOE/NRC Form 742C, Physical Inventory ListingPDF
82 FR 52264 - Notice of Request for an Extension of a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
82 FR 52352 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoPDF
82 FR 52352 - Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoPDF
82 FR 52352 - Administrative Declaration of an Economic Injury Disaster for the State of OregonPDF
82 FR 52262 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina (San Fernando Valley Spineflower)PDF
82 FR 52302 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 52300 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
82 FR 52282 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 52279 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; NOAA Customer SurveysPDF
82 FR 52284 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Monitoring Programs for Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish FisheryPDF
82 FR 52210 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Delaware River, Tacony, PA, and Palmyra, NJPDF
82 FR 52280 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Alaska Chinook Salmon Economic Data Report (EDR)PDF
82 FR 52332 - Notice of Lodging Proposed Consent DecreePDF
82 FR 52290 - Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC; Notice of Intent To File License Application, Filing of Pre-Application Document, and Approving Use of the Traditional Licensing ProcessPDF
82 FR 52288 - Shell Energy North America (US), LP; Notice of Application Tendered for Filing With the Commission and Soliciting Additional Study RequestsPDF
82 FR 52291 - Luz Solar Partners Ltd., V; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 52293 - GSP Lost Nation LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 52291 - GSP Newington LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 52292 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
82 FR 52289 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
82 FR 52292 - GSP Schiller LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 52293 - GSP White Lake LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 52290 - GSP Merrimack LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 52297 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Willingness To Pay Survey To Evaluate Recreational Benefits of Nutrient Reductions in Coastal New England Waters (New)PDF
82 FR 52347 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the NYSE Arca Options Fees and Charges Schedule and the NYSE Arca Equities Fees and Charges Schedule Relating to Co-Location Services To Reflect the Name Change of a Third Party Data FeedPDF
82 FR 52349 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE American LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Change To Amend the NYSE American Equities Price List and the NYSE American Options Fee Schedule Relating to Co-Location Services To Reflect the Name Change of a Third Party Data FeedPDF
82 FR 52345 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Certain of Its Listing FeesPDF
82 FR 52340 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq PHLX LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Pricing Schedule Section II, Entitled Multiply Listed Options FeesPDF
82 FR 52344 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Its Price List Relating to Co-Location Services To Reflect the Name Change of a Third Party Data FeedPDF
82 FR 52342 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; MIAX PEARL, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend the MIAX PEARL Fee SchedulePDF
82 FR 52315 - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 52335 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS); Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on APR1400; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 52338 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS); Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on Regulatory Policies & Practices; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 52298 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
82 FR 52298 - Notice of Proposals To Engage in or To Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking ActivitiesPDF
82 FR 52265 - Aluminum Extrusions From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016PDF
82 FR 52229 - Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs: Addition of Certain Schedule II Drugs to the Department of Transportation's Drug-Testing Panel and Certain Minor AmendmentsPDF
82 FR 52207 - Food Additives Permitted in Feed and Drinking Water of Animals; Ammonium Formate and Formic AcidPDF
82 FR 52253 - FeesPDF
82 FR 52250 - Matching Funds Requirements for Agricultural Research and Extension Capacity Funds at 1890 Land-Grant Institutions and 1862 Land-Grant Institutions in Insular AreasPDF
82 FR 52186 - HIRE Vets Medallion ProgramPDF
82 FR 52333 - Notice of Permits Issued Under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978PDF
82 FR 52356 - Medicare Program: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting ProgramsPDF

Issue

82 217 Monday, November 13, 2017 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

National Institute of Food and Agriculture

See

Procurement and Property Management Office, Agriculture Department

Antitrust Division Antitrust Division NOTICES Changes under National Cooperative Research and Production Act: National Spectrum Consortium, 52331 2017-24547 PDES, Inc., 52331-52332 2017-24546 Pistoia Alliance, Inc., 52318 2017-24544 ROS-Industrial Consortium-Americas, 52319 2017-24545 UHD Alliance, Inc., 52332 2017-24550 Vehicle Safety Communications 8 Consortium, 52331 2017-24549 Proposed Final Judgments and Competitive Impact Statements: Entercom Communications Corp., et al., 52319-52331 2017-24548 Broadcasting Broadcasting Board of Governors NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 52264 2017-24643 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection NOTICES Requests for Information: Consumers' Experience with Free Access to Credit Scores, 52284-52286 2017-24555 Update to the Public List of Companies that Offer Customers Free Access to a Credit Score, 52286-52287 2017-24552 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52300-52304 2017-24472 2017-24473 2017-24523 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services RULES Medicare Programs: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs, 52356-52637 2017-23932 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52304-52305 2017-24524 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Arizona Advisory Committee, 52265 2017-24482 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Delaware River, Tacony, PA, and Palmyra, NJ, 52210 2017-24468 Safety Zones: City of Oswego Fireworks Display; Oswego River, Oswego, NY, 52210-52212 2017-24498 Delaware River; Pipeline Removal; Correction, 52212-52213 2017-24508 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52315-52316 2017-24489 Commerce Commerce Department See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Community Living Administration Community Living Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Semiannual Performance Measures for the ACL Traumatic Brain Injury State Partnership Program, 52305-52306 2017-24525 Copyright Office Copyright Office, Library of Congress RULES Fees for Electronic Recordation and Notices of Intention to Obtain a Compulsory License, 52221-52224 2017-24526 Modernizing Copyright Recordation, 52213-52221 2017-24527 Secure Tests, 52224-52229 2017-24532 PROPOSED RULES Group Registration of Unpublished Works, 52258-52259 2017-24511 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Eligibility Regulations, 52287-52288 2017-24533 Employment and Training Employment and Training Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Contribution Operations, 52332-52333 2017-24512 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

See

Western Area Power Administration

NOTICES Meetings: Supercritical CO2 Oxy-combustion Technology Group, 52288 2017-24497
Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Maryland; Reasonably Available Control Technology for Cement Kilns, Revisions to Portland Cement Manufacturing Plant and Natural Gas Compression Station Regulations, and Removal of Nitrogen Oxides Reduction and Trading Program Replaced by Other Programs and Regulations, 52259-52262 2017-24536 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Willingness to Pay Survey to Evaluate Recreational Benefits of Nutrient Reductions in Coastal New England Waters, 52297 2017-24446 Federal Accounting Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board NOTICES Issuance of Technical Bulletin: Intragovernmental Exchange Transactions, 52298 2017-24509 Technical Bulletins: 2017-2, Assigning Assets to Component Reporting Entities, 52297-52298 2017-24510 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications: Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC, 52290 2017-24460 Shell Energy North America (US), LP, 52288-52289 2017-24459 Combined Filings, 52289-52290, 52292-52293 2017-24453 2017-24454 2017-24455 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: GSP Lost Nation LLC, 52293-52294 2017-24457 GSP Merrimack LLC, 52290-52291 2017-24450 GSP Newington LLC, 52291 2017-24456 GSP Schiller LLC, 52292 2017-24452 GSP White Lake LLC, 52293 2017-24451 Luz Solar Partners Ltd., V, 52291-52292 2017-24458 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System RULES Federal Reserve Bank Capital Stock, 52173-52174 2017-24553 NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 52298-52299 2017-24522 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 52298 2017-24432 Proposals to Engage in or to Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities, 52298 2017-24431 Fiscal Fiscal Service NOTICES Senior Executive Service Performance Review Board, 52353 2017-24513 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service PROPOSED RULES Endangered and Threatened Species: Threatened Species Status for Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina (San Fernando Valley Spineflower), 52262-52263 2017-24474 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration RULES Food Additives Permitted in Feed and Drinking Water of Animals: Ammonium Formate and Formic Acid, 52207-52209 2017-24366 NOTICES Guidance: S5(R3) Detection of Toxicity to Reproduction for Human Pharmaceuticals; International Council for Harmonisation, 52306-52308 2017-24483 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office RULES Removal of Cote d'Ivoire Sanctions Regulations, 52209-52210 2017-24521 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Proposed Foreign-Trade Zones; Application Amendments: Hitchcock, TX, 52265 2017-24518 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Modernization of the San Luis I Land Port of Entry Modernization, 52299 2017-24551 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Community Living Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

Health Resources and Services Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Health Resources Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Assessing Client Factors Associated with Detectable HIV Viral Loads; and Models of Care and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, 52309-52311 2017-24491 Be The Match Patient Services Survey, 52311-52312 2017-24494 Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to States Program; Guidance and Forms for the Title V Application/Annual Report, 52312-52314 2017-24495 Voluntary Partner Surveys to Implement Executive Order 12862 in the Health Resources and Services Administration, 52308-52309 2017-24492 Charter Renewals: National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services, 52311 2017-24490 Meetings: Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines, 52314 2017-24493 Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Indian Gaming Commission

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews, 52268-52274 2017-24517 Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China, 52265-52268 2017-24407 Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products from the People's Republic of China, 52276-52277 2017-24516 Certain Large Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan; Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan and Romania, 52275-52276 2017-24515 Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe From the People's Republic of China, 52274-52275 2017-24514 Meetings: United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, 52277-52278 2017-24488 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Network Devices, Related Software and Components Thereof (II), 52318 2017-24530 Justice Department Justice Department See

Antitrust Division

NOTICES Proposed Consent Decrees: United States v. Black Tea Oil, LLC, et al., 52332 2017-24461
Labor Department Labor Department See

Employment and Training Administration

See

Veterans Employment and Training Service

Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Oil Shale Management, 52317-52318 2017-24528 Plats of Survey: Oregon/Washington, 52316-52317 2017-24529 Library Library of Congress See

Copyright Office, Library of Congress

National Indian National Indian Gaming Commission PROPOSED RULES Fees, 52253-52258 2017-24363 National Institute Food National Institute of Food and Agriculture PROPOSED RULES Matching Funds Requirements for Agricultural Research and Extension Capacity Funds at 1890 Land-Grant Institutions and 1862 Land-Grant Institutions in Insular Areas, 52250-52253 2017-24327 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 52315 2017-24435 2017-24436 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Gulf Gray Triggerfish; Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure, 52248 2017-24519 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; Quota Transfer, 52249 2017-24534 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52282 2017-24471 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Alaska Chinook Salmon Economic Data Report, 52280 2017-24467 Customer Surveys, 52279-52280 2017-24470 Monitoring Programs for Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery, 52284 2017-24469 Exempted Fishing Permit; Applications: Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries, 52282-52283 2017-24520 Meetings: Fisheries of the South Atlantic; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 52278-52279 2017-24507 Fisheries of the South Atlantic; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review, 52283-52284 2017-24503 New England Fishery Management Council, 52278, 52280-52281 2017-24504 2017-24505 2017-24506 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Antarctic Conservation Act Permits, 52333-52334 2017-24173 Meetings: Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences, 52333 2017-24543 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52335-52337 2017-24480 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Safeguards on Nuclear Material—Implementation of United States/International Atomic Energy Agency Agreement, 52334-52335 2017-24481 Guidance: Vital Area Access Controls, Protection of Physical Security Equipment, and Key and Lock Controls; Withdrawal, 52337-52338 2017-24484 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Subcommittee on APR1400, 52335 2017-24434 Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Subcommittee on Regulatory Policies and Practices, 52338 2017-24433 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: Veterans Day (Proc. 9672), 52639-52642 2017-24689 Procurement Procurement and Property Management Office, Agriculture Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52264 2017-24479 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 52338-52339, 52351 2017-24485 2017-24486 Applications: CBOE Vest Financial, LLC, et al., 52339-52340 2017-24487 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: MIAX PEARL, LLC, 52342-52343 2017-24437 Nasdaq PHLX LLC, 52340-52342 2017-24439 New York Stock Exchange LLC, 52344-52347 2017-24438 2017-24440 NYSE American LLC, 52349-52350 2017-24441 NYSE Arca, Inc., 52347-52349 2017-24442 Small Business Small Business Administration RULES Small Business Investment Companies: Administrative Fees, 52174-52186 2017-24535 NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Oregon, 52352 2017-24475 Major Disaster Declarations: Puerto Rico; Amendment 2, 52352-52353 2017-24478 Puerto Rico; Public Assistance Only, 52352 2017-24476 Tennessee Tennessee Valley Authority NOTICES Meetings: Regional Energy Resource Council, 52353 2017-24499 Transportation Department Transportation Department RULES Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs: Addition of Certain Schedule II Drugs to the Department of Transportation's Drug-Testing Panel and Certain Minor Amendments, 52229-52248 2017-24397 Treasury Treasury Department See

Fiscal Service

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

Veterans Employment Veterans Employment and Training Service RULES Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing Vets Medallion Program, 52186-52207 2017-24214 Western Western Area Power Administration NOTICES Rate Orders: Boulder Canyon Project, 52294-52297 2017-24496 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Health and Human Services Department, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 52356-52637 2017-23932 Part III Presidential Documents, 52639-52642 2017-24689 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.

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82 217 Monday, November 13, 2017 Rules and Regulations FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 209 [Regulation I; Docket No. R-1560] RIN 7100-AE 68 Federal Reserve Bank Capital Stock AGENCY:

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Board of Governors (Board) is publishing a final rule that applies an inflation adjustment to the threshold for total consolidated assets in Regulation I. Federal Reserve Bank (Reserve Bank) stockholders that have total consolidated assets above the threshold receive a different dividend rate on their Reserve Bank stock than stockholders with total consolidated assets at or below the threshold. The Federal Reserve Act requires that the Board annually adjust the total consolidated asset threshold to reflect the change in the Gross Domestic Product Price Index, published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Based on the change in the Gross Domestic Product Price Index as of September 28, 2017, the total consolidated asset threshold will be $10,283,000,000 through December 31, 2018.

DATES:

This final rule is effective January 1, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Evan Winerman, Counsel (202/872-7578), Legal Division; or Kimberly Zaikov, Financial Project Leader (202/452-2256), Reserve Bank Operations and Payments Systems Division. For users of Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) only, contact (202) 263-4869.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

Regulation I governs the issuance and cancellation of capital stock by the Reserve Banks. Under section 5 of the Federal Reserve Act 1 and Regulation I,2 a member bank must subscribe to capital stock of the Reserve Bank of its district in an amount equal to six percent of the member bank's capital and surplus. The member bank must pay for one-half of this subscription on the date that the Reserve Bank approves its application for capital stock, while the remaining half of the subscription shall be subject to call by the Board.3

1 12 U.S.C. 287.

2 12 CFR 209.4(a).

3 12 U.S.C. 287 and 12 CFR 209.4(c)(2).

Section 7(a)(1) of the Federal Reserve Act 4 provides that Reserve Bank stockholders with $10 billion or less in total consolidated assets shall receive a six percent dividend on paid-in capital stock, while stockholders with more than $10 billion in total consolidated assets shall receive a dividend on paid-in capital stock equal to the lesser of six percent and “the rate equal to the high yield of the 10-year Treasury note auctioned at the last auction held prior to the payment of such dividend.” Section 7(a)(1) requires that the Board adjust the threshold for total consolidated assets annually to reflect the change in the Gross Domestic Product Price Index, published by the BEA.

4 12 U.S.C. 289(a)(1).

Regulation I implements section 7(a)(1) of the Federal Reserve Act by (1) defining the term “total consolidated assets,” 5 (2) incorporating the statutory dividend rates for Reserve Bank stockholders 6 and (3) providing that the Board shall adjust the threshold for total consolidated assets annually to reflect the change in the Gross Domestic Product Price Index.7 The Board has explained that it “expects to make this adjustment [to the threshold for total consolidated assets] using the final second quarter estimate of the Gross Domestic Product Price Index for each year, published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.” 8

5 12 CFR 209.1(d)(3) (“Total consolidated assets means the total assets on the stockholder's balance sheet as reported by the stockholder on its Consolidated Report of Condition and Income (Call Report) as of the most recent December 31, except in the case of a new member or the surviving stockholder after a merger `total consolidated assets' means (until the next December 31 Call Report becomes available) the total consolidated assets of the new member or the surviving stockholder at the time of its application for capital stock”).

6 12 CFR 209.4(e), (c)(1)(ii), and (d)(1)(ii); 209.2(a); and 209.3(d)(3).

7 12 CFR 209.4(f).

8 81 FR 84415, 84417 (Nov. 23, 2016).

II. Adjustment

The Board annually adjusts the $10 billion total consolidated asset threshold based on the change in the Gross Domestic Product Price Index between the second quarter of 2015 (the baseline year) and the second quarter of the current year.9 The second quarter 2017 Gross Domestic Product Price Index estimate published by the BEA in September 2017 (113.037) is 2.83% higher than the second quarter 2015 Gross Domestic Product Price Index estimate published by the BEA in September 2017 (109.921). Based on this change in the Gross Domestic Product Price Index, the threshold for total consolidated assets in Regulation I will be $10,283,000,000 as of the effective date of January 1, 2018.

9 The BEA makes ongoing revisions to its estimates of the Gross Domestic Product Price Index for historical calendar quarters. The Board calculates annual adjustments from the baseline year (rather than from the prior-year total consolidated asset threshold) to ensure that the adjusted total consolidated asset threshold accurately reflects the cumulative change in the BEA's most recent estimates of the Gross Domestic Product Price Index.

III. Administrative Law Matters Administrative Procedure Act

The provisions of 5 U.S.C. 553(b) relating to notice of proposed rulemaking have not been followed in connection with the adoption of these amendments. The amendments involve expected, ministerial adjustments that are required by statute and Regulation I and are consistent with a method previously set forth by the Board.10 Accordingly, the Board finds good cause for determining, and so determines, that notice in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(b) is unnecessary.

10See 12 CFR 209.4(f) and n. 8 and accompanying text, supra.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) does not apply to a rulemaking where a general notice of proposed rulemaking is not required.11 As noted previously, the Board has determined that it is unnecessary to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking for this final rule. Accordingly, the RFA's requirements relating to an initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis do not apply.

11 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604.

Paperwork Reduction Act

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995,12 the Board has reviewed this final rule. No collections of information pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act are contained in the final rule.

12 44 U.S.C. 3506; 5 CFR part 1320.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 209

Banks and banking, Federal Reserve System, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Securities.

Authority and Issuance

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Board amends Regulation I, 12 CFR part 209, as follows:

PART 209—ISSUE AND CANCELLATION OF FEDERAL RESERVE BANK CAPITAL STOCK (REGULATION I) 1. The authority citation for part 209 continues to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 12 U.S.C. 222, 248, 282, 286-288, 289, 321, 323, 327-328, and 466.

2. In part 209, remove all references to “$10,122,000,000” and add in their place “$10,283,000,000”, wherever they appear. By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, acting through the Secretary of the Board under delegated authority, November 7, 2017. Margaret M. Shanks, Deputy Secretary of the Board.
[FR Doc. 2017-24553 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION 13 CFR Part 107 RIN 3245-AG65 Small Business Investment Companies—Administrative Fees AGENCY:

U.S. Small Business Administration.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is revising its regulations to increase the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) licensing and examination fees. The Small Business Investment Act of 1958, as amended, allows SBA to collect licensing and examination fees to offset SBA's costs associated with the administration of these two activities. SBA last increased fees for SBICs in 1996. Current fees offset less than 40% of SBA's administrative expenses related to these activities. This final rule increases SBIC licensing and examination fees in annual steps through October 2020, at which time SBA estimates that the annual fees will recoup approximately 80% of SBA's annual expenses directly related to these activities. Beginning in October 2021, this rule increases licensing and examination fees annually based on inflation.

DATES:

This rule is effective December 13, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Theresa Jamerson, Office of Investment and Innovation, (202) 205-7563 or [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background Information

The Small Business Investment Act of 1958, as amended (“Act”), authorizes SBA to collect fees to cover the costs associated with the licensing and examination of SBICs. 15 U.S.C. 681(e)(2)(B) and 687b(b). Although SBA has regulations setting the amount of these fees, SBA has not increased licensing and examination fees for SBICs since 1996. As part of the final rule published January 31, 1996 (61 FR 3177), SBA set licensing fees “to reflect the Agency's costs of processing applications” and similarly set examination fees to “produce total revenue sufficient to cover the current direct costs to SBA of conducting examinations.” In a subsequent rule published on April 30, 1997 (62 FR 23337), SBA capped examination fees at $14,000, which lowered the fee for SBICs with over $60 million in assets. As part of the rationale for this change, the rule stated, “many of the largest SBICs are bank-owned and do not use federal leverage, so that fees computed on the basis of total assets do not appropriately reflect the level of effort and risk associated with the examination process.” Neither rule included an adjustment for inflation.

Although fees set in 1996, as adjusted in 1997, were intended to fully reimburse SBA's costs, by fiscal year (FY) 1999 (the earliest fiscal year for which SBA expenses are readily available), licensing and examination fees only covered approximately 85% of SBA's direct costs. SBA's direct costs are the expenses related to licensing and examination (e.g., personnel compensation and benefits associated with licensing and examinations, technology, subscription services, travel and other costs associated with licensing and examinations), and excludes SBA's overhead costs (e.g., office space, utilities, and other supporting offices within SBA). In FY 2016, licensing and examination fees reimbursed approximately 35% of SBA's direct licensing and examination expenses, and less than a quarter of SBA's licensing and examination expenses when including overhead.

On December 16, 2016, SBA published a proposed rule (81 FR 91049) to gradually increase the SBIC licensing and examination fees each year through October 1, 2020, and thereafter annually based on inflation, beginning on October 1, 2021. The proposed rule detailed the reasons for the widening gap between fees received and SBA related expenses. Key reasons include inflation, changes in the SBIC portfolio, increased capital at risk (SBA-guaranteed leverage and commitments), SBA's efforts to improve SBIC program performance, and technology implementation.

As noted above, the Act authorizes SBA to collect fees to cover the costs associated with the licensing and examination of SBICs. The Act requires SBA to deposit the fees in the account for salaries and expenses of the Administration and authorizes SBA to use licensing fees to cover licensing costs and examination fees to cover the costs of examinations and other program oversight activities. 15 U.S.C. 681(e)(2) and 687b(b). To the extent that SBA does not cover its licensing and examination costs by charging SBICs for these fees, the balance is paid out of Agency funds. In other words, when SBICs do not pay fees sufficient to cover SBA's licensing and examination costs, taxpayers bear the burden of covering those costs. It is an appropriate use of SBA's statutory authority in this final rule to increase SBIC licensing and examination fees to cover a greater percentage of licensing and examination costs.

The effect of the statutory language authorizing SBA to use licensing fees to cover licensing costs and examination fees to cover the costs of examinations and “other program oversight activities” is that SBA may use examination fees to cover a broader category of expenses than those for which it may charge (i.e., examination costs alone). Although the current and estimated future costs of compensation and benefits of SBA personnel involved in licensing and examinations, not including any additional related expenses, fully support the fee increases in this final rule, in the proposed rule, SBA identified a number of costs it expected to pay for with the funds made available by this rule, such as technology, training, information services and contractor support for examinations. While the expenses other than licensing and examinations personnel compensation and benefits discussed in the proposed rule and this final rule are not necessary to support the fee increases in this final rule, these expenses are priorities of SBA. Accordingly, SBA intends to use the additional funds made available by this rule—whether those funds are fee revenue or Agency funds currently used to pay compensation and benefits of personnel involved in licensing and examinations that are replaced by fee revenue from this rule—to pay for such expenses.

SBA received three sets of comments. These comments are addressed in the Section-by-Section Analysis.

II. Section-by-Section Analysis A. General Comments on the Proposed Rule

SBA received several comments that were generally directed to the proposed rule (81 FR 91049) rather than a specific section. Each of these is addressed below.

One comment stated that the proposed rule does not comply with the Presidential Executive Order 13771 issued on January 30, 2017, entitled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” OMB issued guidance on April 5, 2017, entitled, “Guidance Implementing Executive Order 13771,” which states that Executive Order 13771 applies only to significant rules, as defined by section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Since OMB has determined that this rule is not significant, Executive Order 13771 does not apply to this rule.

SBA received a number of comments that centered on the theme that SBA is using dollars that should be directed to the SBIC program for other programs. For example, one comment stated that SBA's Office of Investment and Innovation (OII), which oversees the SBIC program, has been redirecting its human capital and funding from the SBIC program to other programs, such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Another comment stated that SBICs have no certainty that if higher fees are charged that the additional resources generated would not be used to offset increased spending for non-SBIC matters, and “there is no limitation on monies that are currently spent on licensing and examinations from being diverted to other uses by the SBA.” Another comment stated similar concerns and asked what assurances SBA could provide that the fee increase would benefit the SBIC program. A final comment stated that “OII should use all its resources to support the SBIC program.”

The comments misunderstand or fail to take into account SBA's statutory obligations, extensive transparency with respect to spending, and commitments identified in the proposed rule. First, by statute, SBA must use SBIC licensing fees for licensing expenses and SBIC examination fees for examination and other program oversight expenses. 15 U.S.C 681(e)(2)(A), 687b(b). This statutory obligation governing the use of fees should provide SBICs with certainty that SBA is using the fees generated by this final rule only for SBIC matters. Second, SBA provides comprehensive budget transparency, which should provide additional assurance to SBICs that SBA is using the fee increase in the final rule only for SBIC matters. SBA's Congressional Budget Justification separately tracks and reports the costs for each of its programs, including the costs of the SBIC and SBIR programs. This information is made publicly available every year by SBA, and is available at www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-performance/performance-budget-finances/congressional-budget-justification-annual-performance-report. Current SBIC licensing and examination fees are applied to SBA's account for salaries and expenses, as required by the Act, and are used to pay the salaries of personnel associated with SBIC licensing and examination activities. In FY 2016, SBA spent an estimated $4.8 million on personnel compensation and benefits associated with these activities alone, and $5.4 million including travel, technology, subscription services and other costs associated with these activities. Licensing and examination fees provided only $1.9 million to offset these costs. By FY 2021, SBA estimates that direct costs associated with licensing and examinations will increase to $9.4 million and that this final rule will generate an additional $5 to $6 million in fees annually. Accordingly, even after the fee increases in this rule are fully phased in, a shortfall of $1.5 million to $2.5 million will still exist between aggregate licensing and examination direct expenses. When factoring in overhead, SBA's estimated licensing and examination costs will even further exceed anticipated fees. Third, SBA recognizes the need for additional resources in the SBIC program. Indeed, that is one of the purposes of the rulemaking and should provide assurance that the additional funds made available by this final rule will be used to benefit the SBIC program. As more fully discussed below, SBA intends to allocate the additional funds made available by this rule to pay for needed resources, including technology, subscription services, contractors, and training. Finally, and more broadly, the SBIC program is one of many programs operated by SBA. OII manages several programs, including, but not limited to, the SBIC program and the SBIR program. As is the case with the SBIC program, SBA has statutory obligations with respect to operating the SBIR program. SBA assesses resource needs for each program to efficiently and effectively execute its statutory responsibilities. Consistent with the statute, no SBIC fee revenue has been or will be used for this program.

One comment stated that SBIC program costs have not substantially increased in recent years and questioned the need for increased fees. The comment is correct that SBIC program costs have not substantially increased over the past few years. Nonetheless, excluding SBA overhead, the SBIC program direct operating budget has increased from $7.4 million in FY 1999 (the earliest period for which SBIC budgets are readily available) to approximately $12.9 million in FY 2016. Over half of the increase is due to inflation ($7.4 million in January 1999 would equate to $10.7 million in January 1999 based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Consumer Price Index calculator located at data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl) with the remainder due to the addition of subscription services, such as Preqin and Lexis/Nexis, technology improvements, and the costs associated with more experienced analysts necessary to oversee SBA's increased capital at risk (SBA leverage and commitments). As discussed in the proposed rule, SBICs ultimately benefit financially from improvements in the quality of the SBIC program portfolio through lower annual charges on SBA-guaranteed debenture leverage. The SBIC debenture leverage annual charge has decreased from 1% in FY 1999 to an annual charge of 0.347% in FY 2017, reflecting improvements to the SBIC debenture portfolio (a cost savings of $979,500 in just one year for a hypothetical SBIC issuing $150 million of debentures at the lower annual charge). In FY 1999, SBA had less than $3.9 billion in capital at risk; this figure grew to $14.5 billion by the end of FY 2016. Analyzing SBICs and SBIC applicants has become more time intensive due to the increased complexity of SBIC organizational structures, legal documents, management fees, and financings. As an example, on October 21, 2014, SBA published a final rule (79 FR 62819) requested by the SBIC industry, which allowed the use of up to two levels of passive businesses under 13 CFR 107.720(b)(2) in order to provide more flexibility to its SBICs in structuring investments. To appropriately monitor these financings, SBA must examine each passive business used in the financing in addition to the operating business. While SBA understands such financings provide SBICs additional flexibility in structuring investments, these financings cause additional work for SBA to review and monitor.

One comment asked SBA to identify its priorities for the increased fee revenue associated with this rule. SBA intends to use the additional funds made available by this rule to: (1) Support its continued efforts to migrate from desktop database tools to a secure cloud-based system comparable to the systems used by a typical private equity fund of funds (an investment fund that holds a portfolio of private equity funds); (2) pay for additional contractor services to support examinations and facilitate SBA's transition to a paperless environment; (3) increase travel related to licensing, examination, and other program oversight; (4) train employees; (5) increase access to subscription services typically used by a typical private equity fund of funds, such as industry reports; and (6) to further offset the compensation and benefits of personnel associated with these activities.

One comment stated that the proposed fee increase was excessive and it was unclear why an additional $3 to $4 million in fees is needed to administer the program, noting that the costs cited in the proposed rule only totaled $1.7 million. As support, the comment cited the $100,000 in information subscription services, $500,000 in increased licensing and examination costs for technology improvements, $100,000 to incur additional training costs, and $1 million in contracting resources identified in the proposed rule.

Setting aside the $1.7 million in specific additional expenses needed for licensing and examination expenses identified in the proposed rule, the commenter appears to disregard the licensing and examination expenses that current fees are not covering. The intent of this final rule is to cover more of SBA's existing expenses for these activities and provide sufficient income to pay for the additional and necessary expenses identified in the proposed rule. As discussed above, in FY 2016, SBA expended approximately $5.4 million, excluding overhead, on SBIC licensing and examination activities, but received only $1.9 million in licensing and examination fees, resulting in a $3.5 million shortfall which was paid out of SBA's taxpayer-funded budget. Through this rule, SBA expects to reduce this shortfall.

One comment suggested that SBA should conduct an in-depth accounting of the needs and requirements of OII to provide “first-class service” to SBICs to determine the minimum resources necessary to fulfill its mission, identify where costs can be cut, better allocate existing resources, improve efficiencies through private sector solutions, and then present the final accounting of these amounts to the public. Regarding the in-depth accounting requested by the comment, the proposed rule set forth in detail current licensing and examination expenses and the additional expenses related to these functions that SBA believes are critical to fulfilling the statutory mission of the SBIC program. This final rule discusses those costs and future estimates in further detail. In reviewing existing resources, SBA identified five key areas for improvements, which it intends to pay for using the additional funds made available as a result of this final rule, as follows:

(1) Technology: SBA's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is working closely with OII to improve its systems to provide functionality similar to a typical private sector private equity fund of funds and serve as a virtual data room. In addition to this software, SBA needs to migrate from Microsoft Access and acquire data visualization and analytical tools commensurate with private equity funds and other government loan programs. SBA also expects to periodically update its hardware.

(2) Outsourced Contractor Services: SBA intends to utilize contractors to provide certain services for which SBA does not currently have sufficient resources to perform and to assist in certain risk control functions of OII. This includes hiring contractors for scanning, file management, record management, and cyber security to help migrate the entire office to a paperless environment. This also includes valuation services to help support SBIC program oversight and SBIC examinations where SBA determines that an independent valuation is appropriate or necessary. In reviewing the examination function, SBA has established a goal of increasing the frequency with which individual SBICs are examined to further reduce risk of loss to the SBIC program. Due to staffing limitation issues, SBA intends to outsource certain examination functions in order to ensure that it is able to meet statutory examination requirements.

(3) Travel: SBA intends to increase staff travel in furtherance of program objectives for licensing, examinations, and other program oversight activities.

(4) Training: As noted in the proposed rule, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) noted that “without proper training and technology examiners may not effectively identify all regulatory violations as intended by the Act.” OIG Audit Report 13-22 at 11. OII intends to devote a larger portion of its budget for employee training.

(5) Subscription Services: SBA is evaluating information sources used by a typical private sector private equity fund of funds to identify which sources may most effectively help its analysts better evaluate and assess SBICs and applicants.

SBA regularly assesses needs and resources for all programs to ensure that SBA is able to meet its statutory obligations in an efficient and effective manner. In assessing the expenses of the SBIC program more broadly than licensing and examination expenses alone, total program costs for the SBIC program are already low compared to cost of the SBIC program from prior eras based on capital at risk and comparable current private sector entities based on assets under management. SBIC program resources have not kept pace with increased capital at risk since FY 1999 (the earliest period for which the SBIC program operating budget is readily available). In FY 1999, SBA spent $7.4 million, excluding overhead, to manage a portfolio of less than $3.9 billion in capital at risk (leverage and commitments); in FY 2016, SBA spent $12.9 million to manage a portfolio of $14.5 billion. SBA's capital at risk continues to increase, reaching $15.3 billion as of May 22, 2017. While SBA's capital at risk has more than tripled in size, SBA's costs to manage its much larger portfolio have not even doubled. As a result, the SBIC program's FY 1999 operating budget, excluding overhead, represented 0.19% of its capital at risk and its FY 2016 operating budget represents 0.09%. If SBA returned to the FY 1999 rate of 0.19%, the SBIC program's direct budget would need to increase to $29 million today, which would still fall significantly below comparable private sector costs. As a comparison, a typical private sector fund of funds commonly charges 1% of assets under management (AUM) annually to manage the fund; notably, SBICs typically charge 2% in annual management fees.

SBA estimates that by FY 2021 the Agency will need approximately $19.9 million, excluding overhead, to manage the SBIC program (“SBIC Program Direct Cost Estimates”), as shown in Table 1, SBIC Program Direct Cost Estimates (In Millions of Dollars), below. The cost estimate includes increases for inflation through FY 2021 and funding for the five key areas that are targeted for improvement.

Table 1—SBIC Program Direct Cost Estimates [In millions of dollars] Category FY
  • 2016
  • FY
  • 2021
  • Personnel (Compensation & Benefits) $11.65 $13.53 Technology 0.79 3.16 Outsourced Contractor Services 2.29 Travel 0.22 0.47 Subscription Services 0.19 0.21 Training and Other Expenses 0.09 0.27 Total SBIC Program Direct Cost Estimates 12.94 19.93

    Direct licensing costs are expected to increase from approximately $2 million in FY 2016 to almost $3 million by FY 2021, and examination costs are expected to increase from $3.4 million in FY 2016 to almost $6.4 million by FY 2021. Table 2, SBIC Program Direct Cost Estimates for Licensing and Examination Activities (In Millions of Dollars), below provides a breakdown for SBIC licensing and examination costs.

    Table 2—SBIC Program Direct Cost Estimates for Licensing and Examination Activities [In millions of dollars] Category Licensing costs FY 2016 FY 2021 Examination costs FY 2016 FY 2021 Personnel (Compensation & Benefits) $1.80 $2.31 $2.96 $4.12 Technology 0.09 0.31 0.20 0.79 Outsourced Contractor Services 0.00 0.11 0.00 1.11 Travel 0.00 0.06 0.22 0.26 Subscription Services 0.12 0.13 0.00 0.00 Training and Other Expenses 0.01 0.03 0.02 0.07 Total SBIC Direct Cost Estimates 2.02 2.95 3.40 6.35

    SBA realized that the cost estimates on which the proposed rule was developed (“proposed rule cost estimate”) significantly underestimated SBA costs for technology, outsourcing, and overhead. The proposed rule identified only $1 million for technology, half of which was allocated to licensing and examinations. After further review of commercially available systems used by private sector funds of funds and tools used by other government financial programs, SBA believes technology costs are likely to be significantly higher than originally estimated in the proposed rule. The proposed rule cost estimate also understated costs for outsourced services, particularly with respect to examinations and cyber security. Most significantly, the proposed rule used an agency overhead rate of less than half a percent (0.48%) of all direct SBIC costs. After publishing the proposed rule, OII became aware that the actual agency overhead rate amounts to approximately thirty percent (30%) of the program's total cost. (For example, if the total program cost were $10 million, $7 million would be the program office's direct costs while the other $3 million would represent agency overhead.) As a result, the fee increase in this final rule is likely to cover less of SBA's license and examination expenses than SBA expected when proposing the rule. After the full increase is phased in by FY 2021, the fees will cover approximately 80% of SBA's direct licensing and examination expenses, and less than 60% of such expenses when including overhead. SBA is concerned that the phased in fee increase in this final rule may not provide SBA with fees necessary to pay for critical resources as quickly as necessary. SBA is also concerned that, after the phase-in is complete, fees collected will not cover all expenses authorized by statute. Accordingly, SBA is considering proposing a new rule after this final rule becomes effective to more fully cover its licensing and examination costs in a more expedited timeframe.

    One comment questioned OII's priorities, stating that OII recently created and hired a position which the commenter believes duplicates a currently existing role in OII rather than filling core competencies. How SBA chooses to allocate its non-fee related budget is not the subject of this rule. In addition, as noted above, SBA regularly reviews resource allocations within SBA to maximize efficiency and prioritize resources. Based on this review, SBA is currently seeking to provide additional resources to licensing and examinations.

    One comment stated that although more staffing resources should be allocated to SBIC examinations, those resources should come from other areas within OII or sought from congressional appropriations. SBA assesses the needs for all of its programs and cannot reallocate money from one program to another without repercussions to the program that would lose resources. In addition, any reallocations of personnel to examination functions would not lower examination costs. Such resources, therefore, would not reduce the need for the fees set forth in this final rule. SBA could request additional funds from Congress; however, Congress gave SBA the authority to recoup its SBIC licensing and examination expenses by charging SBIC licensing and examination fees. By this final rule, SBA is complying with the statutory intent to cover more of its licensing and examination costs through the use of fees, which will provide SBA with the ability to pay for necessary additional resources required to administer the SBIC program.

    Two comments noted that technology improvements, such as a virtual data room, could significantly reduce costs. Neither commenter provided data to support cost reductions. As part of the budget estimate presented in Table 1, SBA considered the use of private sector technology, such as adopting software commonly used by a typical private equity fund of funds, virtual data rooms, and analytical tools to improve the efficiency of its processes. In general, SBA has found that while technology improves the accessibility of information, it does not necessarily decrease the time or manpower required to license or examine a fund. For example, while a virtual data room would help in accessing a business plan, it takes the same amount of time to read and understand the business plan in an electronic version as a paper version. Similarly, while a virtual data room helps SBA access SBIC financing documents, most of SBA's time is spent reviewing the documents, and assessing whether the financing complies with SBIC regulations. SBA also notes that such technology is used by SBIC managers and other professionals (such as accounting and law firms) that charge expenses to SBICs and that their costs have not declined.

    One comment stated that the increased fees would significantly deter existing and prospective SBIC fund managers from continuing in the program. The fees identified in this final rule represent a small percentage of a fund's capital or expenses. Regarding the licensing fees, in FY 2016, SBA licensed 21 SBICs with average initial private capital exceeding $55 million. Those intending to issue SBA guaranteed debentures (“leveraged SBICs”) had average initial private capital of $53 million, and those not intending to issue SBA guaranteed debentures (“non-leveraged SBICs”) had average initial capital of $74 million. The FY 2021 licensing fee of $45,000 represents 0.06% of the average non-leveraged SBIC's capital and 0.03% of the leveraged SBIC's total capital (assuming the leveraged SBIC will draw leverage equal to two times private capital). Even after full phase-in by FY 2021, the licensing fee is expected to account for a modest percentage of an SBIC's total organizational costs (e.g., legal fees and other professional and consulting services, fundraising expenses, etc.), which frequently reach or exceed $500,000. Regarding the examination fee, under this final rule, in approximately three years (by October 2020), the examination fee for a leveraged SBIC with $150 million in assets at cost would be $44,000 (0.03% of assets) and for a non-leveraged SBIC $30,000 (0.02% of assets). SBA's goal is to examine leveraged SBICs every twelve months and non-leveraged SBICs every eighteen months. In FY 2016, an SBIC with $150 million in assets typically incurred annual management fees of $3 million and annual audit fees between $50,000 and $60,000. SBA believes that while the increased fees may deter a few funds with limited ability to raise capital from applying to the program, most applicants will not be deterred. To the extent that such deterrence occurs, it may help SBA focus its resources on stronger SBIC applicants.

    B. Indexing Fees Section 107.50—Definition of Terms

    Current SBIC regulations do not adjust SBA's administrative fees for inflation. As a result, fees have not increased since 1996 and do not cover SBA's costs. To enable fees to remain current with inflation, SBA is adding the term “Inflation Adjustment”, which is defined as the methodology used to increase SBIC administrative fees using the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U), as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), based on the U.S. city average for all items, not seasonally adjusted, with the base period 1982 − 84 = 100. Beginning on October 1, 2021, and prior to each federal government fiscal year (October 1) thereafter, SBA would recalculate the examination and licensing fees to reflect increases in the CPI-U based on the change in the index from the June CPI-U in the previous year to the most recent June CPI-U. For example, the CPI-U is 238.638 in June 2015 and 241.038 in June 2016; a 1.0057% increase would be applied and then rounded to the nearest $100. If the CPI-U decreases, no change would be made to the fees. SBA would publish the resulting fees in a notice in the Federal Register each year prior to October 1.

    SBA received one comment that opposed the inflation adjustment, stating that instituting an inflation adjustment removes SBA's accountability for reducing costs and streamlining processes. SBA does not agree. More than half of SBA's SBIC expense increase between 1999 and 2016 was due to inflation. These increased expenses were funded by taxpayers rather than SBICs. Implementing an inflation adjustment to ensure that SBA's licensing and examination fees keep pace with inflation helps to ensure that, consistent with the statutory authority Congress provided to SBA in Sections 301 and 310 of the Act, SBICs, not taxpayers, are paying the costs related to these activities. SBA estimates that if SBA had instituted an inflation adjustment in 1996, over the 5-year period between FYs 2012 and 2016 alone, SBA could have saved taxpayers over $6 million. Further, SBA's budget process ensures accountability by providing disclosure of SBA's costs to the public each year. SBA further notes that using inflation adjustments is in line with other federal financial regulators such as bank examiner fees (For example, pursuant to 12 CFR 8.2, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency applies an inflation adjustment to the fees it charges for examining and supervising national banks.) Finally, SBA remains committed to ensuring that the SBIC program is operated efficiently and effectively. This final rule adopts the proposed § 107.50 language without change.

    C. Licensing Fees Section 107.300—License Application Form and Fee

    Current regulations require SBIC applicants to pay a licensing fee when submitting a complete application. Under those regulations, the licensing fee consisted of a base fee of $10,000 plus additions as follows: $5,000 if the applicant intended to operate as a limited partnership; $5,000 if the applicant intended to issue Participating Securities leverage (a type of leverage no longer available); and $10,000 if the applicant intended to be licensed as an Early Stage SBIC (a type of license no longer issued after September 30, 2016).

    SBA proposed to remove the additions and to adopt a uniform licensing fee of $25,000 in FY 2017, which would increase by $5,000 each October through October 1, 2020, resulting in a licensing fee of $45,000 by October 1, 2020. Beginning on October 1, 2021, the rule proposed to increase the amount based on inflation. The proposed rule did not propose changing when the licensing fee was payable. Consistent with SBA's existing practice, the preamble to the proposed rule discussed SBA's licensing phases and what forms and fees are required at each phase as follows:

    The first phase in the licensing process (“Initial Review”) begins when a first time applicant submits its Management Assessment Questionnaire (“MAQ”), which consists of SBA Forms 2181 and Exhibits A through F of SBA Form 2182, or when the management of an existing SBIC submits a request to SBA to be considered for a subsequent SBIC license. (SBIC application forms are available on SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/sbic.) SBA reviews the MAQ or subsequent SBIC applicant materials, performs due diligence, analyzes the management team's performance, interviews those management teams invited for an in-person interview, and ultimately determines whether to issue a formal invitation (“Green Light Letter”) to the applicant to proceed to the final licensing phase of the process. Once an applicant receives a Green Light Letter, the applicant typically has up to 18 months to raise the requisite private capital. During this timeframe, SBA keeps in touch with the applicant, conducts SBIC training classes, and provides guidance as needed. The applicant pays the licensing fee only at the final licensing phase (“Final Licensing”). Final Licensing occurs at the time SBA accepts an applicant's complete license application (consisting of an updated SBA Form 2181 and complete SBA Forms 2182 and 2183), which application is submitted after raising sufficient private capital. A number of applicants fail to raise the requisite capital or for other reasons do not submit a license application. As a result, SBA estimates that less than half of SBIC applicants pay the licensing fee, even though SBA expends resources on all applicants.

    As part of the proposed rule, SBA asked for comments as to whether an applicant should pay a licensing fee prior to submitting its complete license application, since SBA expends significant resources prior to that time. SBA received one comment that supported a fee of up to $10,000 at the first phase, Initial Review, with a commensurate decrease in the licensing fee at the second phase, Final Licensing. The commenter also suggested that SBA clarify its licensing standards, since half of all applicants that apply to the program do not receive a Green Light Letter. SBA recommends that applicants use the pre-screening process described on its Web site at www.sba.gov/sbic/applying-be-sbic/pre-screening-process, which will remain free of charge after this final rule is published. This process helps applicants identify whether they are likely to qualify for a license before beginning the licensing process.

    SBA agrees that a fee at Initial Review is appropriate; this final rule includes a $10,000 fee at Initial Review (“Initial Licensing Fee”) beginning on the effective date of this rule. The amount of the licensing fee due at Final Licensing (“Final Licensing Fee”) in this final rule has been reduced from the amount for such fee in the proposed rule by a commensurate decrease of $10,000. Accordingly, by October 1, 2020, the combined licensing fees for a single applicant will total $45,000, which is the total amount of licensing fees proposed by SBA in the proposed rule. The amount of the Final Licensing Fee is the amount due in effect on the date when SBA accepts an applicant's license application. Due to the timing of this final rule, SBA removed the proposed FY 2017 licensing fee. Table 3, SBIC Initial and Final Licensing Fees, below, identifies the Initial Licensing Fee and Final Licensing Fees in this final rule for each fiscal year.

    Table 3—SBIC Initial and Final Licensing Fees Time Initial
  • licensing fee
  • Final
  • licensing fee
  • December 13, 2017-September 30, 2018 $10,000 $20,000 October 1, 2018-September 30, 2019 10,000 25,000 October 1, 2019-September 30, 2020 10,000 30,000 October 1, 2020-September 30, 2021 10,000 35,000
    Beginning on October 1, 2021, SBA will increase the Initial Licensing Fee and Final Licensing Fee using the Inflation Adjustment and, prior to the date of the increase, will publish the amount in a Notice in the Federal Register. Section 107.410—Changes in Control of Licensee

    SBA treats a change in control of a Licensee as a licensing action since SBA must perform similar functions and processes to those in SBA's licensing processes. Current regulations require SBICs seeking a change in control to pay a $10,000 fee, similar to the licensing fee. Since the procedures and costs are similar to those in the licensing process, the proposed regulations changed the current fee to be equal to the licensing fee identified in § 107.300. SBA received no comments on this section. As noted above, this final rule does not change the total amount of the licensing fee in the proposed rule, but requires two payments rather than one: the Initial Licensing Fee and the Final Licensing Fee. The final § 107.410 modifies the language in proposed § 107.410 to reflect the combined Licensing Fee (Initial Licensing Fee plus the Final Licensing Fee) as defined in the final § 107.300.

    D. Examination Fees Section 107.692(b)—Base Fee

    Current § 107.692(b) identifies a base examination fee calculated as a percentage of an SBIC's total assets at cost. As set forth in current § 107.692(b), the percentage decreases as the assets increase, with the maximum base examination fee set at $14,000 for SBICs with total assets greater than $60 million.

    SBA proposed to modify § 107.692(b), to replace the base fee calculation with the following formula: Base Fee = Minimum Base Fee + 0.024% of assets at cost, but not to exceed the Maximum Base Fee. The Minimum Base Fee would increase to $5,000 in FY 2017 and increase each October by $1,000 through October 1, 2020. As proposed, the Maximum Base Fee for Non-leveraged SBICs would increase to $20,000 in FY 2017 and increase by $2,500 each October through October 1, 2020. The Maximum Base Fee for Leveraged SBICs would increase to $20,000 in FY 2017 and then by $6,000 each October through October 1, 2020. Beginning on October 1, 2021, the Minimum and Maximum Base Fee (for both Leveraged and Non-leveraged SBICs) would increase using the Inflation Adjustment.

    For the purposes of calculating the examination fee, the proposed rule defined Non-leveraged SBICs as SBICs that have no outstanding SBA-guaranteed leverage or leverage commitments and, in the case of SBICs that have issued leverage in the form of Participating Securities, hold no Earmarked Assets. An SBIC that satisfies these requirements must also certify to SBA that it will not seek new SBA leverage in the future.

    SBA received one comment supporting SBA's proposal to tie the examination fee to assets, noting that a fee not tied to assets would have been burdensome for smaller funds.

    SBA received one comment that the increase is excessive, noting that while there is an increase in the number of SBICs to be examined, there was no evidence provided that the cost of examining an individual SBIC has doubled. As discussed previously, over half of the increase in examination expenses since 1999 is due to inflation, with most of the remainder due to the addition of subscription services, technology improvements, and costs associated with more experienced analysts necessary to oversee SBA's increased capital at risk (SBA leverage and commitments), particularly in larger leveraged SBICs with over $60 million in assets. In December 1996, only 6 of the 28 SBICs with over $60 million in assets used leverage and only 1 of the 12 SBICs with over $120 million in assets used leverage. As of December 31, 2016, 122 of the 129 SBICs with over $60 million in assets used leverage and 72 of the 74 SBICs with over $120 million in assets used leverage. SBA applies a higher level of scrutiny in examining leveraged SBICs than non-leveraged SBICs in exams, since SBA bears credit risk with respect to leveraged SBICs. In addition, larger leveraged SBICs often use complex transaction structures which are more time-consuming to examine. For example, the percentage of SBIC financings made through passive businesses (a type of financing that is generally prohibited, but with permitted exceptions for passive businesses that pass through proceeds to eligible active small businesses) increased from 3% in 1996 to over 14% over the past few years. This is partially due to the expansion of SBIC passive business rules on December 23, 2014 (78 FR 77377), which revised 13 CFR 107.720(b)(2) to allow SBICs to invest in up to two levels of passive businesses under certain circumstances. Although SBA understands that these types of accommodations are necessary to enable SBICs to finance certain small businesses, these transactions require SBA to use more resources to monitor and examine them.

    SBA believes the examination base fee is reasonable and consistent with the cost of other auditing services and is finalizing § 107.692(b) as proposed with the exception of one timing-related change. Due to the timing of this final rule, SBA is removing the FY 2017 fee increase identified in the proposed rule and will begin with the FY 2018 fee, after the effective date of this rule. The final § 107.692(b) replaces the base fee calculation with the following formula: Base Fee = Minimum Base Fee + 0.024% of assets at cost, but not to exceed the Maximum Base Fee. Both the Minimum Base Fee and the Maximum Base Fee change each year as shown on Table 4, Minimum and Maximum Base Fees, and are adjusted for inflation each year beginning October 1, 2021:

    Table 4—Minimum and Maximum Base Fees Time period (based on the examination start date) Minimum base fee Maximum base fee for
  • non-leveraged
  • SBICs
  • Maximum base fee for
  • leveraged
  • SBICs
  • December 13, 2017 to September 30, 2018 $6,000 $22,500 $26,000 October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019 7,000 25,000 32,000 October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 8,000 27,500 38,000 October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 9,000 30,000 44,000
    Section 107.692(c)—Adjustments to Base Fee and (d) Fee Discounts and Additions Table

    Current § 107.692(c) provides for the following adjustments to the base examination fee calculated under § 107.692(b): 15% discount for no prior violations; 10% discount for responsiveness; 5% addition if SBIC is structured as a partnership or limited liability company; 10% addition if the SBIC was licensed with the intent of issuing Participating Securities; 10% addition if SBIC records are maintained at multiple locations; and 10% addition if the SBIC is licensed as an Early Stage SBIC. These adjustments were summarized in tabular form in § 107.692(d).

    SBA proposed to revise § 107.692(c) as follows:

    Retain No Violation Discount: SBA proposed to retain the no violation discount, which gives a 15% discount on the Base Fee to SBICs that have no outstanding regulatory violations at the time of the examination start date and had no violations as a result of the most recent prior examination.

    Add Low and Moderate Income (LMI) Investing Discount: SBICs would receive a discount of 1% of the Base Fee for every $10 million in LMI Investments (in dollars at cost) financed since the Licensee's last examination up to a maximum 10% of the Base Fee. LMI Investments are defined in § 107.50.

    Remove Fully-responsive Discount; Add Non-Responsiveness Addition: During development of the proposed rule, SBA found that most SBICs regularly received the 10% discount available under § 107.692(c) for being “fully responsive to the letter of notification of examination.” SBA therefore took into account the cost efficiencies resulting from responsiveness when formulating the revised Base Fees in proposed § 107.692(b). To compensate SBA for the additional time required to examine the minority of SBICs that are not responsive, proposed § 107.692(c)(3) included an addition of 15% of the Base Fee for any SBIC that is “not fully responsive to the letter of notification of examination.”

    Retain Records/Files at Multiple Location Addition: Proposed § 107.692(c)(4) also retained the 10% addition charged to SBICs that maintain records located in multiple locations.

    Add Unresolved Finding Addition: To encourage SBICs to resolve findings in a timely manner, § 107.692(c)(5) SBA proposed an additional fee equal to 5% of the Base Fee for every 30 calendar days or portion thereof that any examination finding that remains unresolved after a 90 calendar day cure period (beginning on the date that SBA notifies the SBIC that corrective action must be taken), unless SBA ultimately resolves the finding in the SBIC's favor.

    Remove Additions for Partnership and LLC: Since almost all SBICs are organized as partnerships and LLCs, the proposed rule removed these additional fees from § 107.692(c) and incorporated the cost into the Base Fee.

    Remove Additions for Participating Securities Licensees and Early Stage SBICs: SBA proposed to remove the fee additions for Participating Securities Licensees and Early Stage SBICs, both of which SBA no longer licenses.

    SBA received one comment that supported the removal of additions for early stage, participating securities, and partnership/LLC; this final rule adopts these proposed changes to § 107.692(c).

    SBA received one comment that opposed the LMI discount, stating that discounts should not be used for political or social goals. SBA proposed this discount partly in response to a comment submitted by the same commenter on a different rule proposed by SBA, the Impact SBIC Rule (81 FR 5666), which comment stated, “facilitating investment dollars in LMI areas is consistent with the core statute and the Congressional mandate for the SBIC program” and suggested that the LMI discount might be helpful. SBA agrees that LMI investments are consistent with the SBIC program mission. Nonetheless, since the public opposed this discount in the context of this rule, and LMI investments do not have a meaningful impact on the amount of time and resources required by SBA in connection with an examination, this final rule § 107.692(c) does not include this discount in § 107.692(c).

    SBA received several comments on the proposed adjustments to the examination base fee in the proposed rule. One comment stated that SBA should not make adjustments to the examination fee based on arbitrary decisions by examiners, including the no violation discount, non-responsive addition, records/files at multiple locations addition, and the unresolved finding addition. Examination fee adjustments are not determined arbitrarily, but rather, through a process requiring exam manager review. An examination may only apply an adjustment to the fee if an SBA exam manager agrees with the decision by the examiner that an adjustment is warranted. SBA exam managers review examination fees prepared by each examiner to ensure they are fairly and accurately assessed. Furthermore, SBICs have the right to dispute any examination fee invoice. SBA receives questions from SBICs concerning less than approximately 3% of its examination invoices. Each of the adjustments SBA received comments on is addressed in further detail below:

    No Violation Discount: SBA received one comment that supported a uniform examination fee, with no discounts and no additional fees, except in egregious cases. SBA agrees, in part, with this comment, and believes that a more uniform examination fee is desirable. Accordingly, this final rule seeks to avoid any single discount or addition being applied to a majority of SBICs. Although the proposed rule proposed to retain the no violation discount in current SBA regulations, since over 70% of SBICs examined in FY 2016 received the no violation discount, SBA believes it is appropriate not to retain this discount. Further, and consistent with the desire for a more uniform examination fee, the examination base fee identified in this final rule reflects SBA's average cost to examine an SBIC, and examinations resulting in violations require SBA to spend time and resources to identify and address those violations. If SBA were to retain the no violation discount, the examination fee would not fully cover SBA's cost of examining the SBIC. Therefore, and in light of the comment received supporting a more uniform examination fee, SBA removed the no violation discount in this final rule.

    Non-Responsive Addition: The comment objecting to this addition was particularly concerned that such an addition would be applied arbitrarily and without warning. SBA agrees with the comment that a written warning would be appropriate prior to assessing this addition. As with all additions, this addition may only be applied with exam manager approval. Over 97% of SBICs examined in FY 2016 received the discount for being responsive, and SBA expects that if SBIC responsiveness remains similar to FY 2016, it will only be necessary to apply the non-responsive addition in less than 3% of cases. For the reasons discussed above regarding SBA's desire for a more uniform examination fee consisting of an examination base fee that reflects SBA's average cost to examine an SBIC with adjustments which increase that cost, the final rule includes the non-responsive addition. Since uncooperative SBICs increase SBA's costs, this final rule adopts the non-responsive addition of 15% as proposed, but with the clarification that SBA will provide a written warning prior to assessment.

    Records/Files at Multiple Location Addition: SBA received one comment objecting to this addition, which is currently in SBA regulations and which SBA proposed to retain. SBA notes that there is no risk of arbitrary application of this addition, since SBIC records are maintained either in a single or multiple locations. Further, in FY 2016, less than 2% of SBICs received this addition. This final rule maintains this addition in § 107.692(c) since traveling to multiple locations increases SBA's time and costs.

    Unresolved Finding Addition: One comment objected to this addition on the grounds that some resolutions, such as the sale of a portfolio company, may take more than 90 days to resolve. SBA agrees with the comment that certain resolutions may take longer than 90 days to resolve. Accordingly, the final § 107.692(c) adopts this addition, since SBA spends a significant amount of time trying to resolve unresolved findings, but clarifies the language to account for resolutions requiring longer than 90 days to resolve.

    A summary of the resulting final § 107.692(c) examination fee additions (also presented in tabular form in final § 107.692(d)) is summarized in Table 5, Proposed Examination Fee Additions, below.

    Table 5—Proposed Examination Fee Additions Examination fee additions Amount of addition − % of base fee (1) Non-responsive 15%. (2) Records/Files at multiple locations 10%. (3) Unresolved Findings 5% of Base Fee for every 30 days or portion thereof beyond the 90 day cure period or such later date as SBA sets forth in the notice for each unresolved finding.

    Just as with current § 107.692, the final examination fee is calculated by taking the Base Fee determined under § 107.692(b) and adding the adjustments identified in § 107.692(c). The following example demonstrates this calculation. Assume that in March 2019, a leveraged SBIC has $125 million in assets at cost. The Base Fee calculation ($7,000 + .024% × $125 million) computes to $37,000. Since the Base Fee may not exceed the Maximum Base Fee for the relevant time period, the Base Fee would be equal to $32,000. If the SBIC is non-responsive to the examiner's requests and has records in multiple locations, the examination fee would be calculated as follows:

    Table 6—Example March 2019 Examination Fee Calculation Amount Explanation  $32,000 Base Fee determined per final § 107.692(b). + $ 4,800 15% addition for non-responsiveness per final § 107.692(c)(1). + $ 3,200 10% addition for records in multiple locations per final § 107.692(c)(2).  $40,000 Examination Fee.

    Although the Base Fee has a minimum and maximum, the resulting examination fee does not have a minimum or maximum. Unresolved findings beyond the 90-day cure period could result in increasingly higher examination fees. These additions are intended to incentivize SBICs to be responsive and resolve any findings as quickly as possible.

    Section 107.692(e)—Delay Fee

    Current § 107.692(e) states that SBA may assess an additional fee of $500 per day if SBA determines the examination is delayed due to the SBIC's lack of cooperation or the condition of its records.

    SBA proposed to amend § 107.692(e) to increase the current $500 per day delay fee to $700 per day, to be adjusted annually using the Inflation Adjustment, beginning on October 1, 2021, to coincide with the date on which the other fee inflation adjustments are computed. SBA received one comment objecting to the fee, asserting that it could be assessed arbitrarily in an examiner's discretion. SBA does not assess this fee arbitrarily, and any assessment requires the process set forth in the SBIC Examinations Guidelines Standard Operating Procedure (10 09, October 28, 2013, Ch. 4, § 2(e)), which provides that only the Associate Administrator for Investment and Innovation may assess this delay fee after consulting with the Director of SBIC Examinations. SBA did not assess this delay fee for any of the SBICs examined in FY 2016. Delays can significantly increase SBA examination costs, therefore, SBA maintained this delay fee in cases involving delays due to a lack of cooperation on the part of the SBIC or the poor condition of the SBIC's records. This final rule adopts proposed § 107.692(e) without change.

    Compliance With Executive Orders 12866, 12988, 13132 and 13771, the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Ch. 35) and the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) Executive Order 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this rule is not a “significant” regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. However, to provide additional transparency for the SBIC community, a Regulatory Impact Analysis is set forth below.

    1. Necessity of Regulation

    The Act authorizes SBA to collect administrative fees to cover licensing and examination costs. Currently, licensing fees cover less than a quarter of SBA's direct licensing costs and examination fees cover less than half of direct examination costs. It is critical that SBA increase fees in order to cover a larger portion of its licensing and examination expenses as contemplated by Congress. In addition, SBA will use the funds made available as a result of the rule to: (1) Improve technology for both licensing and examinations; (2) improve examiner training; (3) pay for necessary information subscription services; and (4) provide contractor resources to support licensing and examination activities.

    2. Alternative Approaches to the Regulation A. Licensing Fees

    SBA considered several alternatives regarding licensing fees. SBA first considered indexing the licensing fees for inflation from 1996 (the year in which SBA most recently raised licensing fees) to 2017. This alternative did not produce sufficient fees to offset SBA licensing costs and produced lower licensing fees than those in this final rule. The increase in SBA's licensing costs has been driven not only by inflation since 1996, but also by the real increase in SBA's capital at risk (SBA guaranteed leverage and commitments) and the increased complexity of SBIC applicant organizational documents. Therefore, SBA rejected the option of adjusting the current fees only for inflation.

    Given its technology and processing time concerns, SBA considered higher licensing fees than those proposed and finalized in this rule, in order to obtain the same technology and resources utilized by industry peers, and contractor support to reduce times in the licensing process. SBA did not attempt to fully cover its licensing costs in the proposed rule; at that time, SBA stated that it believed the proposed fee increases would be sufficient to meet essential needs while remaining well within the ability of qualified applicants to pay. In re-evaluating its technology resources utilized in licensing in response to a comment SBA received on the proposed rule, SBA now believes it will require technology and other licensing resources similar to industry peers. Therefore, SBA's licensing costs, excluding overhead, are expected to increase from approximately $2 million in FY 2016 to approximately $3 million by FY 2021. SBA is concerned that this final rule will only offset half of SBA's licensing costs, excluding overhead, by FY 2021. SBA is considering proposing a new rule after this final rule to further offset its costs.

    SBA also considered implementing a larger increase immediately in order to offset costs more quickly. For the time being, SBA is opting to pursue the gradual increase identified in the proposed rule to allow potential applicants time to adjust to these increases. However, in order to obtain technology similar to private sector peers more quickly, SBA may consider a future rule to accelerate this phased in schedule.

    B. Examination Fees

    SBA considered several alternatives to the examination fees in this final regulation. SBA considered indexing the fees in current § 107.692(b) to reflect inflation from 1997 to 2017. This alternative did not produce sufficient fees to offset SBA's examinations costs. In assessing the reasons for this, SBA analyzed the SBIC portfolios from both periods and determined that the SBIC portfolio in 1997 was significantly different than today. In 1997, most of the SBICs with the highest total assets were bank-owned SBICs that did not issue SBA guaranteed debentures, and therefore required less time and resources for SBA to examine. Today, most of the highest-asset SBICs have significant amounts of SBA leverage. Therefore, merely indexing the existing fees would not appropriately reflect the costs associated with examinations.

    SBA also considered smaller examination fee increases that were sufficient only to cover current costs and did not provide additional money needed to address technology upgrades, training, or contractor support. SBA rejected this alternative for three reasons. First, the OIG indicated the need for improved technology and training for examiners and suggested that SBA increase its fees to cover these costs. SBA agrees that such resources would improve the examination function. Second, SBA believes the examination fees in the proposed rule are less than fees charged for similar activities such as financial audits. SBA calculated the median private sector financial audit fee paid by SBICs examined in FY 2016 to be $53,000; this rule would result in an average FY 2021 Examination Fee for those SBICs of less than half of that amount: approximately only $24,000. Third, while SBA's outstanding leverage in its operating portfolio has more than quadrupled from $2.2 billion at the end of September 30, 1999 to $10.7 billion as of March 31, 2017, the number of personnel in SBIC Examinations has declined by almost a third. In order to continue to monitor the SBIC program at the same level as in previous years, SBA intends to hire contractors with specialized skills to support this function.

    SBA also considered a flat examination fee applicable to all SBICs regardless of the cost of assets they hold. SBA believes its examination activities are similar to financial auditor or bank examiner activities, which typically charge fees, based on asset cost, and therefore rejected this alternative. SBA also received a comment to the proposed rule that expressed concerns about adverse impact on smaller funds if the examination fee were not based on assets.

    SBA considered increasing the fees more quickly to cover most of its estimated costs, but believed that a gradual increase over a multi-year period would allow SBICs time to budget and adjust to the higher fees. As stated above, SBA is now concerned that the gradual approach will not allow SBA to obtain critical resources in a timely manner, and is considering proposing a new rule to accelerate and further increase the fee increase.

    3. Potential Benefits and Costs

    SBA anticipates this final rule may benefit taxpayers by covering a larger portion of SBIC program administrative costs through the collection of an additional estimated $5 million to $6 million per year by October 2020. As noted previously, these increased fees will (1) improve SBIC program technology for both licensing and examinations, (2) improve examiner training, (3) pay for necessary information subscription services, (4) provide contractor resources to support licensing and examination activities, and (5) cover a higher portion of existing costs of licensing and examination activities. Collections are expected to increase annually each year beginning in October 2021 based on the CPI-U Inflation Adjustment.

    SBICs should also benefit from the improved technology SBA expects to acquire with the additional funds made available as a result of this final rule.

    This final rule will increase licensing costs for applicants and examination costs for SBICs. Beginning on the effective date, the final rule will increase licensing costs by $10,000 for an applicant applying for Initial Review and by $5,000 for an applicant submitting a complete license application at Final Licensing. The Final Licensing fee will increase by $5,000 each fiscal year, so by October 2020, the fee at Final Licensing will increase by an additional $15,000 from the first increase after the effective date of this Final Rule. SBA estimates that by October 2020, the average non-leveraged examination fee will increase by $7,000 and the average examination fee for leveraged SBICs will increase by $18,000 based on FY 2014-2016 examinations data. Thereafter, SBICs' costs will increase further through the annual increases to reflect inflation adjustments.

    Executive Order 13563

    A description of the need for this regulatory action and benefits and costs associated with this action is included above in the Regulatory Impact Analysis under Executive Order 12866.

    In developing this rule, SBA talked with fund of funds managers, auditors, and contractors to determine whether the fees in this final rule were reasonable and, based in part on those discussions, SBA believes the fees in this final rule are reasonable. In reviewing organizational costs for SBIC applicants, including legal and other professional costs, SBIC applicants often incur organizational costs amounting to $500,000 or more. The increased licensing fee represents a small percentage of the total organizational costs typically incurred by SBIC applicants. SBA also compared Federal bank examiner fees and SBIC auditor fees (based on the SBIC annual Financial Reporting Form 468s submitted in 2015) with SBIC examination fees in this final rule. SBA believes the final licensing and examination fees are reasonable in comparison to the market.

    The table below provides the capital and typical SBIC expenses for the average fund size of an SBIC licensed in FY 2016. As shown, SBIC licensing and examination fees represent a small percentage of the SBIC's total capital and its expenses.

    Table 7—SBA Licensing and Examination Fees in Comparison to Capital and Typical Expenses for SBIC of Average Fund Size Licensed in FY 2016 Description Leveraged
  • SBIC
  • Non-leveraged
  • SBIC
  • Total Capital $157,500,000 $73,750,000 Private Investor Capital 52,500,000 73,750,000 SBA-Guaranteed Leverage 105,000,000 0 Typical Organizational Costs Organizational Costs in FY 2016 500,000 500,000 SBA Licensing Fee in FY 2021 45,000 45,000 Typical Annual SBIC Operating Expenses Management Fee (2%) 3,150,000 1,475,000 Other Expenses (Excluding SBA Leverage Interest, Leverage Fees, & Examination Fees) 500,000 250,000 SBA Examination Fee in FY 2021 (Assumes asset cost equal to total capital. Non-leveraged SBICs are typically only examined every 18 months.) 44,000 26,700
    Executive Order 12988

    This rule meets applicable standards set forth in section 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden. The rule will not have retroactive or presumptive effect.

    Executive Order 13132

    For the purpose of Executive Order 13132, SBA has determined that this rule will not have substantial, direct effects 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. Therefore, for the purpose of Executive Order 13132, Federalism, SBA has determined that this final rule has no federalism implications warranting the preparation of a federalism assessment.

    Executive Order 13771

    This rule is not an E.O. 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under E.O. 12866.

    Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Ch. 35

    For purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Ch. 35, SBA has determined that this rule will not impose any new reporting or recordkeeping requirements.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601, requires administrative agencies to consider the effect of their actions on small entities, small non-profit businesses, and small local governments. Pursuant to the RFA, when an agency issues a final rule, the agency must prepare a Final Regulatory Flexibility Act (FRFA) analysis, which describes whether the impact of the rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. However, § 605 of the RFA allows an agency to certify a rule, in lieu of preparing a regulatory flexibility analysis, if the rulemaking is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This final rule will affect all applicants that submit applications (which averaged 50 per year for FYs 2014 to 2016), and all operating SBICs (316 as of May 22, 2017). SBA estimates that approximately 98% of these SBICs are small entities. Therefore, this rule will have an impact on a substantial number of small entities. However, SBA has determined that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on small entities affected by the rule.

    As noted above, the final § 107.300 will increase licensing costs by $10,000 for all applicants that submit an application for Initial Review after the effective date of the rule, and by an additional $20,000 by October 1, 2020, for all applicants that submit a license application for Final Review. The combined total increase of $30,000 represents less than 0.05% of the average applicant's Regulatory Capital based on newly licensed SBICs between October 1, 2014, and September 30, 2016. Many applicants have organizational costs totaling around $500,000, and some have far in excess of that amount. The combined FY 2021 initial and final licensing fee of $45,000 would represent a small fraction of those costs.

    SBA estimates that § 107.692 in this final rule will eventually increase the average non-leveraged examination fee by $7,000, representing less than 0.02% of the average non-leveraged SBIC's Regulatory Capital, and the average leveraged SBIC examination fee by $18,000, representing 0.02% of the average total capital under management (Regulatory Capital and outstanding SBA guaranteed leverage). As a point of comparison, most SBIC managers charge management fees of approximately 2% of capital under management. (Management fees, like the examination fees, are paid by the SBIC.) For a leveraged SBIC with $50 million in Regulatory Capital and using 2 tiers of leverage charging a 2% management fee, the management fee would equal $3 million a year. If the leveraged SBIC had assets at cost of $150 million, and did not incur any exam fee additions, the exam fee in FY 2021 would amount to $44,000, representing less than 0.03% of the SBIC's total capital. The examination fee would be a very small percentage of the SBIC's expenses.

    SBA believes that most applicants with sufficient private equity experience and capital raising ability will not be discouraged from applying to the program based on the administrative fee increases identified in this final rule. SBA asserts that the economic impact of the rule is minimal. Accordingly, the Administrator of the SBA certifies that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    List of Subjects in 13 CFR Part 107

    Examination fees, Investment companies, Loan programs—business, Licensing fees, Small businesses.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, SBA amends 13 CFR part 107 as follows:

    PART 107—SMALL BUSINESS INVESTMENT COMPANIES 1. The authority citation for part 107 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 681, 683, 687(c), 687b, 687d, 687g, 687m.

    2. Amend § 107.50 by adding a definition of “Inflation Adjustment” in alphabetical order to read as follows:
    § 107.50 Definition of terms.

    Inflation Adjustment is the methodology used to increase SBIC administrative fees using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), using the U.S. city average for all items, not seasonally adjusted, with the base period of 1982 − 84 = 100. To calculate the Inflation Adjustment, each year, SBA will divide the CPI-U from the most recent June by the CPI-U from June of the preceding year. If the result is greater than 1, SBA will increase the relevant fees as follows:

    (1) Multiply the result by the current fee; and

    (2) Round to the nearest $100.

    3. Revise § 107.300 to read as follows:
    § 107.300 License application form and fee.

    SBA evaluates license applicants in two review phases (initial review and final licensing), as follows:

    (a) Initial review. Except as provided in this paragraph, SBIC applicants must submit a MAQ and the Initial Licensing Fee. MAQ means the Management Assessment Questionnaire in the form approved by SBA and available on SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/sbic. Initial Licensing Fee means a non-refundable fee of $10,000. An applicant under Common Control with one or more Licensees must submit a written request to SBA, and the Initial Licensing Fee, to be considered for a license and is exempt from the requirement in this paragraph to submit a MAQ unless otherwise determined by SBA in SBA's discretion.

    (b) Final licensing. (1) An applicant may proceed to the final licensing phase only if notified in writing by SBA that it may do so. Following receipt of such notice, in order to proceed to the final licensing phase, the applicant must submit a complete license application, in the form approved by SBA and available on SBA's Web site at www.sba.gov/sbic, within the timeframe identified by SBA; and the Final Licensing Fee. The Final Licensing Fee means a non-refundable fee (determined as of the date SBA accepts the application) adjusted annually as follows:

    Time period Final licensing
  • fee
  • December 13, 2017 to September 30, 2018 $20,000 October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019 25,000 October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 30,000 October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 35,000

    (2) Beginning on October 1, 2021, SBA will annually adjust both the Initial Licensing Fee and Final Licensing Fee using the Inflation Adjustment and will publish a Notice prior to such adjustment in the Federal Register identifying the amount of the fee.

    4. In § 107.410, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 107.410 Changes in Control of Licensee (through change in ownership or otherwise).

    (b) Fee. A processing fee equal to the combined Licensing Fee (Initial Licensing Fee plus the Final Licensing Fee then in effect) defined in § 107.300 must accompany any application for approval of one or more transactions or events that will result in a transfer of Control.

    5. In § 107.692, revise paragraphs (b) through (e) to read as follows:
    § 107.692 Examination fees.

    (b) Base Fee. (1) The Base Fee will be assessed based on your total assets (at cost) as of the date of your latest certified financial statement, including if requested by SBA in connection with the examination, a more recently submitted interim statement. For purposes of this section, Base Fee means the Minimum Base Fee plus 0.024% of assets at cost, rounded to the nearest $100, not to exceed the Maximum Base Fee. The Minimum and Maximum Base Fees are adjusted annually as follows:

    Time period
  • (Based on the examination start date)
  • Minimum
  • base fee
  • Maximum
  • base fee for
  • non-leveraged
  • SBICs
  • Maximum
  • base fee for
  • leveraged
  • SBICs
  • December 13, 2017 to September 30, 2018 $6,000 $22,500 $26,000 October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019 7,000 25,000 32,000 October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020 8,000 27,500 38,000 October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021 9,000 30,000 44,000

    (2) In the table in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a Non-leveraged SBIC means any SBIC that, as of the date of the examination, has no outstanding Leverage or Leverage commitment, has no Earmarked Assets, and certifies to SBA that it will not seek Leverage in the future. Beginning on October 1, 2021, SBA will annually adjust the Minimum Base Fee and Maximum Base Fees using the Inflation Adjustment and will publish a Notice prior to such adjustment in the Federal Register identifying the amount of the fees.

    (c) Adjustments to Base Fee. In order to determine the amount of your examination fee, your Base Fee, as determined in paragraph (b) of this section, will be increased based on the following criteria:

    (1) If you were not fully responsive to the letter of notification of examination (that is, you did not provide all requested documents and information within the time period stipulated in the notification letter in a complete and accurate manner, or you did not prepare or did not have available all information requested by the examiner for on-site review) after a written warning by the SBA, you will pay an additional charge equal to 15% of your Base Fee;

    (2) If you maintain your records/files in multiple locations (as permitted under § 107.600(b)), you will pay an additional charge equal to 10% of your Base Fee; and

    (3) For any regulatory violation that remains unresolved 90 days from the date SBA notified you that you must take corrective action (as established by the date of the notification letter) or such later date as SBA sets forth in the notice, you will pay an additional charge equal to 5% of the Base Fee for every 30 days or portion thereof that the violation remains unresolved after the cure period, unless SBA resolves the finding in your favor.

    (d) Fee additions table. The following table summarizes the additions noted in paragraph (c) of this section:

    Examination fee additions Amount of addition − % of base fee Non-responsive 15%. Records/Files at multiple locations 10%. Unresolved Findings 5% of Base Fee for every 30 days or portion thereof beyond the 90 day cure period or such later date as SBA sets forth in the notice for each unresolved finding.

    (e) Delay fee. If, in the judgment of SBA, the time required to complete your examination is delayed due to your lack of cooperation or the condition of your records, SBA may assess an additional fee of $700 per day. Beginning on October 1, 2021, SBA will annually adjust this fee using the Inflation Adjustment and will publish a Notice prior to such adjustment in the Federal Register identifying the amount of the fee.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. Linda E. McMahon, Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24535 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8025-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Veterans' Employment and Training Service 20 CFR Part 1011 [Docket No. VETS-2017-0001] RIN 1293-AA21 HIRE Vets Medallion Program AGENCY:

    Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS), Labor.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    VETS published a proposed rule implementing the Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing (HIRE) American Military Veterans Act of 2017 (HIRE Vets Act or Act). The HIRE Vets Act requires the Department of Labor (DOL or Department) to establish by rule a HIRE Vets Medallion Program (Medallion Program) and annually solicit and accept voluntary information from employers for consideration of employers to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award (the award). Under the Program, VETS will review applications and notify recipients of their awards, and announce their names at a time that coincides with Veterans Day. This final rule sets out the criteria for the different categories and levels of HIRE Vets Medallion Awards, the award application process, and the award fees. VETS invited written comments on the proposed rule, and any specific issues related to the proposal, from members of the public.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on January 12, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Randall Smith, Veterans' Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-1325, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210, email: [email protected], telephone: (202) 693-4700 or TTY (877) 889-5627 (these are not toll-free numbers). For press inquiries, contact Joe Versen, Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Room S-1032, Washington, DC 20210, email: [email protected], telephone: (202) 693-4696 (this is not a toll-free number).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    The HIRE Vets Act was enacted on May 5, 2017, as Division O of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, Public Law 115-31. The purpose of the Act is to create a voluntary program for recognizing efforts by employers to recruit, employ, and retain veterans through a HIRE Vets Medallion Award. The Act requires the Department to issue regulations establishing the HIRE Vets Medallion Program.

    In preparation for drafting a rule to implement the Act, VETS conducted three stakeholder sessions during the week of June 5, 2017. During these stakeholder sessions, VETS obtained input from large, medium, and small employers, veterans service organizations, military service organizations, and other interested parties.

    On August 18, 2017, VETS published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to implement the HIRE Vets Act (82 FR 39371). VETS invited public comment on the proposed regulations, and included questions about specific issues. The comment period closed on September 18, 2017, and VETS has considered all timely comments received in response to the proposed regulations.

    VETS received 18 comments from a wide variety of sources. Commenters included: Veterans, employers, a national organization representing service providers, an employer association, and members of the public. While a few of the comments were general comments related to the benefit of the program or to veterans issues, the majority of comments specifically addressed issues contained in VETS' proposed rule.

    Section-by-Section Summary of the Final Rule and Discussion of Comments

    This preamble summarizes the final rule, section by section, and evaluates and responds to the public comments received. The subparts of the preamble generally follow the subparts of the final rule. Within each subpart of the preamble, VETS addresses those public comments related to regulatory sections within that subpart of the rule. If a proposed regulatory section is not addressed in the discussion below, it is because the public comments submitted in response to the NPRM did not substantively address that specific section and no changes have been made to the regulatory text. Further, VETS has made a number of non-substantive changes to improve the readability and conform the document stylistically that are not discussed in the analysis below.

    Before beginning the section-by-section analysis, however, VETS acknowledges and responds to comments that did not correspond to specific sections of the rule.

    Comments: Several commenters expressed general support for the HIRE Vets Medallion Program and the proposed rule.

    Response: VETS looks forward to honoring employers who make it a priority to invest in recruiting, employing, and retaining veterans. The HIRE Vets Medallion Award is based on transparent criteria and aims to honor all employers, from the smallest to the largest, who meet these standards. The example set by recipients of this award will serve as models for other employers committed to hiring and retaining veterans.

    Comments: Conversely, several commenters expressed skepticism as to the utility of the proposed program and whether the costs of the proposed program outweighed the program's benefits.

    Response: No one is required to apply for a HIRE Vets Medallion Award. If the costs for an employer exceed the benefits, they need not apply. Nevertheless, VETS is of the opinion that some employers will find that the benefits of the award exceed the costs of applying. Congress determined that the HIRE Vets Medallion Program is a constructive way for the Federal Government to recognize companies that have made significant efforts to hire and retain veterans. The HIRE Vets Medallion Program will allow VETS to further leverage its existing Veteran Employment Outreach Program (VEOP) that directly supports efforts to assist employers in recruiting and employing veterans, along with existing partnerships with agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State workforce agencies. This Program allows VETS to highlight and model employer efforts that can assist employers nationwide to develop veteran employment efforts further.

    Comment: Finally, one commenter questioned why the HIRE Vets Medallion Program is not administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Response: Under 38 U.S.C. 4102A(a)(1), the Assistant Secretary of Labor for VETS is responsible for all DOL employment and training programs that to the extent that they affect veterans. VETS' mission is to prepare America's veterans, service members, and their spouses for rewarding careers, provide them with employment resources and expertise, protect their employment rights, and promote their employment opportunities. Consistent with that responsibility, Congress specifically assigned administration of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award to the Secretary of Labor (Secretary). VETS supports workforce resources for employers to develop a globally competitive workforce and the public workforce system is a valuable resource to support human capital development of workers across the country. The system offers essential tools to employers to help transform the workforce to meet the changing demands of the 21st-century economy, and to become more competitive.

    Subpart A—Introduction to the Regulations for the HIRE Vets Act

    Sections 1011.000 through 1011.015 detail the program's purpose, scope, definitions, and award types. VETS received several comments on the definitions at § 1011.005 and on the employer size categories at § 1011.015.

    Definition of Veteran

    Comment: One commenter questioned the use of the definition of “veteran” at 38 U.S.C. 101. The commenter expressed a desire for VETS to incorporate National Guard members mobilized under U.S.C. title 32 into the definition of “veteran” as it implements the statute into final regulatory text.

    Response: Section 8(c) of the Act states that the term “veteran” has the meaning given such term under 38 U.S.C. 101. Incorporating all mobilization under Title 32 would be inconsistent with the meaning of section 8(c) of the Act. Consequently, VETS declines to make this change. However, as we stated in the NPRM, VETS recognizes that most employers determine which employees are veterans according to the employee's self-identification. VETS does not expect employers to change these practices in order to guarantee that every employee who self-identifies as a veteran meets the definition of veteran set out in the Act. VETS' primary concern is that an employer applying for an award reports as accurately as it is reasonably able. VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Employer Size Categories

    Comments: Two commenters requested a change to the employer award size categories, expressing that it might be difficult for companies with more than 500 employees but fewer than 10,000 employees to compete with those employers that have more than 10,000 employees. One commenter questioned if perhaps revenue would be a better standard by which to categorize employers, while another recommended defining large employers as those with 10,000 or more employees.

    Response: VETS retains the rule language as proposed because the employer category sizes are established by statute in section 3(b) of the Act. Consequently, VETS does not have the discretion to make this change.

    Subpart B—Award Criteria

    Sections 1011.100 through 1011.120 enumerate the award criteria for the various award categories and levels. VETS received a few comments suggesting additional criteria or requesting clarification on criteria. VETS also received several comments on the violation of labor law provision at § 1011.120. Because many of these comments apply across sections, this preamble first addresses comments that touch on multiple sections, then addresses comments on § 1011.120, and finally addresses comments suggesting new criteria.

    Comments on Proposed Criteria

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the same criteria should apply to all employers regardless of size.

    Response: For the sake of simplicity, VETS retained consistency across awards to the extent possible. However, to recognize that employers of different sizes will likely have different resources, VETS proposed that small employers need not satisfy as many criteria as medium employers and that medium employers need not satisfy as many criteria as large employers. VETS concludes that the proposed language strikes the best balance between these two interests and retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: A commenter requested that VETS ensure that there is a meaningful retention requirement. The commenter also suggested companies that hire veterans in order to meet award requirements and subsequently lay off those veterans be made to return any award they receive.

    Response: VETS agrees that retention is a very important issue for veteran employees. Consequently, every award has a retention criterion. As to the commenter's concern about employers hiring veterans and then laying them off, these awards recognize actions taken and VETS will not revoke an award if an employer legitimately qualified for the award in the previous year. However, VETS can revoke an award for the reasons described in § 1011.230, including if the employer falsely attested to its retention numbers. Moreover, § 1011.225 allows VETS to review an application, if at any time VETS becomes aware of facts that indicate information provided by an employer may be incorrect, and § 1011.600 requires the employer to retain the information supporting its application for 2 years. VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: One commenter stated that for some industries, retention numbers are proprietary information and asked how employers could ensure that information used for judging the award would not be released to the public or their competitors.

    Response: VETS cannot ensure that information submitted for evaluating an application will not be released to the public. Therefore, information submitted by an applicant may become available to the public. The HIRE Vets Medallion Program is a voluntary program. In order to ensure reviewability, all applicants must provide the required information in order to qualify for an award. VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: One commenter stated that the retained percentage should be compared to the number of actual hires and that employers should present the number of hires along with the number of veterans retained within a given timeframe.

    Response: VETS agrees that the awards should include both hiring and retention and such criteria are included.

    Comment: A commenter requested that VETS merge the requirements that employers establish internal organizations (such as the veteran organization or resource group) with the requirement that employers establish an assistance or training program. This commenter also suggested that the percentage of veteran employees enrolled in the veteran organization or resource group could be an additional weighted criterion.

    Response: VETS retains the language as proposed. Section 3(b)(1) of the Act establishes these criteria as separate criteria intended to serve separate purposes. Veteran organizations or resource groups are support networks for veteran employees while the “assistance or training program” focuses on the provision of post-secondary education to veteran employees. However, there can be overlap in how the employer satisfies its criteria. For instance, a large employer's human resources professional might run the employee veteran organization or resource group. Similarly, the tuition assistance program for post-secondary education might overlap with the programs established to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees. As for the suggestion that the percentage of veteran employees enrolled in the veteran organization or resource group be an additional criterion, VETS declines to make this change because it would create an additional reporting burden for employers.

    Comment: One commenter stated, in regard to the dedicated human resources professional criterion, that large employers might have hiring, training, and retention responsibilities spread across multiple departments.

    Response: Large employers can have veteran hiring, training, and retention responsibilities spread across multiple departments and still meet the criterion at § 1011.100(b)(7). Large employers with more than 5,000 employees need to have at least one dedicated human resources professional per the requirements of section 3(b)(1)(C)(iv) of the Act, but the definition of Dedicated Human Resources Professional in § 1011.005 states that these duties can be split amongst multiple people so long as the time spent supporting the hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees is the equivalent of one full-time professional. Additionally, large employers that employ 5,000 or fewer employees need not have a dedicated human resources professional but may instead satisfy this criterion by having at least one human resources professional whose regular work duties include supporting the hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees. The proposed language is consistent with the Act and does not prohibit large employers from having veteran hiring, training, and retention responsibilities spread across multiple departments. VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: One commenter expressed concern that the pay differential criterion was too vague, as it did not define the types of deployment to which the pay differential criterion applied. The commenter also questioned the length of time an employer would need to offer the pay differential in order to satisfy the criterion and whether small and medium employers would be able to afford the pay differential for more than a year.

    Response: The definition of Active Duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve at § 1011.005 defines the types of deployment to which the pay differential criterion applies by reference to the definition of active duty in 10 U.S.C. 101(d)(1). Because this definition is well-established and sufficiently clear, VETS retains the proposed language without change. Additionally, VETS appreciates the commenter's concern that the pay differential applies for as long as the employee is on active duty. However, the pay differential is only included as part of the platinum award criteria and is only required for the large employer platinum award. Consequently, employers could receive all awards except the large employer platinum award without satisfying this criterion. VETS concludes that inclusion of the provision of pay differential for as long as the employee is on active duty is consistent with the higher standard expected of platinum awardees. Consequently, VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: One commenter requested an explicit list as to which programs constitute “assistance” or “training” programs.

    Response: VETS retains the language as proposed in order to retain flexibility for employers to provide integration assistance that best suits their workforce. However, VETS agrees that a non-exhaustive list of examples of post-secondary education programs that would satisfy the tuition assistance program criterion would be useful for employers. Examples of post-secondary programs and courses for which employers may provide tuition assistance include:

    □ Correspondence training □ Cooperative training □ Entrepreneurship training □ Flight training □ Independent and distance learning □ Undergraduate and graduate degrees □ Licensing and certification reimbursement □ Vocational/technical training and non-college degree programs □ National testing reimbursement □ On-the-job training and apprenticeships □ Tutorial assistance Also, as the proposed rule explained, the assistance provided through an employer's tuition assistance program may take many forms, including financial assistance, leave assistance, or discounts on post-secondary education.

    VETS will continue to offer technical assistance on the types of activities and programs that satisfy the other integration assistance criteria.

    Comments on Veteran-Specific Labor Violations Criterion at § 1011.120

    Section 1011.120 outlines the circumstances that would disqualify or delay an employer from receiving a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for violations incurred under labor laws protecting veterans as administered by, or in conjunction with, VETS and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). Commenters supported: The premise that an employer that does not take its obligations under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) seriously is undeserving of an award; limiting the covered laws to USERRA and VEVRAA; and retaining discretion to delay an award if VETS has credible information suggesting that a significant violation may have occurred. A commenter also stated that no additional disqualifying events should be added to the list.

    Comment: One commenter stated that while most of the regulation tracks the Act, the Act contained no corresponding section to the violation of labor law provision proposed at § 1011.120.

    Response: Section 3(b)(1)(E) of the Act grants VETS authority to establish additional criteria for each level of award. VETS used this authority to establish the criterion described in § 1011.120. VETS chose to include this criterion because employers that have been proven to have violated, or have explicitly admitted violating the rights of their veteran employees should not receive an award from VETS for their veteran employment practices. VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: One commenter suggested that “technical or minor” violations of USERRA or VEVRAA should not be disqualifying. The commenter asserted that this provision in the proposed rule was similar to provisions in the guidance implementing the now rescinded Executive Order 13673, and that the effect could be employers being disqualified for the award for issues unrelated to the recruitment, employment, and retention of veterans.

    Response: The disqualification standard proposed in § 1011.120 is far narrower than the one used in the implementation of now rescinded Executive Order (E.O.) 13673. The E.O. covered numerous additional labor statutes (instead of just the veteran employment protections covered here) and would disqualify an employer for violation determinations made by the agency before judicial enforcement proceedings began. Since fairness requires that all applicants be subject to a clear and consistent standard, the final rule will retain the bright line standard instead of adopting a flexible standard. Additionally, VETS declines to revise the regulatory text to distinguish between purportedly major and minor violations for the purposes of this rule.

    Comment: One commenter questioned whether one of the proposed disqualifying events, a settlement agreement in which the employer admits a violation of either USERRA or VEVRAA, should be included given the varying reasons that employers enter into settlement agreements. If VETS were to keep this provision, the commenter opined that it should not be expanded, so as to avoid creating a disincentive for settling allegations.

    Response: VETS retains the language as proposed. The rule would only disqualify employers with settlement agreements in which the employer specifically admits to violating USERRA or VEVRAA, two laws closely related to veteran employment. If the employer has violated these laws and admits to doing so in a settlement agreement, VETS has concluded that this is as serious as the judgment of a court or tribunal and, thus, considers it a disqualifying event. Settlement agreements in which the employer does not admit liability for violations of these statutes would not disqualify an employer from consideration.

    Comment: One commenter suggested that the regulation more explicitly reference the VEVRAA requirement that covered Federal Government contractors and subcontractors follow mandatory job listing requirements.

    Response: VETS retains the language as proposed because the fact that VETS has incorporated USERRA or VEVRAA into the rule should serve to highlight all USERRA and VEVRAA requirements for covered employers. Additionally, it is not appropriate to elevate this single aspect of the VEVRAA requirements when covered employers must comply with all requirements.

    Comment: One commenter raised the specific concern that Federal contractors attempting to comply with the mandatory job listing requirement set forth in the VEVRAA statute and regulations may nevertheless have violations alleged against them, which could result in their disqualification from receiving an award. The commenter expressed concern over an employer not being able to qualify for an award because, although the employer provides job vacancies to a State or local employment service as required by law, the employment service fails to post the vacancies.

    Response: This concern is misplaced. First of all, the specific situation described by the commenter, in which a contractor provides the required job vacancy information to the employment service delivery system (ESDS) location and the ESDS does not post it, does not constitute a violation of VEVRAA. Per the relevant VEVRAA regulations, so long as the contractor provides the job vacancy information “in any manner and format permitted” by the appropriate ESDS, it has satisfied its obligation under the regulations, and would not be disqualified from receiving an award as a result. See 41 CFR 60-300.5(a)(2). Second, an “alleged” violation of VEVRAA's mandatory job listing requirement would not alone trigger disqualification. As this final rule makes clear, only a decision of an administrative law judge that is not appealed and becomes the final agency action, or a settlement agreement in which the employer explicitly admits that it violated VEVRAA, could result in disqualification.

    Suggested New Criteria

    Comment: One commenter requested that VETS create an alternative criterion to the veteran employee percentage criterion that weighs the number of veterans who are applying for employment, potentially tracking progress for employers with nascent veteran hiring programs. The commenter expressed concern that the alternative veteran employee percentage criterion does not always correlate with the effort that employers put into a veterans hiring initiative, favoring employers with already established programs.

    Response: The number of veteran applications, while an integral part of recruitment, does not necessarily equate to hiring or retention, the focus of the Act. Therefore, in order to best reflect the focus of the Act and to retain simplicity, VETS retains the language as proposed instead of adding an additional alternative criterion.

    Comment: One commenter requested that a portion of the application allow employers to outline military/veteran-friendly initiatives or awards that the employers have received.

    Response: The application form contains an optional item that allows employers to describe efforts to support the veteran and military community. However, this item is not a criterion for recognition and will not factor into whether an employer receives an award. It will instead be used to facilitate the sharing of good practices for veteran hiring and retention. The HIRE Vets Medallion Program is a recognition program to honor employer commitment to, and investment in, veteran recruiting and employment. Therefore, VETS declines to establish a criterion for the HIRE Vets Medallion Program related to other military/veteran-friendly initiatives and awards.

    Comment: A commenter requested inclusion of an additional criterion more specifically targeting community and charitable services provided by employers to the veteran community.

    Response: Section 2(a) of the Act states that the purpose of the Act is to recognize efforts by employers to recruit, employ, and retain veterans and to provide community and charitable services supporting the veteran community. VETS agrees that community and charitable services are an integral part of supporting the veteran community. However, VETS declines to establish an additional criterion related to community and charitable services because these services are already integrated throughout the large employer criteria that serve as the basis for the small and medium employer criteria. Consequently, VETS retains the language as proposed.

    Comment: One commenter suggested an additional criterion that employers use the workforce development system to list their job openings, either directly with State job banks or through the National Labor Exchange (NLx). The commenter expressed concern that if such a criterion is not established, then the high-quality jobs offered by employers applying for the award might not reach the veterans, transitioning service members, and spouses served by the Department.

    Response: NLx is recognized as a workforce system tool that collects and disseminates job postings, including through State job banks. VETS encourages employers to use State job banks as a resource to help with the recruitment of veteran employees. Although VETS encourages the use of State job banks, it declines to add a related criterion in order to retain flexibility for employers in structuring how they satisfy the award criteria.

    Comment: One commenter also suggested an additional criterion requiring engagement with the workforce development system or that, at the very least, additional consideration be provided to applications that reflect collaboration with the workforce development system. The commenter stated that employers could use the workforce development system to screen job applicants and facilitate participation in career and hiring events, as well as for help with many other activities. The commenter noted that these services might be particularly critical for small employers who lack a human resources professional. The commenter also noted that employers can serve on State and Local Workforce Development Boards where they can participate in the design and operation of services in their area.

    Response: The public workforce system includes a nationwide network of over 2,400 American Job Centers (AJCs), a network operated in partnership by Local Workforce Development Boards, State Workforce Agencies, and DOL. VETS will continue to work closely with Federal and State partners to provide coordinated information and services to job seekers and employers while continually facilitating and developing meaningful employment and training opportunities for transitioning service members, veterans, and military families. VETERANS.GOV enables employers to directly contact VETS' VEOP to request assistance in hiring veterans. Although, as with the comment on including a State job bank or NLx criterion, VETS encourages employers to take advantage of the public workforce system, it declines to add a related criterion in order to retain flexibility for employers.

    Comment: One commenter suggested adding a criterion for procedural descriptions of a 6-month onboarding process for veteran employees.

    Response: Although VETS agrees that effective onboarding of veteran employees is important to the establishment of a successful working environment for veteran employees, the final rule retains the language as proposed because the various forms of integration assistance covered by the proposed criteria already answer the purpose of this request. For example, the veteran organization or resource group criterion requires that the organization or resource group assist “new veteran employees” (emphasis added).

    Subpart C—Application Process

    Subpart C sets out the application process for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award. VETS received two comments on subpart C.

    Comment: A commenter asked that VETS reconsider § 1101.210 and that employers be allowed to win an award every year.

    Response: The requirement at § 1011.210 is a requirement of the Act. Section 2(d) of the Act states that “[a]n employer who receives a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for one calendar year is not eligible to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for the subsequent calendar year.” Consequently, VETS does not have discretion to make this change. However, for purposes of clarity, VETS has amended proposed § 1011.210 to reference section 2(d) of the HIRE Vets Act.

    Comment: A commenter also asked VETS to clarify who will be reviewing applications for the medallion awards.

    Response: VETS is responsible for the application review and award determination for the HIRE Vets Medallion Program.

    VETS also made a nonsubstantive change to § 1011.230(a), clarifying that VETS can deny an award if an employer fails to satisfy all application requirements. This is not a substantive change; this requirement was already included in § 1011.010. However, VETS has added it to the language of § 1011.230 for additional clarity.

    Subpart D—Fees and Caps

    Subpart D sets out the fees for the HIRE Vets Program and the application caps that VETS can utilize.

    Comment: One commenter requested clarity as to whether it is VETS' understanding that the fee authorized by section 5(b) of the Act can only be collected if a future appropriations action triggers the fee collection.

    Response: Section 5(b) of the Act grants VETS authority to collect fees and states that VETS “shall establish the amount of the fee such that the amounts collected as fees and deposited into the [HIRE Vets Medallion Award] Fund are sufficient to cover the costs associated with carrying out this division.” Therefore, the Act grants VETS authority to collect fees and does not require a future appropriations action to trigger this authority.

    Comment: One commenter expressed concern about the accountability of the award fund and asked what safeguards would be in place to protect money in the fund.

    Response: Funds contained in the HIRE Vets Medallion Award Fund will be subject to the same protections and safeguards that are applied to all Federal Government funds.

    Subpart E—Design and Display

    VETS received no comments on subpart E.

    Subpart F—Requests for Reconsideration

    VETS received no comments on subpart F.

    Subpart G—Record Retention

    VETS received no comments on subpart G.

    Procedural Determinations Executive Orders 12866 and 13563: Regulatory Planning and Review Introduction

    Executive Order 13563 directs agencies to propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs; tailor the regulation to impose the least burden on society, consistent with achieving the regulatory objectives; and in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13563 recognizes that some benefits are difficult to quantify and provides that, where appropriate and permitted by law, agencies may consider and discuss qualitative values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must determine whether a regulatory action is significant and therefore subject to the requirements of that Executive Order and to review by OMB (58 FR 51735). Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a “significant regulatory action” as an action that is likely to result in a rule that: (1) Has an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affects in a material way a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities (also referred to as economically significant); (2) creates serious inconsistency or otherwise interferes with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) materially alters the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants, user fees, or loan programs, or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) raises novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in Executive Order 12866. Id.

    VETS has determined that this rule is not an economically significant regulation—neither the costs nor the benefits exceed $100 million dollars in any given year. VETS has determined that this rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. VETS analyzed costs and benefits of this rule using 2016 employment and wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The cost analysis uses a 10-year time horizon. The benefits analysis is qualitative and appears at the end of this section. Since the benefits analysis is qualitative, there will be no analysis of net benefits (benefits minus costs). VETS' estimates of costs are presented as follows:

    • Veteran employment and potential eligibility for the award—Estimates how many employers may meet the application requirements of the award.

    • Unit costs—Estimates the unit costs of complying with the application requirements of the award.

    • Participation rates—Estimates how many eligible employers will potentially choose to apply for the award.

    • Government costs—Estimates the costs to the Government for processing the applications and the costs to develop the system to support the review and approval process.

    • Total annualized costs—Estimates the total annualized private and Government costs of the program.

    Costs for this regulation are uncertain, due partly to the program being entirely new with no obvious equivalents; VETS cannot anticipate the number of employers that will choose to participate in the program. For this reason, this analysis contains estimates that are based on very limited data. This is the first veteran hiring award established by VETS to recognize employers for their accomplishments in recruiting, retaining, and hiring veterans.

    Introduction

    The methodology for these estimates will remain the same as those presented in the NPRM. No public comments were received addressing the methodology for estimating costs of the regulation. VETS did receive public comments related to some aspects of the analysis, as well as comments on the benefits to employers and veteran employees. VETS responds to these comments in the remainder of this section.

    Veteran Employment and Potential Eligibility for the Award

    As of 2016 there were 20.9 million veterans,1 making up 10 percent of the civilian non-institutionalized population over the age of 18. While the total number of veterans varies over time, there are between 240,000 and 360,000 service members who leave military service each year, according to a 2013 White House report.2 In 2016 there were 10 million veterans employed according to data collected from the Current Population Survey and reported by BLS, making up close to 7 percent of the U.S. employed population.

    1 BLS, DOL, Current Population Survey, 2016.

    2 Watson, Ben, (2014) Veteran Unemployment Rate Drops, But Still Outpaces the Rest of the Country. www.defenseone.com, May 2, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.defenseone.com/news/2014/05/D1-Watson-veteran-unemployment-rate-drops-still-outpaces-rest-country/83692/.

    The three leading industry sectors for veteran employment are manufacturing (North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 31-33), with, 1.3 million veterans; wholesale and retail trade (NAICS code 42, 44-45) with 1.1 million veterans; and professional and business services (NAICS code 54-56) with 1.1 million veterans. Evaluating veteran employment as a percentage of total employment by industry highlights the various industries where veterans make up more than 7 percent of the employed population. Based on the data, it appears there are many industries where a typical employer can readily meet the basic criteria of hiring 7 percent or more veteran employees, while it may be more difficult in other industries.

    Veteran employment levels at the 3-digit NAICS level (industry subsectors) were mapped to BLS data from the Current Employment Statistics survey to derive veteran employment as a percentage of total employees by NAICS code. The results of this comparison are presented in Table 1. A majority of private industry subsectors have veteran employment of 7 percent or higher; the industries with the highest percentages were the Petroleum and coal products industry with 22.4 percent veteran employment, followed by Utilities with 20.5 percent veteran employment. The two industries with the lowest percentage of veteran employment are: Management of companies and enterprises with 0.5 percent and Internet publishing and broadcasting and Web search portals with 1.0 percent veteran employment. Other industry sectors where the percentage of veterans employed is lower than the national average are the healthcare and social assistance sector with 3.5 percent, and the accommodations and food services sector with 1.6 percent veteran employment. The concentration of veteran employment in utilities and manufacturing industries is a reflection of the type of military experience many veterans offer when seeking jobs that match their skill set.

    Table 1—Veteran Employment in 2016 Industry Veteran
  • employment 1
  • (in thousands)
  • Total
  • employment 2
  • (in thousands)
  • Percent of
  • veterans
  • employed
  • Total Employment 10,129 151,423 6.7 Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas 92 626 14.7 Construction 588 6,711 8.8 Manufacturing 1,285 12,348 10.4 Durable Goods Manufacturing 898 7,719 11.6 Nonmetallic Mineral Products 39 408 9.6 Primary Metals and Fabricated Metal Products 156 1,763 8.8 Machinery Manufacturing 125 1,080 11.6 Computers and Electronic Products 113 1,048 10.8 Electrical equipment and Appliances 30 383 7.8 Transportation Equipment 269 1,625 16.6 Wood Products 34 392 8.7 Furniture and Fixtures 28 389 7.2 Miscellaneous Manufacturing 103 591 17.4 Nondurable Goods Manufacturing 387 4,629 8.4 Food Manufacturing 92 1,554 5.9 Beverage and Tobacco Products 26 233 11.2 Textiles, Apparel, and Leather 23 371 6.2 Paper and Printing 76 818 9.3 Petroleum and Coal Products 25 112 22.4 Chemicals 106 811 13.1 Plastics and Rubber Products 38 699 5.4 Wholesale and Retail Trade 1,090 21,687 5.0 Wholesale Trade 260 5,867 4.4 Retail Trade 830 15,820 5.2 Transportation and Utilities 753 5,546 13.6 Transportation and Warehousing 638 4,989 12.8 Utilities 114 556 20.5 Information 180 2,772 6.5 Publishing, Except Internet 15 730 2.1 Motion Pictures and Sound Recording Industries 13 420 3.1 Radio and TV Broadcasting and Cable Subscriptions Programming 42 269 15.6 Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals 2 201 1.0 Telecommunications 96 795 12.1 Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services 10 300 3.3 Libraries, Archives, and Other Information Services 2 59 3.4 Financial Activities 496 8,285 6.0 Finance and Insurance 309 6,142 5.0 Finance 174 3,559 4.9 Insurance 135 2,583 5.2 Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 187 2,143 8.7 Real Estate 146 1,559 9.4 Rental and Leasing Services 41 583 7.0 Professional and Business Services 1,092 20,136 5.4 Professional and Technical Services 658 8,877 7.4 Management, Administrative, and Waste Services 433 11,259 3.8 Management of Companies and Enterprises 11 2,241 0.5 Administrative and Support Services 384 8,613 4.5 Waste Management and Remediation Services 38 405 9.4 Education and Health Services 826 22,616 3.7 Educational Services 161 3,560 4.5 Health Care and Social Assistance 664 19,056 3.5 Hospitals 266 5,025 5.3 Health Services, Except Hospitals 322 10,396 3.1 Social Assistance 76 3,636 2.1 Leisure and Hospitality 344 15,620 2.2 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 128 2,235 5.7 Accommodation and Food Services 216 13,386 1.6 Accommodation 49 1,947 2.5 Food Services and Drinking Places 167 11,439 1.5 Other Services 351 5,685 6.2 Other Services, Except Private Households 337 4,961 6.8 Repair and Maintenance 150 1,289 11.6 Personal and Laundry Services 68 1,445 4.7 Membership Associations and Organizations 119 2,950 4.0 Government—Local 3 708 14,339 4.9 Source: 1 BLS, Current Population Survey, 2016. 2 BLS, Current Employment Statistics survey, 2016. 3 U.S. Census of Governments, 2012. (See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002 for all sources and derivation).

    The job posting site, Indeed.com, identified five occupational categories where veterans have the highest levels of employment: Transportation and material moving, installation maintenance and repair, protective service, management, and construction and extraction. Many veterans find the skills and experience they developed while in the military align better with these occupations than with others, making the transition to a civilian job easier.3

    3 Culbertson, Daniel, (2016) A Deep Look at the Data: How Are Veterans Doing in Today's Workforce? Indeed blog, November 10, 2016. Retrieved from: http://blog.indeed.com/2016/11/10/veterans-employment/.

    Due to the fact the award program requires a fee, it was determined that employers with fewer than five employees are relatively unlikely to participate in the program (although they are still eligible to apply for the award if they choose). Very small employers with fewer than five employees will most likely not hire often or may not choose to invest resources in actions that would qualify them for the award program, thus this analysis contains three groupings of employer size: Small employers with 5 to 49 employees; medium employers with 50 to 499 employees; and large employers with 500 or more employees. These groupings were based on the availability of data in the U.S. Census Bureau 2014 Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB),4 which closely approximates the definition of small, medium and large employers in the statute. The SUSB data show a total of 2,379,033 employers with more than four employees. However, knowing the percentage of veterans in an industry's workforce does not indicate how many employers in that industry can meet the quantitative criteria for receiving the award. For example, if 7 percent of an industry's workforce is veterans, there will be many employers that are above and below this average in any given year's hiring. In order to estimate the number of potentially eligible employers (those meeting the quantitative criteria) in an industry, we need to be able to estimate the effects of turnover on the ability to meet retention criteria, the percentage of employers that hire veterans as 7 percent or more of their total number of new hires for the applicable time period, and the percentage with 7 percent veterans in their current workforces. The effects of turnover on the ability to meet retention criteria may be the most difficult quantitative criteria to estimate. Average separation rates across all industries are such that, if veterans' rates are equal to the typical rates of all workers considered together, a 75 percent retention rate would be difficult to meet.5 However, published separation rates include seasonal and temporary employments, which are excluded under the definition of “employee” and subsequently from the calculation of retention rates in this final rule. Absent comments on the methodology and more detailed data, VETS retains its assumption from the NPRM that half of the employers able to meet a 7 percent hiring rate will not be able to meet a requirement for 75 percent retention. For this analysis, if we make the simplifying assumptions that the percentage of veterans currently in the workforce are typical of available new hires in an industry, and that each new hire and each employee have an equal chance of being a veteran, then we can use the binomial distribution to estimate the probability that an employer has more than 7 percent veterans among new hires or more than 7 percent veterans among existing employees. The binomial distribution used here is designed to calculate the probability that 7 percent or more employees in a set of employees are veterans given the probability of an event (whether a given new hire or employee is a veteran). The application of the binomial distribution requires estimates of the number of new hires per year and the number of employees. For this purpose, VETS used 2014 SUSB 6 data on the number of employers and employees for small employers, medium employers and large employers. These averages of new hires were 13 employees per employer for small employers, 123 employees per employer for medium employers and 3,000 employees per employer for large employers. VETS estimated that these employers would hire 25 percent of their workforce in any given year. Of the 2,379,033 employers with more than four employees, VETS estimates that 424,952, or 18 percent of all employers in the three size ranges, would be potentially eligible for the program.

    4 U.S. Census Bureau, 2014. SUSB Annual Datasets by Establishment Industry: U.S. & States, NAICS, detailed employment sizes. Accessed on6/15/2017 at: https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2014/econ/susb/2014-susb.html. Eligibility estimates by VETS. See text and spreadsheets (Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002).

    5 BLS Job Openings And Labor Turnover (2017). News Release; For release 10 a.m. (EDT), July 11, 2017, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf.

    6 U.S. Census Bureau, 2014. SUSB Annual Datasets by Establishment Industry: U.S. & States, NAICS, detailed employment sizes. Accessed on6/15/2017 at https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2014/econ/susb/2014-susb.html. Eligibility estimates by VETS. See text and spreadsheets (Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002).

    The complete formulas for the probability calculations are given in the supplemental spreadsheets (Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002). There are four probabilities needed for these calculations:

    PH = the probability that more than 7 percent of new hires are veterans; PE = the probability that more than 7 percent of employees are veterans; PR = the probability that 75 percent of veteran hires are retained (estimated to be 0.5 in all cases); and PLYH = the probability that an employer hired at least one veteran in the year prior to the current year.

    Given these probabilities the formula used in the calculations for small and medium employers is:

    Total probability = PH + (1−PH) * PE * PLYH * PR

    For large employers, the formula is somewhat simpler:

    Total Probability = PH + (1−PH) * PLYH * PR

    Table 2 shows the results for the estimate of potentially eligible employers by size class and industry.

    Table 2—Estimate of Eligible Employers Industry Total
  • employers
  • (5+)
  • Potentially eligible employers Small
  • employers
  • (5-49)
  • Medium
  • employers
  • (50-499)
  • Large
  • employers
  • (500+)
  • Total
    Forestry, Logging, Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping 2,837 536 389 93 1,017 Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 9,350 3,377 1,322 0 4,700 Construction 204,561 51,059 8,464 915 60,438 Nonmetallic Mineral Products 6,136 1,430 699 244 2,374 Primary Metals and Fabricated Metal Products 35,064 7,638 3,613 1,025 12,276 Machinery Manufacturing 14,706 3,928 2,432 682 7,043 Computers and Electronic Products 7,439 1,743 1,279 519 3,541 Electrical Equipment and Appliances 3,359 553 398 210 1,161 Transportation Equipment 6,458 2,121 1,575 550 4,246 Wood Products 7,325 1,588 705 165 2,457 Furniture and Fixtures 7,641 1,417 456 84 1,958 Miscellaneous Manufacturing 11,429 5,057 1,344 340 6,741 Food Manufacturing 13,073 1,812 722 59 2,593 Beverage and Tobacco Products 2,653 773 247 90 1,110 Textiles, Apparel, and Leather 6,238 998 264 24 1,286 Paper and Printing 14,483 3,426 1,404 350 5,179 Petroleum and Coal Products 710 253 197 113 563 Chemicals 6,476 1,746 1,341 589 3,676 Plastics and Rubber Products 7,397 788 517 18 1,323 Wholesale Trade 133,958 15,239 2,664 2 17,905 Retail Trade 258,174 37,563 4,402 42 42,007 Transportation and Warehousing 61,190 20,258 6,418 2,245 28,921 Utilities 2,837 1,185 640 194 2,019 Publishing, Except Internet 9,340 455 37 0 493 Motion Pictures and Sound Recording Industries 4,802 395 30 0 425 Radio and TV Broadcasting and Cable Subscriptions Programming 2,857 1,127 344 111 1,582 Telecommunications 3,705 1,097 498 160 1,755 Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services 4,885 334 88 0 422 Libraries, Archives, and Other Information Services 3,237 269 37 0 307 Finance 33,143 3,767 1,228 8 5,003 Insurance 33,515 4,844 476 14 5,334 Real Estate 47,711 12,428 2,509 778 15,714 Rental and Leasing Services 9,613 1,774 424 166 2,364 Professional and Technical Services 205,067 42,079 7,476 2,116 51,670 Management of Companies and Enterprises 23,944 66 6 0 72 Administrative and Support Services 108,014 12,007 2,405 3 14,415 Waste Management and Remediation Services 8,782 2,240 570 168 2,977 Educational Services 43,887 4,718 1,320 1 6,039 Hospitals 3,407 16 388 36 441 Health Services, Except Hospitals 247,348 20,285 1,726 0 22,011 Social Assistance 67,460 3,486 270 0 3,756 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 42,698 6,202 1,700 59 7,962 Accommodation 29,467 1,935 130 0 2,065 Food Services and Drinking Places 273,382 10,708 262 0 10,970 Repair and Maintenance 61,091 20,895 1,820 610 23,325 Personal and Laundry Services 58,697 7,987 395 0 8,382 Membership Associations and Organizations 121,174 13,647 1,017 0 14,664 Government—Local 40,882 0 8,273 0 8,273 Total 2,311,602 337,247 74,922 12,784 424,952 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014. SUSB Annual Datasets by Establishment Industry: U.S. & States, NAICS, detailed employment sizes. Accessed on 6/15/2017 at https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2014/econ/susb/2014-susb.html. U.S. Census Bureau, 2012. Government Organization Summary Report: 2012. Accessed on 7/21/2017 at https://www2.census.gov/govs/cog/g12_org.pdf. Eligibility estimates by VETS. See text and spreadsheets (Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002).

    In the NPRM, data from BLS on veteran employment were presented as a key input for estimating the number of eligible employers. VETS did not receive comments on the use of BLS data for estimating the number of employers meeting the criterion of 7 percent veteran employment. The methodology presented in the NPRM to estimate the number of eligible employers has not been modified, although there were various commenters who recommended changes to the regulation that could have impacts on the eligibility estimates. For reasons explained in the responses to public comments above, VETS did not make changes to the rule in response to public comments. Therefore, no changes were made to the employer eligibility estimates used in the NPRM.

    Unit Cost

    Using the information provided in the stakeholder meetings, as well as estimates from similar analysis done by other DOL agencies, burden costs were estimated by employer size for each aspect of the application process, including rule familiarization, collection, filling out the form, and follow-up/requests for reconsideration. VETS used the data from the May 2016 BLS Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey. For the purposes of this analysis, VETS estimates a fully loaded wage rate to include fringe benefits and overhead, resulting in a doubling of the OES wage rate.7 8

    7 The value of two is recommended by HHS in HHS, Guidelines for Regulatory Analysis, 2016, p. 33.

    8 BLS OES survey (2017). Fringe markup is from the following BLS release: Employee Costs for Employee Compensation news release text; For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT), June 9, 2017 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecec.pdf.

    Rule familiarization costs are estimated to take 1 hour for all employers regardless of size; this is based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) recordkeeping rule updated in 2014.9 This activity would typically be performed by a human resources manager at a large or medium employer or by a person with equivalent responsibilities at a small employer. Using the data from the OES survey, the mean hourly wage of the human resources manager is $57.79. Adding overhead and fringe benefits, the fully loaded hourly wage rate being used to estimate the cost of familiarization is $115.58. The regulation is structured by employer size, which would not require employers to consider all aspects of eligibility, but only those that pertain to their size. For these reasons, 1 hour was estimated for rule familiarization of the award program requirements of eligibility and the application form instructions.

    9 Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements: North American Industry Classification System Update and Reporting Revisions (docket number: OSHA-2010-0019-0127).

    The eligibility requirements for the award program require that all employers compile information needed to fill out the application form and retain the information for 2 years. VETS estimated this would require 5 hours for large employers and 3 hours for medium and small employers. Each criterion for eligibility will have an entry in the application form. Information requested will include the following: Employer address and other identifying information, veteran employment data, descriptions of the relevant veteran programs, and descriptions of the benefits offered to veterans. These estimates are an average for the gold and platinum award requirements. This activity will likely be performed by human resources specialists for a large or medium employer. Using the data from the May 2016 BLS OES survey, the mean hourly wage of the human resources specialist is $31.20. Adding overhead and fringe benefits, the fully loaded hourly wage rate used to estimate the collection of information is $62.40. For a small employer, this activity is anticipated to be done by a payroll and timekeeping clerk, the mean hourly wage for this position as reported by BLS is $20.95, and adding the fringe benefits and overhead results in an hourly wage of $41.90.

    Three hours of labor were estimated by VETS for medium and small employers to compile information for the form; this was determined based on the number of award criteria, and due to human resources staff in medium and small employers being more familiar with the day-to-day management of an employer. At the stakeholder meetings held the week of June 5, 2017, smaller employers stated all the information needed to apply would come directly from the owner and would be easily obtained. VETS estimated 5 hours for large employers due to the additional information required to match the criteria for eligibility and the time for a human resources manager to determine if the programs offered by the employer meet the regulation criteria. Larger employers at the stakeholder meetings provided a range of 1 to 4 days, based on their past experience in applying for other award programs such as the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Freedom Award.10 The application form for VETS' award program requires employers to provide employment and descriptive information for as many as seven fields to as few as one field depending on the size of the employer and the award level. This is less time consuming than the information requested for the ESGR Freedom Award. For these reasons, an average of 5 hours was estimated for large employers, and an average of 3 hours for medium and small employers, to collect and retain needed information.

    10 The ESGR Freedom Award is given to employers who are nominated to recognize those that support their employees who serve in the United States National Guard or Reserve. There are up to 15 awards presented each year by firm size and to the public sector. http://www.freedomaward.mil/.

    Large and medium employers are expected to incur the cost for running a query to identify the number of veterans hired and veterans retained for the years requested on the application form. The majority of large and medium employers will have a database system for managing their workforce; this system typically includes the hire date and various demographic information about their employees. Running a query specifically for this application form is estimated to take 2 hours by a database administrator at a large or medium employer according to comments received from the stakeholder meeting in early June of 2017. Using the data from the May 2016 BLS OES Survey, the mean wage of the database administrator is $41.89. Adding overhead and fringe benefits,11 the total wage used to estimate the cost of this task is $83.78. Small employers with 50 or fewer employees typically do not manage their workforce using a database, and due to the closer interactions among employees at small employers, the payroll clerk would know most of the employees individually. Thus, a small employer would not have a need to run a query.

    11 BLS OES (2017). Fringe markup is from the following BLS release: Employee Costs for Employee Compensation news release text; For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT), June 9, 2017 https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecec.pdf.

    Once the information has been gathered by an employer, applicants will need to enter the information in the form and enter the payment information needed on www.pay.gov; this was estimated to take 2 hours for a large employer, 1.5 hours for a medium employer, and 1 hour for a small employer. These burden estimates are an average for the gold and platinum award requirements. A large employer is expected to take 2 hours due to the additional criteria required to be eligible for the award; this activity would be done by a human resources specialist. A medium employer is expected to take 1.5 hours because there are fewer criteria than for a large employer; this activity would be done by a human resources specialist. Using the data from the May 2016 BLS OES survey, the mean wage of a human resources specialist is $31.20. Adding overhead and fringe benefits, the total wage used to estimate the cost of this task is $62.40. A small employer is estimated to take 1 hour because there are fewer criteria than for a medium employer. For a small employer, a payroll and timekeeping clerk would most likely perform this task, with a mean hourly wage of $20.95 as reported in the BLS 2016 OES survey; with added fringe benefits and overhead, this results in an hourly wage of $41.90.

    The form requires the attestation of an executive (chief executive officer, chief human resources officer, or equivalent official) that the information on the form is accurate and true. It is expected that this would take 15 minutes for all employers applying for the award and would most likely require the executive to take the time to review the form. For a large or medium employer, this activity will be performed by an executive with a mean hourly wage of $93.44 as reported in the BLS 2016 OES survey; adding fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage for this task would be $186.88. At a small employer where the executive positions may not exist, this task may be done by someone with equivalent responsibilities and duties, such as the owner. For the purposes of estimating the cost of attestation for small employers we are using the wage rate of a human resources manager with a mean hourly wage of $57.79 as reported in the BLS 2016 OES survey; adding fringe benefits and overhead results in a fully loaded wage for this task of $115.58.

    Following up on incomplete applications is estimated to take 30 minutes for 5 percent of employers applying, and a request for reconsideration would take 30 minutes for 1 percent of employers applying. At a large or medium employer, following up on an application would be done by the human resources specialist with an hourly wage of $62.40 (including fringe benefits and overhead), and a request for reconsideration would be handled by a human resources manager with an hourly wage of $115.58 (including fringe benefits and overhead). At a small employer, the payroll clerk may likely follow up on an application, with an hourly wage of $41.90 (including fringe benefits and overhead), and the human resources manager equivalent would be involved in a request for reconsideration of a denied application, with an hourly wage of $115.58 (including fringe benefits and overhead). The majority of large and medium employers have human resources staff that manage different aspects of the workforce, or outsource the managing of the database for tracking the employer's workforce over time. As a result, large and medium employers are expected to have the same occupations involved in the process of applying for the award, while a different set of occupations were identified for small employers, which typically do not have dedicated human resources staff or a database administrator.

    Table 3—Burden Costs by Employer Size * Tasks by employer size Resource Wage Hours Cost Large Employer Activities: Rule familiarization HR manager $116 1.0 $116 Data collection large employers HR specialists 62 5.0 310 Query report large employers DB Administrators 84 2.0 168 Filling form, large employers HR specialists 62 2.0 125 Executive signature Executive 187 0.25 47 Follow up (assume 5 percent) HR specialists 62 0.5 31 Reconsideration if denied award (1 percent) HR manager 116 0.5 58 Average unit cost per employer 855 Medium Employer Activities: Rule familiarization HR manager 116 1.0 116 Data collection medium employers HR specialists 62 3.0 186 Query report medium employers DB Administrators 84 2.0 168 Filling form medium employers HR specialists 62 1.5 93 Executive signature Executive 187 0.25 47 Follow up (assume 5 percent) HR specialists 62 0.5 31 Reconsideration if denied award (1 percent) HR manager 116 0.5 58 Average unit cost per employer 699 Small Employer Activities: Rule familiarization HR manager 116 1.0 116 Data collection small employers Payroll and timekeeping clerks 42 3.0 126 Filling form, small employers Payroll and timekeeping clerks 42 1.0 42 Executive signature HR manager 116 0.25 29 Follow up (assume 5 percent) Payroll and timekeeping clerks 42 0.5 21 Reconsideration if denied award (1 percent) HR manager 116 0.5 58 Average unit cost per employer 392 Source: BLS, OES 2016. * Wages and costs are rounded values. (See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002 for all sources and derivation).

    The burden estimates were mainly driven by the duration of time expected for each aspect of the application process, and the type of occupation identified as performing the various activities for the employer size.

    The rulemaking docket includes a spreadsheet used to estimate the unit costs to employers who apply for the award. The unit costs in the spreadsheet included burden costs by employer size for each aspect of the application process, including rule familiarization, collection, filling out the form, and follow-up/requests for reconsideration. VETS received a few public comments related to these aspects of the cost estimation. For example, a commenter stated that there are “small employer[s] who may lack a dedicated Human Resources professional, and rel[y] on the AJC staff for many hiring functions.” VETS agrees that smaller employers often will not employ the same type of human resources professionals as medium or larger employers do, and this is reflected in the cost estimates and criteria for applying. Other commenters suggested changes in certain program criteria, which, if adopted by VETS, could have impacted unit costs associated with filling out the forms. However, as explained in the responses to public comments above, VETS did not make any changes to the award criteria in response to public comments. Therefore, no changes were made to the unit cost estimates used in the NPRM.

    In the NPRM, estimates for cost and burden were based on comments received from stakeholder meetings and OSHA's recordkeeping rule update in 2014.

    Government Costs

    The cost to the Government involves the intake, review, verification, and processing of the applications, and notification/distribution of the award. To efficiently process applications, VETS will develop and maintain a system to electronically receive applications, review applications to determine eligibility, and issue the awards. The cost for such a system would include IT hardware and software, IT maintenance, helpdesk costs, and VETS program management personnel costs. VETS has estimated lifecycle costs. The estimated cost of creating an application system and form is approximately $933,100, which annualized over 10 years at a 3 percent discount rate results in a cost of $109,388 per year.

    The business process for the intake, review, and processing of applications was estimated using average wage data from BLS occupation codes for each phase, including solicitation, application processing, application review, award notification, and reporting to Congress. The cost to the Government for processing is estimated to be $2.5 million dollars per year based on 10,000 applications being processed per year.

    As part of the business process there will be costs associated with program outreach, messaging, and notification of award winners. This is estimated to cost $245,086 annually. An outreach specialist is estimated to spend 1,140 hours involved in these tasks. The mean hourly wage rate for an outreach specialist is $45.42, as reported by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for a General Schedule (GS)-13 (Step 1) in 2017; 12 plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage for this task would be $90.84. These tasks will also involve a program manager spending 1,000 hours with an hourly wage rate of $53.67 (GS-14 Step 1); plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage would be $107.36. An IT specialist (GS-12 Step 1) would also be involved in supporting tasks with messaging and recognition of award winners, spending 100 hours, with an hourly wage of $38.20; plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage would be $76.40.

    12 OPM https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/salary-tables/pdf/2017/DCB_h.pdf.

    The application process will require support from contractors to set up the process, the receipt of the forms and the processing of the applications; this is estimated to cost $1,896,940 annually. A program specialist will spend 200 hours annually with a mean hourly wage rate of $59.31 as reported in the BLS 2016 OES survey; 13 plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage rate would be $118.62. An IT specialist will spend 40 hours to support these activities with an hourly wage rate of $42.25; 14 plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage is $84.50. The program manager 15 is estimated to spend 151 hours processing applications, with an hourly wage rate of $58.70; plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage is $117.40. A program specialist 16 will perform the bulk of the application review tasks, totaling 18,569 hours with an hourly wage rate of $35.99; plus fringe benefits and overhead, the hourly wage will be $71.98.

    13 BLS OES occupation code 11-2031 Public Relations and Fundraising Managers.

    14 BLS OES occupation code 15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations.

    15 BLS OES occupation code 11-1021 General and Operations Managers.

    16 BLS OES occupation code 13-1199 Business Operations Specialists.

    As part of the review process of the applications, VETS will need to verify applicants do not have adverse labor law decisions, stipulated agreements, contract debarments, or contract terminations against them under USERRA; or the VEVRAA. This verification process will involve VETS and OFCCP checking their databases for award applicants. VETS estimates it will take each agency, OFCCP and VETS, an average of 15 minutes per application for this review. A GS-13 would perform the check with a loaded hourly wage of $90.84 and spend 13 minutes per employer on the list, and a GS-15 with a loaded hourly wage of $126.28 would spend 2 minutes per employer on the list verifying the findings in the initial check. The IT process developed to support this review will be maintained by a contractor 17 spending 240 hours, with a loaded hourly wage of $84.50 (hourly mean wage from BLS without fringe benefits or overhead is $42.25).

    17 BLS OES occupation code 15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations.

    The notification of the award will also be executed by a contractor, and it will involve 50 hours of a program manager's 18 time, with a loaded hourly wage of $117.40, and 40 hours of a program specialist's 16 time, with a loaded hourly wage of $71.98.

    18 BLS OES occupation code 11-1021 General and Operations Managers.

    The oversight of the contract for the application processing will be done by VETS personnel. This will take 312 hours of a program manager's time (GS-14), with a loaded hourly wage of $107.36, and 120 hours of a program specialist's time (GS-13), with a loaded hourly wage of $90.84.

    The statute requires a report to Congress; this will be done by VETS personnel, and it will cost a total of $10,406 dollars annually. This task will take a program manager (GS-14), 80 hours with a loaded hourly wage of $107.36, and another 20 hours of time for a program specialist's time (GS-13), with a loaded hourly wage of $90.84. The cost to the Government was estimated in two parts: The costs to efficiently process applications and the costs of creating the application system. VETS solicited comments on the costs to the Government to develop a system to accept and review applications but none were received.

    The supplemental spreadsheet in the docket includes the methodology used in the NPRM to estimate the costs to the Government to process the application and the creation of the application system; no changes are being made to the Government cost calculations.

    Application Fee

    The HIRE Vets Act provides that the Secretary may assess a reasonable fee on employers that apply for receipt of a HIRE Vets Medallion Award and that the amount of the fee must be sufficient to cover the costs associated with carrying out the HIRE Vets Act. The fee will cover the costs of solicitation of applications, processing applications, vetting applicants for labor law violations, and award notifications, as well as the maintenance cost of the IT system used in the processing of applications.

    In processing the applications, VETS will need to verify the information on the form being submitted by employers. Given that the number of criteria varies by employer size, and will consequently require additional review by VETS, the fee will vary by employer size to reflect the cost of reviewing additional criteria. For example, the large employer platinum award requires the applicant to provide information about five types of integration assistance. However, the small employer platinum award only requires that the applicant provide information about two types of integration assistance. Consequently, the large employer award will take longer to review than the small employer award will.

    In recognition of these differences in the number of criteria and the amount of information needing to be reviewed and verified as part of processing awards, the fees will be graduated to reflect the differences in the amount of review VETS would need to perform for large, medium, and small employers. The fee for large employers is $495 per applicant, the fee for medium employers is $190 per applicant, and the fee for small employers is $90 per applicant, which covers the anticipated cost to VETS for processing 4,152 applications in the first year. The fees were estimated by taking the average cost to VETS of $300 per application, and multiplying it using factors of time that reflect the information needed to be reviewed. Large employers would take VETS 1.6 times longer than the estimated average cost to process the application; for medium employers it would be 0.6 times the average cost, and for small employers it would be 0.3 times the average cost.

    Table 4—Government Costs Application processing Employers 4,152 6,228 10,728 Solicitation $245,086 $245,086 $245,086 Receipt and Processing 565,828 823,693 1,382,564 Violation Vetting by VETS and OFCCP 200,119 299,335 514,376 Award Notification 160,333 236,118 400,366 Contract Oversight 44,397 44,397 44,397 IT Support and Maintenance 20,280 20,280 20,280 Report to Congress 10,406 10,406 10,406 Total Processing Cost 1,246,449 1,679,315 2,617,473 Average Government Cost per Application 300 270 244 Sunk Development Costs: Development of Application System 98,625 Application Form Development 834,474 Total Development Costs 933,099 Source: OSHA, Directorate of Standards and Guidance, Office of Regulatory Analysis. (See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002 for all sources and derivation). Average cost per application = total processing cost/# of employers.

    The proposed fee in the NPRM was estimated to cover the cost to the Government, which includes solicitation of applications, processing applications, vetting applicants for labor law violations, and award notifications, as well as the maintenance cost of the IT system used in the processing of applications. VETS did not receive comment on the cost estimates for the Government, nor the estimated graduated fee by employer size.

    The same calculation found in the spreadsheet and discussed in the NPRM is used to derive a graduated application fee by employer size.

    Participation and Costs per Year

    VETS based its estimates of the level of participation partly on the CBO estimate of 4,000 employers in the first year and on the impact the criteria would have on the participation levels.

    There were no comments on the estimated level of participation; these estimates will stay the same. As indicated in the Summary and Explanation section of this document, some commenters expressed doubt that employers would be interested in participating in the HIRE Vets Medallion Program but no commenter provided specific data or evidence regarding how this supposition would impact the participation rates estimated in the NPRM.

    CBO originally developed an estimate that 4,000 employers would participate in the program in the first year. This estimate was based on the assumption that only 2 percent of employers would be potentially eligible and 25 percent of medium and large employers potentially eligible would apply for the program. In CBO's estimate, small employers were excluded from being able to apply based on an earlier version of the HIRE Vets bill. If CBO had included small employers in their estimate using the same methodology, the number of employers applying would increase to close to 50,000 employers.

    As noted above, VETS, making use of BLS veterans' labor force participation rate data, estimates that far more than 2 percent of employers that are eligible may choose to participate. Due to the lack of data for more accurate participation rates, VETS assumes that approximately 4,152 employers will apply in the first year, but that this would increase to 6,228 employers in the second year and to 10,728 per year in succeeding years. Table 5 shows the estimated participation rates by employer size class for each year and the resulting estimated costs of applications.

    Table 5—Estimated Participation Rates and Numbers of Applicants by Year Size class 1st year
  • participation
  • rate
  • (%)
  • 1st year
  • number of
  • applicants
  • 2nd year
  • participation
  • rate
  • (%)
  • 2nd year
  • number of
  • applicants
  • 3rd year
  • participation
  • rate
  • (%)
  • 3rd year
  • number of
  • applicants
  • Small 0.1 304 0.2 674 0.6 2,023 Medium 3.0 2,248 4.0 2,997 6.5 4,870 Large 12.5 1,601 20.0 2,557 30.0 3,835 Total N/A 4,152 N/A 6,228 N/A 10,728 VETS Estimates (See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002 for all sources and derivation).

    Table 6 shows the results of multiplying the employer unit costs of applying for the award, developed in the previous Unit Cost section, by the number of anticipated participants to obtain the costs by size class and total application costs for each year. These costs reflect the time and resources incurred by the employer when applying for the award program; this includes all the tasks discussed in the previous Unit Cost section.

    Table 6—Employer Application Costs by Year Size class 1st year costs 2nd year costs 3rd year costs Small $95,215 $211,589 $634,767 Medium 1,377,355 1,836,473 2,984,269 Large 1,230,468 1,965,603 2,948,405 Total 2,703,038 4,013,665 6,567,441 VETS Estimates (See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002 for all sources and derivation).

    There are multiple factors that would contribute to the participation rate of large, medium, and small employers, such as the application fee, amount of outreach by VETS, and the potential benefits gained by the employers receiving the award. The problem here is a classically difficult one in economics—that of estimating demand for new products. In this case, we have little data and few comparable products on which to base an estimate. VETS is aware that the total costs are dependent on the number of employers that apply and the number could be much lower or higher than VETS' baseline estimates.

    At the stakeholder meetings, some representatives from larger employers stated their willingness to pay up to several thousand dollars, while representatives for smaller employers didn't specify a fee amount they would be willing to pay. It would seem reasonable to assume a fee of more than several hundred dollars would discourage many small employers from applying. The total cost, burden plus fees, is estimated to range from $404 for small employers to $1,264 for large employers. Depending on the success of outreach and other messaging, these efforts could attract more applicants than CBO's estimate. Over the long term, employers will want to apply if there are quantifiable benefits in the form of increased revenue if this award attracts more customers, and by increasing the pool of veteran applicants when they are hiring. These factors have the potential to increase the number of participating employers to close to 50,000. Higher participation would result in increased costs relative to the overall cost burden and overall Government cost. However, considering all costs, the program will most likely not have costs in excess of $100 million per year. Such costs would only occur if 100 percent of potentially eligible medium and large employers and 25 percent of potentially eligible small employers apply every year.

    Total Annualized Costs

    VETS estimated annualized costs to employers for participation in this award program over a 10-year period using 3 percent and 7 percent discount rates based on the costs of application and costs to the Government developed above. These total costs are provided in Table 7.

    Table 7—Total Annualized Costs of the Final Rule Cost element Annualized costs at 3% Annualized costs at 7% First year
  • costs (if
  • different from annualized costs)
  • Costs for Preparing Applications $5,845,415 $5,735,649 $2,703,038 Costs to Government of Processing Application (to be reimbursed through fees) 2,357,854 2,318,462 1,246,449 Total Private Sector Costs, Including Fees for Government Processing 8,203,269 8,054,111 3,949,487 Costs to Government for Developing System (not reimbursed by fees) 109,388 132,852 933,099 Total 8,312,657 8,186,963 4,882,586 VETS Estimates (See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002 for details).
    Alternatives

    VETS considered alternative quantitative criteria for small and medium employers. One alternative would have been to change the proposed criteria for small and medium employers that require applicants to have both a retention rate of 75 percent (for gold)/85 percent (for platinum) and a veteran employee percentage of 7 percent (for gold)/10 percent (for platinum). Instead, this first proposed alternative criterion would have dropped the veteran employee percentage requirement. Keeping all the participation rates the same, VETS estimates that this change would have increased the number of potentially eligible employers by 38 percent, increased participation in the program by 19 percent, and increased annualized costs from approximately $8 million per year to $11.9 million a year. This alternative had the disadvantage that it would have allowed employers who had not recently achieved a 7 percent hiring goal to win the award.

    VETS also considered an option in which small and medium employers could have qualified if they met either of the following: (1) 7 percent of the employer's new hires during the previous year were veterans, or (2) 7 percent of the employees it hired over the last 2 years were veterans and the employer retained 75 percent of those veterans hired in the first year of that timeframe (previous year of the previous year). This alternative would have broadened the hiring eligibility timeframe. This option would have also slightly increased program eligibility, but it would have done so by significantly increasing small employer eligibility while lowering eligibility for medium employers. VETS concluded that this was not a useful effect given that medium employers are more likely to participate in the program than small employers are.

    VETS also examined an option in which the only hiring and retention criteria for small and medium employers would have been that 7 percent of new hires over the last 2 years were veterans along with a 75 percent retention criterion from the first of the 2 years (previous year of the previous year). Under this option, employers would no longer have been able to satisfy the hiring and retention criteria solely by having 7 percent of their new hires in the previous year be veterans. This approach also would have increased small employer eligibility at the expense of decreasing medium employers' eligibility. Again, because of expected high participation rates by medium employers relative to small employers, VETS decided not to adopt this alternative.

    None of these estimates take into account the cost savings to both the private sector and the Government of these alternatives.

    VETS solicited comments on these proposed alternatives for medium and small employers but did not receive any specific comments to the alternatives proposed. Therefore, the criteria presented in the NPRM will not change for the final rule and VETS will not adopt the alternatives discussed here.

    Benefits

    VETS expects that employers will want to apply for the award if there are quantifiable benefits in the form of increased revenue generated by attracting more or repeat customers, or a better pool of veteran applicants for jobs.

    The unemployment rate of veterans trends lower than the civilian unemployment rate, but regionally, the unemployment rate for veterans can vary from a low of 1.8 percent in Indiana to a high of 7.6 percent in the District of Columbia, as reported in the March 2016 Employment Situation of Veterans release by BLS. The higher unemployment rate for veterans in the District of Columbia can be attributed to the labor market there, which is mostly composed of professional and service industry occupations where historically there are lower employment rates for veteran workers. These veterans are experienced, mission-focused, responsible, independent, and capable workers who often face difficulties finding jobs that match their skills. In a 2016 Forbes article 19 highlighting veterans' issues as they adjusted to the civilian workforce, the top challenges reported for veterans are a lack of training or education for the work, lack of advancement opportunities, and employers undervaluing their military experience.

    19 Strauss, Karsten, (2016) How Veterans Adjust To The Civilian Workforce, November 11th, 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2016/11/11/how-veterans-adjust-to-the-civilian-workforce/2/#2d316ff8395d.

    Many employers who seek out veterans to hire have stated there are many benefits in attracting veterans, such as the experience they bring, more focused attention, and the ability to work independently.20 Employers who attain the award will be able to market themselves as a veteran friendly employer and be able to attract more veterans for job openings.

    20 Military & Defense team, (2016) 10 Reasons Companies Should Hire Military Veterans, November 11, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/reasons-companies-should-hire-military-veterans-2016-11.

    VETS received some comments regarding the benefits described in the NPRM. The purpose of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award is to recognize employers who have recruited and retained veterans, as well as the efforts by these employers to establish employee development programs for veterans and to offer veteran specific benefits to improve retention. Those employers who meet the criteria to receive the award most likely recognize the benefits of employing veterans and would want to attract more veteran employees in the future. A recipient of this award would have the opportunity to utilize the medallion in the marketing of their firm when hiring, as well as to attract additional business. One commenter stated that employers already have a means to “advertise that they hire vets,” concluding that this award would not result in new added benefits to employers. In addition, a couple commenters questioned if employers would be interested in applying given the burden of applying and the lack of quantifiable benefits. While benefits were not quantified, the employers in the stakeholder meetings and in the 2016 Forbes article 19 discussed above both asserted that there are benefits employers receive from hiring veterans, and this award will enable employers to attract more veterans to their job openings.

    Other comments supported the idea that a HIRE Vets Medallion Award would yield tangible benefits to employers. For example, a commenter expressed that “[o]nce employers who participate in this program start hiring more veterans, other companies will see the positive impact it has on business and hopefully will follow in the same direction” (VETS-2017-0001-0018). This award program was mandated by an act of Congress to recognize those employers who currently meet those criteria in hiring, retaining, and supporting veteran employees. These employers have engaged with veteran employees because there are benefits gained, but as stated above, these benefits are not easily quantified. A Time article from April 25, 2016, “Paying Their Workers' College Tuition Can Pay Off for Companies,” stated that tuition reimbursement, “reduced employee turnover and lower[ed] recruiting costs,” demonstrating the financial benefit these programs can have to employers' bottom lines.21 Employee resources groups, leadership training, differential pay, and tuition reimbursement have all been shown to reduce turnover.22 In an article from the Huffington Post, “How Much Does Employee Turnover Really Cost,” posted on January 19, 2017, the author found that “the cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2.0x the employee's annual salary.” As these articles demonstrate, employers applying for a HIRE Vets Medallion Award are reaping many benefits, and this award will allow them to maximize the return on their investment in the employee programs they offer.

    21 Mulhere, Kaitlin, (2016) Paying Their Workers' College Tuition Can Pay Off for Companies. April 25, 2016. Retrieved from: http://time.com/money/4305549/paying-their-workers-college-tuition-can-pay-off-for-companies/.

    22 Altman, Jack, (2017) How Much Does Employee Turnover Really cost? January 18th, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-much-does-employee-turnover-really-cost_us_587fbaf9e4b0474ad4874fb7.

    Attaining awards can also result in benefits to businesses in the form of increased marketing potential, improved standing in their industry, recognition as a leader, and improved employee engagement.23 These benefits discussed are all reasons that businesses participate in awards and offer employee development programs.

    23 Narayanan, Sukruti, (2017) The 5 Benefits of Receiving Corporate Awards. January 15, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-benefits-receiving-corporate-awards-sukruti-narayanan.

    Regulatory Flexibility Certification

    For regulatory flexibility purposes for this rule, economic impacts are considered significant in any given sector if costs are greater than 1 percent of revenues or 5 percent of profits. For the purpose of determining impacts on small employers, VETS considered costs as a percentage of revenues and profits by industry sector for employers with 5 to 500 employees. (Note that this definition of “small employers” is consistent with SBA's definition and differs from that established by Congress for purposes of the HIRE Vets Medallion Program.) Table 8 shows the minimum and maximum impacts for each 3-digit subsector within the 2-digit sector shown. (Full impacts and derivation are given in the supplemental spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002.) Table 8 shows that no industry sector has costs in excess of 1 percent of revenues or 5 percent of profits.

    Table 8—Economic Impacts NAICS Title Average
  • revenue per
  • establishment
  • Average cost
  • to revenues
  • Minimum
  • (%)
  • Maximum
  • (%)
  • Average cost
  • to profits
  • Minimum
  • (%)
  • Maximum
  • (%)
  • 11 Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting 4,244,996 0.009 0.026 0.176 0.844 21 Mining 13,371,157 0.002 0.009 0.068 0.068 22 Utilities 21,521,736 0.003 0.003 −0.220 * −0.220 * 31-33 Manufacturing 10,225,679 0.002 0.021 0.030 0.485 42 Wholesale Trade 20,024,426 0.002 0.006 0.014 0.203 44-45 Retail Trade 3,928,643 0.005 0.042 0.243 0.243 48-49 Transportation 5,700,083 0.004 0.039 0.051 4.545 51 Information 4,990,489 0.009 0.020 −0.165* 0.192 52 Finance and Insurance 5,367,956 0.007 0.019 0.015 0.314 53 Real Estate 4,371,291 0.007 0.025 0.038 0.566 54 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 2,986,458 0.020 0.020 0.517 0.517 55 Management 2,306,072 0.026 0.026 0.131 0.131 56 Administrative and Support, Waste Management and Remediation Services 2,727,336 0.018 0.030 0.426 0.765 61 Educational Services 2,514,535 0.024 0.024 0.522 0.522 62 Health Care 8,435,099 0.003 0.051 0.052 0.964 71 Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 2,963,512 0.014 0.039 0.236 2.414 72 Accommodation and Food Services 1,381,321 0.033 0.065 0.505 1.224 81 Other Services 1,319,709 0.030 0.094 1.222 2.905 Source: VETS based on data from IRS (U.S. Internal Revenue Service), 2013. Corporation Source Book, 2013. https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-corporation-source-book-us-total-and-sectors-listing, Accessed by Eastern Resource Group, Inc., 2016. U.S. Census Bureau, 2012. SUSB Employment and Payroll Summary: 2012-Data by enterprise employment size, Accessed on 7/11/2017 at https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2012/econ/susb/2012-susb-annual.html. See Spreadsheets, Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002, for full derivation. *Negative profit rates reported for these industries.

    As a result of these considerations, per section 605 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), VETS certifies that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    VETS did not receive comments on this certification. Further, it should be noted that small employers are only subject to this rule if they choose to apply for the award. Thus, no small business needs to incur the costs unless they find that the benefits exceed the costs for them.

    References Altman, 2017. How Much Does Employee Turnover Really cost? Huffingtonpost.com January 18, 2017. From: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-much-does-employee-turnover-really-cost_us_587fbaf9e4b0474ad4874fb7. BLS, 2016. Current Population Survey. Available at www.bls.gov/cps. BLS, 2017. Job Openings And Labor Turnover—July 11, 2017. Available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf. BLS, 2017. OES. Fringe markup is from the following BLS release: Employee Costs for Employee Compensation—June 9, 2017. Available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecec.pdf. Culbertson, 2016. A Deep Look at the Data: How Are Veterans Doing in Today's Workforce?. Indeed blog, November 10, 2016. From: http://blog.indeed.com/2016/11/10/veterans-employment/. VETS based on data from IRS (U.S. Internal Revenue Service), 2013. Corporation SourceBook, 2013. https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-corporation-source-book-us-total-and-sectors-listing, Accessed by ERG, 2016. Fleishman, 2014. Hilton Helping Veterans with Jobs, Free Hotel Stays. G.I. Money, January 16, 2016. From: http://gimoney.com/hilton-helping-veterans-jobs-free-hotel-stays/. HHS, 2016. Guidelines for Regulatory Analysis. Page 33, available at https://aspe.hhs.gov/system/files/pdf/242926/HHS_RIAGuidance.pdf. Military & Defense team, 2016. 10 Reasons Companies Should Hire Military Veterans, November 11, 2016. From: http://www.businessinsider.com/reasons-companies-should-hire-military-veterans-2016-11. Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements: North American Industry Classification System Update and Reporting Revisions (Docket No. OSHA-2010-0019-0127). Strauss, 2016. How Veterans Adjust To The Civilian Workforce, November 11, 2016. From: https://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2016/11/11/how-veterans-adjust-to-the-civilian-workforce/2/#2d316ff8395d. Watson, 2014. Veteran Unemployment Rate Drops, But Still Outpaces the Rest of the Country. www.defenceone.com, May 2, 2014. From: http://www.defenseone.com/news/2014/05/D1-Watson-veteran-unemployment-rate-drops-still-outpaces-rest-country/83692/. U.S. Census Bureau, 2014. SUSB Annual Datasets by Establishment Industry: U.S. & States, NAICS, detailed employment sizes. Accessed on 6/15/2017 at https://www.census.gov/data/datasets/2014/econ/susb/2014-susb.html. Eligibility estimates by VETS. See text and spreadsheets (Docket No. VETS-2017-0001-0002). Paperwork Reduction Act Overview

    The final HIRE Vets Medallion Award regulations contain collections of information (paperwork) requirements that are subject to review by OMB. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, require that the Department consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. A Federal agency generally cannot conduct or sponsor a collection of information, and the public is generally not required to respond to an information collection, unless it is approved by OMB under the PRA and displays a currently valid OMB Control Number. In addition, notwithstanding any other provisions of law, no person may generally be subject to penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that does not display a valid OMB Control Number. See 5 CFR 1320.5(a) and 1320.6.

    Solicitation of Comments

    On August 18, 2017, VETS published two separate Federal Register Notices that allowed the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed Information Collection Request (ICR) containing the collections of information contained in the proposed regulations and the HIRE Vets Medallion Award application and forms. First, in accordance with the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3507), the HIRE Vets Medallion Program NPRM provided 30 days for the public to comment on the ICR (82 FR 39390). However, the PRA requires that agencies provide a 60-day public comment period on the collections of information in accordance with 44 U.S.C. 3506(c). As a result, VETS published a second companion notice to the NPRM (82 FR 39460) allowing the public the full 60 days to comment on the collections of information contained in the proposal. On August 18, 2017, VETS submitted an ICR for the proposed rule to OMB for review in accordance with 44 U.S.C. 3507(d).

    On October 25, 2017, OMB issued a Notice of Action (NOA) commenting on the proposal's ICR. OMB commented that the NOA is not an approval to conduct or sponsor the collections of information contained in the proposal. OMB noted that this action has no effect on any current approvals and assigned the ICR control number 1293-0015 to be used in future ICR submissions. Also, OMB instructed the Agency to resubmit this ICR when the final rule is issued.

    Collection of Information Requirements

    VETS received comments addressing the collections of information and the burden hour cost analysis. Responses to these comments are found in the Section-by-Section Summary of the Final Rule and Discussion of Comments and Executive Orders 12866 and 13563: Regulatory Planning and Review Introduction sections of the preamble.

    As related to this rulemaking, VETS submitted the final ICR, containing the full analysis and description of the burden hours and costs associated with the final rule, to OMB on the date of publication for approval. A copy of this ICR is available at https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAOMBHistory?ombControlNumber=1293-0015 (this link will become active on the day following publication of the final rule). This request also seeks authority for VETS to engage in a demonstration of the information collection and award in 2018, before the implementation of this rule; this demonstration would not involve the collection of application fees.

    The regulations implementing the HIRE Vets Act require the Secretary annually to solicit and accept voluntary information from employers for consideration of employers to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award. The Act establishes specific criteria at two levels, “Gold” and “Platinum,” for large employers (those with 500 or more employees) and allows the Secretary discretion in establishing criteria for small and medium employers to qualify for similar awards.

    The final rule includes the application process and criteria VETS will use to receive, review, and process applications; verify the information provided; and award the HIRE Vets Medallion Award to those employers meeting the criteria. VETS developed the HIRE Vets application forms [VETS-1011LP, VETS-1011LG, VETS-1011MP, VETS-1011MG, VETS-1011SP, VETS-1011SG] for employers to complete and submit to VETS to fulfill the regulatory requirements to receive an award. The Act establishes a fund, designated as the “Hire Vets Medallion Award Fund,” and allows the Secretary to assess a reasonable fee from the applicants to cover the costs associated with carrying out the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. The final rule provides the fee amount and how to submit the fee.

    The final rule, like the proposed rule, provides specific award criteria for large employers to qualify for the gold and platinum awards. Although the number of criteria an employer is required to satisfy in the final rule differs by award, the large employer criteria established by statute are generally incorporated across the large employer, medium employer, and small employer awards. The applications require employers to provide information to meet award criteria dependent upon the size of the employer and the level of award the employer is requesting, gold or platinum. The following table provides the corresponding regulatory citation for each award type. In addition, employers must maintain documentation of the information relied upon to complete the application for 2 years after the application is submitted to VETS (§ 1011.600).

    Final Regulatory Provision Employer size Gold award Platinum award Large § 1011.100(a) § 1011.100(b) Medium § 1011.105(a) § 1011.105(b) Small § 1011.110(a) § 1011.110(b)

    The applications solicit information that VETS will review and evaluate to determine if an employer will receive an award. Employers are required to maintain information relied upon to complete their application for 2 years, as previously noted. VETS may request this information if additional verification is needed, or in case VETS becomes aware of facts that may indicate information submitted on the application may be incorrect.

    Title of Collection: Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act.

    OMB Control Number: 1293-0015.

    Total Estimated Number of Respondents: 7,036.

    Total Estimated Number of Responses: 34,245.

    Total Estimated Annual Time Burden Hours: 58,716.

    Total Estimated Annual Other Costs Burden: $1,847,746.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996

    VETS has determined that this final rule does not impose a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA; therefore, VETS is not required to produce any Compliance Guides for Small Entities, as mandated by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act for rules with such impacts.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    For purposes of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1532, this final rule does not include any Federal mandate that may result in excess of $100 million in expenditures by State, local, and Tribal governments in the aggregate or by the private sector.

    Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    VETS has reviewed this final rule in accordance with Executive Order 13132 regarding federalism and has determined that it does not have “federalism implications.” This rule will not “have substantial direct effects 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.”

    Executive Order 13084 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments)

    This final rule does not have Tribal implications under Executive Order 13175 that require a Tribal summary impact statement. The final rule does not have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian Tribes.

    Plain Language

    The final rule uses plain language.

    Effects on Families

    The undersigned hereby certifies that the final rule would not adversely affect the well-being of families.

    Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    This final rule would have no environmental health risk or safety risk that may disproportionately affect children.

    Environmental Impact Assessment

    A review of this final rule in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.; the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality, 40 CFR part 1500 et seq.; and DOL NEPA procedures, 29 CFR part 11, indicates the final rule would not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. There is, thus, no corresponding environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement.

    Executive Order 13211 (Energy Supply)

    This final rule is not subject to Executive Order 13211. It will not have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy.

    Executive Order 12630 (Constitutionally Protected Property)

    This final rule is not subject to Executive Order 12630 because it does not involve implementation of a policy that has takings implications or that could impose limitations on private property use.

    Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform Analysis)

    This final rule was drafted and reviewed in accordance with Executive Order 12988 and will not unduly burden the Federal court system. The final rule was reviewed to eliminate drafting errors and ambiguities, written to minimize litigation, and written to provide a clear legal standard for affected conduct and to promote burden reduction.

    List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 1011

    Employment, Veterans, Employer Recognition, Medallion.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, the Veterans' Employment and Training Service amends 20 CFR chapter IX by adding part 1011 to read as follows: PART 1011—HIRE VETS MEDALLION PROGRAM Subpart A—General Provisions Sec. 1011.000 What is the HIRE Vets Medallion Program? 1011.005 What definitions apply to this part? 1011.010 Who is eligible to apply for a HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.015 What are the different types of the HIRE Vets Medallion Awards? Subpart B—Award Criteria 1011.100 What are the criteria for the large employer HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.105 What are the criteria for the medium employer HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.110 What are the criteria for the small employer HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.115 Is there an exemption for certain large employers from the dedicated human resources professional criterion for the large employer platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.120 Under what circumstances will VETS find an employer ineligible to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a violation of labor law? Subpart C—Application Process 1011.200 How will VETS administer the HIRE Vets Medallion Award process? 1011.205 What is the timing of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award process? 1011.210 How often can an employer receive the HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.215 How will the employer complete the application for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.220 How will VETS verify a HIRE Vets Medallion Award application? 1011.225 Under what circumstances will VETS conduct further review of an application? 1011.230 Under what circumstances can VETS deny or revoke an award? Subpart D—Fees and Caps 1011.300 What are the application fees for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award? 1011.305 May VETS set a limit on how many applications will be accepted in a year? Subpart E—Design and Display 1011.400 What does a successful applicant receive? 1011.405 What are the restrictions on display and use of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award? Subpart F—Requests for Reconsideration 1011.500 What is the process to request reconsideration of a denial or revocation? Subpart G—Record Retention 1011.600 What are the record retention requirements for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award? Authority:

    Division O, Pub. L. 115-31, 131 Stat. 135.

    Subpart A—General Provisions
    § 1011.000 What is the HIRE Vets Medallion Program?

    The HIRE Vets Medallion Program is a voluntary employer recognition program administered by the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service. Through the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, the Department of Labor solicits voluntary applications from employers for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize efforts by applicants to recruit, employ, and retain veterans and to provide services supporting the veteran community.

    § 1011.005 What definitions apply to this part?

    Active Duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve means active duty as defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(d)(1).

    Dedicated human resources professional means either a full-time professional or the equivalent of a full-time professional dedicated exclusively to supporting the hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees. Two half-time professionals, for example, are equivalent to one full-time professional.

    Employee means any individual for whom the employer furnishes an IRS Form W-2, excluding temporary workers.

    Employer means any person, institution, organization, or other entity that pays salary or wages for work performed or that has control over employee opportunities, except for the Federal Government or any State or foreign government. For the purposes of this regulation, VETS will recognize employers based on the Employer Identification Number, as described in 26 CFR 301.7701-12, used to furnish an IRS Form W-2 to an employee. However, in the case of an agent designated pursuant to 26 CFR 31.3504-1, a payor designated pursuant to 26 CFR 31.3504-2, or a Certified Professional Employer Organization recognized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 7705, the employer shall be the common law employer, client, or customer, respectively, instead of the entity that furnishes the IRS Form W-2.

    Human Resources Veterans' Initiative means an initiative through which an employer provides support for hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees.

    Post-secondary education means post-secondary level education or training courses that would be acceptable for credit toward at least one of the following: associate's or bachelor's degree or higher, any other recognized post-secondary credential, or an apprenticeship.

    Salary means an employee's base pay.

    Temporary worker means any worker hired with the intention that the worker be retained for less than 1 year and who is actually retained for less than 1 year.

    Veteran has the meaning given such term under 38 U.S.C. 101.

    VETS means the Veterans' Employment and Training Service of the Department of Labor.

    § 1011.010 Who is eligible to apply for a HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    All employers who employ at least one employee are eligible to apply for a HIRE Vets Medallion Award. To qualify for a HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all application requirements.

    § 1011.015 What are the different types of the HIRE Vets Medallion Awards?

    (a) There are three different categories of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award:

    (1) Large Employer Awards for employers with 500 or more employees.

    (2) Medium Employer Awards for employers with more than 50 but fewer than 500 employees.

    (3) Small Employer Awards for employers with 50 or fewer employees.

    (4) Timing. The correct category of award is determined by the employer's number of employees as of December 31 of the year prior to the year in which the employer applies for an award.

    (b) Within each award category, there are two levels of award:

    (1) A Gold Award; and

    (2) A Platinum Award.

    Subpart B—Award Criteria
    § 1011.100 What are the criteria for the large employer HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    (a) Gold Award. To qualify for a large employer gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    (1) The employer is a large employer as specified in § 1011.015 of this part;

    (2) The employer is not found ineligible under § 1011.120 of this part;

    (3) Veterans constitute not less than 7 percent of all employees hired by such employer during the prior calendar year;

    (4) The employer has retained not less than 75 percent of the veteran employees hired during the calendar year preceding the preceding calendar year for a period of at least 12 months from the date on which the employees were hired;

    (5) The employer has established an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring; and

    (6) The employer has established programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment.

    (b) Platinum Award. To qualify for a large employer platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    (1) The employer is a large employer as specified in § 1011.015 of this part;

    (2) The employer is not found ineligible under § 1011.120 of this part;

    (3) Veterans constitute not less than 10 percent of all employees hired by such employer during the prior calendar year;

    (4) The employer has retained not less than 85 percent of the veteran employees hired during the calendar year preceding the preceding calendar year for a period of at least 12 months from the date on which the employees were hired;

    (5) The employer has established an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring;

    (6) The employer has established programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment;

    (7) The employer employs a dedicated human resources professional as defined in § 1011.005 of this part to support hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees;

    (8) The employer provides each of its employees serving on active duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve with compensation sufficient, in combination with the employee's active duty pay, to achieve a combined level of income commensurate with the employee's salary prior to undertaking active duty; and

    (9) The employer has a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees' attendance in post-secondary education during the term of their employment.

    § 1011.105 What are the criteria for the medium employer HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    (a) Gold Award. To qualify for a medium employer gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    (1) The employer is a medium employer per § 1011.015 of this part;

    (2) The employer is not found ineligible under § 1011.120 of this part;

    (3) The employer has achieved at least one of the following:

    (i) Veterans constitute not less than 7 percent of all employees hired by such employer during the prior calendar year; or

    (ii) The employer has achieved both of the following:

    (A) The employer has retained not less than 75 percent of the veteran employees hired during the calendar year preceding the preceding calendar year for a period of at least 12 months from the date on which the employees were hired; and

    (B) On December 31 of the year prior to the year in which the employer applies for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, at least 7 percent of the employer's employees were veterans; and

    (4) The employer has at least one of the following forms of integration assistance:

    (i) The employer has established an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring; or

    (ii) The employer has established programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment.

    (b) Platinum Award. To qualify for a medium employer platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    (1) The employer is a medium employer as specified in § 1011.015 of this part;

    (2) The employer is not found ineligible under § 1011.120 of this part;

    (3) The employer has achieved at least one of the following:

    (i) Veterans constitute not less than 10 percent of all employees hired by such employer during the prior calendar year; or

    (ii) The employer has achieved both of the following:

    (A) The employer has retained not less than 85 percent of the veteran employees hired during the calendar year preceding the preceding calendar year for a period of at least 12 months from the date on which the employees were hired; and

    (B) On December 31 of the year prior to the year in which the employer applies for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, at least 10 percent of the employer's employees were veterans;

    (4) The employer has the following forms of integration assistance:

    (i) The employer has established an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring; and

    (ii) The employer has established programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment; and

    (5) The employer has at least one of the following additional forms of integration assistance:

    (i) The employer has established a human resources veterans' initiative;

    (ii) The employer provides each of its employees serving on active duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve with compensation sufficient, in combination with the employee's active duty pay, to achieve a combined level of income commensurate with the employee's salary prior to undertaking active duty; or

    (iii) The employer has a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees' attendance in post-secondary education during the term of their employment.

    § 1011.110 What are the criteria for the small employer HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    (a) Gold Award. To qualify for a small employer gold HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    (1) The employer is a small employer as specified in § 1011.015 of this part;

    (2) The employer is not found ineligible under § 1011.120 of this part; and

    (3) The employer has achieved at least one of the following:

    (i) Veterans constitute not less than 7 percent of all employees hired by such employer during the prior calendar year; or

    (ii) The employer has achieved both of the following:

    (A) The employer has retained not less than 75 percent of the veteran employees hired during the calendar year preceding the preceding calendar year for a period of at least 12 months from the date on which the employees were hired; and

    (B) On December 31 of the year prior to the year in which the employer applies for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, at least 7 percent of the employer's employees were veterans.

    (b) Platinum Award. To qualify for a small employer platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award, an employer must satisfy all of the following criteria:

    (1) The employer is a small employer as specified in § 1011.015 of this part;

    (2) The employer is not found ineligible under § 1011.120 of this part;

    (3) The employer has achieved at least one of the following:

    (i) Veterans constitute not less than 10 percent of all employees hired by such employer during the prior calendar year; or

    (ii) The employer has achieved both of the following:

    (A) The employer has retained not less than 85 percent of the veteran employees hired during the calendar year preceding the preceding calendar year for a period of at least 12 months from the date on which the employees were hired; and

    (B) On December 31 of the year prior to the year in which the employer applies for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award, at least 10 percent of the employer's employees were veterans; and

    (4) The employer has at least two of the following forms of integration assistance:

    (i) The employer has established an employee veteran organization or resource group to assist new veteran employees with integration, including coaching and mentoring;

    (ii) The employer has established programs to enhance the leadership skills of veteran employees during their employment;

    (iii) The employer has established a human resources veterans' initiative;

    (iv) The employer provides each of its employees serving on active duty in the United States National Guard or Reserve with compensation sufficient, in combination with the employee's active duty pay, to achieve a combined level of income commensurate with the employee's salary prior to undertaking active duty;

    (v) The employer has a tuition assistance program to support veteran employees' attendance in post-secondary education during the term of their employment.

    § 1011.115 Is there an exemption for certain large employers from the dedicated human resources professional criterion for the large employer platinum HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    Yes. Large employers who employ 5,000 or fewer employees need not have a dedicated human resources professional to support the hiring and retention of veteran employees. A large employer with 5,000 or fewer employees can satisfy the criterion at § 1011.100(b)(7) by employing at least one human resources professional whose regular work duties include supporting the hiring, training, and retention of veteran employees.

    § 1011.120 Under what circumstances will VETS find an employer ineligible to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for a violation of labor law?

    (a) Any employer with an adverse labor law decision, stipulated agreement, contract debarment, or contract termination, as defined in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section, pursuant to either of the following labor laws, as amended, will not be eligible to receive an award:

    (1) Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA); or

    (2) Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA);

    (b) For purposes of this section, an adverse labor law decision means any of the following, issued in the calendar year prior to year in which applications are solicited or the calendar year in which applications are solicited up until the issuance of the award, in which a violation of any of the laws in paragraph (a) of this section is found:

    (1) A civil or criminal judgment;

    (2) A final administrative merits determination of an administrative adjudicative board or commission; or

    (3) A decision of an administrative law judge or other administrative judge that is not appealed and that becomes the final agency action.

    (c) For purposes of this section, a stipulated agreement means any agreement (including a settlement agreement, conciliation agreement, consent decree, or other similar document) to which the employer is a party, entered into in the calendar year prior to the year in which applications are solicited or the calendar year in which applications are solicited up until the issuance of the award, that contains an admission that the employer violated either of the laws cited in paragraph (a) of this section.

    (d) For purposes of this section, a contract debarment means any order or voluntary agreement, pursuant to the laws listed in paragraph (a) of this section, that debars the employer from receiving any future Federal contract. Employers shall be ineligible for an award for the duration of time that the contract debarment is in effect.

    (e) For purposes of this section, a contract termination means any order or voluntary agreement, pursuant to the laws listed in paragraph (a) of this section, that terminates an existing Federal contract prior to its completion. Employers shall be ineligible for the award if this termination occurred in the calendar year prior to the year in which applications are solicited or the calendar year in which applications are solicited up until the issuance of the award.

    (f) VETS may delay issuing an award to an employer if, at the time the award is to be issued, VETS has credible information that a significant violation of one of the laws in paragraph (a) of this section may have occurred that could lead to an employer being disqualified pursuant to any of paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section.

    Subpart C—Application Process
    § 1011.200 How will VETS administer the HIRE Vets Medallion Award process?

    The Secretary of Labor will annually—

    (a) Solicit and accept voluntary applications from employers in order to consider whether those employers should receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award;

    (b) Review applications received in each calendar year;

    (c) Notify such recipients of their awards; and

    (d) At a time to coincide with the annual commemoration of Veterans Day—

    (1) Announce the names of such recipients;

    (2) Recognize such recipients through publication in the Federal Register; and

    (3) Issue to each such recipient—

    (i) A HIRE Vets Medallion Award; and

    (ii) A certificate stating that such employer is entitled to display such HIRE Vets Medallion Award.

    § 1011.205 What is the timing of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award process?

    VETS will review all timely applications that fall under any cap established in § 1011.305 of this part to determine whether an employer should receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award, and, if so, of what level.

    (a) Performance period—except as otherwise noted in § 1011.120 of this part, only the employer's actions taken prior to December 31 of the calendar year prior to the calendar year in which applications are solicited will be considered in reviewing the award.

    (b) Solicitation period—VETS will solicit applications not later than January 31 of each calendar year for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award to be awarded in November of that calendar year.

    (c) End of acceptance period—VETS will stop accepting applications on April 30 of each calendar year for the awards to be awarded in November of that calendar year.

    (d) Review period—VETS will finish reviewing applications not later than August 31 of each calendar year for the awards to be awarded in November of that calendar year.

    (e) Selection of recipients—VETS will select the employers to receive HIRE Vets Medallion Awards not later than September 30 of each calendar year for the awards to be awarded in November of that calendar year.

    (f) Notice of awards and denials—VETS will notify employers who will receive HIRE Vets Medallion Awards not later than October 11 of each calendar year for the awards to be awarded in November of that calendar year. VETS will also notify applicants who will not be receiving an award at that time.

    § 1011.210 How often can an employer receive the HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    Per section 2(d) of the HIRE Vets Act, an employer who receives a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for 1 calendar year is not eligible to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award for the subsequent calendar year.

    § 1011.215 How will the employer complete the application for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    (a) VETS will require all applicants to provide information to establish their eligibility for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award.

    (b) VETS may request additional information in support of the application for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award.

    (c) The chief executive officer, the chief human resources officer, or an equivalent official of each employer applicant must attest under penalty of perjury that the information the employer has submitted in its application is accurate.

    (d) Interested employers can access the application form via the HIRE Vets Web site accessible from https://www.hirevets.gov/.

    (e) Applicants will complete the application form and submit it electronically.

    (f) Applicants who need a reasonable accommodation in accessing the application form, submitting the application form, or submitting the application fee may contact VETS at (202) 693-4700 or TTY (877) 889-5627 (these are not toll-free numbers).

    (g) Should the information provided on the application be deemed incomplete, VETS will attempt to contact the applicant. The applicant must respond with the additional information necessary to complete the application form within 5 business days or VETS will deny the application.

    § 1011.220 How will VETS verify a HIRE Vets Medallion Award application?

    VETS will verify all information provided by an employer in its application to the extent that such information is relevant in determining whether or not such employer meets the criteria to receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award or in determining the appropriate level of HIRE Vets Medallion Award for that employer to receive. VETS will verify this information by reviewing all information provided as part of the application.

    § 1011.225 Under what circumstances will VETS conduct further review of an application?

    If at any time VETS becomes aware of facts that indicate that the information provided by an employer in its application was incorrect or that the employer does not satisfy the requirements at § 1011.120, VETS may conduct further review of the application. As part of that review, VETS may request information and/or documentation to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the employer in its application or to confirm that the employer is not ineligible under § 1011.120. Depending on the result of the review, VETS may either deny or revoke the award. If VETS initiates such review prior to issuing the award, VETS will not be required to meet the timeline requirements in this part.

    § 1011.230 Under what circumstances can VETS deny or revoke an award?

    (a) Denial of award. VETS may deny an award for any of the following reasons:

    (1) The applicant fails to provide information and/or documentation as requested under § 1011.225 of this part;

    (2) VETS determines that the chief executive officer, the chief human resources officer, or an equivalent official of the applicant falsely attested that the information on the application was true;

    (3) The employer is ineligible to receive an award pursuant to § 1011.120 of this part; or

    (4) The application does not satisfy all application requirements.

    (b) Revocation of award. Once the HIRE Vets Medallion Award has been awarded, VETS may revoke the recipient's award for the following reasons:

    (1) The HIRE Vets Medallion Award recipient fails to provide information and/or documentation as requested under § 1011.225 of this part;

    (2) VETS determines that the chief executive officer, the chief human resources officer, or an equivalent official of the recipient falsely attested that the information on the application was true;

    (3) The employer was ineligible to receive an award pursuant to § 1011.120 of this part; or

    (4) The employer violated the display restrictions at § 1011.405 of this part.

    (c) If VETS decides to deny or revoke an award, it will provide the employer with notice of the decision. An employer may request reconsideration of VETS' decision to deny or revoke an award pursuant to § 1011.500 of this part.

    Subpart D—Fees and Caps
    § 1011.300 What are the application fees for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    (a) The Act requires the Secretary of Labor to establish a fee sufficient to cover the costs associated with carrying out the HIRE Vets Medallion Program.

    (b) Table 1 to § 1011.300 sets forth the fees an employer must pay to apply for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award. VETS will adjust the fees periodically according to the Implicit Price Deflator for Gross Domestic Product published by the U.S. Department of Commerce and notify potential applicants of the adjusted fees.

    (1) If a significant adjustment is needed to arrive at a new fee for any reason other than inflation, then a proposed rule containing the new fees will be published in the Federal Register for comment.

    (2) VETS will round the fee to the nearest dollar.

    Table 1 to § 1011.300 Application Fees Small Employer Fee $90.00 Medium Employer Fee 190.00 Large Employer Fee 495.00

    (c) All applicants must submit the appropriate application processing fee for each application submitted. This fee is based on the fees provided in table 1 to § 1011.300. Payment of this fee must be made electronically through the U.S. Treasury pay.gov system or an equivalent.

    (d) Once a fee is paid, it is nonrefundable, even if the employer withdraws the application or does not receive a HIRE Vets Medallion Award.

    § 1011.305 May VETS set a limit on how many applications will be accepted in a year?

    Yes, VETS may set a limit on how many applications will be accepted in any given year.

    Subpart E—Design and Display
    § 1011.400 What does a successful applicant receive?

    (a) The award will be in the form of a certificate and will state the year for which it was awarded.

    (b) VETS will also provide a digital image of the medallion for recipients to use, including as part of an advertisement, solicitation, business activity, or product.

    § 1011.405 What are the restrictions on display and use of the HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    It is unlawful for any employer to publicly display a HIRE Vets Medallion Award, in connection with, or as a part of, any advertisement, solicitation, business activity, or product—

    (a) For the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression that the employer received the award through the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, if such employer did not receive such award through the HIRE Vets Medallion Program; or

    (b) For the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression that the employer received the award through the HIRE Vets Medallion Program for a year for which such employer did not receive such award.

    Subpart F—Requests for Reconsideration
    § 1011.500 What is the process to request reconsideration of a denial or revocation?

    (a) An applicant may file a request for reconsideration of VETS' decision to deny or revoke a HIRE Vets Medallion Award or of VETS' decision as to the level of award by mailing a request for reconsideration to the following address no later than 15 business days after the date of VETS' notice of its decision. Requests for reconsideration must be sent to: HIRE Vets Medallion Program, DOL VETS, 200 Constitution Ave. NW., Room S1325, Washington, DC 20210.

    (b) Requests for reconsideration pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section must contain the following:

    (1) The employer name and identification number;

    (2) The reason for the request; and

    (3) An explanation, accompanied by any necessary documentation to support that explanation, of why VETS' decision was incorrect.

    (c) VETS may request from the employer filing such request any additional evidence or explanation it finds necessary for reconsideration.

    (d) Within 30 business days after the later of the receipt of the request or the receipt of any additional evidence or explanation requested, VETS will issue a determination about whether to grant or deny the request.

    (e) No additional Department of Labor review is available.

    Subpart G—Record Retention
    § 1011.600 What are the record retention requirements for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award?

    Applicants must retain a record of all information used to support an application for the HIRE Vets Medallion Award for 2 years from the date of application.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 1st day of November 2017. J.S. Shellenberger, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24214 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-79-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 573 [Docket No. FDA-2014-F-0988] Food Additives Permitted in Feed and Drinking Water of Animals; Ammonium Formate and Formic Acid AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, we, the Agency) is amending food additive regulations for food additives permitted in feed and drinking water of animals to provide for the safe use of formic acid and ammonium formate. This action is in response to a food additive petition filed by BASF Corp for Feed Grade Sodium Formate (FAP 2286), which also proposed to amend the animal food additive regulations for formic acid and ammonium formate to limit formic acid and formate salts from all added sources.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective November 13, 2017. Submit either written or electronic objections and requests for a hearing by December 13, 2017. See section V of this document for information on the filing of objections.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit objections and requests for a hearing as follows. Please note that late, untimely filed objections will not be considered. Electronic objections must be submitted on or before December 13, 2017. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept objections until midnight Eastern Time at the end of December 13, 2017. Objections received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely if they are postmarked or the delivery service acceptance receipt is on or before that date.

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic objections in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting objections. Objections submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your objection will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your objection 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 objection, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit an objection with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the objection 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): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper objections submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your objection, 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-2014-F-0988 for “Food Additives Permitted in Feed and Drinking Water of Animals; Ammonium Formate and Formic Acid.” Received objections, those filed in a timely manner (see ADDRESSES), will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit an objection with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your objections only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies in 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 objections. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. 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 objections 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: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or the electronic and written/paper objections received, go to https://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 Dockets Management Staff, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chelsea Trull, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-6729, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    In a document published in the Federal Register of July 25, 2014 (79 FR 43325), FDA announced that we had filed a food additive petition (animal use) (FAP 2286) submitted by BASF Corp., 100 Park Ave., Florham Park, NJ 07932. The petition proposed that the regulations for food additives permitted in feed and drinking water of animals be amended to provide for the safe use of feed grade sodium formate as a feed acidifying agent in complete swine feeds. The notice of petition provided for a 30-day comment period on the petitioner's request for categorical exclusion from preparing an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

    In addition, the petition proposed that the animal food additive regulations for formic acid and ammonium formate be amended to limit formic acid and formate salts from all added sources to 1.2 percent of complete feeds. This element of the petition was not described in the July 2014 notice of petition for FAP 2286, but was later described in a September 30, 2016, notice of petition (81 FR 67260).

    II. Conclusion

    FDA became concerned about the safety of higher levels of formic acid and formate salts in complete feeds when multiple sources of formic acid and its salts are used in combination. FDA concludes that the data establish the safety of formic acid and ammonium formate for use as a feed acidifying agent in complete feeds, that formic acid and formate salts should be limited to 1.2 percent on complete feed, and that the food additive regulations should be amended as set forth in this document.

    III. Public Disclosure

    In accordance with § 571.1(h) (21 CFR 571.1(h)), the petition and documents we considered and relied upon in reaching our decision to approve the petition will be made available for public disclosure (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). As provided in § 571.1(h), we will delete from the documents any materials that are not available for public disclosure.

    IV. Analysis of Environmental Impact

    The Agency has determined under 21 CFR 25.32(r) that this action is of a type that does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. Therefore, neither an environmental assessment, nor an environmental impact statement is required.

    V. Objections and Hearing Requests

    Any person who will be adversely affected by this regulation may file with the Dockets Management Staff (see ADDRESSES) either electronic or written objections. Each objection shall be separately numbered, and each numbered objection shall specify with particularity the provision of the regulation to which objection is made and the grounds for the objection. Each numbered objection on which a hearing is requested shall specifically so state. Failure to request a hearing for any particular objection shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing on that objection. Each numbered objection for which a hearing is requested shall include a detailed description and analysis of the specific factual information intended to be presented in support of the objection in the event that a hearing is held. Failure to include such a description and analysis for any particular objection shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing on the objection.

    Any objections received in response to the regulation may be seen in the office of the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and will be posted to the docket at https://www.regulations.gov.

    List of Subjects in 21 CFR Part 573

    Animal feeds, Food additives.

    Therefore, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and under authority delegated to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, 21 CFR part 573 is amended as follows:

    PART 573—FOOD ADDITIVES PERMITTED IN FEED AND DRINKING WATER OF ANIMALS 1. The authority citation for part 573 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 321, 342, 348.

    2. In § 573.170, redesignate paragraphs (c) and (d) as paragraphs (d) and (e), add new paragraph (c) and paragraph (d)(3) to newly redesignated paragraph (d), and revise newly redesignated paragraph (e) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 573.170 Ammonium formate.

    (c) To ensure safe use of the additive, formic acid and formate salts from all added sources cannot exceed 1.2 percent of complete feed when multiple sources of formic acid and its salts are used in combination.

    (d) * * *

    (3) Cautions for use including this statement: Caution: Follow label directions. Formic acid and formate salts from all added sources cannot exceed 1.2 percent of complete feed when multiple sources of formic acid and its salts are used in combination.

    (e) To ensure safe use of the additive, in addition to the other information required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and paragraph (d) of this section, the label and labeling shall contain:

    3. In § 573.480, redesignate paragraphs (b)(3) and (4) as paragraphs (b)(4) and (5), add new paragraph (b)(3) and paragraph (b)(4)(iii) to newly redesignated paragraph (b)(4), and revise newly redesignated paragraph (b)(5) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 573.480 Formic acid.

    (b) * * *

    (3) To ensure safe use of the additive, formic acid and formate salts from all added sources cannot exceed 1.2 percent of complete feed when multiple sources of formic acid and its salts are used in combination.

    (4) * * *

    (iii) Cautions for use including this statement: Caution: Follow label directions. Formic acid and formate salts from all added sources cannot exceed 1.2 percent of complete feed when multiple sources of formic acid and its salts are used in combination.

    (5) To ensure safe use of the additive, in addition to the other information required by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and paragraph (b)(4) of this section, the label and labeling shall contain:

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24366 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Office of Foreign Assets Control 31 CFR Part 543 Removal of Côte d'Ivoire 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 removing from the Code of Federal Regulations the Côte d'Ivoire Sanctions Regulations as a result of the termination of the national emergency on which the regulations were based.

    DATES:

    Effective: November 13, 2017.

    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).

    Background

    On February 7, 2006, the President issued Executive Order 13396, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in Côte d'Ivoire” (E.O. 13396), in which the President declared a national emergency to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in or in relation to Côte d'Ivoire. That situation, which had been addressed by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 1572 of November 15, 2004, and subsequent resolutions, had resulted in the massacre of large numbers of civilians, widespread human rights abuses, significant political violence and unrest, and attacks against international peacekeeping forces leading to fatalities. E.O. 13396 blocked all property and interests in property of the persons listed in the Annex to E.O. 13396 and any person determined to meet one or more of the criteria set out in E.O. 13396.

    On April 13, 2009, OFAC issued the Persons Contributing to the Conflict in Côte d'Ivoire Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR part 543 (the “Regulations”), as a final rule to implement E.O. 13396 (74 FR 16763, April 13, 2009). On July 21, 2009, OFAC issued an amendment to the Regulations to change the heading of the Regulations to the Côte d'Ivoire Sanctions Regulations (74 FR 35802, July 21, 2009). OFAC also amended the Regulations on February 8, 2012, to add a definition of a term used in the Regulations (77 FR 6463, Feb. 8, 2012).

    On September 14, 2016, the President issued Executive Order 13739, “Termination of Emergency With Respect to the Situation in or in Relation to Côte d'Ivoire” (E.O. 13739). In E.O. 13739, the President found that the situation that gave rise to the declaration of a national emergency in E.O. 13396 with respect to the situation in or in relation to Côte d'Ivoire had been significantly altered by the progress achieved in the stabilization of Côte d'Ivoire, including the successful conduct of the October 2015 presidential election, progress on the management of arms and related materiel, and the combatting of illicit trafficking in natural resources. Accordingly, and in view of the removal of multilateral sanctions by the United Nations Security Council in Resolution 2283, the President terminated the national emergency and revoked E.O. 13396.

    Therefore, OFAC is removing the Regulations from the Code of Federal Regulations. Pursuant to section 202 of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622) and section 1 of E.O. 13739, termination of the national emergency declared in E.O. 13396 shall not affect any action taken or proceeding pending and not fully concluded or determined as of 8:00 a.m. eastern daylight time on September 14, 2016 (the effective date of E.O. 13739), any action or proceeding based on any act committed prior to the effective date, or any rights or duties that matured or penalties that were incurred prior to the effective date.

    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, as well as the provisions of Executive Order 13771, 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 Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because this rule does not impose information collection requirements that would require the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    List of Subjects in 31 CFR Part 543

    Administrative practice and procedure, Banks, Banking, Blocking of assets, Côte d'Ivoire, Credit, Foreign trade, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Securities, Services.

    For reasons set forth in the preamble, and under the authority of 3 U.S.C. 301; 50 U.S.C. 1601-1651; E.O. 13396, 71 FR 7389, 3 CFR, 2006 Comp., p. 209; E.O. 13739, 81 FR 63673 (September 16, 2016), OFAC amends 31 CFR chapter V as follows:

    PART 543—[REMOVED] 1. Remove part 543. Dated: November 7, 2017. John E. Smith, Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24521 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AL-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2017-0758] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Delaware River, Tacony, PA, and Palmyra, NJ AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the SR 73 (Tacony-Palmyra) Bridge across the Delaware River, mile 107.2, in between Tacony, PA, and Palmyra, NJ. The deviation is necessary to facilitate routine maintenance. This deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 7 a.m. on December 15, 2017, through 5 p.m. on February 4, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, [USCG-2017-0758] is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH”. Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Mr. Mickey Sanders, Bridge Administration Branch Fifth District, Coast Guard; telephone (757) 398-6587, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Burlington County Bridge Commission, owner and operator of the SR 73 (Tacony-Palmyra) Bridge across the Delaware River, mile 107.2, in between Tacony, PA, and Palmyra, NJ, has requested a temporary deviation from the current operating schedule to accommodate annual maintenance to replace machinery components for the drive system that operates the bascule spans. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 50 feet above mean high water (MHW) in the closed position.

    The current operating schedule is set out in 33 CFR 117.716. Under this temporary deviation, the bridge will be maintained in the closed-to-navigation position for six (6) separate four (4) day periods from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. starting from December 15, 2017, through December 18, 2017; January 4, 2018, through January 7, 2018; January 11, 2018, through January 14, 2018; January 18, 2018, through January 21, 2018; January 25, 2018, through January 28, 2018; and February 1, 2018, through February 4, 2018. The bridge will open on signal at all other times.

    The Delaware River is used by a variety of vessels including small commercial vessels, recreational vessels and tug and barge traffic. The Coast Guard has carefully coordinated the restrictions with waterway users in publishing this temporary deviation.

    Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed position may do so if at least 15 minutes notice is given. The bridge will not be able to open for emergencies and there is no immediate alternate route for vessels unable to pass through the bridge in the closed position. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notice to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by this temporary deviation.

    In accordance with 33 CFR 117.35(e), the drawbridge must return to its regular operating schedule immediately at the end of this effective period of this temporary deviation. This deviation from the operating regulations is authorized under 33 CFR 117.35.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Hal R. Pitts, Bridge Program Manager, Fifth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24468 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-0990] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; City of Oswego Fireworks Display; Oswego River, Oswego, NY AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone on the Oswego River, Oswego, NY. This safety zone is intended to restrict vessels from portions of the Oswego River during the City of Oswego fireworks display. This temporary safety zone is necessary to protect mariners and vessels from the navigational hazards associated with a fireworks display. Entry of vessels or persons into this zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port Buffalo.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from 7:15 p.m. on November 25, 2017 until 8:15 p.m. on November 26, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0990 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email LT Michael Collet, Chief of Waterways Management, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Buffalo; telephone 716-843-9322, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because the event sponsor did not submit notice to the Coast Guard with sufficient time remaining before the event to publish an NPRM. Delaying the effective date of this rule to wait for a comment period to run would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest by inhibiting the Coast Guard's ability to protect spectators and vessels from the hazards associated with a fireworks display.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this temporary rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register because doing so would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest. Delaying the effective date would be contrary to the rule's objectives of ensuring safety of life on the navigable waters and protection of persons and vessels near the event.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231. The Captain of the Port Buffalo (COTP) has determined that a fireworks display presents significant risks to public safety and property. Such hazards include premature and accidental detonations, dangerous projectiles, and falling or burning debris. This rule is needed to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment in the navigable waters within the safety zone while the fireworks display takes place.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule establishes a safety zone on November 25, 2017, or in the event of inclement weather November 26, 2017, from 7:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. The safety zone will encompass all waters of the Oswego River; Oswego, NY contained within 210-foot radius of: 43°27′15.37″ N., 076°30′28.34″ W. (NAD 83).

    Entry into, transiting, or anchoring within the safety zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Buffalo or his designated on-scene representative. The Captain of the Port or his designated on-scene representative may be contacted via VHF Channel 16.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

    We developed this rule after considering numerous statutes and Executive Orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on a number of these statutes and Executive Orders, and we discuss First Amendment rights of protestors.

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13771 directs agencies to control regulatory costs through a budgeting process. This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, this rule has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    We conclude that this rule is not a significant regulatory action because we anticipate that it will have minimal impact on the economy, will not interfere with other agencies, will not adversely alter the budget of any grant or loan recipients, and will not raise any novel legal or policy issues. The safety zone created by this rule will be relatively small and enforced for a relatively short time. Also, the safety zone is designed to minimize its impact on navigable waters. Furthermore, the safety zone has been designed to allow vessels to transit around it. Thus, restrictions on vessel movement within that particular area are expected to be minimal. Under certain conditions, moreover, vessels may still transit through the safety zone when permitted by the Captain of the Port.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires Federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term “small entities” comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    While some owners or operators of vessels intending to transit the safety zone may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section V.A above, this rule will not have a significant economic impact on any vessel owner or operator.

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247). The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.

    C. Collection of Information

    This rule will not call for a new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

    A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132, Federalism, if it has 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. We have analyzed this rule under that Order and have determined that it is consistent with the fundamental federalism principles and preemption requirements described in Executive Order 13132.

    Also, this rule does not have tribal implications under Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, because it does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. If you believe this rule has implications for federalism or Indian tribes, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) requires Federal agencies to assess the effects of their discretionary regulatory actions. In particular, the Act addresses actions that may result in the expenditure by a State, local, or tribal government, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100,000,000 (adjusted for inflation) or more in any one year. Though this rule will not result in such expenditure, we do discuss the effects of this rule elsewhere in this preamble.

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule establishes a temporary safety zone. It is categorically excluded under section 2.B.2, figure 2-1, paragraph 34(g) of the Instruction, which pertains to establishment of safety zones. A Record of Environmental Consideration (REC) supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated in the ADDRESSES section of this preamble.

    G. Protest Activities

    The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places, or vessels.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

    Harbors, Marine safety, Navigation (water), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Security measures, Waterways.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 33 CFR part 165 as follows:

    PART 165—REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREAS 1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    2. Add § 165.T09-0990 to read as follows:
    § 165.T09-0990 Safety Zone; City of Oswego Fireworks Display; Oswego River, Oswego, NY.

    (a) Location. The safety zone will encompass all waters of the Oswego River; Oswego, NY contained within a 210-foot radius of: 43°27′15.37″ N., 076°30′28.34″ W. (NAD 83).

    (b) Enforcement period. This regulation will be enforced from 7:15 p.m. until 8:15 p.m. on November 25, 2017, or in the event of inclement weather, on November 26, 2017, from 7:15 p.m. until 8:15 p.m.

    (c) Regulations. (1) In accordance with the general regulations in § 165.23 of this part, entry into, transiting, or anchoring within this safety zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Buffalo or his designated on-scene representative.

    (2) This safety zone is closed to all vessel traffic, except as may be permitted by the Captain of the Port Buffalo or his designated on-scene representative.

    (3) The “on-scene representative” of the Captain of the Port Buffalo is any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been designated by the Captain of the Port Buffalo to act on his behalf.

    (4) Vessel operators desiring to enter or operate within the safety zone must contact the Captain of the Port Buffalo or his on-scene representative to obtain permission to do so. The Captain of the Port Buffalo or his on-scene representative may be contacted via VHF Channel 16. Vessel operators given permission to enter or operate in the safety zone must comply with all directions given to them by the Captain of the Port Buffalo, or his on-scene representative.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. J.S. Dufresne, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Buffalo.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24498 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-1011] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone, Delaware River; Pipeline Removal AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule; correcting amendment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is correcting a temporary final rule that appeared in the Federal Register on November 6, 2017. The document issued a temporary safety zone for in the Mifflin Range on the Delaware River to facilitate pipeline removal in preparation for the deepening of the Delaware River. Due to mechanical issues on the SHELBY, the dredging operations will be attended by the towing vessel GRAPE APE for the duration of the safety zone. All vessel contact information remains the same.

    DATES:

    This correction is effective without actual notice from November 13, 2017 until December 4, 2017. For the purpose of enforcement, actual notice will be used from November 6, 2017, until November 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Petty Officer Edmund Ofalt, Waterways Management Branch, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware bay; telephone (215) 271-4814, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In FR Doc. 2017-24068, appearing at 82 FR 51347 on Monday, November 6, 2017, § 165.T05-1011(c) incorrectly references “SHELBY” instead of “GRAPE APE.” This document corrects that error.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

    Harbors, Marine safety, Navigation (water), Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Security measures, Waterways.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard corrects 33 CFR part 165 by making the following correcting amendment:

    PART 165—REGULATED NAVIGATION AREAS AND LIMITED ACCESS AREAS 1. The authority citation for part 165 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1231; 50 U.S.C. 191; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 6.04-1, 6.04-6, and 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    § 165.T05-1011 [Corrected]
    2. In § 165.T05-1011(c), remove “SHELBY” wherever it appears and adding in its place “GRAPE APE”. Dated: November 6, 2017. Scott E. Anderson, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24508 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS U.S. Copyright Office 37 CFR Part 201 [Docket No. 2017-7] Modernizing Copyright Recordation AGENCY:

    U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Interim rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Copyright Office is issuing an interim rule amending its regulations governing recordation of transfers of copyright ownership, other documents pertaining to a copyright, and notices of termination. The interim rule adopts a number of the regulatory updates proposed in the notice of proposed rulemaking published on May 18, 2017.

    DATES:

    Effective December 18, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sarang V. Damle, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights, by email at [email protected], or Jason E. Sloan, Attorney-Advisor, by email at [email protected] Each can be contacted by telephone by calling (202) 707-8350.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    Under the Copyright Act of 1976, the U.S. Copyright Office is responsible for recording documents pertaining to works under copyright, such as assignments, licenses, and grants of security interests.1 The Office is also responsible for recording notices of termination.2 As discussed in a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2017 (“NPRM”),3 the current recordation process is a time-consuming and labor-intensive paper-based one, requiring remitters to submit their documents in hard copy.

    1 17 U.S.C. 205.

    2 A “notice of termination” is a notice that terminates a grant to a third party of a copyright in a work or any rights under a copyright. Only certain grants may be terminated, and only in certain circumstances. Termination is governed by three separate provisions of the Copyright Act, with the relevant one depending on a number of factors, including when the grant was made, who executed it, and when copyright was originally secured for the work. See 17 U.S.C. 203, 304(c), 304(d).

    3 82 FR 22771 (May 18, 2017).

    The Office is engaged in an effort to modernize the recordation process in coming years by developing a fully electronic, online system through which remitters will be able to submit their documents and all applicable indexing information to the Office for recordation. In conjunction with the anticipated development effort, the Office issued the NPRM to propose updates to the Office's current regulations to govern the submission of documents to the Office for recordation once the new electronic system is developed and launched. The NPRM explained that while the Office could not estimate when the new system would be completed, public comments were being sought because the Office needed to make a number of policy decisions critical to the design of the to-be-developed system.4

    4Id. at 22771.

    In addition, as most relevant here, the NPRM further stated that while the proposed amendments were designed with a new electronic submission system in mind, at least some of the proposed changes could be implemented in the near future, without the new system. Thus, the Office noted that, to the extent possible under the Office's current paper system, the Office intended to adopt some aspects of the proposed rule on an interim basis until such time as the electronic system is complete and a final rule is enacted.5

    5Id. at 22771-72.

    II. Interim Rule

    As indicated in the NPRM, this interim rule adopts those provisions described in the NPRM that the Office believes will help streamline the recordation process prior to completion of the new electronic recordation system.

    Unlike a typical interim rule, this one is being promulgated following a notice of proposed rulemaking and a period for public comment. In response to the NPRM, the Office received thirteen comments from a variety of stakeholders.6 As this interim rule does not cover every issue raised by the NPRM or the commenters, the Office reserves judgment on any matters not expressly discussed herein and no inference should be drawn from the Office's silence on any particular point. Additionally, the Office reserves the right to issue other interim rules during the course of developing the system. The comments received in response to the NPRM not addressed by this interim rule will continue to be evaluated by the Office as system development progresses. The Office intends to issue a final rule under this same rulemaking docket in connection with the public release of the new system.

    6 The commenters are Author Services, Inc., Authors Alliance, Copyright Alliance, CSC, Dale Adams, Entertainment Software Association (“ESA”), Intellectual Property Owners Association, Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts (“Kernochan”), Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (“MPAA”), “Music Parties” (joint comment by American Association of Independent Music, Recording Industry Association of America, Inc., and National Music Publishers' Association), Music Reports, Inc. (“MRI”); Sergey Vernyuk, and Software and Information Industry Association (“SIIA”).

    While some discrete aspects of the proposed rule were opposed, most were either unopposed or affirmatively supported. As such, except as otherwise discussed below, the proposed rule is being adopted largely for the reasons discussed in the NPRM.7 As stated in the NPRM, the general mechanics of the new regulations are essentially the same as under the Office's current rules and policies.8 To be eligible for recordation, the document or notice of termination must satisfy certain requirements, be submitted properly, and be accompanied by the applicable fee. As before, the date of recordation will be the date when all of the required elements are received by the Office, and the Office may reject any document or notice submitted for recordation that fails to comply with the statute or the Office's rules or instructions. While recordation of section 205 documents is optional, pursuant to statute, notices of termination must be recorded with the Office “as a condition to its taking effect.” 9

    7See generally 82 FR 22771.

    8See id. at 22772, 22776.

    9 17 U.S.C. 203(a)(4)(A), 304(c)(4)(A), 304(d)(1).

    A. Transfers of Copyright Ownership and Other Documents Pertaining to a Copyright

    Cover Sheet and Electronic Title Lists. As was proposed,10 the interim rule requires paper submissions to be accompanied by a cover sheet that is similar to the current Form DCS. In addition to the information currently collected, the new Form DCS asks for some minor additional indexing information and has some additional checkboxes to help with the document examination process. Additionally, the various required certifications discussed below can also be made using Form DCS. Having all of this information in one place will benefit remitters by aiding them in confirming that their submissions are complete and comply with the requirements for recordation. It should also benefit the Office by making the examination process more efficient, as examiners will no longer need to search through the document itself to find this indexing information.

    10 82 FR at 22772.

    Also as proposed,11 remitters may continue to provide electronic lists of certain indexing information about the works to which the document pertains. As the NPRM discussed, much of the current regulation's details surrounding the formatting of electronic title lists are being removed. Instead, the interim rule states that such lists must be prepared and submitted in the manner specified by the Office in instructions it will post on its Web site. This change will allow the Office to develop more flexible instructions for remitters that can be updated and modified as needed without resorting to a rulemaking. No commenter objected to this proposed change.

    11Id.

    Originals, Copies, and Actual Signatures. One of the more significant proposals the Office made in the NPRM dealt with the treatment of original documents versus copies, and the definition of “actual signature.” 12 The Office proposed to continue requiring, in accordance with section 205(a), that to record a document, remitters must submit either the original document “bear[ing] the actual signature of the person who executed it” or a “true copy of the original, signed document” accompanied by a “sworn or official certification.” In discussing the application of the statute to electronic documents and electronic signatures, the NPRM proposed that to avoid any doubt about the sufficiency of a recordation on the basis of whether or not the submitted document is an original or a copy, the Office would consider any document either submitted electronically through the new system, or lacking a handwritten, wet signature (e.g., any document bearing an electronic signature) to be a “copy” within the meaning of section 205.13 The Office noted that, in practice, this would be unlikely to significantly affect remitters, as the only consequence is that each such submission would need to be accompanied by a sworn or official certification. As no commenter objected, the Office is adopting this as part of the interim rule, to the extent applicable to the current paper-based submission process.

    12Id. at 22772-74.

    13Id. at 22772-73.

    The NPRM also proposed a definition of the statutory term “actual signature.” 14 As discussed in the NPRM, that term has been undefined in the Office's regulations, but in practice, the Office has required original documents to bear handwritten, wet signatures and copies of documents to reproduce such handwritten, wet signatures. Electronic signatures have not been permitted. After analyzing the issue, the Office concluded that its regulations and processes should be flexible enough to permit any document that may constitute a transfer of copyright ownership under section 204 of the Copyright Act to be recordable under section 205. Thus, the Office proposed defining “actual signature” as any legally binding signature, including an electronic signature as defined by the E-Sign Act.15

    14Id. at 22773.

    15Id. The E-Sign Act defines “electronic signature” as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” 15 U.S.C. 7006(5). While Copyright Alliance and MPAA supported this proposed definition, they asked that the Office not create any requirements above and beyond what is required in the E-Sign Act. See Copyright Alliance Comments at 2; MPAA Comments at 2. The interim rule adopts the very broad definition of “any legally binding signature” and merely refers to the E-Sign Act as an example of something that would be included within that definition. The Office did not mean to imply that the various requirements applicable to the E-Sign Act were being imported into the Office's new definition of “actual signature.”

    In connection with this proposal, the Office explained that it disagreed with the suggestion from Professor Brauneis's report, Transforming Document Recordation at the United States Copyright Office, that the signature be in a “discrete and identifiable form” on the remitted document.16 Instead, the Office proposed resolving in another way Professor Brauneis's concern that having too broad a definition could potentially include “acts that do not generate a trace that is easily remitted as `a signature' on `a document.' ” 17 The Office proposed that rather than restrict the definition of signature, the rule should require that where an actual signature is not a handwritten or typewritten name, such as when an individual clicks a button on a Web site or application to indicate agreement to contractual terms, the remitter should be required to submit evidence demonstrating the existence of the signature, such as by appending a database entry or confirmation email to a copy of the terms showing that a particular user agreed to them by clicking “yes” on a particular date.18

    16 82 FR at 22773 (quoting Robert Brauneis, Transforming Document Recordation at the U.S. Copyright Office 66 (Dec. 2014), https://www.copyright.gov/docs/recordation/recordation-report.pdf. [hereinafter Brauneis Report]).

    17 82 FR at 22773 (quoting Brauneis Report at 66).

    18Id. at 22773.

    To the extent discussed by commenters, the Office's proposal on these issues was largely supported.19 One commenter, however, took issue with the Office's proposal not to limit signatures to those in a “discrete and identifiable form” on the remitted document.20 That commenter stated that the text of sections 204 and 205 contain materially different requirements and that, while in section 204, Congress adopted a more flexible writing requirement that would ultimately be tested in an adversarial environment, in section 205, Congress was narrower to create more certainty that if the requirements are met one would receive the enumerated benefits of recordation.21 The commenter contended that the result of the proposed rule would be that the scope of section 205 would be improperly subsumed by section 204 (and vice versa).22

    19See Copyright Alliance Comments at 2; MPAA Comments at 2; Music Parties Comments at 4; Sergey Vernyuk Comments.

    20 SIIA Comments at 2-5.

    21Id. at 4.

    22Id. at 5.

    The Office disagrees. Section 204 describes what is necessary for a transfer of copyright ownership to be valid and section 205 states explicitly that “[a]ny transfer of copyright ownership . . . may be recorded.” 23 Thus, any transfer that is valid under section 204 should be recordable under section 205.24 As explained in the NPRM, the recordation requirement of an “actual signature” merely distinguishes the signature on the original document from the reproduction of that signature on a copy of the document, and is not meant to limit the type of signature a document must have in order to be recorded.25

    23See 17 U.S.C. 204, 205.

    24See Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law 95-96 (Comm. Print. 1961) (in recommending that what would become the current Copyright Act “require explicitly that any instrument filed for recordation bear the actual signature of the person executing it or a sworn or official certification that it is a true copy of the original signed instrument”—which closely resembles the current text of section 205(a)—the report makes clear that the original intent was that “the recordation system should embrace all instruments by which the ownership of a copyright is transferred in whole or in part”).

    25See 82 FR at 22773-74; see also Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law 96 (Comm. Print. 1961) (explaining that the reason for requiring an “actual signature” is because “[t]here should be practical assurance that the instrument recorded is precisely the same as the one executed”).

    Accordingly the Office's interim rule essentially adopts the approach set forth in the NPRM, including the definition of “actual signature” as proposed. The interim rule provides that where a signature is not a handwritten or typewritten name, to be recordable, the remitter must provide a description of the nature of the signature and whatever evidence is necessary to demonstrate the existence of the signature. At the same time, the Office recognizes that, in the case of signatures that are not discrete and identifiable, it may prove difficult in practice for recordation examiners to determine on a case-by-case basis whether a document has been actually signed. Thus, the Office will not evaluate the evidence submitted in such cases, but will presume that the signature requirement has been satisfied and record the document (if all other requirements for recordation have been met). The Office will also make any of the ancillary material submitted available for public inspection. The interim rule makes clear, however, that this presumption is without prejudice to any party claiming that the document was not signed, including in court.

    Certifications. Given the general lack of opposition to the proposed rule's various certification requirements, they are being adopted for the reasons provided in the NPRM, except as noted below.26 Thus, under the interim rule, remitters are required to provide essentially two sets of certifications. First, the remitter must personally certify that he or she has appropriate authority to submit the document for recordation and that the indexing and other information submitted to the Office by the remitter is true, accurate, and complete to the best of the remitter's knowledge. These remitter-related certifications concern the remitter's authority to make the recordation and the veracity of the indexing and other information provided as a part of the submission; the certifications do not pertain to the actual document being submitted for recordation. The remitter can make these certifications by signing, either electronically or by hand, the required cover sheet.

    26See 82 FR at 22774.

    Second, the interim rule requires certifications related to the document itself: That the actual document being submitted for recordation conforms to the Office's signature,27 completeness, legibility, and redaction rules and, where the document is a copy, that it be accompanied by an official or sworn certification.28 These document-related certifications generally can be made by either the remitter or another individual on the cover sheet submitted with the document to the Office.29 An official certification, however, would need to be attached separately.

    27 While the proposed rule did not specifically include a certification concerning the signature, the Office believes that having one will aid the Office's examination just as much as the other proposed certifications, especially in light of the adopted definition of “actual signature.”

    28 The interim rule does not substantively alter the definition of “official certification,” but clarifies that it can be signed electronically. The interim rule does, however, simplify the definition of “sworn certification,” as was proposed, 82 FR at 22774, while also making the same clarification regarding electronic signatures.

    29 Commenters affirmatively supported having pre-printed certifications. See Authors Alliance Comments at 5; Sergey Vernyuk Comments. They also supported allowing a sworn certification to be made to the best of the certifier's knowledge. See Authors Alliance Comments at 5; Sergey Vernyuk Comments; see also 82 FR at 22774.

    While one commenter voiced concerns that having two sets of certifications that can be made by different individuals could be confusing and burdensome,30 the Office believes the commenter may have misunderstood the Office's proposed approach. The commenter asked that the Office allow a single representative to make both sets of certifications.31 That is exactly what the Office intended. Where a single person is in a position to make both the remitter-related and document-related certifications, he or she can make them all on the document cover sheet submitted with the document to the Office. The Office's rules permit different people to make the two sets of certifications simply to provide more flexibility to parties in the event, for example, the person filling out the document cover sheet and remitting the document is not in a position to make the document-related certifications (e.g., if the remitter is a paralegal or an administrative assistant without knowledge of the underlying document). Only in that case would two individuals be making the separate certifications. And even in that case, the remitter would still sign the document cover sheet for the remitter-related certifications; the other individual would make the document-related certifications on a separate page of the cover sheet.

    30 Music Parties Comments at 4.

    31Id.

    As to the Office's proposed expansion of the categories of people who can make a sworn certification to include any person having an interest in a copyright to which the document pertains, as well as such person's authorized representative, one commenter partially objected. The commenter agreed that successors-in-interest to the original parties and their representatives should be permitted, but took issue with permitting third-party beneficiaries to make the certification, voicing concerns of fraud and/or error by those who mistakenly believe or fraudulently represent themselves as deriving some incidental benefit from a document to be recorded.32 On further reflection, the Office believes that including third-party beneficiaries is not necessary. The main impetus for the expansion was to cover the types of scenarios noted by the Brauneis Report,33 which would be covered by successors-in-interest.34 As was originally proposed,35 the Office is requiring that any authorized representative specify who they represent and that successors-in-interest briefly describe the nature of their relationship to the document or the original parties to the document.36

    32Id.

    33See 82 FR at 22774.

    34See Brauneis Report at 67 (providing examples of wills where the testator is deceased and documents in the current owner's chain of title but which were executed by predecessors-in-interest). While one commenter voiced support for the proposed rule, third-party beneficiaries were not specifically discussed. See Authors Alliance Comments at 5.

    35 82 FR at 22774-75.

    36See Music Parties Comments at 4 (recommending that successors-in-interest “describe their relationship to the document or to the signatories to the document”).

    Completeness and Legibility. In response to the NPRM's proposal on completeness and legibility, the Office received a technical suggestion on the provision's wording that the Office agrees with.37 Thus, as under current regulations, the Office will continue to require documents submitted for recordation to be complete and legible. But as the NPRM proposed, the completeness requirement is being simplified to mandate that, while the document must be complete by its terms, it need only include referenced schedules, appendices, exhibits, addenda, or other material essential to understanding the copyright-related aspects of the document.38 This is a change from current practice, where the Office requires documents to include all schedules, or provide an explanation for why such material cannot be provided. Thus, under the interim rule, if, for example, a document has several schedules, but only one has any relevance to the copyright-related terms of the agreement, the document would be deemed complete so long as that schedule is included; the other schedules can be omitted. The Office sees no reason to burden remitters with having to submit, and Office staff with reviewing, what can often be a significant volume of material completely unrelated to the copyright terms of the document.

    37See MPAA Comments at 6.

    38 82 FR at 22775.

    Redactions. The NPRM proposed adopting rules governing redactions of documents, generally limiting redactions to certain enumerated categories of sensitive information, including financial, trade secret, and personally identifiable information.39 The NPRM further proposed allowing remitters to request in writing the ability to redact other information from a document, which the Office may permit at its discretion. The proposal also required that blank or blocked-out portions of the document be labeled “redacted” or an equivalent; that all portions of the document required by the simplified completeness requirement be included (even if an entire page is redacted); and that upon request, for review purposes, the remitter may be required to supply the Office with an unredacted copy of the document or additional information about the redactions. Most commenters discussing redactions took issue with this last requirement to provide the Office with an unredacted copy of the document or additional information about the redactions, voicing serious security, privacy, and confidentiality concerns with the Office receiving, having access to, and storing such sensitive materials.40 While one commenter did support the proposal,41 the Office has decided to not include this part of the provision in the interim rule, especially given that the Office was unlikely to require such information in the majority of cases. The Office cautions, however, that, as commenters pointed out, over-redacting a document may affect constructive notice under section 205(c).42

    39Id.

    40See Copyright Alliance Comments at 3; ESA Comments at 4; MPAA Comments at 4; Music Parties Comments at 4-5.

    41See Kernochan Comments at 2 (“[A]ll material should be made available to the USCO if the USCO so requests.”).

    42See ESA Comments at 4 (noting that “remitters are motivated by Section 205(c) not to redact information relevant to the purposes of recordation”); Music Parties Comments at 4-5 (“Section 205(c) . . . provides a strong incentive for remitters to redact only material that is irrelevant to the purposes of recordation.”).

    Additionally, one commenter also asked that if an unredacted document is submitted accidentally that there be a simple process to replace it with a properly redacted one.43 This would essentially be a type of correction. As such, the Office will more fully consider it in connection with its evaluation of the final rule on treatment of corrections going forward (see Correcting Errors below). The same commenter also suggested that the Office add more flexibility to the proposed rule by adding the phrase “other similarly sensitive information” to the acceptable categories of redactable information.44 The Office declines to adopt this suggestion at this time. Other commenters agreed with the proposed categories, and the ability to make a written request to redact other information should provide an adequate mechanism through which remitters can seek additional redactions without having a catch-all provision.45 The Office, however, will evaluate whether it is regularly receiving written requests to redact additional categories of information as part of the interim rule, and take that into account when formulating the final rule.

    43 MPAA Comments at 4.

    44Id.

    45See ESA Comments at 4 (“[T]his rule generally provides an appropriate framework for addressing cases where a document contains sensitive information.”); MRI Comments at 5 (“These data categories are appropriate for redaction.”); Music Parties Comments at 4 (“We generally agree with the proposed approach to redactions. Allowing financial, trade secret and personally identifiable information to be redacted as of right and other information to be redacted at the discretion of the Office should meet the needs of remitters.”).

    English Language Requirement. In the NPRM, the Office proposed to continue accepting and recording non-English language documents only if accompanied by an English translation signed by the individual making the translation.46 The Office further proposed to extend the translation requirement to any indexing information provided by the remitter. Because the Office did not receive any objections to this aspect of the proposed rule, and one commenter affirmatively supported it,47 it is being adopted as part of the interim rule. One commenter did, however, ask the Office to also permit translations made by software or automated translation services.48 The Office agrees, and has included such a provision in the interim rule. This adjustment should make it easier and less costly to provide a translation. As to any concerns about accuracy, the Office notes that it may reject a translation if it is unintelligible, whether made by a person or through the use of software or automated service.

    46 82 FR at 22775.

    47See Sergey Vernyuk Comments.

    48See Copyright Alliance Comments at 3.

    The Office would also like to clarify that even though the translation requirement is being expanded to indexing information, the Office does not intend to change its current practices concerning non-English titles of works at this time. If a non-English title of a work is natively spelled using only the letters, numbers, and printable characters that appear in the ASCII 128-character set (the character set the Office's current systems are limited to), a translation need not be provided, and if one is, the Office will index both the English and non-English titles of the work. If a non-English title is spelled using characters outside that character set (for example, it is in French but has accented letters, or is in Japanese), a transliteration using the ASCII 128-character set may be provided instead of or in addition to a literal translation. Where both a translation and transliteration are provided, both will be indexed as related titles.

    Constructive Notice. The proposed rule sought to make clear that for constructive notice under 17 U.S.C. 205(c) to attach with regard to works to which a recorded document pertains, the document must include or be accompanied by the title and copyright registration number of each such work.49 The Office received several comments objecting to the proposed rule on the ground that it is inconsistent with the statute, which they contended only requires that a title or registration number be provided for constructive notice to attach.50 The Office is continuing to evaluate its proposal and these comments, including by closely examining the relevant legislative history to better discern the intent behind the statutory provision. For now, the Office declines to adopt a rule interpreting section 205(c). Nothing should be inferred from the Office's proposed provision or the Office's decision not to adopt a rule at this time.

    49 82 FR at 22776.

    50See Author Services Comments at 1; Copyright Alliance Comments at 4-5; ESA Comments at 4-5; MPAA Comments at 4-6; Music Parties Comments at 7; SIIA Comments at 5-6.

    B. Notices of Termination

    Commenters did not object to any of the proposed submission requirements or procedures for recording notices of termination, and the proposals have largely been adopted. As the NPRM discussed, the requirements governing what must be submitted to the Office to record a notice of termination are remaining essentially unchanged.51 Thus, under the interim rule, as under the pre-existing rule, remitters are required to provide a complete and legible copy of the signed notice of termination as served on the grantee or successor-in-title. If separate copies of the same notice were served on more than one grantee or successor, only one copy needs to be submitted to the Office for recordation. The interim rule also maintains the requirement that remitters submit a statement setting forth the date on which the notice was served and the manner of service, unless that information is already contained within the notice itself. The interim rule also makes clear that, as previously, where service was made by first class mail, the date of service is the day the notice was deposited with the post office. The Office's timeliness rule also remains unchanged, and the Office will continue to refuse notices if they are untimely. Such scenarios where a notice would be deemed untimely include when the effective date of termination does not fall within the five-year period described in section 203(a)(3) or section 304(c)(3), as applicable, the documents submitted indicate that the notice was served less than two or more than ten years before the effective date of termination, and the date of recordation is after the effective date of termination.

    51 82 FR at 22776-77.

    As proposed,52 the interim rule clarifies that however the notice is signed, what must be submitted to the Office for recordation is a copy of the as-served notice, including the reproduced image of the signature as it appeared on that served notice. The interim rule also adds new certification requirements, as had also been proposed.53 Lastly, as the NPRM discussed,54 remitters are now required to include a cover sheet with any notice of termination submitted for recordation. This Recordation Notice of Termination Cover Sheet (“Form TCS”) is similar to and serves the same function as Form DCS does for section 205 document submissions. Form TCS asks for information about the remitter and for certain indexing information. It also includes a space for the remitter to provide a statement of service and make the required certifications.

    52Id.

    53Id. at 22777.

    54Id.

    C. Correcting Errors

    In the NPRM, the Office indicated that it was inclined to continue its current general practice of not permitting corrections to be made for any remitter-caused inaccuracies after the document or notice is recorded.55 Instead, the Office proposed that, as is the current practice, the remitter would need to resubmit the document or notice for recordation with corrected information and it would be treated as any other first-time-submission. For purposes of uniformity and efficiency, the NPRM proposed discontinuing permitting corrections for inaccurate electronic title lists that accompany paper filings.56 The Office explained that such errors should be treated the same as those made on the cover sheet or through the new electronic system. Lastly, the NPRM concluded that to have an efficient recordation system with an affordable fee, it would simply be impractical for Office staff to review all remitter-provided indexing information, which also means that it would be very difficult to review “corrected” submissions against the original to confirm that the remitter is not attempting to do something improper under the guise of a correction.57

    55Id. at 22776, 22777.

    56Id. at 22776.

    57Id.

    The Office received comments asking that corrections be permitted under various circumstances.58 The Office is still evaluating these comments and has not yet made a decision on this issue. For purposes of the interim rule, the Office is not changing the status quo for correcting information after a recordation has been completed. As a result, a slightly modified version of the current provision permitting corrections for electronic title lists has been retained. Mirroring the interim rule's approach to preparing and submitting electronic title lists, the interim rule also omits the current instructions that detail how to submit a corrective filing and instead states that a correction concerning an electronic title list may be requested by following the instructions provided by the Office on its Web site.

    58See Copyright Alliance Comments at 3; ESA Comments at 5-6; MPAA Comments at 4; Music Parties Comments at 3, 5-6.

    D. Consequences of Inaccuracies

    In the NPRM, the Office said that it intended to continue its current practice of relying on the information provided by remitters for indexing purposes and requiring parties-in-interest to bear the consequences of any inaccuracies in such remitter-provided information.59 The NPRM also clarified that it is not necessarily always the remitter who bears the consequences of inaccuracies, but rather, more accurately, it is the parties in interest to the remitted document or notice of termination who bear the consequences, if any, of any inaccuracies in the information provided to the Office by the remitter.

    59 82 FR at 22775-76.

    Based on the comments received, the Office has decided to eliminate the part of the proposed rule stating that parties-in-interest to a document or notice bear the consequences, if any, of any inaccuracies in the information the remitter provides to the Office. In response to the NPRM, some commenters expressed confusion over who really bears the consequences in the notice of termination context, while another commenter pointed out that non-parties may also bear the consequences if they rely to their detriment on incomplete or inaccurate recordation information.60 The Office did not intend for the proposed rule to be an assignment of risk or responsibility to a particular party to a transaction, but merely meant to make clear that the Copyright Office bears no responsibility for errors caused by a remitter. To avoid any confusion, the Office has removed the provision. But, to be clear, the Office bears no responsibility or liability if a remitter provides inaccurate indexing information that is then relied upon by the Office in indexing the document.

    60See ESA Comments at 6; MRI Comments at 4-5; Music Parties Comments at 7. Another commenter added that the proposed modification would seem to place the burden on any and every party to a document to regularly and continually check the Office's records to ensure no one has submitted inaccurate information. Sergey Vernyuk Comments.

    One commenter also asked that the Office adopt a rule stating that when a non-party relies to its detriment on incomplete or inaccurate recordation records, it should constitute evidence that any resulting infringement was not willful.61 The Office declines to adopt such a rule. It is for a court to determine willfulness in an infringement action based on all of the particular facts at issue in a given case.

    61 MRI Comments at 4-5.

    Concerning the Office's reliance on remitter-provided material, the Office did not receive any comments critical of the proposed rule. Consequently, that portion of the provision is being retained. The interim rule makes slight changes to the proposed version of the provision to clarify that the Office will not only rely on remitter-provided indexing information, but also on the certifications that accompany a document or notice and any other remitter-provided information. The interim rule also makes plain that what the Office means by reliance is that it may not necessarily confirm the accuracy of any such certifications or information against the actual document itself.

    E. Recordation Certificate and Returning of Document

    As before, once recorded, the document or notice of termination will be returned to the remitter with a certificate of recordation. Currently, all recorded documents and notices are digitally imaged and electronically stamped with an official recordation number and page numbers. This stamped copy is then printed and sent to the remitter with a paper recordation certificate. Where an original document is submitted, it is also returned. The Office plans to continue under this paper-based process while the new electronic recordation system is being developed.

    F. Scope of Office's Examination and Effect of Recordation

    One commenter inquired into the level of review the Office performs in examining recordation submissions, noting that it interpreted the NPRM's proposed language about parties bearing the consequences of their inaccuracies to indicate that the Office will not review submitted materials for accuracy or completeness.62 The commenter recommended that if that is not the Office's intent, that the Office follow the recommendation from the Brauneis Report,63 which suggested that the Office cease screening each individual remitted document for compliance with the various recordation requirements.64 The report recommended that remitters instead should certify that a document satisfies all of the requirements for recordation, and that the Office only “spot-screen” a sample of submissions to identify systematic problems, with the goal of trying to reduce them through corrective measures like better education.65 The report did note, however, that some particular types of submissions, such as notices of termination, might still warrant document-by-document examination.66

    62 Kernochan Comments at 2.

    63Id.

    64Brauneis Report at 58, 84.

    65Id.

    66Id.

    While the Office declines to adopt this exact approach at this time, the Office has decided to implement something similar. The Office agrees that it need not exhaustively review every recordation submission for compliance with all applicable laws, rules, and instructions, but there is a benefit to both remitters and the public at large in the Office at least examining submissions individually for facially obvious deficiencies 67 so as to ensure that the majority of recorded documents and notices of termination are in compliance with the legal and formal requirements for recordation.68 As discussed above, and in line with the Brauneis Report's recommendation, the Office is requiring various certifications and certain indexing information to be provided to the Office that, as the interim rule makes clear, the Office will not necessarily check against the remitted document or notice itself. While the Office intends to only examine submissions for facially obvious deficiencies, it may continue to perform a more comprehensive review, such as for notices of termination, at its discretion. Likewise, the Office also reserves the right to engage in a less comprehensive review, closer to what the Brauneis Report recommended, as a matter of administrative convenience.

    67 To be clear, the Office means only those deficiencies pertaining to the requirements for recordation; not other types of deficiencies that could affect the underlying validity or legal effectiveness of the document or notice. See U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, sec. 2305 (3d ed. 2017) (“Members of the general public who submit documents for recordation cannot expect the Office to screen a document for even obvious errors or discrepancies. Therefore, parties are strongly advised to review and scrutinize any document to ensure that the document is legally sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it is intended before it is submitted for recordation.”).

    68 This is in contrast to, for example, examining applications for copyright registration. Registering a work involves a substantive determination by the Office as to a work's copyrightability and can constitute prima facie evidence of a valid copyright. See 17 U.S.C. 410(a)-(c). Recordation is a more ministerial act, akin to the Office's acceptance of other types of filings for inclusion in the public record. For example, the Office accepts statements of account under the section 111 cable license after a review for “obvious errors or omissions appearing on the face of the documents” (see 37 CFR 201.17(c)(2)), notices of intention under the section 115 compulsory license without review for “legal sufficiency,” “errors or discrepancies” (see 37 CFR 201.18(g)), and agent designations made pursuant to section 512(c)(2) without any examination.

    Even with a more comprehensive level of review there is always the potential that some documents and notices that fail to comply with the requirements for recordation might still get recorded by the Office because the deficiency is simply not caught during the examination process. Consequently, for clarity and avoidance of doubt, the interim rule makes some adjustments to the existing notice of termination provision concerning the legal effect of recordation and adds a similar provision for section 205 documents.69 The interim rule makes even clearer that the act of recordation should in no way be construed as a determination by the Office that a document or notice is valid or legally effective. The interim rule also makes plain that recordation is without prejudice to any party claiming, including in court, that the requirements for recordation or effectuating termination have not been met.

    69 While the provision for section 205 documents is technically new, the Office currently already provides similar guidance. See U.S. Copyright Office, Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, sec. 2305 (3d ed. 2017) (“Although the Office will record a document after it has been executed, it does not issue or enforce notices of termination, transfers of ownership, or other documents pertaining to copyright. The Office only serves as an office of public record for such documents. . . . The fact that a document has been recorded is not a determination by the U.S. Copyright Office concerning the validity or the effect of that document. That determination can only be made by a court of law. . . [T]he Office only examines documents to determine if they comply with the requirements of the Copyright Act and the Office's regulations. The Office will not attempt to interpret the substantive content of any document that has been submitted for recordation. Likewise, the Office will not attempt to determine whether a document satisfies the legal requirements that may be necessary for it to be effective or enforced.”).

    List of Subjects in 37 CFR Part 201

    Copyright, General provisions.

    Interim Regulations

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Copyright Office amends 37 CFR part 201 as follows:

    PART 201—GENERAL PROVISIONS 1. The authority citation for part 201 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    17 U.S.C. 702.

    2. Revise § 201.4 to read as follows:
    § 201.4 Recordation of transfers and other documents pertaining to copyright.

    (a) General. This section prescribes conditions for the recordation of transfers of copyright ownership and other documents pertaining to a copyright under 17 U.S.C. 205. A document is eligible for recordation under this section if it meets the requirements of paragraph (d) of this section, if it is submitted in accordance with the submission procedure described in paragraph (e) of this section, and if it is accompanied by the fee specified in § 201.3(c). The date of recordation is the date when all of the elements required for recordation, including a proper document, fee, and any additional required information, are received in the Copyright Office. After recordation the document is returned to the sender with a certificate of recordation. The Office may reject any document submitted for recordation that fails to comply with 17 U.S.C. 205, the requirements of this section, or any relevant instructions or guidance provided by the Office.

    (b) Documents not recordable under this section. This section does not govern the filing or recordation of the following documents:

    (1) Certain contracts entered into by cable systems located outside of the 48 contiguous States (17 U.S.C. 111(e); see § 201.12);

    (2) Notices of identity and signal carriage complement, and statements of account of cable systems and satellite carriers and for digital audio recording devices and media (17 U.S.C. 111(d), 119(b), and 1003(c); see §§ 201.11, 201.17, 201.28);

    (3) Notices of intention to obtain a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords of nondramatic musical works (17 U.S.C. 115(b); see § 201.18);

    (4) Notices of termination (17 U.S.C. 203, 304(c) and (d); see § 201.10);

    (5) Statements regarding the identity of authors of anonymous and pseudonymous works, and statements relating to the death of authors (17 U.S.C. 302);

    (6) Documents pertaining to computer shareware and donation of public domain software (Pub. L. 101-650, sec. 805; see § 201.26);

    (7) Notifications from the clerks of the courts of the United States concerning actions brought under title 17, United States Code (17 U.S.C. 508);

    (8) Notices to libraries and archives of normal commercial exploitation or availability at reasonable prices (17 U.S.C. 108(h)(2)(C); see § 201.39);

    (9) Submission of Visual Arts Registry Statements (17 U.S.C. 113; see § 201.25);

    (10) Notices and correction notices of intent to enforce restored copyrights (17 U.S.C. 104A(e); see §§ 201.33, 201.34); and

    (11) Designations of agents to receive notifications of claimed infringement (17 U.S.C. 512(c)(2); see § 201.38).

    (c) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

    (1) A transfer of copyright ownership has the meaning set forth in 17 U.S.C. 101.

    (2) A document pertaining to a copyright is any document that has a direct or indirect relationship to the existence, scope, duration, or identification of a copyright, or to the ownership, division, allocation, licensing, or exercise of rights under a copyright. That relationship may be past, present, future, or potential.

    (3) An actual signature is any legally binding signature, including an electronic signature as defined in 15 U.S.C. 7006.

    (4) A sworn certification is a statement made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 1746 that the copy of the document submitted for recordation is, to the best of the certifier's knowledge, a true copy of the original, signed document. A sworn certification must be signed by one of the parties to the signed document, a successor-in-interest to one of the parties to the signed document, or the authorized representative of such a party or successor. Authorized representatives must state who they represent and successors-in-interest must describe their relationship to the document or the original parties to the document. An authorized representative of a successor-in-interest must describe the successor's relationship to the document or the original parties to the document. A sworn certification may be signed electronically.

    (5) An official certification is a certification, by the appropriate governmental official, that the original of the document is on file in a public office and that the copy of the document submitted for recordation is a true copy of the original. An official certification may be signed electronically.

    (d) Document requirements—(1) Original or certified copy. The remitter must submit either the original document that bears the actual signature(s) of the person(s) who executed it, or a copy of the original, signed document accompanied by a sworn certification or an official certification. Each document submitted for recordation must be certified to either have the actual signature(s) (if it is an original document) or reproduce the actual signature(s) (in the case of a copy of the original document). All documents lacking a handwritten, wet signature (including all documents bearing an electronic signature) are considered to be copies of the original, signed document, and must be accompanied by a sworn certification or an official certification. Where an actual signature on the relevant document is not a handwritten or typewritten name, such as when an individual clicks a button on a Web site or application to indicate agreement to contractual terms, the remitter must submit a description of the nature of the signature and documentation evidencing the existence of the signature (e.g., a database entry or confirmation email showing that a particular user agreed to the terms by clicking “yes” on a particular date). Where such description and evidence are provided, the Office will make them available for public inspection and may presume that the signature requirement for recordation has been satisfied, without prejudice to any party claiming otherwise, including before a court of competent jurisdiction.

    (2) Completeness. Each document submitted for recordation must be, and be certified to be, complete by its terms, but need only include referenced schedules, appendices, exhibits, addenda, or other material essential to understanding the copyright-related aspects of the document.

    (3) Legibility. Each document submitted for recordation must be, and be certified to be, legible.

    (4) Redactions. The Office will accept and make available for public inspection redacted documents certified to be redacted in accordance with this paragraph (d)(4), provided that all of the following conditions are satisfied:

    (i) The redactions must be limited to financial terms, trade secret information, Social Security or taxpayer-identification numbers, and financial account numbers. Additional types of information may be redacted on a case-by-case basis if the need for any such redactions is justified to the Office in writing and approved by the Office; such written requests should be included in the remitter's recordation submission to the Office.

    (ii) The blank or blocked-out portions of the document must be labeled “redacted” or the equivalent.

    (iii) Each portion of the document required by paragraph (d)(2) of this section must be included.

    (5) English language requirement. The Office will accept and record non-English language documents and indexing information only if accompanied by an English translation that is either signed by the individual making the translation or, if a publicly available commercial or consumer translation software product or automated service is used, by the individual using such product or service and accompanied by the name of the product or service. All translations will be made available for public inspection and may be redacted in accordance with paragraph (d)(4) of this section.

    (e) Paper submission procedure—(1) Process. A document may be submitted for recordation by sending it to the appropriate address in § 201.1(b) or to such other address as the Office may specify, accompanied by a cover sheet, the proper fee, and, if applicable, any electronic title list. Absent special arrangement with the Office, the Office reserves the right to not process the submission unless all of the items necessary for processing are received together.

    (2) Cover sheet required. Submission of a document must include a completed Recordation Document Cover Sheet (Form DCS), available on the Copyright Office Web site. Remitters must follow all instructions provided by the Office in completing Form DCS, including by providing all requested indexing information. Form DCS may be used to provide a sworn certification, if appropriate, and to make any of the other certifications required by this section. Form DCS will not be considered part of the recorded document, but will be used by the Office for examination, indexing, and other administrative purposes. The Office may reject any document submitted for recordation that includes an improperly prepared cover sheet.

    (3) Electronic title list. (i) In addition to identifying the works to which a document pertains in the paper submission, the remitter may also submit an electronic list setting forth each such work. The electronic list will not be considered part of the recorded document, but will be used by the Office for indexing purposes. Absent special arrangement with the Office, the electronic list must be included in the same package as the paper document to be recorded. The electronic list must be prepared and submitted to the Office in the manner specified by the Copyright Office in instructions made available on its Web site. The Office may reject any document submitted for recordation that includes an improperly prepared electronic title list.

    (ii) If a remitter of a recorded document finds that an error or omission in an electronic title list has led to the inaccurate indexing of the document in the public catalog, the remitter may request that the record be corrected by following the instructions provided by the Office on its Web site. Upon receipt of a properly prepared corrective filing and the appropriate fee, the Office will proceed to correct the information in the public catalog, and will make a note in the record indicating that the corrections were made and the date they were made.

    (4) Return receipt. If a remitter includes two copies of a properly completed Form DCS indicating that a return receipt is requested, as well as a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope, the remitter will receive a date-stamped return receipt attached to the extra copy acknowledging the Copyright Office's receipt of the enclosed submission. The completed copies of Form DCS and the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope must be included in the same package as the submitted document. A return receipt confirms the Office's receipt of the submission as of the date indicated, but does not establish eligibility for, or the date of, recordation.

    (5) Remitter certification. The remitter must certify that he or she has appropriate authority to submit the document for recordation and that all information submitted to the Office by the remitter is true, accurate, and complete to the best of the remitter's knowledge.

    (f) Reliance on remitter-provided information. The Copyright Office will rely on the certifications submitted with a document and the information provided by the remitter on Form DCS and, if provided, in an accompanying electronic title list. The Office will not necessarily confirm the accuracy of such certifications or information against the submitted document.

    (g) Effect of recordation. The fact that the Office has recorded a document is not a determination by the Office of the document's validity or legal effect. Recordation of a document by the Copyright Office is without prejudice to any party claiming that the legal or formal requirements for recordation have not been met, including before a court of competent jurisdiction.

    3. Revise § 201.10(f) to read as follows:
    § 201.10 Notices of termination of transfers and licenses.

    (f) Recordation. A copy of a notice of termination shall be recorded in the Copyright Office as required by 17 U.S.C. 203(a)(4)(A), 17 U.S.C. 304(c)(4)(A), or 17 U.S.C. 304(d)(1) if it meets the requirements of paragraph (f)(1) of this section, is submitted in compliance with paragraph (f)(2) of this section, and is accompanied by the fee specified in § 201.3(c). The Office may reject any notice submitted for recordation that fails to comply with 17 U.S.C. 203(a), 17 U.S.C. 304(c), 17 U.S.C. 304(d), the requirements of this section, or any relevant instructions or guidance provided by the Office.

    (1) Requirements. The following requirements must be met before a copy of a notice of termination may be recorded in the Copyright Office.

    (i) What must be submitted—(A) Copy of notice of termination. A copy of a notice of termination submitted for recordation must be, and be certified to be, a true, correct, complete, and legible copy of the signed notice of termination as served. Where separate copies of the same notice were served on more than one grantee or successor-in-title, only one copy need be submitted for recordation.

    (B) Statement of service. The copy submitted for recordation must be accompanied by a statement setting forth the date on which the notice was served and the manner of service, unless such information is contained in the notice. In instances where service is made by first class mail, the date of service shall be the day the notice of termination was deposited with the United States Postal Service.

    (ii) Timeliness. (A) The Copyright Office will refuse recordation of a notice of termination as such if, in the judgment of the Copyright Office, such notice of termination is untimely. Conditions under which a notice of termination will be considered untimely include: the effective date of termination does not fall within the five-year period described in section 203(a)(3) or section 304(c)(3), as applicable, of title 17, United States Code; the documents submitted indicate that the notice of termination was served less than two or more than ten years before the effective date of termination; or the date of recordation is after the effective date of termination.

    (B) If a notice of termination is untimely, the Office will offer to record the document as a “document pertaining to a copyright” pursuant to § 201.4, but the Office will not index the document as a notice of termination.

    (C) In any case where an author agreed, prior to January 1, 1978, to a grant of a transfer or license of rights in a work that was not created until on or after January 1, 1978, a notice of termination of a grant under section 203 of title 17 may be recorded if it recites, as the date of execution, the date on which the work was created.

    (2) Paper submission procedure—(i) Process. A copy of a notice of termination may be submitted for recordation by sending it to the appropriate address in § 201.1(c) or to such other address as the Office may specify, accompanied by a cover sheet, the statement of service, and the proper fee.

    (ii) Cover sheet required. Submission of a copy of a notice of termination must be accompanied by a completed Recordation Notice of Termination Cover Sheet (Form TCS), available on the Copyright Office Web site. Remitters must follow all instructions provided by the Office in completing Form TCS, including by providing all requested indexing information. Form TCS may be used to provide the statement of service and to make any of the certifications required by this paragraph (f). Form TCS will not be considered part of the recorded notice, but will be used by the Office for examination, indexing, and other administrative purposes. The Office may reject any notice submitted for recordation that includes an improperly prepared cover sheet.

    (iii) Return receipt. If a remitter includes two copies of a properly completed Form TCS indicating that a return receipt is requested, as well as a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope, the remitter will receive a date-stamped return receipt attached to the extra copy acknowledging the Copyright Office's receipt of the enclosed submission. The completed copies of Form TCS and the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope must be included in the same package as the submitted notice. A return receipt confirms the Office's receipt of the submission as of the date indicated, but does not establish eligibility for, or the date of, recordation.

    (iv) Remitter certification. The remitter must certify that he or she has appropriate authority to submit the notice for recordation and that all information submitted to the Office by the remitter is true, accurate, and complete to the best of the remitter's knowledge.

    (3) Date of recordation. The date of recordation is the date when all of the elements required for recordation, including the prescribed fee and, if required, the statement of service, have been received in the Copyright Office. After recordation, the notice, including any accompanying statement, is returned to the sender with a certificate of recordation.

    (4) Effect of recordation. The fact that the Office has recorded a notice is not a determination by the Office of the notice's validity or legal effect. Recordation of a notice of termination by the Copyright Office is without prejudice to any party claiming that the legal or formal requirements for effectuating termination (including the requirements pertaining to service and recordation of the notice of termination) have not been met, including before a court of competent jurisdiction.

    (5) Reliance on remitter-provided information. The Copyright Office will rely on the certifications submitted with a notice and the information provided by the remitter on Form TCS and, if provided, in an accompanying statement of service. The Office will not necessarily confirm the accuracy of such certifications or information against the submitted notice.

    Dated: October 25, 2017. Karyn Temple Claggett, Acting Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office. Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24527 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-30-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Copyright Office 37 CFR Part 201 [Docket No. 2017-17] Fees for Electronic Recordation and Notices of Intention To Obtain a Compulsory License AGENCY:

    U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Copyright Office is publishing a final rule establishing a separate, lower filing fee for recording documents when they are submitted with an electronic title list. Separately, the Office is noting a policy change, effective on the same date as the final rule, to require the payment of fees for the filing of all notices of intention to obtain a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords, including those that are filed in the Office after failed delivery to the copyright owner.

    DATES:

    Effective December 18, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sarang V. Damle, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights, by email at [email protected], or Jason E. Sloan, Attorney-Advisor, by email at [email protected] Each can be contacted by telephone by calling (202) 707-8350.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. New Recordation Fee for Electronic Title Lists A. Background

    This final rule adjusts U.S. Copyright Office fees in accordance with 17 U.S.C. 708. Section 708(a) specifies that “[f]ees shall be paid to the Register of Copyrights” for services, including a set of specified services enumerated in paragraphs (1) through (11) of that subsection.1 This includes, as relevant here, fees for “the recordation, as provided by section 205, of a transfer of copyright ownership or other document.” 2 Fees for this service and the other services specifically enumerated in section 708(a)(1)-(9) are to be set forth in a proposed schedule that is sent to Congress 120 days before the adjusted fees can take effect.3 The fee may go into effect after the end of that period unless “a law is enacted stating in substance that the Congress does not approve the schedule.” 4

    1 17 U.S.C. 708(a).

    2Id. at 708(a)(4).

    3Id. at 708(b)(5).

    4Id. Section 708(a) also authorizes the Register to fix fees for other services not enumerated in section 708(a)(1)-(9), such as the cost of preparing copies of Office records. Id. at 708(a). The fees for these additional Office services, as well as fees for the filing of cable and satellite statements of account under paragraphs (10) and (11) of section 708(a), need not be submitted to Congress, but are instead established by the Register of Copyrights by regulation based on the Office's costs. Id.

    Before proposing new fees for the services enumerated in (1) through (9), the Register must conduct a study of the Office's costs and must consider the timing of any fee adjustments and the Office's authority to use the fees consistent with the Office's budget.5 Section 708(b) further provides that the Register may adjust these fees to “not more than that necessary to cover the reasonable costs incurred by the Copyright Office for . . . [such services], plus a reasonable inflation adjustment to account for any estimated increase in costs.” 6 Finally, section 708(b) also mandates that the “[f]ees [so] established . . . shall be fair and equitable and give due consideration to the objectives of the copyright system.” 7

    5Id. at 708(b)(1).

    6Id. at 708(b)(2).

    7Id. at 708(b)(4).

    B. Cost Study

    Pursuant to section 708, the Office submitted a proposed fee schedule and analysis to Congress on August 18, 2017.8 That study and this final rule implementing the fee it proposed concern a single Copyright Office service: The recording of documents accompanied by electronic title lists, i.e., lists of certain indexing information about the works to which such documents pertain.9

    8 The study is available on the Office's Web site at https://www.copyright.gov/policy/feestudy2017/fee-study-2017.pdf.

    9 Examples of such indexing information can include the types of works, the titles of the works (including alternate titles), their respective registration numbers, and authorship information.

    Since 1870, the Copyright Office has recorded documents pertaining to works under copyright, such as assignments, licenses, and grants of security interests. Under the Copyright Act, recordation of such documents is voluntary, but provides certain legal entitlements, such as constructive notice of the facts stated in the recorded document when certain conditions are met.10 Thus, the Office has an important interest in ensuring that the public record of copyright transactions is as timely, complete, and accurate as possible.

    10 17 U.S.C. 205(c) (“Recordation of a document in the Copyright Office gives all persons constructive notice of the facts stated in the recorded document, but only if—(1) the document, or material attached to it, specifically identifies the work to which it pertains so that, after the document is indexed by the Register of Copyrights, it would be revealed by a reasonable search under the title or registration number of the work; and (2) registration has been made for the work.”).

    In general, the recordation process is still paper based, and Office staff manually transcribe information from documents into an electronic format to permit indexing in the Office's public catalog. Among the information that must be indexed are the titles of and related information for copyrighted works associated with the document submitted for recordation, which are typically presented in a list appended to the document, referred to informally as a “title appendix.” A title appendix associated with a document can include hundreds, or even thousands, of titles.

    The manual entry of information from title appendices is a significant contributor to long processing times in the Office's Recordation Section. In 2014, to gain efficiencies, the Office promulgated a new rule permitting documents submitted for recordation to be accompanied by an electronic title list in the form of an Excel spreadsheet.11 Document recordation fees, however, were last adjusted before the introduction of electronic title lists. Thus, the Office has never set a separate fee for recording documents with such lists, and currently charges the same recordation fee regardless of whether the document has an electronic title list.

    11See 79 FR 55633 (Sept. 17, 2014) (codified at 37 CFR 201.4(c)(4)).

    As a result, the Office's cost study proposed implementing a separate, reduced filing fee for groups of additional titles provided in an electronic title list that accompanies a document submitted for recordation. The fee adjustment implemented by this final rule only pertains to that fee. The Office is not adjusting the baseline document recordation fee of $105 at this time; that fee will remain the same for recordations made both with and without electronic title lists. Nor is the Office adjusting the fee for groups of additional titles when an electronic title list is not used. Proposals for those fees will be included in a comprehensive study of all Copyright Office costs and fees expected to be submitted to Congress next year.

    The fee-setting methodology employed by the study used activity-based costing principles which comply with standards set for federal managerial accounting 12 and with guidance for fee setting as published by the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-25 Revised: User Charges,13 and the Government Accountability Office.14 Under the approach, total costs for the entire recordation function were used to develop a time-based multiplier, which was then used to calculate the cost of the individual activities for recording the information contained in electronic title lists. The total cost of completing an electronic title list transaction was determined by aggregating the cost of each individual activity.

    12 This includes the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board's Managerial Cost Accounting Concepts and Standards for the Federal Government, which promotes activity-based costing for calculating the cost of providing services. See Fed. Accounting Standards Advisory Bd., Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards No. 4: Managerial Cost Accounting Concepts and Standards for the Federal Government (1995).

    13See Office of Mgmt. and Budget, Circular No. A-25 Revised: User Charges, Whitehouse.gov, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a025 (last visited Aug. 13, 2017).

    14See U.S. Gov't Accountability Office, Federal User Fees: A Design Guide (GAO-08-386SP) (2008).

    Cost studies of this type are typically retrospective, using actual data from a fiscal year that has concluded. This study used actual data from fiscal year 2016, but the methodology was applied prospectively against a planned new service. This prospective approach was used because, concurrent with the effective date of this rule, the Office is implementing a new, more efficient process for providing this service than the one currently employed. This methodology was reviewed and validated by an independent consulting firm.

    The new fee for documents submitted with electronic title lists to be implemented by this final rule is as follows:

    1 to 50 additional titles: $60 51 to 500 additional titles: $225 501 to 1,000 additional titles: $390 1,001 to 10,000 additional titles: $555 10,001 or more additional titles: $5,550 In the analysis submitted to Congress, the Office determined that while use of electronic title lists can significantly increase the Office's processing efficiency, remitters had little incentive to use them. Thus, the Office proposed, and is now instituting, a fee for using electronic title lists that is generally lower than the current fee for recordations made without them. The lower fee is being adopted primarily to incentivize use of electronic title lists for documents with more than ten additional titles 15 in an effort to increase administrative efficiency and to offer a less expensive avenue to obtaining the benefits of recording a document with the Copyright Office.

    15 Though documents with ten or fewer additional titles may be submitted with an electronic title list, the final rule will deliver fee savings to remitters where documents have more than ten additional titles.

    In considering the fairness, equity, and objectives of the copyright system, the Office believes that offering recordation services for a lower fee, where remitters have done the work to create an electronic title list, should result in a wider range of remitters submitting documents and may also result in existing remitters submitting additional or updated documents with more frequency than they might otherwise. Receipt of additional recorded documents should result in greater copyright ownership data being incorporated into the Office's records, which furthers the Office's mission and benefits the public at large.

    In its analysis, the Office also determined that as compared to manually indexing documents, where more titles generally means more processing time and higher costs, when an electronic title list is used, processing time is typically more constant. However, in further evaluating the fairness, equity, and objectives of the copyright system, the Office has decided to adopt a tiered pricing structure based on the number of titles to which the document pertains. Under this scheme, larger filers submitting documents with a larger number of titles pay a higher fee for the added benefit they receive (when the fee is viewed on a per-title basis) to offset the lower total fee for smaller filers with fewer titles. The first four tiers of the proposed schedule increase incrementally based on the total number of additional titles submitted. The reason for the larger jump between the fourth and fifth tiers is because of the significant added costs to the Office to process documents with 10,000 or more titles, caused by current system limitations.

    The Office notes that the proposed fee schedule will be revisited as part of a comprehensive study of all Office costs and fees to be completed next year. As discussed above, the goal of the proposed fee schedule is primarily to incentivize use of electronic title lists. To do that, the proposed fee offers a discount from the ordinary recordation fee of $35 per group of ten additional titles. When the full fee study examines all Office costs and evaluates an appropriate fee to record a document without an electronic title list in light of current costs, it is possible that fee will increase, in which case it is also possible that the fee being adopted for using an electronic title list may be adjusted upward as well to ensure adequate cost recovery.

    C. Effective Date

    Congress's 120-day review period under 17 U.S.C. 708(b)(5) began after the Office submitted the proposed fee schedule and analysis on August 18, 2017. If no law is enacted stating in substance that Congress does not approve of the proposed recordation fee during such time, the fee will be instituted pursuant to this final rule, effective December 18, 2017.

    II. Notices of Intention

    Though not related to the above-discussed cost study or final rule, the Office is taking this opportunity to provide public notice that it will implement a policy change regarding fees for notices of intention to obtain a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords (“NOIs”).

    Under the Copyright Act, section 115 establishes a compulsory license, whereby anyone may make and distribute phonorecords of nondramatic musical works, subject to certain terms and conditions, and upon paying royalties when applicable. To obtain a compulsory license, a licensee must serve an NOI on the relevant copyright owner in the form and manner specified by Copyright Office regulations.16

    16See generally 37 CFR 201.18.

    In two circumstances, however, an NOI can be filed with the Copyright Office rather than the copyright owner. First, if the public records of the Copyright Office do not identify the copyright owner and include an address at which notice can be served, the NOI can instead be filed with the Office.17 These “unidentified NOIs” can be filed electronically or in paper hard copy, though a discounted fee is offered for electronic submissions.18

    17 17 U.S.C. 115(b)(1).

    18 37 CFR 201.3(e)(1).

    Second, if the NOI is sent to the last address for the copyright owner shown by the Office's records, but is returned to the sender because the copyright owner was no longer located at that address or refused to accept delivery, the Office's regulations permit the “original Notice as sent” to be filed with the Office, along with a “brief statement that the Notice was sent to the last address for the copyright owner shown by the records of the Copyright Office but was returned,” and may also “be accompanied by appropriate evidence that it was mailed to, or that delivery by reputable courier service was attempted at, that address.” 19 Typically, for these “returned-to-sender NOIs,” the Office receives the NOI in the original mailing envelope marked with a return to sender label. The Office does not currently have any mechanism for accepting these NOIs electronically.20

    19Id. § 201.18(f)(2).

    20See id.

    The Office's regulations used to explicitly state that no filing fee would be charged for returned-to-sender NOIs, while such a fee would be charged for the unidentified NOIs.21 But in 2001, the Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking seeking to remove this limitation, as “[t]he cost to the Office of processing the filing of a Notice of Intention is the same whether the copyright owner is not identified in the records of the Office or the copyright owner is no longer located at the address shown in the records of the Office or has refused to accept delivery.”22 The Office believed that the same filing fee “should be charged in both cases.”23 The final rule, effective in 2004, adopted that proposal, repealing the regulatory language that had expressly prohibited charging a fee.24 Consistent with this rulemaking, the Copyright Office's fee schedule does not distinguish between different types of NOIs.25

    21Compare 37 CFR 201.18(e)(1) (2003) (“Notices of Intention submitted for filing shall be accompanied by the fee specified in § 201.3(e).”) with id. § 201.18(e)(3) (“No filing fee will be required in the case of Notices filed under this paragraph.”).

    22 66 FR 45241, 45243 (Aug. 28, 2001); see also 69 FR 11566, 11572 (Mar. 11, 2004) (additional, related notice of proposed rulemaking reiterating that “the Office intends to amend its rules to require a filing fee in each instance where the Notice is filed with the Copyright Office without regard to the licensee's reason for filing the Notice with the Office”).

    23 66 FR at 45243; see also 69 FR at 11572.

    24 69 FR 34578, 34583 (June 22, 2004).

    25See 37 CFR 201.3(e)(1) (establishing a fee for “[r]ecordation of a notice of intention to make and distribute phonorecords” without differentiation).

    In practice, however, and in part due to the extremely low volume of returned-to-sender NOIs the Office received in the years following adoption of the 2004 rule, the Office abstained from imposing the established fee. In recent years, however, the volume of returned-to-sender NOIs has increased sharply. Last year the Office received over 800 such NOIs, and this year the Office has received over 2,000 to date. Each of these NOIs must be individually and manually processed. Because of this increased burden, the Office can no longer afford to forbear from the collection of fees. Accordingly, this document announces a policy change that will be implemented on December 18, 2017: Any returned-to-sender NOIs received in the Office on or after that date must be accompanied by the same filing fee applicable to other paper-filed NOIs, which is currently $75 plus $20 per group of one to ten additional titles.26 The Office is publicly announcing this policy change in advance to give remitters of returned-to-sender NOIs time to adjust their practices.

    26See id.

    List of Subjects in 37 CFR Part 201

    Copyright, General provisions.

    Final Regulations

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Copyright Office amends 37 CFR part 201 as follows:

    PART 201—GENERAL PROVISIONS 1. The authority citation for part 201 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    17 U.S.C. 702.

    2. Amend § 201.3 by revising paragraph (c)(16) to read as follows:
    § 201.3 Fees for registration, recordation, and related services, special services, and services performed by the Licensing Division.

    (c) * * *

    Registration, recordation and related services Fees
  • ($)
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * (16) Recordation of a document, including a notice of intention to enforce Single title 105 Additional titles (per group of 1 to 10 titles) 35 Additional titles provided in an electronic title list 1 to 50 additional titles 60 51 to 500 additional titles 225 501 to 1,000 additional titles 390 1,001 to 10,000 additional titles 555 10,001 or more additional titles 5,550 Correction of online Public Catalog data due to erroneous electronic title submission (per title) 7 *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Dated: October 24, 2017. Karyn Temple Claggett, Acting Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office.

    Approved by:

    Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24526 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-30-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Copyright Office 37 CFR Part 202 [Docket No. 2017-8] Secure Tests AGENCY:

    U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Interim rule with request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Copyright Office is issuing an update to its interim rule, issued June 12, 2017, governing registration of secure tests. Based on the initial comments received on that interim rule, the Office has determined that there is an immediate need to establish a new group registration option for secure test questions and answers and other related materials (referred to as “test items”) that are stored in an electronic database, test bank, or other medium of expression. This interim rule incorporates most of the same procedures that the Office adopted in its recent interim rule on secure tests and adds additional procedures for group registration. To seek a group registration, applicants will be required to submit an online application, upload a redacted copy of the individual test items to the electronic registration system, and complete and submit a brief questionnaire. If, based on the answers to the questionnaire, the test items appear to be eligible for the group registration option, the Office will contact the applicant and schedule an appointment to deliver these materials to the Office in person. On the appointed date, the applicant must bring a copy of the application and a complete unredacted copy of the actual test items. In addition, the applicant must bring a redacted copy of the test items, and a signed declaration confirming that this copy is identical to the redacted copy that was uploaded to the electronic registration system. The Office will examine each test item to determine if it contains sufficient copyrightable authorship. If the Office registers the claim, the registration will cover each test item as a separate work of authorship, and the registration will be effective as of the date the Office initially received the application, filing fee, and the redacted copy of the test items in proper form through the electronic registration system. To be clear, the previous interim rule otherwise remains in effect, and applicants may continue to use that rule to register individual secure tests. The Office welcomes public comment on both this interim rule and the June 12, 2017 interim rule.

    DATES:

    Effective November 13, 2017. Comments on this interim rule and the interim rule published on June 12, 2017 (82 FR 26850), must be made in writing and must be received by the U.S. Copyright Office no later than December 11, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    For reasons of government efficiency, the U.S. Copyright Office is using the regulations.gov system for the submission and posting of public comments in this proceeding. All comments are therefore to be submitted electronically through regulations.gov. Specific instructions for submitting comments are on the U.S. Copyright Office Web site at http://copyright.gov/rulemaking/securetests/. If electronic submission of comments is not feasible due to lack of access to a computer and/or the internet, please contact the Office for special instructions using the contact information below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert J. Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy and Practice; Sarang Vijay Damle, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights; Erik Bertin, Deputy Director of Registration Policy and Practice; or Abioye Ella Mosheim, Attorney-Advisor, by telephone at 202-707-8040 or by email at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background A. General Provisions Regarding Copyright Registration

    Under the Copyright Act of 1976, the U.S. Copyright Office (the “Copyright Office” or “Office”) is responsible for registering copyright claims. See 17 U.S.C. 408. In doing so, the Office has a statutory obligation to confirm that the legal and formal requirements for registration have been met, such as confirming fixation and examining the work for copyrightable authorship. See 17 U.S.C. 410(a) (obligating the Register of Copyrights (the “Register”) “after examination” to “determine[ ] that . . . the material deposited constitutes copyrightable subject matter and that the other legal and formal requirements of this title have been met”).

    The Office has the further obligation to obtain a registration deposit that is sufficient to verify the scope of the claim, and to provide an adequate archival record of what was examined and registered. Id. 408(b) (generally requiring a “complete” copy of works deposited for registration); id. 705(a) (requiring the Register to “ensure that records of deposits . . . are maintained”); id. 705(b) (requiring the Register to make “the articles deposited in connection with completed copyright registrations and retained under the control of the Copyright Office . . . open to public inspection”). In the case of unpublished works, the Office is statutorily required to keep the deposit for the full term of copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 704(d).

    B. Secure Test Registration Procedures

    In 1978, as part of the regulations implementing the 1976 Copyright Act, the Office issued a regulation that established a special procedure to exempt “secure tests” from some of the otherwise applicable rules for registration, deposit, and examination. The Office explained that this procedure was specifically designed for tests “used in connection with admission to educational institutions, high school equivalency, placement in or credit for undergraduate and graduate course work, awarding of scholarships, and professional certification” and that it was intended to protect the confidential nature of these works. See 42 FR 59302, 59304 & n.1 (Nov. 16, 1977) (noting correspondence from the Educational Testing Service, American College Testing Program, The College Entrance Examination Board, The American Council on Education, the Law School Admission Council, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and the National Conference of Bar Examiners, among others). In establishing this special procedure, the Office adopted a definition of “secure tests” that it believed would best identify the kinds of tests that raised special confidentiality concerns.1

    1 The regulation defined a “secure test” as “a nonmarketed test administered under supervision at specified centers on specific dates, all copies of which are accounted for and either destroyed or returned to restricted locked storage following each administration. For these purposes a test is not marketed if copies are not sold but it is distributed and used in such a manner that ownership and control of copies remain with the test sponsor or publisher.” 37 CFR 202.20(b)(4) (1978).

    Furthermore, the Office observed that “although secure tests should be deposited in the Copyright Office for examination incident to registration under section 408, their retention by the Office and availability for public inspection could severely prejudice the future utility, quality, and integrity of the materials.” Id. Accordingly, the Office adopted a regulation providing that “[i]n the case of any secure test the Copyright Office will return the deposit to the applicant promptly after examination.” 37 CFR 202.20(c)(2)(vi) (1978). At the same time, the Office recognized the need to retain some evidence of the work that had been examined and registered. Accordingly, the regulation required that “sufficient portions, description[s], or the like [be] retained so as to constitute a sufficient archival record of the deposit.” Id. In promulgating this regulation, the Office also offered that “[a]s a matter of practice, special arrangements can be made for the examination of such materials under strict conditions of security and in the presence of a representative of a copyright owner.” 42 FR at 59304.

    Initially, this procedure was used to register secure tests administered with physical booklets, as that was the type of “work” the Office had in mind when the regulation was adopted. Beginning in the 1990's, the Office expanded its procedures—without altering the underlying regulation—to permit secure registration of tests administered in a machine-readable format and secure tests administered with physical booklets containing questions taken from an automated database. This procedure mirrored the procedure described above, with the exception of the deposit requirement. Specifically, applicants could bring an unredacted copy of the entire test to the in-person appointment, or alternatively, they could bring 50 unredacted pages from the test or the database of test questions. With respect to the redacted copy of the test, applicants could use the same procedure used to examine physical test booklets, or alternatively, they could submit 50 redacted pages from the test or the underlying database of test questions. Still later, the Office modified this procedure—again without revisiting the regulation—stating that applicants could submit the title page of the test, a redacted copy of the last page of the test, and 50 pages from the test or database of test questions (either in redacted or unredacted form). While the Office described these procedures in a circular (Copyright Registration of Secure Tests (Circular 64)), they were never incorporated into the Office's regulations and were never the subject of a formal rulemaking.

    While these post-1978 changes to the secure test procedure were an attempt to be responsive to developments in the marketplace—as the testing industry moved from using static test booklets to randomized or adaptive tests delivered by a computer—they did not ensure, among other things, an adequate deposit that could serve as a long-term record of what material was examined and registered. As a result, over time the Office's special procedures for registration of secure tests came into increasing tension with the general rules governing copyright registration.

    As a result, on June 12, 2017, the Office issued an interim rule that memorialized certain aspects of its secure test procedure, and adopted new procedures to increase the efficiency of its examination of secure tests. See 82 FR 26850 (June 12, 2017). In addition, the interim rule brought secure test registration procedures back into alignment with the underlying statutory and regulatory framework for copyright registration. In particular, the Office made clear that only those works that satisfy the regulatory definition of a “secure test” would be eligible for the secure test procedure. Id. at 26851. In addition, the Office noted that, under its longstanding regulation, the redacted copy must contain a sufficient archival record of what was submitted for registration, and that its prior practices allowing for the registration of test item banks were in considerable tension with that requirement. Id. at 26851. The Office therefore declined to permit registration of test item banks under those prior practices.

    The Office issued the June 12, 2017 rule on an interim basis and before receiving public comments, in part, because it memorialized most of the Office's longstanding procedures for examining secure tests, and because the improvements in that process were expected to provide immediate benefits for test publishers. See 82 FR 26853. The Office invited comment on the interim rule and provided a generous amount of time for public input before issuing a final rule to give applicants and the Office an opportunity to evaluate the new procedures based on actual experience.

    II. Group Registration of Secure Test Items

    Although the deadline for submitting comments does not expire until December 11, 2017, many commenters have expressed significant concerns about the June 12, 2017 interim rule, contending that it restricts their ability to register, in a secure manner, test items (i.e., sets of questions and answers) stored in or pulled from electronic databases and test banks. 2 The Office appreciates the commenters bringing these issues to our attention.

    2See e.g., PSI Comments at 7-8; Am. Board of Fam. Med., Inc., Comments at 2; NBCRNA Comments at 2. In addition, many comments called for updates to the longstanding regulatory definition of “secure test,” which is defined as “a nonmarketed test administered under supervision at specified centers on scheduled dates, all copies of which are accounted for and either destroyed or returned to restricted locked storage following each administration.” 37 CFR 202.13(b)(1). Although the Office is not in a position to amend that regulatory definition at this time, it acknowledges that the administration of secure tests has changed in many ways since this definition was first promulgated in 1978, and it is continuing to consider those comments that have asked the Office to update this definition to account for these changes.

    The Office recognizes that secure tests serve an important societal function, and that providing a secure method for registering copyright claims in those tests furthers the public good. Although the June 12, 2017 interim rule was aimed to better align secure test registration procedures with the Office's statutory obligations and general good practices for copyright registration, the Office also recognizes that the interim rule did not provide secure test publishers with a means for registering individual test items that are stored in a database or test bank without disclosing the content of these works. To address these legitimate concerns, the Office has decided to issue another interim rule as part of this rulemaking, and to make that rule effective immediately.

    A. Group Registration Generally

    This interim rule establishes a new group registration option for test items prepared for use in a secure test.

    When Congress enacted the Copyright Act, it authorized the Register to specify by regulation the administrative classes of works for the purpose of seeking a registration and the nature of the deposit for each such class. Congress also gave the Register the discretion to allow groups of related works to be registered with one application and one filing fee. See 17 U.S.C. 408(c)(1). This procedure is known as group registration. Pursuant to this authority, the Office issued regulations creating group registrations for certain limited categories of works, provided that certain conditions have been met. See generally 37 CFR 202.3(b)(1)-(10), 202.4.

    As the legislative history explains, allowing “a number of related works to be registered together as a group represent[ed] a needed and important liberalization of the law.” H.R. Rep. No. 94-1476, at 154 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.A.N.N. 5659, 5770; S. Rep. No. 94-473, at 136 (1975). Congress recognized that requiring applicants to submit separate applications for certain types of works may be so burdensome and expensive that authors and copyright owners may forgo registration altogether, since copyright registration is not a prerequisite to copyright protection. Id. If copyright owners do not submit their works for registration under this permissive system, the public record will not contain any information concerning those works. This creates a void in the record that diminishes the value of the Office's database.

    Allowing a number of related works to be submitted on one application, however, is not without its issues. When large numbers of works are grouped together in one application, information about the individual works may not be adequately captured. Group registration options, therefore, require careful balancing of the need for an accurate public record and the need for an efficient method of facilitating the examination of those works.

    The new procedure will be known as the “group registration option for secure test items” or “GRSTQ”. The rule will allow a group of test items that are derived from a test bank or database to be registered using the same basic procedure for registering an individual secure test.3 The test items must be prepared for use in a “secure test,” as defined in § 202.13(b)(1) of the earlier interim rule. And if certain requirements have been met, the test items may be registered by submitting a redacted copy of the works and presenting an unredacted copy of these materials to the Office for an in-person examination.

    3 To be clear, the interim rule issued on June 12, 2017 otherwise remains in effect, and may continue to be used to register individual secure tests. 37 CFR 202.13(b)(1).

    Under this interim rule, each individual test item may constitute one work if the item is determined to be copyrightable in itself. While there is no limit to the number of test items that may be included in each submission, each work must share certain traits. Specifically, the test items contained in a single group must all be either published or unpublished. They must all be created by the same author or co-authors, and the copyright claimant(s) must be the same for each item. Because an overwhelming majority of secure tests are works made for hire, the Office is considering whether to limit these registrations to works made for hire, although it did not include this restriction in this interim rule. The Office welcomes public comments on whether this requirement should be included in the final rule.

    A group registration for secure test items will cover each work in the group, i.e., each test item will be deemed to be registered as a separate work. Claims in the selection, coordination, or arrangement of the group as a whole will not be permitted.4 Each of these requirements is discussed below.

    4 Because of the confusion surrounding the treatment of test items stored in databases under the June 12, 2017 interim rule, the Office intends to apply this interim rule to pending registration applications, but where applicable, the Office will request a revised application and deposit materials. If these requirements are met, the Office will assign an effective date of registration based on the date that the initial application and deposit were received.

    A. Eligibility Requirements 1. Test Items That May Be Included in the Group

    To qualify for the GRSTQ option, all the test items in the group must be prepared for use in a secure test, as defined in § 202.13(b)(1) of the earlier interim rule. A database or test bank does not qualify as a “secure test” in and of itself. But the Office recognizes that when test items are selected from a test bank and assembled together to form an actual secure test, they share the same security concerns that prompted the Office to create the special accommodation for individual secure tests. For this reason, test items that are prepared for use in a secure test will be eligible for the GRSTQ option.

    For the purposes of registration, a “test item” is a question (or “stem”), the correct answer to that question, any incorrect answer choices (or “distractors”), and any associated material, such as a narrative passage or diagram. A single narrative or diagram followed by multiple related questions and correct and incorrect answers will together be considered a single test item. Under this interim rule, each test item will be considered one work. Thus, if an applicant submits one textual passage followed by a question and four answers related to that passage, this would be considered one work for purposes of registration. A single narrative or diagram followed by multiple sets of related questions and answers will also be considered one work. The Office believes this definition will be broad enough to encompass many different kinds of test items. It nonetheless welcomes public comments on whether that definition could be clarified or otherwise improved.

    2. The Number of Test Items That May Be Included in the Group

    Under this interim rule, the Office will allow an unlimited amount of works to be included with each group registration, and will examine each individual test item for copyrightable authorship. Applicants should note, however, that an extremely large number of test items may take a significant amount of time—in some cases, several days—to examine. Moreover, applicants will be required to pay an hourly fee for the time spent examining these test items during the in-person appointment.

    Over time, allowing an unlimited number of works to be registered with one application may reduce the quality of the registration record, or it may impose an unreasonable administrative burden on the Office. Therefore, the Office will monitor this process for several months following the issuance of this interim rule, and will evaluate what effect, if any, allowing an unlimited amount of tests items per registration may have on the Office's business processes to determine whether the number should be limited under the final rule.

    When completing the electronic application, the applicant must reasonably identify the total number of test items that are included in the application. The applicant should provide this information on the questionnaire and by numbering each test item that appears in the deposit. The Office will use this information to plan for the in-person examination. Numbering the test items will also help the Office identify and examine the relevant works in the deposit.

    3. Publication

    Under this interim rule, an applicant will be allowed to register a group of unpublished test items, or a group of test items that are published within a three-calendar-month period. Applicants will not be allowed to combine published and unpublished test items in the same claim.

    If an applicant submits a group of published test items, and if the items were published on the same date, the applicant should provide that date in the application. If the test items were published on different dates, the applicant must identify the first date that the items were published. Claims with a range of publication dates outside of a three-calendar-month period will be refused.

    4. Title of the Group

    To register a group of test items prepared for use in a secure test, the applicant must provide a title for the group as a whole. In addition, the applicant must append the term “GRSTQ” at the beginning of the title of the group, so that the Office can more easily assign the claim to an appropriate member of the Registration Program. Upon request, the examiner will remove this term from the title field before the claim is approved.

    Applicants must provide additional descriptive information in the title that, at a minimum, identifies the name of the secure test that the items are intended for. The title may also include any relevant dates. For example, applicants can identify the specific test where the test items will be used (e.g. “GRSTQ: Test items for February 2017 LSAT”), the test bank or database from which the test items were derived (e.g. “GRSTQ: Test items added to the FINRA Series 7 Exam item bank in the 3rd quarter of 2017”), or the subject matter of the test items (e.g. “GRSTQ: SAT reading comprehension test items”).

    5. Author and Claimant

    Under this interim rule, all the test items in the group must be authored by the same person or organization. Likewise, the copyright claimant(s) for each work must be the same person or organization. If the author(s) and claimant(s) are different, the application must contain an appropriate transfer statement explaining how the claimant obtained all of the exclusive rights in the works.

    B. The Application Process

    The application process described in this interim rule is essentially identical to the process described in the interim rule announced on June 12, 2017. See 82 FR 26852-53. To register a group of test items, applicants must complete and submit an application through the electronic registration system using the Standard Application, and they must pay the $55 filing fee. Prior to scheduling an examination appointment, applicants must complete and upload a brief questionnaire about the test items, which may be obtained from the Office's Web site at https://www.copyright.gov/forms/securetest-questionnaire.pdf, and they must upload a redacted copy of all the test items being registered. The Office will use this information to determine if the works are eligible for the GRSTQ option.

    The copy uploaded to the electronic registration system should contain a redacted copy of each test item, and, as mentioned above, each test item should be numbered. Most of the content that appears on each page may be blocked out, provided that the redacted copy contains a sufficient amount of visible content that may be used to identify each item. For instance, the applicant may leave a narrow vertical or diagonal strip of visible content across each page. Alternatively, the applicant may redact the content of each test item, except for a small number of identifiable words. The Office has provided representative examples of acceptable redaction methods in the most recent version of Circular 64 (posted on the Office's Web site on November 13, 2017.

    The questionnaire and the redacted copy containing all of the test items must be contained in separate electronic files, and they must be uploaded to the electronic registration system in Portable Document Format (PDF). The file name for the questionnaire should include the word “Questionnaire” and the case number assigned to the claim. (This eleven-digit number is automatically generated by the electronic registration system, and it appears near the top of each screen of the online application.) The file name for the redacted copy should match the title provided on the questionnaire.

    Once the application, filing fee, questionnaire and the redacted copy have been received, the Office will assign the claim to a Literary Division examiner who will examine the claim in the date order of the Literary Division's pending overall workload. The examiner will review these items to determine if the works appear to be eligible for the GRSTQ option. If so, the examiner will contact the applicant and schedule an in-person appointment to examine the works under secure conditions. The fact that the examiner schedules an appointment, however, does not necessarily mean that the test items are eligible for the GRSTQ option or that they will be registered. As discussed below, the in-person examination may reveal that individual test items or the group as a whole is ineligible for registration under these procedures or in general.5

    5 If the examiner determines that the test items are not eligible for registration under secure test procedures, but are eligible under normal (i.e., non-secure test) examination procedures, the examiner will ask the applicant to upload a complete unredacted copy of the items, and he or she will change the effective date of registration to match the date that the unredacted copy is received.

    C. The In-Person Examination

    On the day of the in-person examination appointment, the applicant must bring the following materials to the Office:

    (i) A copy of the completed application.

    (ii) The nonrefundable examination fee.6 This fee will be based on the amount of time that it takes to examine each item during the in-person appointment; it is in addition to the filing fee mentioned above. Both the filing fee and the examination fee are nonrefundable, regardless of whether the Office issues a certificate of registration for the test items.

    6 The Office will charge the same hourly examination rate regardless of whether an applicant is seeking to register a secure test or a group of test items prepared for use in a secure test. See 37 CFR 201.3(d)(5).

    (iii) A copy of the redacted test items that were uploaded to the electronic registration system.

    (iv) A signed declaration confirming that this redacted copy is identical to the redacted copy that was uploaded to the electronic registration system. Applicants may obtain a copy of this declaration from the Office's Web site at https://www.copyright.gov/forms/securetest-declaration.pdf.

    (v) An unredacted copy of the test items submitted for registration.

    Applicants must bring a copy of the unredacted test items, with the entire content completely visible so that they may be examined. The test items in the unredacted copy should be numbered, should appear in the same order as the redacted copy, and should precisely match the test items as they appear in the redacted copy.

    The examiner will review the redacted and unredacted copies in a secure location in the presence of the applicant or the applicant's representative. Because the Office will examine each test item for copyrightable authorship, and because the Office is not currently placing a limit on the number of items, the examination may require more time and may result in a higher total examination fee than an examination involving an individual secure test. If the examiner determines that one or more of the test items are not copyrightable, he or she will require the applicant to exclude that material from the claim in order to continue the examination, or will refuse the claim altogether. Face-to-face disputes with the examiner about the sufficient creativity of an item will not be allowed and will result in refusal of the claim. If an applicant does not agree that an individual test item should be excluded, the applicant may seek to register that test item or test items alone and appeal the subsequent refusal.

    When the examination is complete, the examiner(s) will stamp the date of the appointment on the redacted and unredacted copies and will return them to the applicant. The signed declaration and the redacted copy that was uploaded to the electronic system will be retained by the Office; this redacted copy will constitute the deposit.

    If the examiner determines that the legal and formal requirements have been met, he or she will register the claim(s) and will add an annotation to the certificate indicating that the test items were registered under this interim rule in accordance with the eligibility requirements for this group registration option. The registration will be effective as of the date that the Office originally received the application, filing fee, and the redacted copy that was uploaded to the electronic registration system.

    D. The Scope of Registration

    Under this interim rule, a group registration will cover each test item in the group, and each test item will be registered as a separate work. See 37 CFR 202.4(m). The group is merely an administrative classification created solely for the purpose of registering multiple works with one application and one filing fee. See 17 U.S.C. 408(c)(1) (“Th[e] administrative classification of works has no significance with respect to the subject matter of copyright or the exclusive rights provided by this title.”). Therefore, the Office will not consider the group as a whole to be a compilation or a collective work under sections 101, 103(b), or 504(c)(1) of the Copyright Act. By contrast, when an applicant registers a secure test under the June 12, 2017 interim rule, the applicant must assert a claim in the test as a whole, or in the individual test items and the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of those items. See 86 FR at 26852.

    IV. Request for Comments

    This interim rule will go into effect immediately upon the publication of this document in the Federal Register. As was the case with the June 12, 2017 interim rule, this is a non-substantive rule that is not subject to the restriction in 5 U.S.C. 553(d). See 82 FR 26853. In addition, there is “good cause” for this rule to go into immediate effect because it restores to secure test publishers a method of registering test items that existed prior to the issuance of the June 12, 2017 interim rule but was not provided under that rule. See 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). And, finally, the Copyright Office prepared this interim rule based upon its experience in administering other group registrations, and its review of comments received in response to the June 12, 2017 interim rule.

    Comments will be due on December 11, 2017 (the same deadline for submitting comments on the June 12, 2017 interim rule). The Office decided to issue this rule without publishing an initial notice of proposed rulemaking for several reasons:

    First, the interim rule addresses concerns expressed by interested parties in comments filed in response to the earlier interim rule on secure tests. Second, the procedures for scheduling an in-person appointment, submitting an unredacted copy of the works, and providing a redacted copy for the Office's records are consistent with the Office's longstanding practices for examining secure tests.

    Finally, issuing the rule on an interim basis affords both the Office and interested parties an opportunity to evaluate how these procedures work in conjunction with the procedures announced in the June 12, 2017 interim rule, to determine whether these procedures should be modified in any respect, and whether the number of test items that may be included in each claim should be adjusted before the Office issues a final rule. See 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B).

    List of Subjects in 37 CFR Part 202

    Copyright, Preregistration and registration of claims to copyright.

    Interim Regulation

    In consideration of the foregoing, the U.S. Copyright Office amends 37 CFR part 202 as follows:

    PART 202—PREREGISTRATION AND REGISTRATION OF CLAIMS TO COPYRIGHT 1. The authority citation for part 202 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    17 U.S.C. 408(f), 702.

    2. Amend § 202.4 as follows: a. Revise paragraph (b). b. Redesignate paragraphs (k) through (m) as paragraphs (l) through (n), respectively. c. Add new paragraph (k). d. In newly redesignated paragraph (n), remove “paragraph (g)” and add in its place “paragraph (g) or (k)”.

    The revision and addition read as follows:

    § 202.4 Group registration.

    (b) Definitions. For purposes of this section, unless otherwise specified, the terms used have the meanings set forth in §§ 202.3, 202.13, and 202.20.

    (k) Secure test items. Pursuant to the authority granted by 17 U.S.C. 408(c)(1), the Register of Copyrights has determined that a group of test items may be registered in Class TX with one application, one filing fee, and identifying material, if the conditions set forth in § 202.13(c) and (d) have been met.

    3. Amend § 202.13 as follows: a. Revise paragraph (a). b. Add paragraph (b)(5). c. Revise paragraphs (c) introductory text and (c)(2). d. Remove paragraph (c)(3). e. Redesignate paragraphs (c)(4) and (5) as paragraphs (c)(3) and (4), respectively. f. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (c)(3)(iii), (iv), and (v) and the first sentence in newly redesignated paragraph (c)(4). g. Add paragraph (d).

    The additions and revisions read as follows:

    § 202.13 Secure tests.

    (a) General. This section prescribes rules pertaining to the registration of secure tests or a group of test items prepared for use in a secure test.

    (b) * * *

    (5) A test item is comprised of a question (or “stem”), the correct answer to that question, any incorrect answer choices (or “distractors”), and any associated material, such as a narrative passage or diagram, and each item shall be considered one work. A single narrative, diagram, or other prefatory material, followed by multiple sets of related questions and correct or incorrect answers shall together be considered one item.

    (c) Deposit requirements. Pursuant to the authority granted by 17 U.S.C. 408(c)(1), the Register of Copyrights has determined that a secure test or a group of test items prepared for use in a secure test may be registered with identifying material, and the filing and examination fees required by § 201.3(c) and (d), if the following conditions are met:

    (2) In the case of a secure test, the applicant must submit a redacted copy of the entire test. In the case of a group of test items prepared for use in a secure test, the applicant must submit a redacted copy of each test item. In all cases the redacted copy must contain a sufficient amount of visible content to reasonably identify the work(s). In addition, the applicant must complete and submit the secure test questionnaire that is posted on the Copyright Office's Web site. The questionnaire and the redacted copy must be contained in separate electronic files, and each file must be uploaded to the electronic registration system in Portable Document Format (PDF). The Copyright Office will review these materials to determine if the work(s) qualify for an in-person examination. If they appear to be eligible, the Copyright Office will contact the applicant to schedule an appointment to examine an unredacted copy of the work(s) under secure conditions.

    (3) * * *

    (iii) A copy of the redacted version of the work(s) that was uploaded to the electronic registration system.

    (iv) A signed declaration confirming that the redacted copy specified in paragraph (c)(3)(iii) of this section is identical to the redacted copy that was uploaded to the electronic registration system.

    (v) In the case of a secure test, the applicant must bring an unredacted copy of the entire test. In the case of a group of test items prepared for use in a secure test, the applicant must bring an unredacted copy of all the test items.

    (4) The Copyright Office will examine the copies specified in paragraphs (c)(3)(iii) and (v) of this section in the applicant's presence. * * *

    (d) Group registration requirements. The Copyright Office may register a group of test items if the following conditions have been met:

    (1) All the test items must be prepared for use in a secure test, and the name of the secure test must be identified in the title of the group.

    (2) The group may contain an unlimited amount of works, but the applicant must identify the individual works included within the group by numbering each test item in the deposit.

    (3) The applicant must provide a title for the group as a whole, and must append the term “GRSTQ” to the beginning of the title.

    (4) The group must contain only unpublished works, or works published within the same three-calendar-month period and the application must identify the earliest date that the works were published.

    (5) All the works in the group must have the same author or authors, and the copyright claimant for each work must be the same. Claims in the selection, coordination, or arrangement of the group as a whole will not be permitted on the application. Each item in the group must be separately copyrightable or must be excluded from the group.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. Karyn Temple Claggett, Acting Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office.

    Approved by:

    Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24532 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Office of the Secretary 49 CFR Part 40 [Docket DOT-OST-2016-0189] RIN 2105-AE58 Procedures for Transportation Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Programs: Addition of Certain Schedule II Drugs to the Department of Transportation's Drug-Testing Panel and Certain Minor Amendments AGENCY:

    Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Transportation is amending its drug-testing program regulation to add hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and oxycodone to its drug-testing panel; add methylenedioxyamphetamine as an initial test analyte; and remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine as a confirmatory test analyte. The revision of the drug-testing panel harmonizes DOT regulations with the revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Federal drug-testing programs for urine testing. This final rule clarifies certain existing drug-testing program provisions and definitions, makes technical amendments, and removes the requirement for employers and Consortium/Third Party Administrators to submit blind specimens.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on January 1, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Patrice M. Kelly, Acting Director, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; telephone number 202-366-3784; [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Purpose

    The Department of Transportation (DOT or the Department) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on January 23, 2017. 82 FR 7771 (Jan. 23, 2017). The NPRM proposed to revise Part 40 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to harmonize with certain parts of the revised the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs using Urine (HHS Mandatory Guidelines), which was published on the same day. 82 FR 7920 (Jan. 23, 2017). DOT currently requires urine testing for safety-sensitive transportation industry employees subject to drug testing under Part 40.

    There are two changes to the HHS Mandatory Guidelines with which the NPRM proposed to harmonize Part 40. First, the revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines, in part, allow Federal agencies with drug-testing responsibilities to test for four additional Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule II prescription medications: Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. Second, the HHS Mandatory Guidelines remove methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA) as a confirmatory test analyte from the existing drug-testing panel and add methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) as an initial test analyte. In addition to harmonizing with pertinent sections of the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for urine testing, the NPRM proposed to clarify certain existing Part 40 provisions; to remove provisions that no longer are necessary (such as obsolete compliance dates); to move the content of certain provisions out of Part 40 and onto the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance's (ODAPC) Web site; and to update definitions and web links where necessary. The Department also proposed to remove existing Part 40 requirements related to blind specimen testing.

    The Department received 69 comments on the proposed rulemaking. The comments were from multiple sources including transportation industry associations, drug and alcohol testing industry companies and associations, doctors and medical groups, labor organizations, and individuals.

    II. Authority for This Rulemaking

    This rule is promulgated pursuant to the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act (OTETA) of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-143, Title V, 105 Stat. 952). OTETA sets forth the requirements for DOT reliance on the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for scientific testing issues. Section 503 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1987 (Pub. L. 100-71, 101 Stat 391, 468), 5 U.S.C. 7301, and Executive Order 12564 establish HHS as the agency that directs scientific and technical guidelines for Federal workplace drug-testing programs and standards for certification of laboratories engaged in such drug testing. While DOT has discretion concerning many aspects of the regulations governing testing in the transportation industries' regulated programs, we must follow the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for the categories of drugs for which we will require testing.

    III. Background Relevant History of the DOT Drug-Testing Program Regulation

    The Department first published its drug testing program regulation, 49 CFR part 40 (Part 40) on November 21, 1988 as an interim final rule (53 FR 47002). We based the rule on the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs (See 53 FR 11970, April 11, 1988), which, in part, required cocaine and marijuana to be screened by Federal agencies. HHS based this requirement on the incidence and prevalence of the abuse of these two substances in the general population and on the experiences, at the time, of the Departments of Defense and Transportation in screening their workforces (53 FR 11973-11974). The 1988 HHS Mandatory Guidelines also authorized Federal agencies to test their employees for the use of phencyclidine, amphetamines, and opiates. The DOT published a final rule on December 1, 1989 (54 FR 49854), which incorporated several provisions from the 1988 HHS Mandatory Guidelines. Among these provisions was a 5-panel test that included all of the drugs for which HHS authorized testing. In 1991, Congress passed the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act (OTETA) which, in part, required the Department and DOT Agencies to look to the HHS for the scientific and technical guidelines regarding the drugs for which we test and specimens we collect.

    The Department made comprehensive revisions to Part 40 on August 19, 1994 (59 FR 42996), December 19, 2000 (65 FR 79462), and August 16, 2010 (75 FR 49850). The 2010 revision again harmonized our DOT drug-testing program, where necessary, with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines effective October 1, 2010 (73 FR 7185; 75 FR 22809). Specifically, we required initial and confirmatory testing for methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA); confirmatory testing for MDA and MDEA; and initial testing for 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM). We also lowered the initial and confirmatory test cutoff concentrations for amphetamines and cocaine.

    Just as we have revised Part 40 in the past, we are revising Part 40 to harmonize, in pertinent part, with the most recently revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines that have an effective date of October 1, 2017. See 82 FR 7920.

    Changes Relevant to the HHS Mandatory Guidelines

    HHS monitors drug abuse trends and reviews information on new drugs of abuse from sources such as Federal regulators, researchers, the drug-testing industry, and public and private sector employers. In its May 15, 2015 “Notice of Proposed Revisions” (See 80 FR 28103), HHS indicated that, since its original HHS Mandatory Guidelines were published in 1988, a number of recommendations had been made for additional drugs to be included in Federal workplace drug-testing programs. According to HHS, recommendations for adding the four semi-synthetic drugs were based on a review of scientific information and on input from the Drug Testing Advisory Board (DTAB) 1 on the methods necessary to detect the analytes of drugs and on drug abuse trends. With the DTAB recommendations, private sector experience findings, and analysis of current drug abuse trends, HHS concluded that the additional semi-synthetic opioids, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone, should be added in the Federal program.

    1 The Drug Testing Advisory Board provides advice to HHS (the Administrator of SAMHSA) based on an ongoing review of the direction, scope, balance, and emphasis of the Agency's drug-testing activities and the drug testing laboratory certification program. See http://www.samhsa.gov/about-us/advisory-councils/drug-testing-advisory-board-dtab/board-charter.

    In its Final Rule dated January 23, 2017, HHS acknowledged that, while it had proposed MDA and MDEA as initial test analytes, three commenters disagreed with the addition of MDA and MDEA as target analytes. HHS indicated that the commenters stated that this change would require modification of current immunoassay reagents, laboratory processes, or both. The commenters noted that this would impose an unnecessary burden for compounds with such low incidence in workplace testing. HHS determined that the number of positive MDEA specimens reported by HHS-certified laboratories does not support testing all specimens for MDEA in Federal workplace drug testing programs. Based on the comments and its own studies, HHS removed MDEA from its Mandatory Guidelines. HHS indicated that it understands MDA and some other analytes also have a low incidence of testing positive, but believes the continued testing for these analytes is warranted in a deterrent program. In particular, inclusion of MDA as an initial and confirmatory test analyte is warranted according to HHS because, in addition to being a drug of abuse, it is a metabolite of MDEA and MDMA.

    Harmonizing Changes to the DOT Drug-Testing Program Regulation

    In keeping with our obligations under OTETA to follow the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for the drugs for which we test, our NPRM proposed to add and remove the drugs adopted in the revised HHS Mandatory Guidelines for urine testing. Inclusion of these four semi-synthetic opioids is intended to help address the nation-wide epidemic of opioid abuse. Also, adding these four drugs, which are already tested for in many transportation employers' non-DOT testing programs because of their widespread use and potentially impairing effect, will allow the DOT to detect a broader range of drugs being used illegally. This will enhance the safety of the transportation industries and the public they serve. The Department's final rule makes these harmonizing amendments to Part 40.

    IV. Main Policy Issues A. Modification of the Drug Testing Panel The NPRM

    The Department proposed to add the four semi-synthetic opioids to the DOT panel (i.e., hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone) to maintain consistency with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines. Such consistency is mandated by Federal statute, OTETA, and applies not only to the drugs tested but also to specimen testing validity values and initial and confirmatory testing values. To cover these substances, as well as those previously in the opiate category (i.e., codeine, morphine, 6-AM), the NPRM proposed to rename the category from “opiates” to “opioids.”

    As we mentioned in the NPRM preamble, opioid abuse and related problems are a major national concern. Transportation industries are not immune to this trend and the safety issues it raises. Consequently, the Department proposed including these substances in its testing panel not only for consistency with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines but as a response to a national problem that can affect transportation safety.

    In addition, to be consistent with changes to the HHS Mandatory Guidelines, the Department proposed to remove MDEA from the testing panel and add MDA as an initial test analyte.

    Comments

    There were 52 comments addressing the addition of the specified semi-synthetic opioids to the DOT testing panel. Of those comments, 41 supported the NPRM's proposal. Supporters generally recognized the need for the Department to act consistently with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines and agreed that addressing opioid abuse issues in the context of transportation safety is important. Of the other 11 comments, several expressed concerns that adding these substances would increase circumstances in which drivers innocently using opioids (e.g., via a prescription for pain medication) would be unfairly treated as drug abusers, with consequent positive tests harming their careers. A few comments suggested adding other substances, such as methadone or synthetic cannabinoids, to the panel.

    Other commenters, including some labor organizations, were concerned that employees would have to compromise their medical privacy in order to avoid results being verified positive by medical review officers (MROs). One comment suggested raising the cutoff levels to make it less likely that an employee using a legitimate prescription medication would receive a positive laboratory result. Other comments raised concerns about how adding these opioids to the testing panel would impact other aspects of Part 40, such as MRO determinations about whether a prescription is legitimate or when it is appropriate for an MRO to inform an employer of a safety concern after verifying a negative result based on an employee's legitimate use of prescription medication. Other comments recommended additional rules or guidance concerning MRO practice, such as additional opioids training and directing MROs not to second-guess the prescription judgments of an employee's physician.

    DOT Response

    We acknowledge the 41 comments that supported adding the four semi-synthetic opiates to the DOT drug testing panel. We agree that this is an important safety improvement. In addition, we appreciate that so many commenters recognized that we must follow the HHS Mandatory Guidelines for the drugs for which we test.

    Although a commenter suggested adding other substances and raising the HHS established cut-off levels, we are not permitted to make such changes. As noted above, OTETA requires the Department to conform with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines with respect to the drugs for which we test and their cutoff levels. The Department does not have the discretion to decline to include drugs that are included in the HHS Mandatory Guidelines or to change the cutoff levels that HHS has established. Furthermore, HHS conducted a full notice and comment period regarding these aspects of the HHS Mandatory Guidelines and that time would have been the appropriate point for commenters to request HHS to consider their concerns. To further ensure that our regulated public was kept informed about this opportunity to comment on HHS rulemakings that could potentially affect them, on May 15 and 19, 2015, ODAPC sent notices to the ODAPC list-serve informing subscribers about the HHS proposal so that interested parties could submit comments to the HHS docket. See http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOT/bulletins/1047858 and http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDOT/bulletins/1051d3e. Once HHS reaches a final determination on the drugs and their cutoff levels, the DOT cannot depart from HHS's decisions on these matters.

    Similarly, DOT does not have the authority to add substances such as methadone or synthetic cannabinoids to our drug testing panel without the scientific and technical expertise of the HHS, as expressed in the HHS Mandatory Guidelines. In addition, HHS is limited to testing for drugs under Schedules I and II of the CSA. Parties interested in having additional drugs in those CSA Schedules tested as part of the Federal or DOT program should discuss the matter with HHS.

    The Department received comments regarding the relationship between the Department's drug panel and the HHS Mandatory Guidelines during past rulemaking activities. The Department's position, described above, affirms its past responses. (See 75 FR 49850, 49850-49853).

    In other sections of this preamble, the Department will discuss comments related to MRO practice issues that could arise when the four new semi-synthetic opioids in our testing panel are introduced. Examples of these issues include an employee's medical privacy, legitimacy of prescriptions, MROs not questioning the treating physician's prescription judgment, and safety concerns.

    B. Blind Specimens The NPRM

    The NPRM proposed to remove from Part 40 the requirements for blind specimen testing. The purpose of this proposal was to relieve unnecessary costs and administrative burdens on employers, C/TPAs, and other parties.

    The blind specimen requirement has been part of the Department's drug testing program since its inception. The requirement for employers and C/TPAs to submit blinds was intended to help ensure the accuracy of the laboratory testing process. Under the current regulation, an employer will send a blind specimen to an HHS-certified laboratory, accompanied by a Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) with the name of a fictitious donor, for quality control purposes to see if the laboratory's results match the known contents of that particular blind specimen.

    Over the years, as the accuracy of the laboratory testing process was consistently established, DOT reduced the number of blind specimens that employers were required to send to laboratories to reduce cost and administrative burdens associated with the process. As we stated in the NPRM, not one false positive result was found through the testing of the blind specimens in more than 25 years of drug testing.

    As the NPRM noted, laboratories are subject to thorough biannual inspections and quarterly proficiency testing through the HHS National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP). In addition, if an employee has questions about the accuracy of the positive, adulterated, or substituted test result of his or her own specimen, the employee has the right to request the test of his or her split specimen. Believing that the blind specimen testing requirement was no longer necessary to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the testing process, we proposed eliminating this requirement and sought public comment on the subject.

    Comments

    Twenty-five comments addressed this proposal. Fifteen supported removing the requirement, while ten asked to retain it. Proponents of removal, principally some testing industry associations and employer groups, generally agreed that there were sufficient safeguards on the accuracy and integrity of the system and that blind specimens were unnecessary. They commented that it was, consequently, a good idea to eliminate the costs and burdens associated with the requirement. They said that the accuracy and integrity of the system will not be compromised by eliminating blind specimen testing. One employer association noted that the requirement only affected the largest companies in its industry, and not small businesses.

    Opponents of removing the requirement, including labor organizations and some laboratory-related entities, made several arguments. More than one commenter stated that, while the Department may not have been aware of any false positives resulting from blind specimen tests, there was no information presented about the incidence of false negatives. False negatives, they said, could be as damaging to the integrity and safety objectives of the drug testing programs as false positives. Some commenters said the existence of blind specimen testing could provide an incentive to laboratories to maintain the accuracy of their procedures, somewhat analogous to the deterrent effect of random testing on employee behavior. In its absence, laboratories might relax their standards. Other commenters said that, even if blind specimen testing did not reveal any false positives, the existence of the process of blind specimens added to, or at least increased the appearance of, fairness to employees.

    In addition, some commenters noted that because laboratories will begin testing for new substances proposed under the NPRM (i.e., the semi-synthetic opioids), it would be useful to maintain blind specimen testing to help to ensure that errors did not occur in the testing of these newly added drugs. Also, some of the commenters believed that it would be better to keep blind specimen testing in place as a safeguard, as opposed to relying wholly on split specimens and the NLCP. One commenter noted that NLCP's oversight of laboratories could be weakened by future decreases in HHS budgets and this could lead to the reduction of the effectiveness of that program.

    DOT Response

    The history of the blind specimen testing requirement shows decreasing reliance on this process as a safeguard. Laboratories have accumulated a record of accuracy spanning more than 25 years. Years ago, the DOT reduced the amount of blind specimen testing from three percent to one percent, with no known ill effects on the integrity of the process.

    We disagree with the commenters who implied that elimination of the blind specimen testing would cause laboratories to change the way they do business and, thereby lower their standards. Given the continuing rigorous HHS oversight and the business necessity of maintaining accuracy, it is not likely that laboratories would relax their standards simply because the relatively small number of blind specimen tests now required has been eliminated.

    While commenters who favor retaining the requirement expressed concern about the possibility of false negatives, or the potential loss of a deterrent effect on laboratories by eliminating blind specimen testing, these concerns are speculative. None of the laboratories or blind specimen manufacturers who commented provided data to support any assertions of false negatives. Without data to support these assertions, the Department has no basis on which to substantiate that there are false negatives indicative of systemic laboratory problems. Instead of identifying laboratory problems, false negatives, if they exist, could be attributed to problems with the manufacture of the blind specimens or employers and C/TPAs not adhering to the manufacturer's instructions on the use or expiration date of their product. The Department retention of the blind specimen testing requirement would exacerbate, not reduce, those problems.

    The Department and the transportation industries rely upon the NLCP certification and oversight processes, as well as the split specimen testing process, to ensure that the accuracy of the laboratory testing is up to NLCP certification standards. In OTETA, Congress directed the Department to rely on HHS-certified laboratories, without any reference to the additional process of blind specimen testing. Moreover, there have been no false positive results for blind specimens reported to the Department, as required by the current Part 40, either before or after the NPRM was issued. The Department will continue to rely on HHS for laboratory certification because now more than 25 years of blind specimen testing has shown that there have been no false positive blind specimen results.

    Given the rigorous HHS oversight of the laboratories, as well as the business necessity for the laboratories to maintain a reliable record of accuracy, it is not likely that laboratories would relax their standards simply because the relatively small number of blind specimen tests now required was eliminated. Consequently, the Department is adopting its proposal to remove blind specimen testing requirements from part 40.

    C. The DOT List-Serve The NPRM

    The NPRM proposed requiring key personnel in the drug and alcohol testing process—collectors, Breath Alcohol Technicians (BATs), Screening Test Technicians (STTs), Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs)—to subscribe to the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) list-serve. That list-serve is a very useful source of information for: The DOT drug and alcohol testing rules and programs; guidance for handling issues that have arisen in the implementation of the program; relevant antidrug information from Federal partners; and updates concerning the program. Subscriptions are free to users. Currently, there are more than 40,000 ODAPC list-serve subscribers.

    Comments

    Everyone who commented thought that the list-serve is a very useful tool that many of them subscribe to and support. Nine of the 13 comments on this proposal expressed full or qualified support for the proposal to make the ODAPC list-serve mandatory for key persons who have currency requirements included in their part 40 qualification requirements. Opponents of requiring subscription to the list-serve said that the proposed change was unnecessarily prescriptive and could impose compliance costs (e.g., time spent signing up and reading the material) that were not considered in the regulatory evaluation. One commenter stated that subscribing to the list-serve served no safety purpose. In addition, they asked how the requirement could be monitored, documented, or enforced. One commenter offered that the proposal would work better as a “best practice” than a mandate. Some commenters supported the proposal because of the useful information the list-serve provides, but had questions and concerns about its implementation. One commenter suggested that supervisors of BATs, STTs, and collectors should be required to subscribe instead of the BATs, STTs, and collectors themselves. This commenter believed that their supervisors should make sure that they learned relevant information conveyed by the list-serve. Another supporter of the proposal was concerned that monitoring staff members' compliance could be burdensome for parties like C/TPAs. Another expressed concern about how the mandate would work given, the rapid turnover of collectors and BATs.

    DOT Response

    The Department is appreciative that the commenters recognized the value of the list-serve, and that a number of industry organizations expressed their commitment to publicizing the service and encouraging their members to take advantage of it. We want to extend our gratitude to all who have spread the word about the usefulness of the list-serve and to the more than 40,000 subscribers.

    As noted in the NPRM, we believe that the cost and burdens of additional drug and alcohol program workers subscribing to the list-serve would likely be minimal, and that there would be benefits to everyone receiving the useful information it contains. While some commenters expressed concern about potential costs, we note that the service is free. Reading information on the list-serve is unlikely to be time-consuming and no different than if the service agent were to receive the information from a different source. Signing up for the list-serve merely requires one to enter one's email address on the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance's Web page at www.transportation.gov/odapc. No comments attempted to provide data regarding potential costs.

    Since the plain language rewrite of 49 CFR part 40, 65 FR 79462 (December 19, 2000), collectors, MROs and SAPs have been required to “keep current on any changes to . . . [the applicable regulations and guidelines].” This applies to collectors in § 40.33(a); Medical Review Officers (MROs) in § 40.151(b)(3); Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs) in § 40.281(b)(3) [SAPs]. Similarly; § 40.213(a) requires Breath Alcohol Technicians (BATs) and Screening Test Technicians (STTs) to “be knowledgeable about the alcohol testing procedures in this part and the current DOT guidance.”

    DOT agency auditors, inspectors and investigators who inspect the service agents listed above currently ask the individual collector/BAT/STT/MRO or SAP whether that individual is current on 49 CFR part 40 and the applicable guidelines, to ensure the requirements for currency are met. The individual service agent would need to produce a 101-page copy of 49 CFR part 40 and the applicable guidelines in hard copy. After the list-serve requirement becomes effective, the individual service agent may demonstrate currency by showing the most recent list-serve—most likely by displaying it on the service agent's smart phone or other computer. Proving one's subscription to the list-serve will show the DOT auditor/inspector/investigator that the individual is subscribed to a system that provides an opportunity to stay current with the latest information about the program. Unequivocally, this would be a cost savings, would help to improve compliance by getting the relevant and timely information into the hands of the specified service agents, and would demonstrate the DOT's commitment to making information available electronically.

    Even when a service agent subscribes to the list-serve, it is a best business practice for that service agent to keep a paper copy of Part 40 and applicable guidelines for easy reference and for when electronic retrieval of these documents is not possible. Certainly, service agents can view these documents on-line at ODAPC's Web site, but Internet accessibility is not always possible, especially during transportation operations in remote areas.

    While we would welcome the subscription to the list-serve by management personnel, it would not make sense to put the requirement of a list-serve subscription upon the collection site supervisor or other management personnel because they are not necessarily the individuals responsible for complying with the qualification requirement under the existing Part 40 to remain current in his or her knowledge. A collector/BAT/STT/MRO or SAP is the individual with the requirement for training, remaining current and maintaining his or her own documentation.

    The Department disagrees with the comment that subscribing to the list-serve serves no safety purpose. Over the years, we have used the list-serve to inform the DOT-regulated industry about various important program-related information. For example, list-serves have included: Public Interest Exclusion decisions against fake MROs; changes to the Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control Form (CCF) and authorization for use of the electronic CCF (eCCF); updated guidance documents such as: The Urine Specimen Collector Guidelines; What Employers Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing; FAA's Designated Employer Representative videos; FTA's Annual National Drug and Alcohol Conference; Official ODAPC Interpretations of Part 40; and the FMCSA's National Drug and Alcohol Testing Clearinghouse. Each of these notices touched on topics directly related to the DOT's drug and alcohol testing program. The list-serves communicate information that is related to the integrity and safety aspect of the program.

    D. MRO Practice Issues The NPRM

    The NPRM proposed to amend existing § 40.141(b) to say that “prescription,” for purposes of MRO verification determinations, means “a legally valid prescription under the Controlled Substances Act [CSA].” This same language was used in § 40.135(e), in the context of informing third parties about potential safety implications of an employee's use of a controlled substance. The intent of the proposal was to harmonize the language of these sections for clarity and consistency.

    It has always been the intent of this program to follow the CSA regarding what constitutes a legally valid prescription. The term “prescription” has become more loosely used in recent years. Under the Internal Revenue Code, individuals can be reimbursed for over-the-counter medications and some services, if the taxpayer has a “prescription” from their doctors for these things that are not controlled substances under the CSA. In addition, some state laws allowing marijuana use the term “prescription,” even though a recommendation for someone to use marijuana under state law is not a prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act.

    The NPRM also proposed to allow MROs to conduct additional testing (i.e., for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine isomers and/or tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC-V)) of a specimen, if doing so is necessary to verify a test result. The testing for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine can be useful to an MRO in distinguishing whether a methamphetamine positive resulted from use of a legitimate over-the counter product. An MRO can order a test for THC-V to be conducted to determine whether the laboratory reported marijuana result was due to the smoking of marijuana. The THC-V differential testing can distinguish whether a THC positive is due to the smoking of marijuana, a CSA Schedule I illegal drug, or is due to the use of Marinol, a CSA Schedule III prescribed pharmaceutical. Because of this regulatory change, MROs do not need to obtain DOT consent to order such tests. However, MROs can use only laboratories that meet NLCP criteria for conducting these additional tests.

    Comments

    There were only nine comments on these specific proposals. All of them supported the authorization of MROs to order the laboratory to test for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine or THC-V. One comment, from a testing industry association, suggested that the Department issue more detailed guidance to MROs concerning when it is appropriate to order these tests. Another comment suggested making the testing for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine mandatory in all methamphetamine positives to avoid delays in reporting final verification results to employers.

    With respect to the definition of “prescription,” eight of the nine commenters supported the NPRM. The ninth suggested that this was a matter better left to medical organizations. Another commenter suggested that the rule specify that there could never be a legally valid prescription for marijuana, to reinforce that state “medical marijuana” laws do not have validity for the purposes of the DOT program, which is bound to follow Federal law. One commenter specifically noted that the word “prescription” is not specifically defined in the CSA.

    As noted earlier in the “Modification to the Drug Testing Panel” section, commenters to the proposal to add the four semi-synthetic opioids raised a number of issues concerning MRO practice. One issue of concern to several commenters was whether a prescription should still be considered by the MRO as a legitimate medical explanation if it had been filled a long time before the positive test result (e.g., six months, a year, two years before the drug test that an MRO is being asked to verify). They said this is an important inquiry because the semi-synthetic opioids proposed to be added to the DOT testing panel are Schedule II drugs that are frequently prescribed and may be retained and used by the donor long after the prescription was filled. Some commenters were concerned that MROs' decisions have been and will continue to be inconsistent regarding the age of a prescription considered to be grounds for declaring a legitimate medical explanation for a positive result.

    A related comment asked that DOT clarify that an MRO could not question a prescribing physician's decision to issue a prescription. That is, an MRO should not “second guess” the prescribing physician's determination that it was medically appropriate to prescribe one of the four semi-synthetic opioids and verify a test as positive notwithstanding the existence of the prescription.

    Other commenters recommended that MROs should receive more frequent training than currently required (e.g., requalification training every three years rather than every five years), with special emphasis on issues concerning the semi-synthetic opioids added to the DOT panel. One of these comments suggested that MROs should not be authorized to make determinations about these drugs until they had received specific training concerning the semi-synthetic opioids. This commenter also asked that legal review of MRO decisions be permitted under the regulations and that MROs and collectors themselves be subject to drug testing.

    Another area of comment focused upon the provision of § 40.327(a) that directs MROs to report to employers and third parties when safety concerns remain after a non-negative test laboratory-confirmed result is downgraded to a negative due to the existence of a prescription. Some commenters believed that the downgraded non-negative results are still likely to result in the medical disqualification of the employee (§ 40.327(a)(1)), for those positions that require medical qualification, such as airline pilots, Coast Guard mariners and Commercial Driver's License (CDL) drivers. For those without medical certification requirements, these commenters believed that the MRO would report a “safety concern” under § 40.327(a)(2) when, in the MRO's medical judgment, the employee's continued performance of his or her safety-sensitive function is likely to pose a significant safety risk. These commenters' concern was that, absent further regulatory language or guidance from DOT, some MROs might report information to employers (e.g., information about a semi-synthetic opioid that an employee was legally taking) from which an employer could infer an employee's medical condition. These commenters believed that release of information would not only compromise the employee's medical privacy but could threaten the employee's job. One commenter thought that paragraph (a)(2) should be deleted altogether. Commenters suggested that, before reporting a safety concern under § 40.327(a)(1), an MRO should be required to contact the employee's prescribing physician to determine whether the physician was aware of the employee's safety-sensitive duties and, if so, whether the prescribing physician believed the prescribed drug would not impair the employee's ability to perform those duties safely.

    DOT Response

    The Department is adopting the NPRM's proposal to authorize MROs to conduct testing for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine and THC-V. Most commenters agreed that these proposals had merit. We do not believe it necessary to make the testing for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine mandatory in methamphetamine cases, believing it better to leave this decision to MROs' discretion. Neither is it necessary to make THC-V testing mandatory. To make these requirements would be unnecessary in most cases and would, therefore, cause needless expense with no additional safety benefit. In response to those who thought additional guidance is necessary, we will provide it in the future on the basis of demonstrated need.

    We will also adopt, with a slight change, the NPRM's language saying that a prescription means a legally valid prescription within the overall meaning of the CSA. While, as one commenter pointed out, the CSA does not contain an explicit definition of “prescription,” the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which is designated by statute to carry out the CSA, has regulations and guidance regarding prescriptions. Therefore, we are changing the proposed language to say that a prescription must be “consistent with” and not simply “under” the CSA. The proposed language was already present in § 40.135(e), so we will make a technical amendment to that language for consistency. In addition, we have added the same language to § 40.137(a) to provide clarity to MROs when verifying laboratory-confirmed positive test results.

    The key point of the phrase we have added is to make sure that a prescription is legally valid. For example, regardless of any state “medical marijuana” laws, there cannot be a legally valid prescription for marijuana, since it remains a Schedule I substance under the CSA.

    The issues concerning restricting an MRO's judgment about how long a prescription may be considered to be legitimate are complex and not appropriate for this rulemaking. The Department is concerned that establishing a “bright line” cutoff date for the valid use of a prescription—i.e., that an otherwise legally valid prescription would be regarded as no longer providing a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory positive after a certain amount of time had passed—would be a too-facile substitute for the individualized inquiry that we expect an MRO to make in such cases. It could also result in an unintended hardship on an employee who is not intentionally abusing a prescription medication but who unintentionally runs afoul of a standardized expectation for how quickly he or she will use medication prescribed.

    The DEA has not set a maximum duration for the length of time a prescription can be considered to be legally used by the person to whom it was prescribed. Consequently, it would not be appropriate for the Department to substitute its judgment for that of the DEA, which is the Federal agency with the authority for determining what constitutes a valid prescription under the CSA.

    The MROs are highly qualified individuals who Part 40 requires to make judgment calls. MROs must take into account differences in medications, and other case-specific factors. While some commenters characterize this as “inconsistent” across the breadth of a national program, it carries out the intention that MROs will make individualized determinations for each donor. Although it might be less work and superficially “consistent” for MROs to make decisions on the basis of a “bright line” standard, doing so would not advance the objectives of the program. Consequently, the Department will not create a time limit on the use of a legally valid prescription.

    Some commenters also suggested that the final rule prohibit an MRO from questioning whether the prescribing physician should have prescribed the substance. That is, the MRO should not be allowed to say, in effect, “yes, the employee has a legally valid prescription issued by his or her physician, but I think that the physician should not have issued that prescription in the first place, or the prescription was for too high a dosage of a drug, so I won't treat the prescription as a legitimate medical explanation for a laboratory positive.” This situation could arise, for example, with respect to prescriptions for the opioids added to the DOT panel by this rule (or for any other legally prescribed drug identified in our drug panel), if an MRO thought an employee's doctor had been too liberal in prescribing pain medications.

    We agree that it is inappropriate for an MRO to question an employee's legally valid prescription in this way. Even if the employee's physician's prescription practices are inconsistent with an MRO's understanding of good standards of medical practice, employees are entitled to rely on their physicians' prescriptions as authorization to use the legally prescribed substance as a legitimate medical explanation. To say otherwise would place an unfair burden on the employee to judge the appropriateness of his or her physician's conduct. As a logical outgrowth of this issue raised by commenters, we have added language to § 40.137 of the final rule to prohibit MROs from denying a legitimate medical explanation because the MRO thinks the prescribing physician should not have prescribed the medication to the donor. However, it is important to note that a valid concern about whether the employee can continue performance safely may be present and the prescribing physician may still be asked to reconsider the employee's use of the prescription in accordance with § 40.135(e).

    MROs with a concern about a physician's prescribing practices can address this with the prescribing physician or raise the issue with the appropriate state licensing agency for the prescribing physician. For example, an MRO can choose to file a complaint with a local DEA office, a medical licensing board, or other oversight organization regarding the practices of a prescribing physician who the MRO believes is violating standards of care. That approach remains a more direct way to address the possible malfeasance of the prescribing physician, instead of denying the legitimacy of the safety-sensitive employee's prescription.

    The issue of states or nations (i.e., Canada and Mexico) that allow recommendations or state-recognized “prescriptions” for “medical marijuana” presents a completely different consideration. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug and, therefore, regardless of the prescribing physician's intent, it cannot be the basis of a legitimate medical explanation. Consistent with longstanding DOT regulatory language and guidance (e.g., §§ 40.137(e)(2), 40.151(e), and DOT “Medical Marijuana” Notice https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/medical-marijuana-notice; DOT “Recreational Marijuana” Notice https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/dot-recreational-marijuana-notice), MROs must not treat medical marijuana authorizations under state law as providing a legitimate medical explanation for a DOT drug test that is positive for marijuana.

    We agree with commenters that MROs should receive appropriate information concerning issues that may arise with respect to the semi-synthetic opioids added to the DOT panel in this final rule. The Department will issue guidance, as needed, highlighting opioid issues that may arise.

    We believe that shortening the MRO re-training interval to three years would impose a cost and burden that is unnecessary. Since we already have opiates in the DOT-regulated drug testing panels, adding semi-synthetic opioids to the panel is not a radical change for these highly trained Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopathy. Likewise, requiring special training concerning opioids for MROs, or limiting their ability to verify opioid positive test results unless they had received such training, is likely to unnecessarily delay implementation of the addition of these controlled substances to the program without a justifiable reason to require the training. There was no showing by commenters that, absent such specialized training outside the normal training process, MROs would be incapable of assessing whether there were legitimate medical explanations for opioid positive results. Thus, we believe that additional training is not needed to ensure that MROs are familiar with semi-synthetic opioid issues.

    As noted above, commenters were concerned that, as applied to commonly prescribed substances like the semi-synthetic opioids covered by this rule, § 40.327(a)(2) could lead to adverse outcomes for employees such as compromising the employee's medical privacy or employment. For example, an MRO might note that an employee had a legally valid prescription for an opioid, which provided a legitimate explanation for a laboratory positive result, but then decide that the employer should be told that the employee's use of that opioid poses a significant safety risk, endangering the employee's continued employment. Given the apparent frequency with which opioids are prescribed, commenters feared that the occurrence of issues of this kind could increase.

    Although we did not propose any new language to § 40.327, we believe this section warrants a discussion and a slight amendment to the existing language of § 40.135 as a logical outgrowth of the commenter's concerns as to the frequency with which medical information would be reported because of adding the four semi-synthetic opioids. It may not be necessary for the MRO to report medical information to third parties in every case where the MRO receives substantiated evidence that an employee has a valid prescription that merits downgrading a result from a positive to a negative.

    Under § 40.327, an MRO must report drug test results and medical information the MRO learns as part of the verification process to third parties without the employee's consent if the MRO determines, in his or her reasonable medical judgement, that either of two concerns is triggered. First, the MRO is required to disclose to third parties information when the information obtained during the verification interview is likely to render the employee medically unqualified under an applicable DOT agency regulation (e.g., a fitness for duty requirement). Second, the MRO must report the information to third parties if the “information indicates that continued performance by the employee of his or her safety-sensitive function is likely to pose a significant safety risk.” The third parties to whom this information can be disclosed are: The employer; a DOT agency; a SAP; or an examiner who determines whether the employee is medically qualified under an applicable DOT agency safety regulation.

    We understand, and the commenters were concerned, that MROs already apply the procedures of §§ 40.135 and 40.327 to commonly prescribed medications that can cause a laboratory-confirmed positive result. Thus, adding the semi-synthetic opioids would pose a similar, but certainly not a new, scenario of a laboratory-confirmed positive that would be downgraded to a negative result because of a legally valid prescription, and this medical information would be reported to a third party, when appropriate.

    This concern, however, should not be overstated. There is not an automatic requirement for an MRO to report medical information to third parties for every downgraded drug test result. There are and will continue to be cases where the MRO would not need to report medical information to a third party. We leave the determination of the significant safety risk to the “reasonable medical judgment” of the MRO, recognizing that every downgraded test result is not the same and needs the individualized professional judgment of the MRO.

    The MROs have a serious safety duty when verifying the prescription an employee provides to the MRO. Under § 40.141(b), the MRO (and not the MRO's staff) must “review and take all reasonable and necessary steps to verify the authenticity of all medical records the employee provides.” With the advancement of photography manipulation and enhancement software easily available through the Internet, MROs should speak with the pharmacy and not simply rely on a photograph of the prescription label. That contact with the pharmacy can also shed light on whether there is a significant safety risk posed in the particular situation the MRO is assessing.

    To ensure that the employee is not caught by surprise by an MRO's decision to report the medical information regarding a legally valid prescription to a third party, we have amended § 40.135(e). Specifically, we will direct the MRO to first provide the employee with up to five business days after the reporting the verified negative result to have the prescribing physician contact the MRO to determine if the medication(s) can be changed to one that does not make the employee medically unqualified or that does not pose a significant safety risk before reporting the safety concern. If the MRO does not receive such information from the prescribing physician, the MRO would then report to third parties as provided in § 40.327. The provision of giving the employee five days to have his/her prescribing physician contact the MRO is not new. In fact, it has been in part 40 since the year 2000. The only difference is that previously, the MRO would first report the medical information and then wait for the prescribing physician to respond. We have no reason to believe this process is not effective. However, in response to the commenters' concerns, we are changing this process to provide the employee the opportunity to allay any MRO safety risk concerns by having his or her prescribing physician change the medication immediately, discuss other ways to eliminate or mitigate the MRO's concerns, or both change the medication and discuss alternatives. This should also reduce the number of reports MROs would make. We do not anticipate this change will increase costs because there is no new collection of information, we are simply directing the MRO to pause for five days before reporting the medical information to third parties. In fact, this pause may reduce costs because we anticipate that it should reduce the number of reports to employers under § 40.135(e).

    Although we are creating a pause before the MRO reports the information so that the employee can have time to communicate with the employee's own physician, the part 40 requirement for the MRO to report the downgraded test result as a verified negative immediately remains unchanged. With this final rule, the employer will receive a negative result first and medical information, if necessary, will come later.

    There may be cases where the MRO is contacted by the employee's physician before the end of the five days, but the communication between the doctors does not alleviate the significant safety risk that the MRO has identified. In such cases, the MRO can report the medical information to third parties after the discussion with the employee's physician; the MRO is not required to allow five days to elapse.

    Comments that MRO decisions should be legally reviewed and that MROs and collectors should be subject to drug testing are outside the scope of this rulemaking. Thus, they will not be addressed.

    E. Fatal Flaws and Questionable Specimens The NPRM

    The NPRM proposed to add three fatal flaws to the existing list of four flaws that would cause a test to be cancelled. Each fatal flaw is an error that cannot be subsequently corrected because of the potential for each of the flaw to affect the accuracy and integrity of that specimen. The existing fatal flaws are listed in §§ 40.83 and 40.199. The proposed additional flaws were listed in a September 2016 revision of the HHS NLCP Manual. Specifically, the flaws proposed to be added were: (1) There is no CCF; (2) two separate collections were performed using one CCF; and (3) there was no specimen submitted to the laboratory with the CCF.

    The NPRM also addressed a situation when there is an initial “questionable” specimen (e.g., one calling for an immediate recollection under direct observation because the temperature was out of range or there were signs of tampering), but there was no second specimen provided (e.g., because the donor was unable to provide the second specimen under direct observation, even after waiting three hours and drinking fluids). The current regulation does not provide clear instructions to the collector regarding what to do with the initial specimen in this scenario. The NPRM proposed that the collector discard the initial specimen in this case, leaving the MRO to determine whether there was a sufficient medical explanation for the “shy bladder.”

    Comments

    One commenter noted that the changes to fatal flaws by the NLCP, the source of the Department's proposed changes, had not earlier been the subject of public comment before HHS changed the HHS Mandatory Guidelines in this respect. This commenter also noted that there could be inconsistencies between HHS and DOT criteria for fatal flaws.

    Another commenter raised a technical point with respect to the proposed § 40.83(c)(2), requesting clarification to say that a CCF without an accompanying specimen would become a fatal flaw only when an actual specimen had been collected. The commenter explained that, in a shy bladder or collection site refusal situation, a collector might mistakenly send a CCF to the laboratory, even when there was no specimen to send. If the test were cancelled by the laboratory, then there would be no shy bladder evaluation and, what may have been a refusal would result in a cancelled test. Two other commenters, also referred to this same situation, saying that the solution would be to clarify that this fatal flaw exists only when a specimen was actually collected.

    With respect to the “questionable specimen” scenario on what to do with a first specimen that was collected and was out of temperature range or showed signs of tampering, but then a sufficient second specimen was not collected under direct observation, we received ten comments. All of these comments on the proposal supported it.

    DOT Response

    Three commenters who were concerned about a fatal flaw cancelling a test in the “insufficient specimen” scenario raised a good point related not only those scenarios, but also for collection site walk-away refusals. The Department will adopt these commenters' suggestions that a fatal flaw will exist in cases where a CCF is sent to the laboratory without a specimen, as long as there a specimen was actually collected. This will avoid a situation in which, for example, there was a CCF filled out for an original specimen, a shy bladder situation occurred, no second specimen was collected, but the CCF was mistakenly sent to the laboratory. The ultimate result of this process—a determination by the MRO about whether there was a sufficient medical explanation for the employee's failure to provide a full specimen—could be confused by a laboratory decision that there was a fatal flaw, even though the fatal flaw has no impact upon the MRO's determination of a refusal. Accordingly, we have amended §§ 40.83 and 40.199, both of which deal with this particular fatal flaw.

    Otherwise, the Department is adopting its proposal with respect to fatal flaws without change. Commenters had the opportunity to comment on these proposed changes in context of the DOT NPRM, whether or not HHS provided such an opportunity concerning its changes to the HHS Mandatory Guidelines.

    Regarding the “questionable specimen” scenario, the DOT is adopting the proposed amendment to Part 40 without change. All commenters agreed that, when a second specimen in a situation calling for a recollection under direct observation cannot be obtained for “shy bladder” reasons, it made sense to discard the first questionable specimen and rely on the insufficient specimen process for a result. In the insufficient specimen process, an MRO with advice from a referral physician determines whether there was a refusal to test or not. This approach of discarding the insufficient specimen is simple and direct, and should reduce opportunities for confusion. It is also a cost-relieving provision.

    V. Section-by-Section Analysis

    This portion of the preamble discusses each of the provisions of Part 40 amended by this final rule, including responses to comments on matters that have not previously been discussed under “Main Policy Issues.”

    A. Sections Concerning the Addition of Four Opioids to the DOT Drug Testing Panel

    In the “Main Policy Issues” portion of the preamble, we discussed the proposal to add four semi-synthetic opioids to the DOT drug testing panel and responded to comments on that proposal. As noted there, the Department is adopting this proposal. The primary section in which the Department's decision to add these substances is carried out is § 40.87, which lists each substance that is part of the DOT panel, including the additions made by this final rule, together with the initial test and confirmatory test cutoffs. There are parallel changes in § 40.85(d) and Appendices B and C, in each case changing the term “opiates” to “opioids.” A commenter suggested rewording the proposed language in § 40.87, footnote 3, to match the language in the HHS Mandatory Guidelines. After discussing this point with HHS, we changed the wording from what was proposed to a more accurate and plain language version, with no intended change in meaning. In §§ 40.137 and 40.139, a slightly different term, “semi-synthetic opioids,” is used in the contexts of differing standards for MRO verification of “natural” opioid laboratory positives (e.g., codeine) and the newly added semi-synthetic opioids to the DOT drug testing panel (e.g., hydrocodone).

    B. Definitions

    The final rule, like the NPRM, clarifies the definition of “The Department, DOT Agency” and “Drugs.” The main change in the latter is to use the broader term “opioids” in place of “opiates,” to encompass the substances that the rule adds to the DOT drug panel. There were few comments on the proposed changes to this section.

    One commenter requested that we clarify that NASA or its contractors were not DOT agencies. As readers of the existing and new versions of this section will note, NASA is not listed as a DOT agency. As a Federal agency, NASA is subject to the Federal employee program that uses the HHS Mandatory Guidelines. Contractors to or employees of NASA or other Federal agencies who are subject to DOT regulations in their own right (e.g., because they perform safety-sensitive functions as pilots, drivers or mariners who would be covered by the respective applicable DOT agency regulations) would be covered by applicable DOT rules.

    We also included a technical amendment to this section based on a recent official interpretation. Specifically, we are clarifying that the USCG is only a DOT agency for the drug testing component of Part 40 since its regulation (46 CFR part 16) incorporates Part 40 for drug testing and not for alcohol testing.

    C. Three Provisions Related to Urine Specimens Fatal Flaws

    The rationale for the Department's decision to add new items to the list of “fatal flaws” and our response to comments on the proposal to do so, are found in the “Main Policy Issues” portion of this preamble. The affected provisions are §§ 40.83(c) (concerning fatal flaws detected by a laboratory as it processes a specimen) and 40.199 (concerning the MRO's responsibility to cancel tests in which fatal flaws have been found).

    Shy Bladder Process—“Questionable Specimens”

    As discussed under the Fatal Flaws and Questionable Specimens heading in the Main Policy Issues portion of this preamble, after considering the comments on the subject, the Department will require the collector to discard any initial collection that was questionable (e.g., out of temperature range, showing signs of tampering). The MRO would then evaluate a “shy bladder” situation that developed if the employee was unable to provide a sufficient specimen for the direct observation recollection. This provision has been incorporated into § 40.193(b)(4).

    Only Urine Specimens Are Authorized for Testing

    The NPRM proposed to add a new section, § 40.210, clarifying, that Part 40 authorizes drug testing of only urine specimens screened and confirmed at HHS-certified laboratories. This means that point-of-collection instant tests, hair tests, and oral fluid tests are not presently allowed under Part 40 for DOT drug testing. There were four comments on this proposal, all of which agreed with it.

    The Department is aware that a rulemaking that would authorize oral fluid testing under the HHS Mandatory Guidelines is currently in progress at HHS. If HHS authorizes this method of testing, DOT could follow on with its own rulemaking to conform Part 40 to the revision of the HHS Mandatory Guidelines, as long as the HHS final rule is in accordance with OTETA's other requirements.

    Likewise, it is our understanding that HHS is considering whether to authorize hair testing as part of the HHS Mandatory Guidelines. As in the case of oral fluids, and given the Department's statutory obligation to remain consistent with the HHS Mandatory Guidelines and with OTETA's other obligations, if HHS authorizes the use of hair testing in a manner consistent with OTETA requirements, then the Department would follow suit in its own rulemaking to amend Part 40.

    We are also aware that there are unusual circumstances in which testing other than urine testing can take place. For example, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) post-accident testing, under the authority of 49 CFR part 219 (not Part 40), can involve blood testing and the testing of other body fluids and tissues. Likewise, the USCG, under the authority of 46 CFR part 4, may require other bodily fluids or tissues be chemically tested to determine the presence or drugs or alcohol for post-accident events. Part 40 recognizes certain situations when a clinical evaluation performed under the direction of the MRO is appropriate, and in those events the MRO may choose to use another testing methodology (49 CFR 40.195(a)(3)). The MRO may use another testing methodology in these narrow situations for the purpose of being able to clarify that a donor is not using drugs, but not to show a positive test result. However, these situations are not inconsistent with the new § 40.210, which states that for drug tests required by Part 40, only urine testing is authorized.

    D. Removing the Blind Specimen Testing Requirement

    The rationale for the Department's decision to remove the blind specimen testing requirement, and our response to comments on the proposal to do so, are found in the “Main Policy Issues” portion of this preamble. As a result of this decision, sections, or references in sections, pertaining to the former blind testing requirement have been removed. The affected provisions are in §§ 40.03, 40.29, 40.37, 40.103, 40.105, 40.123, 40.169, and 40.189.

    E. Prohibition on DNA Testing of Urine Specimens

    The NPRM proposed adding a sentence to paragraph (f) of this section further emphasizing the existing DOT prohibition on the use of DNA testing on DOT drug testing specimens (§ 40.13(e)). The five commenters who spoke to the proposal supported it. Several comments supported the Department's long-standing grounds for its position (e.g., that the CCF process provides sufficient evidence of the identity of a specimen; that DNA testing would show only that an original specimen and a reference specimen that the donor provided behind closed doors were different, not that a donor's specimen was misidentified). Some commenters added that the prohibition would preclude further intrusions into an employee's privacy and potential discrimination by employers against drivers whose DNA test revealed a potential medical condition. The new language states that DNA testing is not authorized and ODAPC will not give permission for such testing. The Department is adopting the proposed language without change.

    F. Legal Prescriptions and Additional Testing

    As discussed under the MRO Practice Issues heading in the Main Policy Issues portion of this preamble, the Department proposed to add a reference to legal prescriptions under the CSA to this section, as well as to authorize MROs to obtain THC-V testing and testing for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine at their discretion. After considering the comments, almost all of which were supportive, as discussed above, the Department has adopted this proposal with the slight modification of “consistent with” instead of “under,” and incorporated these changes in §§ 40.137(b) and 40.135(e) for consistency.

    G. Minor Modification to Certain Section Headings

    The NPRM proposed to modify the section heading of §§ 40.137 and 40.139 to incorporate the addition of the four new semi-synthetic opioids. There were 10 comments on this proposal, all of which agreed with it. The Department is adopting the proposed language without change. Also, as commenters correctly pointed out, and as is discussed under the MRO Practice Issues heading in the “Main Policy Issues” portion of this preamble, the proposed § 40.139(c)(3) should be rephrased. This paragraph should provide that, in a situation where there is a laboratory positive for morphine or codeine (in the absence of a finding of 6-AM) below 15,000 ng/mL, and the employee admits to unauthorized use of one of the semi-synthetic opioids, the MRO does not verify the test as positive. The final rule makes this correction.

    H. Subscribing to the ODAPC List-Serve

    The rationale for the Department's decision to require key persons in the DOT testing process to subscribe to the ODAPC, and our response to comments on the proposal do so, are found in the “Main Policy Issues” portion of this preamble. The Department is adopting the proposed language without change. The affected provisions are §§ 40.33 (collectors), 40.121 (MROs), 40.213 (BATs/STTs), and 40.281 (SAPs).

    I. Listing SAP Certification Organizations on ODAPC's Web Site

    The NPRM proposed moving organizations who provide SAP credentialing listed in § 40.281(a)(6) out of Part 40 and onto the ODAPC Web site. We proposed this change to provide greater flexibility for changes to the list and quicker updates. There were four comments to the proposal, all of which supported it. The final rule adopts the proposal without change.

    One commenter asked for clarification regarding whether there is a “grace” period when an organization is removed from the list and what the timeline would be for a SAP to be `re-qualified' under one of the approved organizations. When a certifying organization is added or removed from the list, the Department intends to notify the list-serve subscribers of the change. Since all SAPs will be required to subscribe to the list-serve, each SAP would receive this important notification. However, specific details regarding “grace periods for requalification” would depend upon the facts of each situation and would, therefore, be guidance that ODAPC would provide at the relevant times.

    J. Prohibition From Using the DOT or DOT Agency Name, Logos, or Other Official Branding

    The Department is concerned that some service agents misrepresented themselves as approved, certified, or endorsed by the Department, by means including, but not limited to, the use of a DOT or DOT agency logo, title, or emblem. Where we have found these misuses of DOT or DOT agency names, logos, or other official branding, ODAPC has taken action under the Public Interest Exclusion provisions to issue Notices of Corrective Actions.

    The Department does not approve, certify, or endorse service agents or their activities. We regard the use of such symbols or other means as implying approval, certification or endorsement. When a service agent makes such a representation, the Department views it as false and deceptive holding-out by a party not part of the Federal Government. For this reason, the NPRM proposed to specifically add such false representations to the grounds on which the Department could initiate a PIE proceeding against the offender.

    Five of the six comments on this subject supported this proposal and its rationale. The sixth disagreed, on the basis that DOT did not articulate a safety basis for the proposal and that it could impose an unnecessary burden on companies using agency “brands” to distinguish tests.

    The basis for the proposal is to prevent false and deceptive representations by organizations marketing to DOT employers. Such misrepresentations are at least misleading and at worst deliberately deceptive. When a private party misrepresents that it is part of or that it is certified, approved or endorsed by the DOT or a DOT agency, this can have safety implications for an employer that relies on the holding out of an endorsement if the service agent does not provide services in accordance with DOT requirements. The Department and the DOT Agencies are not “brands,” and their names should not be used as if they were.

    One of the commenters who supported the proposal noted that training materials should be able to include materials that may contain screen shots or references to DOT Web sites, and publications that contain DOT logos, titles, etc. We agree. We appreciate that employers and service agents reproduce our publications and other materials containing the DOT logos and this regulatory change would not prohibit members of the public from using and/or reproducing the materials that are produced by ODAPC and/or the DOT Agencies. The non-deceptive use of such training materials is not something that we would view as violating our rules because it does not indicate approval or certification by the Department or a DOT agency.

    K. Removing Obsolete Compliance Dates

    The NPRM proposed removing obsolete compliance dates from several sections. For example, former § 40.33(d) established compliance dates for training then-existing collectors in 2001-2003. Similar training deadlines, all of which were established as part of the transition to the 1999 revision of Part 40 from previous editions, were found in §§ 40.121 (MROs), 40.213 (BATs/STTs), and 40.281 (SAPs). In addition, §§ 40.45 and 40.203 contained a 2011 date to complete a transition to a revised custody and control form. There were four comments on these changes, all of which supported them. These proposed changes are adopted in the final rule. In § 40.121(d), we also eliminated, as a commenter suggested, a reference to continuing education units tied to one of the obsolete compliance dates.

    L. Editorial Corrections

    In drafting the NPRM, we noted a few sections in which editorial corrections would be helpful for purposes of clarification. In § 40.67(n), we changed “collector” to “service agent” to clarify that all service agents had a responsibility to ensure that a directly observed collection was conducted when necessary. In § 40.162(c) a reference to § 40.159(f) was corrected to cite paragraph (g) of that section. In § 40.233(b)(4), a reference to § 40.333(a)(2) was corrected to cite paragraph (a)(3) of that section. There were three comments on these proposals, all of which agreed with the proposed changes. These changes are adopted in the final rule.

    M. Updating Specified Appendices to Part 40

    The NPRM proposed to update the following appendices: Appendices B and C, to add the four semi-synthetic opioids to the drugs listed and remove MDEA; Appendix D, to update a web link; and Appendix H, to remove the instruction sheet for the Management Information System Data Collection from our regulations and move it to our guidance material located on our Web site. The reason for proposing to move the MIS instruction sheet to the ODAPC Web site was to provide greater flexibility for changes and/or updates to this document. There were seven comments to the proposal to update the appendices, all of which supported it. The final rule adopts this proposal without change.

    N. Updating Web Links

    The Department proposed to update web links in the rule text that have changed on our DOT Web site. There were four comments to this proposal, all of which supported the proposal. In several sections, the Department updated the ODAPC Web address to the current http://www.transaportation.gov/odapc. The affected sections are §§ 40.33, 40.45, 40.105, 40.121, 40.205, 40.213, 40.225, 40.281, and 40.401. In addition, in Appendix D, the Department updated the Web link for reporting split specimens failing to reconfirm to https://www.transportation.gov/content/split-specimen-cancellation-notification-49-cfr-part-40187-appendix-d. These updates are adopted in the final rule.

    O. Alcohol Testing Device Web Links

    Though not among the originally proposed changes, we are making a technical amendment to make it easier to permit employers to use alcohol testing devices approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which are the only devices permitted to be used for DOT alcohol testing. Since 1994, the regulation has required employers and service agents to only us a device once the device was approved by NHTSA and appeared on NHTSA's conforming products lists (CPLs) for alcohol screening devices (ASDs) and Evidential Breath Testing Devices (EBTs). NHTSA used the CPLs to add approved devices and remove devices as appropriate. Because there was no regular schedule with which the CPLs were published, employers and alcohol technicians were prohibited by the regulation from using newly approved devices because a new CPL was not published. To permit employers and alcohol technician the ability to use a device as soon possible after NHTSA approves it, we will now list the NHTSA-approved ASDs on a new ODAPC Web page entitled “Approved Screening Devices to Measure Alcohol in Bodily Fluids” and we will now list the NHTSA approved EBTs on new ODAPC Web page for “Approved Evidential Breath Measurement Devices.” Although, we will no longer require regulated parties to check the actual CPL, we will continue to rely on NHTSA for approval and removal of the devices. ODAPC will take responsibility for creating and continuing to keep the Web pages updated whenever NHTSA notifies us that a device has been approved and added to the list, or removed from the list. This is purely an administrative change as to where to find the list of approved devices. There are no costs associated with this technical change and it should be burden-reducing because it will avoid confusion that has been occurring for DOT-regulated parties and for the product manufacturers. Accordingly, we have made changes to §§ 40.3; 40.229; 40.231; 40.233 and 40.235.

    VI. Other Comments

    There were two comments concerning the cost-benefit analysis. Those comments are addressed in the regulatory analysis section titled Executive Order 12866 and 13563 and DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures.

    There were a number of comments that were outside the scope of the NPRM, such as including (or not including) hair or oral fluid testing in the DOT program, reducing the subject matter of refresher training for BATs/STTs, including additional drugs (e.g., benzodiasepines) in the drug testing panel, providing more oversight of MRO decisions, changing some criteria for testing in the Federal Transit Administration rules (49 CFR part 655), broadening the use of electronic signatures in the program, allowing laboratories to use their own protocols for substituted specimen situations, reporting from laboratories to MROs through a third party, and criteria for determining when a test is considered to have been refused. While these and other matters may be worth consideration at a later time, they are outside the scope of the present rulemaking.

    VII. Regulatory Analyses and Notices

    Changes to Federal regulations are subject to a number of regulatory requirements, which are identified and discussed below. First, Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354), as codified in 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of regulatory changes on small entities. The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) requires that DOT consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public and, under the provisions of PRA section 3507(d), obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information it conducts, sponsors, or requires through regulations. Section (a)(5) of division H of the Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Public Law 108-447, 118 Stat. 3268 (Dec. 8, 2004) and section 208 of the E-Government Act of 2002, Public Law 107-347, 116 Stat. 2889 (Dec. 17, 2002) requires DOT to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) of a regulation that will affect the privacy of individuals. Finally, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) requires DOT to analyze this action to determine whether it will have an effect on the quality of the environment. This portion of the preamble summarizes the DOT's analyses of these impacts with respect to this rule.

    Executive Order 12866 and 13563 and DOT's Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This final rule is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and 13563, as well as the Department's Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034). It proposes to harmonize specific Part 40 procedures with recently mandated HHS Guidelines and, in the interest of improving efficiency, make certain program modifications. As such, this proposal would not impose any major policy changes and would not impose any significant new costs or burdens.

    Costs The NPRM

    As noted in the Department's NPRM, the HHS Mandatory Guidelines addressed the burdens associated with the addition of new drugs to the drug-testing panel (82 FR 7920, January 23, 2017). The cost impact of drug testing for oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone would be minimal because HHS determined that all HHS-certified laboratories testing specimens from Federal agencies are currently conducting tests for one or more of these analytes on non-regulated urine specimens. HHS further indicated in its analysis that laboratory personnel currently are trained to test for the additional drugs and test methods already have been implemented. Many HHS-certified laboratories conduct non-regulated tests for transportation employers who already include the four semi-synthetic opioids in their non-regulated testing programs. For those employers, therefore, shifting the four drugs from non-regulated tests to regulated tests would not increase testing costs.

    HHS determined that the costs associated with implementation of testing for the four additional semi-synthetic opioids would be approximately $0.11-$0.30 per test. Once the testing has been implemented, the cost per specimen for initial testing for the added analytes would range from $.06 to $0.20 due to reagent costs. Current costs for each confirmatory test range from $5.00 to $10.00 for each specimen reported as positive due to costs of sample preparation and analysis. HHS indicated that based on information from non-regulated workplace drug testing for these analytes in 2012 and testing performed on de-identified federally regulated specimens in 2011, approximately 1% of the submitted specimens is expected to be confirmed as positive for the added analytes. Therefore, HHS indicates that the added cost for confirmatory testing will be $0.05 to $0.10 per submitted specimen.

    Approximately 6.3 million DOT-regulated tests occur per year. DOT considered the maximum ranges HHS provided in its analysis. Therefore, with the projected maximum implementation cost per specimen of $0.30, the maximum cost per specimen of initial testing at $0.20, and the maximum cost per specimen of confirmation testing at $0.10, the additional cost per urine test would be an additional $0.60. Under the new HHS Mandatory Guidelines, and based on an estimated 6.3 million DOT tests conducted annually, a cost of approximately $3,800,000 would be realized by employers subject to DOT-regulated testing ($0.60 × 6,300,000 DOT tests annually = $3,780,000).

    HHS indicated that there will be minimal costs associated with adding MDA as an initial test analyte because the current immunoassays can be adapted to test for this analyte. According to HHS, before a lab is allowed to test regulated specimens for MDA, HHS must test three groups of performance test, or “PT” samples. HHS provides the PT samples at no cost to its certified laboratories but HHS estimates that the laboratory costs to conduct the PT testing would range from $900 to $1,800 for each certified laboratory. There are approximately 27 HHS-certified laboratories who process DOT drug tests. With the maximum cost estimate of $1,800 for each certified laboratory, a cost of approximately $48,600 would be realized for DOT ($1,800 × 27 laboratories = $48,600.)

    Testing for additional drugs would result in new MRO costs, as MROs would have additional review and verification to conduct. Based on the positivity rates from non-regulated workplace drug testing and the additional review of specimens with a laboratory confirmed positive for prescription medications, HHS estimates that MRO costs would increase by approximately 3%. The additional costs for testing and MRO review would be incorporated into the overall cost for the Federal agency submitting the specimen to the laboratory. HHS bases the estimation of costs incurred on overall cost to the Federal agency affected because cost is usually based on all specimens submitted from an agency, rather than individual specimen testing costs or MRO review of positive specimens. Based on this analysis, therefore, DOT projects an additional MRO cost of $189,000 (.03 projected increase × 6,300,000 DOT tests annually).

    Comments

    There were two comments on our cost estimates. One questioned the projected cost savings of the proposal to eliminate the blind specimen testing requirement. Specifically, the commenter said that the cost savings were inflated because we did not take into consideration the 50-blind specimen limit per quarter and that blinds are not required to be submitted for employers with fewer than 2,000 employees. The same commenter also questioned why DOT did not factor in increased potential costs that were mentioned by commenters in the HHS rulemaking such as, increased estimated MRO costs of 10% and start-up costs to laboratories to implement testing for the additional analytes. Another commenter requested that we further explain the analysis for the costs associated with confirmation testing. Specifically, the commenter wanted us to adjust the cost-benefit analysis to address confirmation test costs for the four prescription drug initial positive tests, not just the projected 1% of the specimens that are confirmed positive. The commenter suggested that, when making this calculation, DOT consider using laboratory data for the percentage of positive test results that will require a confirmation test.

    DOT Response

    Regarding the blind specimen costs, our response is included in the `cost-savings' paragraph of this section. As for the comment about not factoring in potential costs that were mentioned by commenters in the HHS rulemaking, we did not see the need to address them since HHS already responded to those comments (82 FR 7931). In short, HHS assumed the start-up costs for testing the four semi-synthetic opioids, and changes to the amphetamines would be de minimis given that laboratories could use existing immunoassays.

    To further explain the costs associated with verifying test results for the additional semi-synthetic opioids, we agree with the commenters that the 3% estimated by HHS may not be sufficient for calculating the costs to the DOT-regulated industries. We have added the full cost of the MRO review of the non-negative results for the four semi-synthetic opioids instead of just the additional 3% estimated by HHS. As we understand it, the upper limit cost of a MRO review for non-negatives is approximately $60. Given the estimated 1% (63,000) of specimens confirming for the semi-synthetic opioids, the estimated additional costs for MRO reviews resulting from this final rule would be $3,780,000 ($60 × 63,000).

    Regarding the specific comment for DOT to consider the confirmation test costs for the four prescription drug initial positive tests, not just the projected 1% of the specimens that are confirmed positive, the Department has no basis to conclude that there will be an additional cost to DOT-regulated employers for specimens that screen positive but do not confirm as positive. Furthermore, the commenters did not provide any data to support their assertion. As we understand it and as explained in our “What Employers Need to Know About DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing” handbook, employers may choose one of two pricing structures, bundled and unbundled. Bundled pricing means that one-price-fits-all. The price of the bundle is dependent on various factors like volume and positive rate. In unbundled pricing, it is `a la carte' pricing for each test the laboratory has to run. Our projected costs assume a bundled pricing structure since it appears to be widely used.

    We also want to address two issues related to information we provided in our NPRM. First, we incorrectly associated the full cost of the Proficiency Testing (PT) to only the cost of testing for MDA. However, based on HHS final rule [82 FR 7931], the cost for PT testing ($48,600) is for all the semi-synthetic opioids and MDA, not just MDA. Accordingly, our cost analysis now correctly articulates that the cost of PT is for all the compounds as outlined in HHS' final rule. This does not change the quantified cost of the rule. Second, we estimated that the per specimen cost would be an additional $0.60 (implementation cost of $0.30 and a maximum screening and confirmation testing cost of $0.30) for a total cost of $3,780,000 ($0.60 × 6,300,000). As we mentioned earlier, HHS assumed the start-up costs would be de minimis. DOT agrees that the start-up costs are expected to be de minimis. Therefore, we have removed the implementation costs (approximately an additional $0.30 per specimen) that were originally proposed. Thus, a cost of $1,890,000 ($0.30 × 6,300,000) would be realized by employers subject to DOT-regulated testing and not the $3,780,000 we originally estimated.

    On a final note, we acknowledge potential costs that were not discussed in the NPRM for those employees with positive test results that would potentially go through the return-to-duty process. As we mentioned earlier, we estimated that 1% (63,000) of the specimens will be confirmed for one or more of the semi-synthetic opioids. Based on MRO's experiences in non-DOT testing that 80% of the semi-synthetic results will be downgraded to `negative' due to legitimate medical explanations (e.g., valid prescriptions), we estimate that only 12,600 of the 63,000 laboratory confirmed positives will be reported by the MRO as verified positive. We further estimate that, of the 12,600 verified positive results, approximately 25% (3,150) will participate in the return-to-duty process. The other individuals will not return to positions that require DOT testing or will continue working at their non-DOT positions. With the mandatory Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) evaluation costing approximately $400, the return-to-duty test costing approximately $50, and the minimum of six follow-up tests costing approximately $300 (6 × $50), the return-to-duty cost would be approximately $750 per employee. Altogether, the Department estimates the total return-to-duty costs to be approximately $2,362,500 (3,150 × $750).

    This estimate does not include costs associated with education or treatment that the employee completes before taking the required return-to-duty test. A verified positive result merely identifies that the individual needs to seek treatment. The positive result does not create the employee's condition. By seeking treatment sooner than later, the potential costs associated with education and treatment for an individual that tests positive could be less than if the employee did not test positive.

    Cost-Savings The NPRM

    In the NPRM, DOT estimated a cost-savings of at least $3.1 million per year from the elimination of the requirement for employers to submit blind specimen testing to laboratories (estimated at approximately $50 per test). This estimate of cost-savings is based on the regulatory analysis performed when DOT reduced blind specimen testing in 2000 (65 FR 79462, 79517, Dec. 19, 2000), adjusted for inflation. Based on the blind specimen requirements made effective in 2000 for employers to submit 1% of 6,300,000 DOT tests for blind testing conducted annually at a cost of approximately $50 per test yields a cost-savings of $3,150,000 (63,000 × $50).

    Comments

    One commenter suggested that the savings from the elimination of blind specimen testing had been overestimated, because the cost-benefit analysis did not take into account the 50-specimen maximum and the requirement that only employers with more than 2,000 covered employees were required to submit blind specimens.

    DOT Response

    We revised our calculation to take into consideration the commenter's concerns. Our revised calculation takes into account: The estimated number of DOT-regulated employers (728,324) and employees (5,192,065); the known number of employers (175) with employee counts from 2,000 to 50,000; an estimated number of C/TPAs (2,158) with an employee count of 2,000; the 25% random testing rate and estimated number of other tests; the 1% blind specimen rate; and an estimated cost of $50 per blind specimen test. The estimated number of C/TPAs is based on the assumption that the smaller employers (employers with less than 2,000 employees), would join a C/TPA to administer their random testing pools and other aspects of the DOT program and include them in their consortium. Accordingly, we project annual cost-savings from eliminating the blinds would be $1,298,016. We have placed in the docket for this rulemaking a document describing the basis for this estimate and calculation in greater detail.

    Net Economic Impact

    The DOT believes the projected cost to the DOT of implementing testing for the additional drugs being added to the drug-testing regimen will be minimal. The projected $1,938,600 for the four semi-synthetic opioid drugs and PT testing ($1,890,000 and $48,600 respectively) and the $3,780,000 projected MRO costs would result in total projected costs of $5,718,600. The projected cost savings from eliminating the blind specimen testing requirement would be $1,298,016. The estimated net cost impact of this proposal, therefore, would be $4,420,584 ($5,718,600 − $1,298,016) per year. This rule will not have an economically significant impact under Executive Order 12866 because it would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, nor do we have any basis to conclude that it would adversely affect any sector of the economy.

    Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-354, “RFA”), 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., establishes “as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given serious consideration.” The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions.

    Agencies must perform a review to determine whether a proposed rule would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. If the agency determines that it would, the agency must prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis. However, if an agency determines that it is not expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, section 605(b) provides that the head of the agency may so certify, and a regulatory flexibility analysis would not be required. The certification must include a statement providing the factual basis for this determination, and the reasoning should be clear.

    This final rule conforms the existing DOT drug-testing panel to recently issued HHS Mandatory Guidelines and, with certain minor amendments (mostly editorial), to improve the efficiency of the DOT drug-testing program. The net costs of this rule do not constitute a significant burden to any entity, small or otherwise. Consequently, the DOT certifies, under the RFA, that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Federalism

    This rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 (“Federalism”). This rule does not include requirements that (1) have substantial direct effects on the States, the relationship between the national government and the States, or the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, (2) impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local governments, or (3) preempt State law. Therefore, the consultation and funding requirements of Executive Order 13132 do not apply.

    Paperwork Reduction Act/Privacy Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act requires that the DOT consider the impact of paperwork and other information collection burdens imposed on the public. Information collections for Part 40 currently are approved under OMB Control No. 2105-0529. The Privacy Act provides safeguards against invasion of personal privacy through the misuse of records by Federal Agencies. It establishes controls over what personal information is collected, maintained, used and disseminated by agencies in the executive branch of the Federal government.

    This rule does not create any new paperwork or other information collection burdens needing approval, nor would it require any further protections under the Privacy Act.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    The Department has analyzed the environmental impacts of this action pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and has determined that it is categorically excluded pursuant to DOT Order 5610.1C, Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (44 FR 56420, Oct. 1, 1979). Categorical exclusions are actions identified in an agency's NEPA implementing procedures that do not normally have a significant impact on the environment and therefore do not require either an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS). See 40 CFR 1508.4. In analyzing the applicability of a categorical exclusion, Federal agencies also must consider whether extraordinary circumstances are present that would warrant the preparation of an EA or EIS. This rule does not meet any of these criteria. The Department does not anticipate any environmental impacts, and there are no extraordinary circumstances present in connection with this rulemaking.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1531-1538) does not require a written statement for this final rule because the rule does not include a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure in any one year of $155,000,000 or more by State, local, and tribal governments, or the private sector.

    Executive Order 13771: Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

    Executive Order 13771 titled “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” directs that, unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed. In addition, any new incremental costs associated with new regulations shall, to the extent permitted by law, be offset by the elimination of existing costs. This rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866.

    List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 40

    Administrative practice and procedures, Alcohol abuse, Alcohol testing, Drug abuse, Drug testing, Laboratories, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Safety, Transportation.

    The Final Rule

    For reasons discussed in the preamble, the Department of Transportation is amending part 40 of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

    PART 40—PROCEDURES FOR TRANSPORTATION WORKPLACE DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING PROGRAMS 1. The authority citation for 49 CFR part 40 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 102, 301, 322, 5331, 20140, 31306, and 54101 et seq.

    2. Amend § 40.3 as follows: a. Revise the definition of “Alcohol screening device (ASD)”; b. Remove the definition “Blind specimen or blind performance test specimen”; c. Revise and reorder (in correct alphabetical order) the definition “DOT, the Department, DOT Agency”; d. Revise the definition “Drugs”; and e. Revise the definition of “Evidential breath testing device (EBT)”.

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 40.3 What do the terms used in this part mean?

    Alcohol screening device (ASD). A breath or saliva device, other than an EBT, that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and appears on ODAPC's Web page for “Approved Screening Devices to Measure Alcohol in Bodily Fluids” because it conforms to the model specifications from NHTSA.

    DOT, The Department, DOT Agency. These terms encompass all DOT agencies, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the Office of the Secretary (OST). For purposes of this part, the United States Coast Guard (USCG), in the Department of Homeland Security, is considered to be a DOT agency for drug testing purposes only since the USCG regulation does not incorporate Part 40 for its alcohol testing program. These terms include any designee of a DOT agency.

    Drugs. The drugs for which tests are required under this part and DOT agency regulations are marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), and opioids.

    Evidential Breath Testing Device (EBT). A device that is approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the evidential testing of breath at the .02 and .04 alcohol concentrations, and appears on ODAPC's Web page for “Approved Evidential Breath Measurement Devices” because it conforms with the model specifications available from NHTSA.

    3. Revise § 40.26 to read as follows:
    § 40.26 What form must an employer use to report Management Information System data to a DOT agency?

    As an employer, when you are required to report MIS data to a DOT agency, you must use the U.S. Department of Transportation Drug and Alcohol Testing MIS Data Collection Form to report that data. You must use the form at appendix H to this part. You may view and download the instructions on the Department's Web site (https://www.transportation.gov/odapc). You must submit the MIS report in accordance with rule requirements (e.g., dates for submission, selection of companies required to submit, and method of reporting) established by the DOT agency regulating your operation.

    § 40.29 [Amended]
    4. Amend § 40.29 by removing the entry “§§ 40.103-40.105—Blind specimen requirements.” 5. Amend § 40.33 by revising paragraphs (a) and (d) to read as follows:
    § 40.33 What training requirements must a collector meet?

    (a) Basic information. You must be knowledgeable about this part, the current “DOT Urine Specimen Collection Procedures Guidelines,” and DOT agency regulations applicable to the employers for whom you perform collections. DOT agency regulations, the DOT Urine Specimen Collection Procedures Guidelines, and other materials are available from ODAPC (Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington DC, 20590, 202-366-3784, or on the ODAPC Web site (https://www.transportation.gov/odapc). You must keep current on any changes to these materials. You must subscribe to the ODAPC list-serve at: https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/get-odapc-email-updates.

    (d) You must meet the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section before you begin to perform collector functions.

    § 40.37 [Amended]
    6. Amend § 40.37 by removing the entry “§ 40.103—Processing blind specimens.”
    § 40.45 [Amended]
    7. Amend § 40.45(a) by removing the parenthetical “(http://www.dot.gov/odapc)” and adding, in its place “(http://www.transportation.gov/odapc)” and § 40.45(b) by removing the parenthetical “(e.g., that after November 30, 2011, they must not use an expired CCF for DOT urine collections)” 8. Amend § 40.67 by revising paragraph (n) to read as follows:
    § 40.67 When and how is a directly observed collection conducted?

    (n) As a service agent, when you learn that a directly observed collection should have been collected but was not, you must inform the employer that it must direct the employee to have an immediate recollection under direct observation.

    9. Amend § 40.83 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:
    § 40.83 How do laboratories process incoming specimens?

    (c) You must inspect each specimen and CCF for the following “fatal flaws:”

    (1) There is no CCF;

    (2) In cases where a specimen has been collected, there is no specimen submitted with the CCF;

    (3) There is no printed collector's name and no collector's signature;

    (4) Two separate collections are performed using one CCF;

    (5) The specimen ID numbers on the specimen bottle and the CCF do not match;

    (6) The specimen bottle seal is broken or shows evidence of tampering, unless a split specimen can be redesignated (see paragraph (h) of this section);

    (7) There is an insufficient amount of urine in the primary bottle for analysis, unless the specimens can be redesignated (see paragraph (h) of this section).

    10. Revise § 40.85 to read as follows:
    § 40.85 What drugs do laboratories test for?

    As a laboratory, you must test for the following five drugs or classes of drugs in a DOT drug test. You must not test “DOT specimens” for any other drugs.

    (a) Marijuana metabolites.

    (b) Cocaine metabolites.

    (c) Amphetamines.

    (d) Opioids.

    (e) Phencyclidine (PCP).

    11. Amend § 40.87 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 40.87 What are the cutoff concentrations for drug tests?

    (a) As a laboratory, you must use the cutoff concentrations displayed in the following table for initial and confirmatory drug tests. All cutoff concentrations are expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The table follows:

    Initial test analyte Initial test cutoff 1 Confirmatory test analyte Confirmatory test cutoff concentration Marijuana metabolites (THCA) 2 50 ng/mL3 THCA 15 ng/mL. Cocaine metabolite (Benzoylecgonine) 150 ng/mL 3 Benzoylecgonine 100 ng/mL. Codeine/
  • Morphine
  • 2000 ng/mL Codeine
  • Morphine
  • 2000 ng/mL.
  • 2000 ng/mL.
  • Hydrocodone/
  • Hydromorphone
  • 300 ng/mL Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • 100 ng/mL.
  • 100 ng/mL.
  • Oxycodone/
  • Oxymorphone
  • 100 ng/mL Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • 100 ng/mL.
  • 100 ng/mL.
  • 6-Acetylmorphine 10 ng/mL 6-Acetylmorphine 10 ng/mL. Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL Phencyclidine 25 ng/mL. Amphetamine/
  • Methamphetamine
  • 500 ng/mL Amphetamine
  • Methamphetamine
  • 250 ng/mL.
  • 250 ng/mL.
  • MDMA 4/MDA 5 500 ng/mL MDMA
  • MDA
  • 250 ng/mL.
  • 250 ng/mL.
  • 1 For grouped analytes (i.e., two or more analytes that are in the same drug class and have the same initial test cutoff): Immunoassay: The test must be calibrated with one analyte from the group identified as the target analyte. The cross-reactivity of the immunoassay to the other analyte(s) within the group must be 80 percent or greater; if not, separate immunoassays must be used for the analytes within the group. Alternate technology: Either one analyte or all analytes from the group must be used for calibration, depending on the technology. At least one analyte within the group must have a concentration equal to or greater than the initial test cutoff or, alternatively, the sum of the analytes present (i.e., equal to or greater than the laboratory's validated limit of quantification) must be equal to or greater than the initial test cutoff. 2 An immunoassay must be calibrated with the target analyte, Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (THCA). 3Alternate technology (THCA and Benzoylecgonine): When using an alternate technology initial test for the specific target analytes of THCA and Benzoylecgonine, the laboratory must use the same cutoff for the initial and confirmatory tests (i.e., 15 ng/mL for THCA and 100ng/mL for Benzoylecgonine). 4 Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). 5 Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA).
    § 40.103 [Removed]
    12. Remove § 40.103.
    § 40.105 [Removed]
    13. Remove § 40.105. 14. Amend § 40.121 by revising paragraphs (b)(3) and (c)(3), and the paragraph (d) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 40.121 Who is qualified to act as an MRO?

    (b) * * *

    (3) You must be knowledgeable about this part, the DOT MRO Guidelines, and the DOT agency regulations applicable to the employers for whom you evaluate drug test results, and you must keep current on any changes to these materials. You must subscribe to the ODAPC list-serve at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/get-odapc-email-updates. DOT agency regulations, DOT MRO Guidelines, and other materials are available from ODAPC (Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590, 202-366-3784), or on the ODAPC Web site (http://www.transportation.gov/odapc).

    (c) * * *

    (3) You must meet the requirements of paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section before you begin to perform MRO functions.

    (d) Requalification training. During each five-year period from the date on which you satisfactorily completed the examination under paragraph (c)(2) of this section, you must complete requalification training.

    15. Amend § 40.123 by revising paragraph (e) to read as follows:
    § 40.123 What are the MRO's responsibilities in the DOT drug testing program?

    (e) You must act to investigate and correct problems where possible and notify appropriate parties (e.g., HHS, DOT, employers, service agents) where assistance is needed, (e.g., cancelled or problematic tests, incorrect results).

    16. Amend § 40.135 by revising paragraph (e) to read as follows:
    § 40.135 What does the MRO tell the employee at the beginning of the verification interview?

    (e) You must also advise the employee that, before informing any third party about any medication the employee is using pursuant to a legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act, you will allow 5 business days from the date you report the verified negative result for the employee to have the prescribing physician contact you to determine if the medication can be changed to one that does not make the employee medically unqualified or does not pose a significant safety risk. If, in your reasonable medical judgment, a medical qualification issue or a significant safety risk remains after you communicate with the employee's prescribing physician or after 5 business days, whichever is shorter, you must follow § 40.327. If, as the MRO, you receive information that eliminates the medical qualification issue or significant safety risk, you must transmit this information to any third party to whom you previously provided information under § 40.327.

    17. Amend § 40.137 by revising the section heading and paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 40.137 On what basis does the MRO verify test results involving marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, semi-synthetic opioids, or PCP?

    (a) As the MRO, you must verify a confirmed positive test result for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, semi-synthetic opioids (i.e., hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone), and/or PCP unless the employee presents a legitimate medical explanation for the presence of the drug(s)/metabolite(s) in his or her system. In determining whether an employee's legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act for a substance in these categories constitutes a legitimate medical explanation, you must not question whether the prescribing physician should have prescribed the substance.

    18. Amend § 40.139 by revising the section heading and paragraphs (c) introductory text and (c)(3) to read as follows:
    § 40.139 On what basis does the MRO verify test results involving 6-acetylmorphine, codeine, and morphine?

    (c) For all other codeine and morphine positive results, you must verify a confirmed positive test result only if you determine that there is clinical evidence, in addition to the urine test, of unauthorized use of any opium, opiate, or opium derivative (i.e., morphine, codeine, or heroin).

    (3) To be the basis of a verified positive result for codeine or morphine, the clinical evidence you find must concern a drug that the laboratory found in the specimen. (For example, if the test confirmed the presence of codeine, and the employee admits to unauthorized use of hydrocodone, you must not verify the test positive for codeine. The admission must be for the substance that was found through the actual drug test.)

    19. Amend § 40.141 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 40.141 How does the MRO obtain information for the verification decision?

    (b) If the employee asserts that the presence of a drug or drug metabolite in his or her specimen results from taking prescription medication (i.e., a legally valid prescription consistent with the Controlled Substances Act), you must review and take all reasonable and necessary steps to verify the authenticity of all medical records the employee provides. You may contact the employee's physician or other relevant medical personnel for further information. You may request an HHS-certified laboratory with validated protocols (see § 40.81(c)) to conduct testing for D,L stereoisomers of amphetamine and methamphetamine or testing for tetrahydrocannabivarin (THC- V) when verifying lab results, as you determine necessary.

    20. Amend § 40.162 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:
    § 40.162 What must MROs do with multiple verified results for the same testing event?

    (c) As an exception to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, as the MRO, you must follow procedures at § 40.159(g) when any verified non-negative result is also invalid.

    § 40.169 [Amended]
    21. Amend § 40.169 by removing the entry “§ 40.105—Notification of discrepancies in blind specimen results.”
    § 40.189 [Amended]
    22. Amend § 40.189 by removing the entry “§ 40.103—Blind split specimens.” 23. Amend § 40.193 by revising paragraph (b)(4) to read as follows:
    § 40.193 What happens when an employee does not provide a sufficient amount of urine for a drug test?

    (b) * * *

    (4) If the employee has not provided a sufficient specimen within three hours of the first unsuccessful attempt to provide the specimen, you must discontinue the collection, note the fact on the “Remarks” line of the CCF (Step 2), and immediately notify the DER. You must also discard any specimen the employee previously provided to include any specimen that is “out of temperature range” or shows signs of tampering. In the remarks section of the CCF that you will distribute to the MRO and DER, note the fact that the employee provided an “out of temperature range specimen” or “specimen that shows signs of tampering” and that it was discarded because the employee did not provide a second sufficient specimen.

    24. Amend § 40.199 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 40.199 What problems always cause a drug test to be cancelled?

    (b) The following are “fatal flaws”:

    (1) There is no CCF;

    (2) In cases where a specimen has been collected, there is no specimen submitted with the CCF;

    (3) There is no printed collector's name and no collector's signature;

    (4) Two separate collections are performed using one CCF;

    (5) The specimen ID numbers on the specimen bottle and the CCF do not match;

    (6) The specimen bottle seal is broken or shows evidence of tampering (and a split specimen cannot be re-designated, see § 40.83(h)); or

    (7) Because of leakage or other causes, there is an insufficient amount of urine in the primary specimen bottle for analysis and the specimens cannot be re-designated (see § 40.83(h)).

    25. Amend § 40.203 by revising paragraph (d)(3) to read as follows:
    § 40.203 What problems cause a drug test to be cancelled unless they are corrected?

    (d) * * *

    (3) The collector uses a non-Federal form or an expired CCF for the test. This flaw may be corrected through the procedure set forth in § 40.205(b)(2), provided that the collection testing process has been conducted in accordance with the procedures in this part in an HHS-certified laboratory.

    26. Add § 40.210 to subpart I to read as follows:
    § 40.210 Are drug tests other than urine permitted under the regulations?

    No. Drug tests other than on urine specimens are not authorized for testing under this part. Only urine specimens screened and confirmed at HHS certified laboratories (see § 40.81) are allowed for drug testing under this part. Point-of-collection urine testing or instant tests are not authorized.

    27. Amend § 40.213 by revising paragraphs (a), (d), and (e) to read as follows:
    § 40.213 What training requirements must STTs and BATs meet?

    (a) You must be knowledgeable about the alcohol testing procedures in this part and the current DOT guidance. Procedures and guidance are available from ODAPC (Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, 202-366-3784, or on the ODAPC Web site, http://www.transportation.gov/odapc). You must keep current on any changes to these materials. You must subscribe to the ODAPC list-serve at (https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/get-odapc-email-updates).

    (d) You must meet the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section before you begin to perform STT or BAT functions.

    (e) Refresher training. No less frequently than every five years from the date on which you satisfactorily complete the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, you must complete refresher training that meets all the requirements of paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section.

    § 40.225 [Amended]
    28. Amend § 40.225(a) by removing the parenthetical “(http://www.dot.gov/dapc)” and adding, in its place “(http://www.transportation.gov/odapc)” 29. Revise § 40.229 to read as follows:
    § 40.229 What devices are used to conduct alcohol screening tests?

    ASDs listed on ODAPC's Web page for “Approved Screening Devices to Measure Alcohol in Bodily Fluids” and EBTs listed on ODAPC's Web page for “Approved Evidential Breath Measurement Devices” are the only devices you are allowed to use to conduct alcohol screening tests under this part. You may use an ASD for DOT alcohol tests only if there are instructions for its use in this part. An ASD can be used only for screening tests for alcohol, and must not be used for confirmation tests.

    30. Amend § 40.231 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 40.231 What devices are used to conduct alcohol confirmation tests?

    (a) EBTs on ODAPC's Web page for “Approved Evidential Breath Measurement Devices” that meet the requirements of paragraph (b) of this section are the only devices you may use to conduct alcohol confirmation tests under this part.

    31. Amend § 40.233 by revising paragraphs (a) introductory text and (c)(4) to read as follows:
    § 40.233 What are the requirements for proper use and care of EBTs?

    (a) As an EBT manufacturer, you must submit, for NHTSA approval, a quality assurance plan (QAP) for your EBT before ODAPC places the EBT on its Web page for “Approved Evidential Breath Measurement Devices.”

    (c) * * *

    (4) You must maintain records of the inspection, maintenance, and calibration of EBTs as provided in § 40.333(a)(3).

    32. Amend § 40.235 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 40.235 What are the requirements for proper use and care of ASDs?

    (a) As an ASD manufacturer, you must submit, for NHTSA approval, a QAP for your ASD before NHTSA approves it and ODAPC places the device on its Web page for “Approved Screening Devices to Measure Alcohol in Bodily Fluids”. Your QAP must specify the methods used for quality control checks, temperatures at which the ASD must be stored and used, the shelf life of the device, and environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, altitude, humidity) that may affect the ASD's performance.

    33. Amend § 40.281 by revising paragraphs (a)(6), (b)(3), and (c)(3) to read as follows:
    § 40.281 Who is qualified to act as a SAP?

    (a) * * *

    (6) You are a drug and alcohol counselor certified by an organization listed at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/sap.

    (b) * * *

    (3) You must be knowledgeable about this part, the DOT agency regulations applicable to the employers for whom you evaluate employees, and the DOT SAP Guidelines. You must keep current on any changes to these materials. You must subscribe to the ODAPC list-serve at https://www.transportation.gov/odapc/get-odapc-email-updates. DOT agency regulations, DOT SAP Guidelines, and other materials are available from ODAPC (Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington DC, 20590 (202-366-3784), or on the ODAPC Web site (http://www.transportation.gov/odapc).

    (c) * * *

    (3) You must meet the requirements of paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section before you begin to perform SAP functions.

    34. Amend § 40.331 by revising paragraph (f) to read as follows:
    § 40.331 To what additional parties must employers and service agents release information?

    (f) Except as otherwise provided in this part, as a laboratory you must not release or provide a specimen or a part of a specimen to a requesting party, without first obtaining written consent from ODAPC. DNA testing and other types of identity testing are not authorized and ODAPC will not give permission for such testing. If a party seeks a court order directing you to release a specimen or part of a specimen contrary to any provision of this part, you must take necessary legal steps to contest the issuance of the order (e.g., seek to quash a subpoena, citing the requirements of § 40.13). This part does not require you to disobey a court order, however.

    35. Amend § 40.365 by revising paragraph (b)(10) to read as follows:
    § 40.365 What is the Department's policy concerning starting a PIE proceeding?

    (b) * * *

    (10) For any service agent, falsely representing that the service agent or its activities is approved or certified by the Department or a DOT agency (such representation includes, but is not limited to, the use of a Department or DOT agency logo, title, or emblem).

    § 40.401 [Amended]
    36. Amend § 40.401(a) by removing the parenthetical “(http://www.dot.gov/ost/dapc)” and adding, in its place “(http://www.transportation.gov/odapc)” 37. Revise Appendix B to Part 40 to read as follows: Appendix B to Part 40—DOT Drug-Testing Semi-Annual Laboratory Report to Employers

    The following items are required on each laboratory report:

    Reporting Period: (inclusive dates) Laboratory Identification: (name and address) Employer Identification: (name; may include Billing Code or ID code) C/TPA Identification: (where applicable; name and address) 1. Specimen Results Reported (total number) By Test Reason (a) Pre-employment (number) (b) Post-Accident (number) (c) Random (number) (d) Reasonable Suspicion/Cause (number) (e) Return-to-Duty (number) (f) Follow-up (number) (g) Type of Test Not Noted on CCF (number) 2. Specimens Reported (a) Negative (number) (b) Negative and Dilute (number) 3. Specimens Reported as Rejected for Testing (total number) By Reason (a) Fatal flaw (number) (b) Uncorrected Flaw (number) 4. Specimens Reported as Positive (total number) By Drug (a) Marijuana Metabolite (number) (b) Cocaine Metabolite (number) (c) Opioids (number) (1) Codeine (number) (2) Morphine (number) (3) 6-AM (number) (4) Hydrocodone (number) (5) Hydromorphone (number) (6) Oxycodone (number) (7) Oxymorphone (number) (d) Phencyclidine (number) (e) Amphetamines (number) (1) Amphetamine (number) (2) Methamphetamine (number) (3) MDMA (number) (4) MDA (number) 5. Adulterated (number) 6. Substituted (number) 7. Invalid Result (number)
    38. Revise Appendix C to Part 40 to read as follows: Appendix C to Part 40—DOT Drug-Testing Semi-Annual Laboratory Report to DOT

    Mail, fax, or email to:

    U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, W62-300, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, Fax: (202) 366-3897, Email: [email protected].

    The following items are required on each report:

    Reporting Period: (inclusive dates) Laboratory Identification: (name and address) 1. DOT Specimen Results Reported (total number) 2. Negative Results Reported (total number) Negative (number) Negative-Dilute (number) 3. Rejected for Testing Results Reported (total number) By Reason (a) Fatal flaw (number) (b) Uncorrected Flaw (number) 4. Positive Results Reported (total number) By Drug (a) Marijuana Metabolite (number) (b) Cocaine Metabolite (number) (c) Opioids (number) (1) Codeine (number) (2) Morphine (number) (3) 6-AM (number) (4) Hydrocodone (number) (5) Hydromorphone (number) (6) Oxycodone (number) (7) Oxymorphone (number) (d) Phencyclidine (number) (e) Amphetamines (number) (1) Amphetamine (number) (2) Methamphetamine (number) (3) MDMA (number) (4) MDA (number) 5. Adulterated Results Reported (total number) By Reason (number) 6. Substituted Results Reported (total number) 7. Invalid Results Reported (total number) By Reason (number)
    39. Revise Appendix D to Part 40 to read as follows: Appendix D to Part 40—Report Format: Split Specimen Failure To Reconfirm

    Mail, fax, or submit electronically to:

    U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance, W62-300, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, Fax: (202) 366-3897. Submit Electronically: https://www.transportation.gov/content/split-specimen-cancellation-notification-49-cfr-part-40187-appendix-d

    The following items are required on each report:

    1. MRO name, address, phone number, and fax number.

    2. Collection site name, address, and phone number.

    3. Date of collection.

    4. Specimen I.D. number.

    5. Laboratory accession number.

    6. Primary specimen laboratory name, address, and phone number.

    7. Date result reported or certified by primary laboratory.

    8. Split specimen laboratory name, address, and phone number.

    9. Date split specimen result reported or certified by split specimen laboratory.

    10. Primary specimen results (e.g., name of drug, adulterant) in the primary specimen.

    11. Reason for split specimen failure-to-reconfirm result (e.g., drug or adulterant not present, specimen invalid, split not collected, insufficient volume).

    12. Actions taken by the MRO (e.g., notified employer of failure to reconfirm and requirement for recollection).

    13. Additional information explaining the reason for cancellation.

    14. Name of individual submitting the report (if not the MRO)

    40. Amend Appendix H to Part 40 by: a. Revising the introductory text; and b. Removing the instruction sheet entitled: “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION DRUG AND ALCOHOL TESTING MIS DATA COLLECTION FORM INSTRUCTION SHEET”.

    The revision reads as follows:

    Appendix H to Part 40—DOT Drug and Alcohol Testing Management Information System (MIS) Data Collection Form

    The following form is the MIS Data Collection form required for use to report calendar year MIS data.

    Issued in Washington, DC on November 3, 2017. Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of Transportation.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24397 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 121004518-3398-01] RIN 0648-XF815 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for Gulf Gray Triggerfish AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS implements accountability measures for commercial gray triggerfish in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) through this temporary rule. NMFS projects commercial landings for gray triggerfish will reach the commercial annual catch target (ACT)(commercial quota) by November 18, 2017. Therefore, NMFS is closing the commercial sector for gray triggerfish in the Gulf EEZ on November 18, 2017. This closure is necessary to protect the gray triggerfish resource.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective 12:01 a.m., local time, November 18, 2017, until January 1, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kelli O'Donnell, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The reef fish fishery of the Gulf includes gray triggerfish and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the Gulf Fishery Management Council and is implemented under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622. All gray triggerfish weights discussed in this temporary rule are in round weight.

    On August 4, 2008, NMFS established gray triggerfish accountability measures as well as commercial quotas for gray triggerfish through Amendment 30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139). On May 9, 2013, NMFS issued a final rule to implement Amendment 37 to the FMP (78 FR 27084). In part, Amendment 37 revised gray triggerfish commercial annual catch limits (ACLs) and ACTS.

    Under 50 CFR 622.41(b)(1), NMFS is required to close the commercial sector for gray triggerfish when the commercial quota is reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for Gulf gray triggerfish of 60,900 lb (27,624 kg) will be reached by November 18, 2017. Accordingly, the commercial sector for Gulf gray triggerfish is closed effective 12:01 a.m., local time, November 18, 2017, until the start of the next commercial fishing season on January 1, 2018.

    The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for Gulf reef fish having gray triggerfish onboard must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such gray triggerfish prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, November 18, 2017. During the closure, the sale or purchase of gray triggerfish taken from the Gulf EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on the sale or purchase does not apply to gray triggerfish that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, November 18, 2017, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

    The recreational sector for gray triggerfish is also closed through December 31, 2017. Therefore all harvest or possession of gray triggerfish is prohibited until the start of the new fishing year (50 CFR 622.39(b)). The commercial and recreational sectors for gray triggerfish will reopen on January 1, 2018, the beginning of the 2018 gray triggerfish fishing year.

    Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of gray triggerfish and the Gulf reef fish fishery and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.41(b)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the temporary rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment.

    This action responds to the best scientific information available. The NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries (AA), finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the commercial sector for gray triggerfish constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such procedures are unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the final rule implementing Amendment 37 (78 FR 27084; May 9, 2013), which established the closure provision for commercial gray triggerfish, have already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Such procedures are contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement this action to protect gray triggerfish since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and could potentially result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial quota.

    For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24519 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 151130999-6594-02] RIN 0648-XF807 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; Quota Transfer AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; quota transfer.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS announces that the State of North Carolina is transferring a portion of its 2017 commercial bluefish quota to the State of Rhode Island. This quota adjustment is necessary to comply with the Atlantic Bluefish Fishery Management Plan quota transfer provisions. This announcement informs the public of the revised commercial quotas for North Carolina and Rhode Island.

    DATES:

    Effective November 7, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cynthia Hanson, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281-9180.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations governing the Atlantic bluefish fishery are found in 50 CFR 648.160 through 648.167. The regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned among the coastal states from Maine through Florida. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state are described in § 648.162 and the initial 2017 allocations were published on March 13, 2017 (82 FR 13402).

    The final rule implementing Amendment 1 to the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2000 (65 FR 45844), and provided a mechanism for transferring bluefish quota from one state to another. Two or more states, under mutual agreement and with the concurrence of the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator, can request approval of a transfer of bluefish commercial quota under § 648.162(e)(1)(i) through (iii). The Regional Administrator must first approve any such transfer based on the criteria in § 648.162(e).

    North Carolina is transferring 100,000 lb (45,359 kg) of Atlantic bluefish commercial quota to Rhode Island. This transfer was requested by state officials in Rhode Island to ensure their 2017 commercial bluefish quota would not be exceeded. Both states have agreed to the transfer and certified that it meets all pertinent state requirements. The revised bluefish quotas for calendar year 2017 are now: North Carolina, 2,638,704 lb (1,196,896 kg); and Rhode Island, 681,563 lb (309,152 kg); based on the initial quotas published in the 2016-2018 Atlantic Bluefish Specifications and subsequent transfers.

    Classification

    This action is taken under 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24534 Filed 11-7-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 217 Monday, November 13, 2017 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE National Institute of Food and Agriculture 7 CFR Part 3419 RIN 0524-AA68 Matching Funds Requirements for Agricultural Research and Extension Capacity Funds at 1890 Land-Grant Institutions and 1862 Land-Grant Institutions in Insular Areas AGENCY:

    National Institute of Food and Agriculture

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule and withdrawal of proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) withdraws the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (RIN 0524-AA25) published on April 29, 2003. In addition, NIFA proposes to revise its regulations for the purpose of implementing the statutory amendments applicable to the matching requirements for Federal agricultural research and extension capacity (formula) funds for 1890 land-grant institutions (LGUs), including Central State University, Tuskegee University, and West Virginia State University, and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas, and to remove the term “qualifying educational activities.” These matching requirements were amended by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act; the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; and the Agricultural Act of 2014.

    DATES:

    As of November 13, 2017, the proposed rule published April 29, 2003, at 68 FR 23013, is withdrawn. Submit comments on the proposed rule on or before January 12, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You must submit comments, identified by 7 CFR part 3419, electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions online for submitting comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Maggie Ewell, Senior Policy Advisor, 202-401-0222.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background and Purpose

    The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is revising part 3419 of Title 7, subtitle B, chapter XXXIV of the Code of Federal Regulations which implements the matching requirements provided under section 1449 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (NARETPA) for agricultural research and extension capacity (formula) funds authorized for the 1890 land-grant institutions, including Central State University, Tuskegee University, and West Virginia State University and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas. This revision is required due to the statutory amendments of sections 7212 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA); section 7127 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; and section 7129 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. Additionally, NIFA is making changes to the Definitions and Use of Matching Funds sections to provide clarity on allowable uses of matching funds. NIFA rescinds the previous, not yet finalized, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on April 29, 2003, RIN 0524-AA25 (68 FR 23013).

    § 3419.1 Definitions. The definition of eligible institution was updated to include West Virginia State University (formerly West Virginia State College) and Central State University. Section 753 of the Agricultural, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2002 (Pub. L. 107-76) restored 1890 land-grant institution status to West Virginia State College. In 2004, the West Virginia Legislature approved West Virginia State College's transition to University status. Central State University was recognized as an 1890 land-grant institution under section 7129 of the Agricultural Act of 2014.

    In 2014, NIFA re-branded its formula grant programs as “capacity grants.” Therefore, the definition of formula funds is changed to reflect this terminology, capacity funds, and the words “by formula” were inserted to clarify that capacity funds are provided by formula to eligible institutions.

    The term and definition for qualifying educational activities was removed due to the fact that this term has caused confusion regarding what constitutes an allowable qualifying educational activity. NIFA follows the authorized uses of funds in NARETPA, codified at 7 U.S.C. 3221 and 3222, for extension and research programs. Research funds are for conducting agricultural research, printing, disseminating the results of research, administration, planning and direction, purchase and rental of land, and the construction, acquisition, alteration, or repair of buildings necessary for conducting agricultural research. Extension funds are for the expenses of conducting extension programs and activities. 7 U.S.C. 3221(e) expressly prohibits extension funds from being spent on college course teaching or lectures in college.

    NARETPA also contains definitions that explain the difference between education in conjunction with extension programs and education and teaching. Extension education is defined as “informal” while teaching and education is defined as “formal classroom instruction,” which is expressly prohibited under 7 U.S.C. 3221(e).

    Because the authorized uses related to education expenses are clearly outlined in NARETPA and in 7 U.S.C. 3221 and 3222, NIFA does not see value in including the term “qualifying educational activity” as a term in regulation and, further, wants to ensure there is no conflict between its regulatory authorizations and the law. Therefore, NIFA is removing the term “qualifying educational activity” and will allow only informal educational activities, as authorized by statute.

    § 3419.2 Matching funds requirements. Revisions to this section were required due to statutory amendments of sections 7212 of FSRIA; section 7127 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008; and section 7129 of the Agricultural Act of 2014. The information regarding Fiscal Years 2000, 2001, and 2002 were removed as they are outdated and no longer applicable. NIFA proposes replacing this text with the matching requirements for 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas for the Smith-Lever 3(b) and (c) program (7 U.S.C. 343(e)(4)(A)) and the Hatch Act program (7 U.S.C. 361c(d)(4)(A)), which state that insular areas will provide matching funds from non-Federal sources in an amount equal to not less than 50 percent of the formula funds distributed by NIFA to each of the 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas, respectively. NIFA proposes replacing existing text with the matching requirement to the Evans Allen/Section 1445 fund program (7 U.S.C. 3222d) and Extension/Section 1444 fund programs (7 U.S.C. 3221) which state that the State will provide equal matching funds from non-Federal sources.

    § 3419.3 Limited Waiver Authority. The section entitled, “Determination of non-Federal sources of funds,” § 3419.3, has been removed, because it reiterated a statutory requirement to submit, in the year 1999, a report on non-Federal funds used as match to be submitted. There is no further statutory requirement or authority to submit reports on the sources of non-Federal funds, therefore NIFA proposes the removal of this section. Section 3419.4 Limited Waiver Authority will be re-designated as § 3419.3 and modified to include the provisions of 7 U.S.C. 3222d(d): Authorization of a 50% waiver of matching funds authority for 1890 land-grant institutions. Additionally, § 3419.3 includes the authority to waive up to 100% of the required match for 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas that is present in 7 U.S.C. 343(e)(4)(B).

    NIFA also proposes to add to this section a description of the criteria a land-grant institution must demonstrate in order to be eligible for a waiver. The three criteria are: Impacts from natural disaster, flood, fire, tornado, hurricane, or drought; State and/or Institution facing a financial crisis; or lack of matching funds after demonstrating a good faith effort to obtain funds.

    § 3419.4 Application for waivers for both 1890 land-grant institutions and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas. NIFA proposes to add § 3419.4 to outline how 1890 land-grant institutions and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas may request a matching waiver. To request a waiver, the president of the institution must submit in writing a request for a waiver of the matching requirements. The request must include the name of the eligible institution, the type of capacity funds, which would include Section 1444 Extension, Section 1445 Research; Smith-Lever; or Hatch Act; the fiscal year of the match; and the basis of the request, i.e., one or more of the criteria identified in 3419.3. Requests for waivers may be submitted with the application for funds or at any time during the period of performance of the award. Additionally, NIFA includes a requirement for current supporting documentation, where current is defined as within the past two years from the date of the letter requesting the waiver. It is critical that NIFA base its decisions for matching waivers on the current state of affairs within the State and institution. Using older data does not provide adequate rationale for NIFA to waive the statutorily required match for capacity programs.

    § 3419.5 Certification of matching funds. The only proposed change in this section is changing the word “formula” to “capacity,” consistent with the current terminology used by NIFA.

    § 3419.6 Use of matching funds. NIFA proposes minor technical changes to this section, use of the term “capacity” in place of “formula” and “must” in place of “shall.” These technical changes have no impact on the requirements from the existing to the proposed regulation. Additionally, NIFA proposes to add clarifying language that matching funds must be used for the same purpose as Federal dollars as well as a specific prohibition on the use of tuition dollars and student fees as match.

    The intent of the proposed rule is to clarify two requirements. First, the revised proposed rule clarifies that matching funds must be used by an eligible institution for the same purpose as Federal award dollars: Agricultural research and extension activities that have been approved in the plan of work. Second, the revised proposed rule removes the end phrase: “or for approved qualifying educational activities.” As discussed in § 3419.1 Definitions, the use of the phrase “qualifying educational activities” has caused confusion regarding what constitutes an allowable qualifying educational activity. NIFA supports the position, as required under 2 CFR 200.306, that all matching funds must be necessary and reasonable for accomplishment of project or program objectives. In other words, to be allowable as a match, the costs must be allowable under the Federal award. This principle applies to matching funds 1890 land-grant institutions receive for Research and Extension programs, as well as the funds received by 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas for Smith-Lever and Hatch programs.

    NIFA follows the authorized uses of funds in the authorizing statutes for determining what is allowable under the Federal award. For 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas, this would be the authorized uses under 7 U.S.C. 343 for Smith-Lever programs and 7 U.S.C. 361a for Hatch Act programs.

    For 1890 Extension and Research programs, NIFA follows the authorizations included in NARETPA, codified at 7 U.S.C. 3221 and 3222. Research funds are for conducting agricultural research; printing; disseminating the results of research, administration, planning and direction; purchase and rental of land; and the construction, acquisition, alteration, or repair of buildings necessary for conducting agricultural research. Extension funds are for the expenses of conduction extension programs and activities. 7 U.S.C. 3221(e) expressly prohibits extension funds from being spent on college course teaching or lectures in college.

    NARETPA also contains definitions that explain the difference between education in conjunction with extension programs versus education and teaching. Extension education is defined as “informal” while teaching and education is defined as “formal classroom instruction,” which is expressly prohibited under 7 U.S.C. 3221(e).

    Because the authorized uses related to education expenses are clearly outlined in NARETPA and 7 U.S.C. 3221 and 3222, NIFA does not see value in including the term “qualifying educational activity” as a term in regulation and further, wants to ensure there is no conflict between its regulatory authorizations and the law. Therefore, NIFA is removing the term “qualifying educational activity;” however, the removal is intended to prohibit expenditures related to formal education activities. NIFA will allow only informal education activities, as authorized by statute.

    Under 7 U.S.C. 3221(a)(3), funds appropriated for extension must be used for the expenses of conducting extension programs and activities, and for contributing to the retirement of employees subject to the provisions of 7 U.S.C. 331. 7 U.S.C. 3222(e) expressly prohibits extension funds from being spent on college course teaching and lectures in college. Section 1404(7) of NARETPA defines the term extension to mean informal education programs conducted in the States in cooperation with the Department of Education. Therefore, NIFA has determined that the current authorizations allow for informal education programs to be conducted with extension funding, but not for formal classroom instruction.

    7 U.S.C. 3222(a)(3) states that: “research funding must be used for the expenses of conducting agricultural research, printing, disseminating the results of such research, contributing to the retirement of employees subject to the provisions of 7 U.S.C. 331 of this title, administrative planning and direction, and purchase and rental of land and the construction, acquisition, alteration, or repair of buildings necessary for conducting agricultural research.”

    Because the authorizing statutes so clearly identify authorized uses and prohibitions, NIFA believes that no further explanation or inclusion of qualifying educational activities is needed in this regulation.

    § 3419.7 Reporting of matching funds. The revised proposed rule adds a section on reporting of matching funds to clarify an existing requirement that 1890 land-grant institutions and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas report all capacity funds expended on an annual basis using Standard Form (SF) 425, in accordance with 7 CFR part 3430. This ensures that the information on matching funds is reported to NIFA.

    § 3419.8 Redistribution of funds. The revised proposed rule removes the first sentence of the existing provision as the timing of reapportionment may vary. Removing this sentence does not change the statutory requirements for reapportionment. The only significance of the deletion is to remove the July 1 date for action.

    Additionally, one other technical correction is changing “shall” to “must,” consistent with the plain English provisions relating to rulemaking.

    Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 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, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying the costs and benefits of simplifying and harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rulemaking has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    Executive Order 13771

    This proposed rule is not expected to be an EO 13771 regulatory action because this rulemaking is not significant under EO 12866.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This revised proposed rule has been reviewed in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, (5 U.S.C. 601-612). The Director of the NIFA certifies that this proposed regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This proposed regulation will affect institutions of higher education receiving Federal funds under this program. The U.S. Small Business Administration Size Standards define institutions as “small entities” if they are for-profit or nonprofit institutions with total annual revenue below $5,000,000 or if they are institutions controlled by governmental entities with populations below 50,000. The rulemaking does not involve regulatory and informational requirements regarding businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation.

    Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The programs affected by this revised proposed rule are listed in the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance under 10.500, Cooperative Extension Service; and 10.205, Payments to 1890 Land-Grant Colleges and Tuskegee University.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Department certifies that this revised proposed rule has been assessed in accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. The Department concludes that this proposed rule does not impose any new information collection requirements or change the burden estimate on existing information collection requirements. In addition to the SF-424 form families (i.e., Research and Related and Mandatory) and the SF-425 Federal Financial Report (FFR) No. 0348-0061, NIFA has three currently approved OMB information collections associated with this rulemaking: OMB Information Collection No. 0524- 0042, NIFA REEport; No. 0524-0041, NIFA Application Review Process; and No. 0524-0026, Organizational Information.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 and Executive Order 13132

    The Department has reviewed this revised proposed rule in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order No. 13132 and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq., and has found no potential or substantial direct effects 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. As there is no Federal mandate contained herein that could result in increased expenditures by State, local, or tribal governments, or by the private sector, the Department has not prepared a budgetary impact statement.

    Clarity of This Regulation

    Executive Order 12866 and the President's Memorandum of June 1, 1998, require each agency to write all rulemaking in plain language. The Department invites comments on how to make this proposed rule easier to understand.

    List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 3419

    Agricultural extension, Agricultural research; 1890 land-grant institutions; insular areas; 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas; matching funds.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture rescinds the previous Notice of Proposed Rulemaking RIN-0524-AA25 issued April 29, 2003 (68 FR 23013) and proposes to amend 7 CFR part 3419 as follows:

    PART 3419—MATCHING FUNDS REQUIREMENT FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION CAPACITY FUNDS AT 1890 LAND-GRANT INSTITUTIONS, AND 1862 LAND-GRANT INSTITUTIONS IN INSULAR AREAS 1. The authority citation for part 3419 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 3222d; 7 U.S.C. 343(e); 7 U.S.C. 361c; Pub. L. 107-171; Pub. L. 110-234; Pub. L. 113-79

    2. Amend § 3419.1 as follows: a. Add a definition for “Capacity funds”; b. Revise the definition of “Eligible institution”; c. Remove the definition of “Formula funds”; d. Revise the definition of “Matching funds”; e. Remove the definition of “Qualifying educational activities”

    The addition and revisions read as follows:

    § 3419.1 Definitions.

    As used in this part:

    Capacity funds means agricultural extension and research funds provided by formula to the eligible institutions under sections 1444 and 1445 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (NARETPA), as amended, or under sections 3(b) and (c) of the Smith-Lever Act, 7 U.S.C. 343(b) and (c) or under section 3 of the Hatch Act of 1887, 7 U.S.C. 361c.

    Eligible institution means a college or university eligible to receive funds under the Act of August 30, 1890 (7 U.S.C. 321 et seq.) (commonly known as the Second Morrill Act), including Central State University, Tuskegee University, and West Virginia State University (1890 land-grant institutions), and a college or university designated under the Act of July 2, 1862 (7 U.S.C. 301, et seq.) (commonly known as the First Morrill Act) and located in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the insular areas of American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, and the Virgin Islands (1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas).

    Matching funds means funds from non-Federal sources, including those made available by the State to the eligible institutions, for programs or activities that fall within the purposes of agricultural research and cooperative extension under: sections 1444 and 1445 of NARETPA; the Hatch Act of 1887; and the Smith-Lever Act.

    2. Amend § 3419.2 as follows: a. Remove the introductory text; b. Revise Paragraphs (a) and (b).

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 3419.2 Matching funds requirement.

    (a) 1890 land-grant institutions: The distribution of capacity funds are subject to a matching requirement. Matching funds will equal not less than 100% of the capacity funds to be distributed to the institution.

    (b) 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas: The distribution of capacity funds are subject to a matching requirement. Matching funds will equal not less than 50% of the capacity funds to be distributed to the institution.

    § 3419.3 [Removed]
    3. Remove § 3419.3
    § 3419.4 [Redesignated as § 3419.3]
    4. Redesignate § 3419.4 as § 3419.3 and revise it to read as follows:
    § 3419.3 Limited waiver authority.

    (a) 1890 land-grant institutions: The Secretary may waive the matching funds requirement in 7 CFR 3419.2 above the 50% level for any fiscal year for an eligible institution of a State if the Secretary determines that the State will be unlikely to satisfy the matching requirement.

    (b) 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas: The Secretary may waive up to 100% of the matching funds requirements in 7 CFR 3419.2 for any fiscal year for an eligible institution in an insular area.

    (c) The criteria to waive the applicable matching requirement for 1890 land-grant institutions and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas is demonstration of one or more of the following:

    (1) Impacts from natural disaster, flood, fire, tornado, hurricane, or drought;

    (2) State and/or institution facing a financial crisis; or

    (3) Lack of matching funds after demonstration of good faith efforts to obtain funds.

    (d) Approval or disapproval of the request for a waiver will be based on the application submitted, as defined under § 3419.4.

    5. Add new § 3419.4 to read as follows:
    § 3419.4 Applications for waivers for both 1890 land-grant institutions and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas.

    Application for waivers for both 1890 land-grant institutions and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas. The president of the eligible institution must submit any request for a waiver for matching requirements. A waiver application must include the name of the eligible institution, the type of Federal capacity funds (i.e. research, extension, Hatch, etc.), appropriate fiscal year, the basis for the request (e.g. one or more of the criteria identified in § 3419.3); current supporting documentation, where current is defined as within the past two years from the date of the letter requesting the waiver; and the amount of the request.

    § 3419.5 [Amended]
    6. Amend § 3419.5 by removing the word “formula” and adding, in its place, the word “capacity”. 7. Revise § 3419.6 to read as follows:
    § 3419.6 Use of matching funds.

    The required matching funds for the capacity programs must be used by an eligible institution for the same purpose as Federal award dollars: Agricultural research and extension activities that have been approved in the plan of work required under sections 1445(c) and 1444(d) of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977, section 7 of the Hatch Act of 1887, and section 4 of the Smith-Lever Act. For all programs, tuition dollars and student fees may not be used as matching funds.

    § 3419.7 [Redesignated as § 3419.8]
    8. Redesignate § 3419.7 as § 3419.8, and add a new § 3419.7 to read as follows:
    § 3419.7 Reporting of matching funds.

    Institutions will report all capacity matching funds expended annually using Standard Form (SF) 425, in accordance with 7 CFR 3430.56(a).

    9. Revise newly redesignated § 3419.8 to read as follows:
    § 3419.8 Redistribution of Funds.

    Unmatched research and extension funds will be reapportioned in accordance with the research and extension statutory distribution formulas applicable to the 1890 and 1862 land-grant institutions in insular areas, respectively. Any redistribution of funds must be subject to the same matching requirement under § 3419.2.

    Done at Washington, DC, on November 2, 2017. Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24327 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-22-P
    NATIONAL INDIAN GAMING COMMISSION 25 CFR Part 514 Fees AGENCY:

    National Indian Gaming Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Indian Gaming Commission proposes to amend its fee regulations. The proposed rule would require the Commission to adopt annual fee rates no later than November 1 of each year. In addition, the proposed rule defines the fiscal year of the gaming operation that will be used for calculating the fee payments. Finally, the proposed rule includes additional revisions intended to clarify the fee calculation and submission process for gaming operations.

    DATES:

    The agency must receive comments on or before December 28, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

    Email: [email protected]

    Fax: 202-632-7066.

    Mail: National Indian Gaming Commission, 1849 C Street NW., MS 1621, Washington, DC 20240.

    Hand Delivery: National Indian Gaming Commission, 90 K Street NE., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20002, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Austin Badger, National Indian Gaming Commission; Telephone: 202-632-7003.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Comments Invited

    Interested parties are invited to participate in this proposed rulemaking by submitting such written data, views, or arguments as they may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal.

    II. Background

    The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA or Act), Public Law 100-497, 25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq., was signed into law on October 17, 1988. The Act establishes the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC or Commission) and sets out a comprehensive framework for the regulation of gaming on Indian lands. The IGRA established an agency funding framework whereby gaming operations licensed by tribes pay a fee to the Commission for each gaming operation that conducts Class II or Class III gaming activity that is regulated by IGRA. 25 U.S.C. 2717(a)(1). These fees are used to fund the Commission in carrying out its regulatory authority. Fees are based on the gaming operation's gross revenues. The rate of fees is established annually by the Commission and shall be payable on a quarterly basis. 25 U.S.C. 2717(a)(3). IGRA limits the total amount of fees imposed during any fiscal year to 0.08 percent of the gross gaming revenues of all gaming operations subject to regulation under IGRA. Failure of a gaming operation to pay the fees imposed by the Commission's fee schedule can be grounds for a civil enforcement action. 25 U.S.C. 2713(a)(1).

    The purpose of Part 514 is to establish how the NIGC sets and collects those fees, to establish a basic formula for tribes to utilize in calculating the amount of fees to pay, and to advise of the consequences for failure to pay the fees. Part 514 further establishes how the NIGC determines and assesses fingerprint processing fees.

    Under the current fee regulations, the Commission adopts a preliminary fee rate by March 1 and a final fee rate by June 1 of every year. In addition, the NIGC annually reviews the costs involved in processing fingerprint cards and adopts a preliminary rate by March 1 and a final rate by June 1. The Commission believes that the current process would be improved by moving to an annual final fee rate announced on or before November 1 of each year. This change would improve the Commission's analysis and budgeting process and simplify the fee calculation and payment process for gaming operations, thereby reducing the frequency of error in fee calculation. Proposed changes to the fee regulations were therefore included as a topic in a November 22, 2016, letter to tribal leaders introducing the Commission's 2017 consultation series.

    III. Development of the Proposed Rule

    On March 24, 2017, in Tulsa, OK, April 5, 2017, in Scottsdale, AZ, April 13, 2017, in San Diego, CA, April 20, 2017, in Billings, MT, May 4, 2017, in Biloxi, MS, and on May 25, 2017, in Portland, OR, the NIGC consulted with tribes on the proposed change to the fee regulations. In addition, the Commission issued a discussion draft on January 30, 2017, and solicited written comments through July 1, 2017. Comments received were generally supportive of the proposed change to the fee regulations. The Commission developed the proposed rule after carefully considering the comments received.

    A. Assessed Fiscal Year

    The current regulation provides that the annual fee shall be computed using “the most recent rates of fees adopted by the Commission” and “the assessable gross revenues for the previous fiscal year.” As a result, the fee rate applied to a gaming operation's fiscal year changes depending on when the gaming operation's fiscal year ends. For example, if the Commission adopts a fee rate on November 1, 2014 (Rate A), a different fee rate on November 1, 2015 (Rate B), and the gaming operation's fiscal year ends on December 31, the gaming operations quarterly payments would be calculated as follows: (1) First quarter, payable March 31, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014, (2) Second quarter, payable June 30, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014, (3) Third quarter, payable September 30, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014, and (4) Fourth quarter, payable December 31, 2015, would apply Rate B to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014.

    The Commission intends for the annual rate to be applied consistently to a gaming operation's assessable gross revenue for one fiscal year. The proposed rule therefore includes amendments intended to better describe the intended fee calculation. These amendments include defining “assessed fiscal year.” Under the proposed rule, the annual fee shall be computed using the “most recent rates of fees adopted by the Commission” and “the assessable gross revenues for the gaming operation's assessed fiscal year.”

    Assessed fiscal year means the most recent fiscal year ending prior to January 1 of the year the Commission adopted fee rates. For example, if the Commission adopted fee rates on November 1, 2018, the assessed fiscal year would be a gaming operation's fiscal year ending prior to January 1, 2018. For gaming operations with fiscal years ending December 31, the assessed fiscal year would be the fiscal year ending December 31, 2017. For gaming operations with fiscal years ending September 30, the assessed fiscal year would be the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017. For gaming operations with fiscal years ending June 30, the assessed fiscal year would be the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017.

    As a result, under the proposed rule, if the Commission adopts a fee rate on November 1, 2014 (Rate A), a different fee rate on November 1, 2015 (Rate B), and the gaming operation's fiscal year ends on December 31, the gaming operation's quarterly payments would be calculated as follows: (1) First quarter (of the gaming operation's fiscal year), payable March 31, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013, (2) Second quarter, payable June 30, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013, (3) Third quarter, payable September 30, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013, and (4) Fourth quarter, payable December 31, 2015, would apply Rate B to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014. To continue the example, the subsequent quarterly payment, payable March 31, 2016, would apply Rate B to the fiscal year ending December 31, 2014.

    As an additional example, under the proposed rule, if the Commission adopts a fee rate on November 1, 2014 (Rate A), a different fee rate on November 1, 2015 (Rate B), and the gaming operation's fiscal year ends on September 30, the gaming operation's quarterly payments would be calculated as follows: (1) First quarter (of the gaming operation's fiscal year), payable December 31, 2015, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, (2) Second quarter payable March 31, 2016, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, (3) Third quarter payable June 30, 2016, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, (4) Fourth quarter, payable September 30, 2016, would apply Rate A to the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. To continue the example, the subsequent first quarter, payable December 31, 2016, would apply Rate B to the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014.

    B. Fees and Statements Required if a Gaming Operation Ceases Operations

    In the course of developing the proposed rule, the Commission became aware that the current regulations do not describe the fees and statements required of gaming operations that cease operations. Section 514.7(b) of the proposed rule now provides that the gaming operation prepares and submits to the Commission the fees and statements required for the period from the end of the most recent quarter for which fees have been paid through the date the gaming operation ceased operations. For example, if a gaming operation with a September 30 fiscal year end ceases operations on July 31, 2017, the gaming operation will have submitted fees and statements through June 30, 2017. The gaming operation would therefore still owe a payment for the period from July 1, 2017, through July 31, 2017.

    C. Transition Period

    Comment: Some commenters recommended that the Commission take into account the transition period between the current regulation and the final rule, if adopted.

    Response: The Commission agrees and will issue guidance to describe how gaming operations should calculate fee payments during the transition period. The Commission intends for the most recently announced fee rate to carry over until a new fee rate is announced once a final rule is promulgated.

    D. Payment Adjustments

    Comment: Some commenters recommended that the proposed rule make clear the gaming operation's obligations regarding underpayment or overpayment of the annual fee.

    Response: The Commission agrees that payment adjustments are warranted when the gaming operation becomes aware that prior submissions over or underpaid the required fee amount. Section 514.6(d)(5) of the proposed rule provides that the amount to be remitted be adjusted for prior amounts paid and credits received, if applicable. The Commission notes, however, that pursuant to section 571.13 copies of financial statements and audits are required to have been provided to the Commission within 120 days after the end of the gaming operation's fiscal year. Therefore, under the proposed rule, audited financial statements for the assessed fiscal year are required to be complete before a fee payment calculated using the assessed fiscal year is due. The current regulation and the proposed rule continue, however, to require that the quarterly statements must be reconciled with a tribe's audited or reviewed financial statements for each gaming location.

    E. Advanced Payment

    Comment: A commenter sought clarification as to whether the Commission would accept pre-payments under the proposed rule.

    Response: The Commission accepts pre-payments under the current regulations and will continue to do so under the proposed rule. Section 514.5(a) of the proposed rule provides that the annual fee payable to the Commission optionally may be paid in full in the first quarterly payment.

    F. Other Comments

    Comment: A commenter asked whether the NIGC would issue late payment fees instead of issuing a notice of violation when payments are submitted late.

    Response: The Commission notes that the current regulation provides for late fees for payments submitted between one and ninety calendar days late. Statements and/or fee payments over ninety calendar days late constitute a failure to pay and may result in enforcement action. The proposed rule does not substantively amend the late fee or failure to pay provisions of the current regulation.

    Comment: A commenter asked whether the Commission would amend the definition of assessable gross revenue to be consistent with standards set by professional accounting organizations.

    Response: The Commission acknowledges that professional accounting definitions of gross revenue differ from the Commission's definition of assessable gross revenue. While the Commission's definition of assessable gross revenue must remain consistent with the definition for gross revenues contained in IGRA at 25 U.S.C. 2717(a)(6), the proposed rule includes one change intended to conform the Commission's definition of assessable gross revenue with appropriate accounting terminology. The proposed rule removes the word “amortization” from within the phrase “allowance for amortization of capital expenditures for structures” found in section 514.4(c) and 25 U.S.C. 2717(a)(6). The Commission understands that the term depreciation rather than amortization is appropriate for an allowance for capital expenditures for structures. The methods for determining the amount of the allowance provided for in section 514.4(e) remains unchanged.

    Comment: A commenter asked whether the proposed rule would reduce fees for processing fingerprint cards.

    Response: The proposed rule does not affect how the fees for processing fingerprint cards are determined. As provided by the current regulation and proposed rule, the fingerprint processing fee is based on the fees charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the costs incurred by the Commission.

    Regulatory Matters Tribal Consultation

    The National Indian Gaming Commission is committed to fulfilling its tribal consultation obligations—whether directed by statute or administrative action such as Executive Order (E.O.) 13175 (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments)—by adhering to the consultation framework described in its Consultation Policy published July 15, 2013. The NIGC's consultation policy specifies that it will consult with tribes on Commission Action with Tribal Implications, which is defined as: Any Commission regulation, rulemaking, policy, guidance, legislative proposal, or operational activity that may have a substantial direct effect on an Indian tribe on matters including, but not limited to the ability of an Indian tribe to regulate its Indian gaming; an Indian Tribe's formal relationship with the Commission; or the consideration of the Commission's trust responsibilities to Indian tribes. As discussed above, the NIGC engaged in extensive consultation on this topic and received and considered comments in developing this proposed rule.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The proposed rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. Moreover, Indian Tribes are not considered to be small entities for the purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The proposed rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. The rule does not have an effect on the economy of $100 million or more. The rule will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, local government agencies or geographic regions. Nor will the proposed rule have a significant adverse effect on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of the enterprises, to compete with foreign based enterprises.

    Unfunded Mandate Reform Act

    The Commission, as an independent regulatory agency, is exempt from compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502(1); 2 U.S.C. 658(1).

    Takings

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, the Commission has determined that the proposed rule does not have significant takings implications. A takings implication assessment is not required.

    Civil Justice Reform

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Commission has determined that the proposed rule does not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the requirements of section 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of the Order.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    The Commission has determined that the proposed rule does not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment and that no detailed statement is required pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    The information collection requirements contained in this rule were previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as required by 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. and assigned OMB Control Number 3141- 0007, which expired in August of 2011. The NIGC is in the process of reinstating that Control Number.

    List of Subjects in 25 CFR Part 514

    Gambling, Indian—lands, Indian—tribal government, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Therefore, for reasons stated in the preamble, the National Indian Gaming Commission proposes to revise 25 CFR part 514 to read as follows:

    PART 514—FEES Sec. 514.1 What is the purpose of this part? 514.2 When will the annual rates of fees be published? 514.3 What is the maximum fee rate? 514.4 How does a gaming operation calculate the amount of the annual fee it owes? 514.5 When must a gaming operation pay its annual fees? 514.6 What are the quarterly statements that must be submitted with the fee payments? 514.7 What should a gaming operation do if it changes its fiscal year or ceases operations? 514.8 Where should fees, quarterly statements, and other communications about fees be sent? 514.9 What happens if a gaming operation submits its fee payment or quarterly statement late? 514.10 When does a late payment or quarterly statement submission become a failure to pay? 514.11 Can a proposed late fee be appealed? 514.12 When does a notice of late submission and/or a proposed late fee become a final order of the Commission and final agency action? 514.13 How are late submission fees paid, and can interest be assessed? 514.14 What happens if the fees imposed exceed the statutory maximum or if the Commission does not expend the full amount of fees collected in a fiscal year? 514.15 May tribes submit fingerprint cards to the NIGC for processing? 514.16 How does the Commission adopt the fingerprint processing fee? 514.17 How are fingerprint processing fees collected by the Commission? Authority:

    25 U.S.C. 2706, 2710, 2717, 2717a.

    § 514.1 What is the purpose of this part?

    Each gaming operation under the jurisdiction of the Commission, including a gaming operation operated by a tribe with a certificate of self-regulation, shall pay to the Commission annual fees as established by the Commission. The Commission, by a vote of not less than two of its members, shall adopt the rates of fees to be paid.

    § 514.2 When will the annual rates of fees be published?

    (a) The Commission shall adopt the rates of fees no later than November 1st of each year.

    (b) The Commission shall publish the rates of fees in a notice in the Federal Register.

    § 514.3 What is the maximum fee rate?

    (a) The rates of fees imposed shall be—

    (1) No more than 2.5% of the first $1,500,000 of the assessable gross revenues from each gaming operation, and

    (2) No more than 5% of amounts in excess of the first $1,500,000 of the assessable gross revenues from each gaming operation.

    (b) If a tribe has a certificate of self-regulation, the rate of fees imposed on assessable gross revenues from the class II gaming activity shall be no more than 0.25%.

    (c) The total amount of all fees imposed on assessable gross revenues during any fiscal year shall not exceed 0.08% of the assessable gross gaming revenues of all gaming operations.

    § 514.4 How does a gaming operation calculate the amount of the annual fee it owes?

    (a) The amount of annual fees owed shall be computed using:

    (1) The most recent rates of fees adopted by the Commission, and

    (2) The assessable gross revenues for the gaming operation's assessed fiscal year.

    (b) Assessed fiscal year means the gaming operation's fiscal year ending prior to January 1 of the year the Commission adopted fee rates.

    (c) For purposes of computing fees, assessable gross revenues for each gaming operation are the total amount of money wagered on class II and III games, plus entry fees (including table or card fees), less any amounts paid out as prizes or paid for prizes awarded, and less an allowance for capital expenditures for structures as reflected in the gaming operation's audited financial statements.

    (d) Assessable gross revenue tiers. Tier 1 assessable gross revenues are the first $1,500,000 of the assessable gross revenues from each gaming operation. Tier 2 assessable gross revenues are the amounts in excess of the first $1,500,000 of the assessable gross revenues from each gaming operation.

    (e) The allowance for capital expenditures for structures shall be either:

    (1) An amount not to exceed 5% of the cost of structures in use throughout the assessed fiscal year and 2.5% of the cost of structures in use during only a part of the assessed fiscal year; or

    (2) An amount not to exceed 10% of the total amount of depreciation expenses for the assessed fiscal year.

    (f) Unless otherwise provided by regulation, generally accepted accounting principles shall be used.

    § 514.5 When must a gaming operation pay its annual fees?

    (a) Annual fees are payable to the Commission on a quarterly basis. The annual fee payable to the Commission optionally may be paid in full in the first quarterly payment.

    (b) Each gaming operation shall calculate the amount of fees to be paid, if any, and remit them with the quarterly statement required in § 514.6 within three (3) months, six (6) months, nine (9) months, and twelve (12) months of the end of the gaming operation's fiscal year.

    § 514.6 What are the quarterly statements that must be submitted with the fee payments?

    (a) Each gaming operation shall file with the Commission quarterly statements showing its assessable gross revenues for the assessed fiscal year.

    (b) These statements shall show the amounts derived from each type of game, the amounts deducted for prizes, and the amounts deducted for the allowance for capital expenditures for structures.

    (c) The quarterly statements shall identify an individual or individuals to be contacted should the Commission need to communicate further with the gaming operation. A telephone number and email address for each individual identified shall be included.

    (d) Each quarterly statement shall include the computation of the fees payable, showing all amounts used in the calculations. The required calculations are as follows:

    (1) Multiply the Tier 1 assessable gross revenues by the rate for those revenues adopted by the Commission.

    (2) Multiply the Tier 2 assessable gross revenues by the rate for those revenues adopted by the Commission.

    (3) Add (total) the results (products) obtained in paragraphs (d)(1) and (2) of this section.

    (4) Multiply the total obtained in paragraph (d)(3) of this section by 1/4.

    (5) Adjust for prior amounts paid and credits received, if applicable. The gaming operation shall provide a detailed justification for the adjustment.

    (6) The amount computed in paragraph (d)(5) of this section is the amount to be remitted.

    (e) As required by part 571 of this chapter, quarterly statements must be reconciled with a tribe's audited or reviewed financial statements for each gaming location. These reconciliations must be made available upon the request of any authorized representative of the NIGC.

    § 514.7 What should a gaming operation do if it changes its fiscal year or ceases operations?

    (a) If a gaming operation changes its fiscal year, it shall notify the Commission of the change within thirty (30) days. The Commission may request that the gaming operation prepare and submit to the Commission the fees and statements required by this subsection for the stub period from the end of the previous fiscal year to the beginning of the new fiscal year. The submission must be sent to the Commission within ninety (90) days of its request.

    (b) If a gaming operation ceases operations, it shall notify the Commission within (30) days. The Commission may request that the gaming operation, using the most recent rates of fees adopted by the Commission, prepare and submit to the Commission fees and statements for the period from the end of the most recent quarter for which fees have been paid to the date operations ceased. The submission must be sent to the Commission within (90) days of its request.

    § 514.8 Where should fees, quarterly statements, and other communications about fees be sent?

    Remittances, quarterly statements, and other communications about fees shall be sent to the Commission by the methods provided for in the rates of fees notice published in the Federal Register.

    § 514.9 What happens if a gaming operation submits its fee payment or quarterly statement late?

    (a) In the event that a gaming operation fails to submit a fee payment or quarterly statement in a timely manner, the Chair of the Commission may issue a notice specifying:

    (1) The date the statement and/or payment was due;

    (2) The number of calendar days late the statement and/or payment was submitted;

    (3) A citation to the federal or tribal requirement that has been or is being violated;

    (4) The action being considered by the Chair; and

    (5) Notice of rights of appeal pursuant to subchapter H of this chapter.

    (b) Within fifteen (15) days of service of the notice, the recipient may submit written information about the notice to the Chair. The Chair shall consider any information submitted by the recipient as well as the recipient's history of untimely submissions or failure to file statements and/or fee payments over the preceding five (5) years in determining the amount of the late fee, if any.

    (c) When practicable, within thirty (30) days of issuing the notice described in paragraph (a) of this section to a recipient, the Chair of the Commission may assess a proposed late fee against a recipient for each failure to file a timely quarterly statement and/or fee payment:

    (1) For statements and/or fee payments one (1) to thirty (30) calendar days late, the Chair may propose a late fee of up to, but not more than 10% of the fee amount for that quarter;

    (2) For statements and/or fee payments thirty-one (31) to sixty (60) calendar days late, the Chair may propose a late fee of up to, but not more than 15% of the fee amount for that quarter;

    (3) For statements and/or fee payments sixty-one (61) to ninety (90) calendar days late, the Chair may propose a late fee of up to, but not more than 20% of the fee amount for that quarter.

    § 514.10 When does a late payment or quarterly statement submission become a failure to pay?

    Statements and/or fee payments over ninety (90) calendar days late constitute a failure to pay the annual fee, as set forth in IGRA, 25 U.S.C. 2717(a)(4), and NIGC regulations, 25 CFR 573.4(a)(2). In accordance with 25 U.S.C. 2717(a)(4), failure to pay fees shall be grounds for revocation of the approval of the Chair of any license, ordinance or resolution required under IGRA for the operation of gaming. In accordance with § 573.4(a)(2) of this chapter, if a tribe, management contractor, or individually owned gaming operation fails to pay the annual fee, the Chair may issue a notice of violation and, simultaneously with or subsequently to the notice of violation, a temporary closure order.

    § 514.11 Can a proposed late fee be appealed?

    (a) Proposed late fees assessed by the Chair may be appealed under subchapter H of this chapter.

    (b) At any time prior to the filing of a notice of appeal under subchapter H of this chapter, the Chair and the recipient may agree to settle the notice of late submission, including the amount of the proposed late fee. In the event a settlement is reached, a settlement agreement shall be prepared and executed by the Chair and the recipient. If a settlement agreement is executed, the recipient shall be deemed to have waived all rights to further review of the notice or late fee in question, except as otherwise provided expressly in the settlement agreement. In the absence of a settlement of the issues under this paragraph, the recipient may contest the proposed late fee before the Commission in accordance with subchapter H of this chapter.

    § 514.12 When does a notice of late submission and/or a proposed late fee become a final order of the Commission and final agency action?

    If the recipient fails to appeal under subchapter H of this chapter, the notice and the proposed late fee shall become a final order of the Commission and final agency action.

    § 514.13 How are late submission fees paid, and can interest be assessed?

    (a) Late fees assessed under this part shall be paid by the person or entity assessed and shall not be treated as an operating expense of the operation.

    (b) The Commission shall transfer the late fee paid under this subchapter to the U.S. Treasury.

    (c) Interest shall be assessed at rates established from time to time by the Secretary of the Treasury on amounts remaining unpaid after their due date.

    § 514.14 What happens if the fees imposed exceed the statutory maximum or if the Commission does not expend the full amount of fees collected in a fiscal year?

    (a) The total amount of all fees imposed during any fiscal year shall not exceed the statutory maximum imposed by Congress. The Commission shall credit pro-rata any fees collected in excess of this amount against amounts otherwise due.

    (b) To the extent that revenue derived from fees imposed under the schedule established under this paragraph are not expended or committed at the close of any fiscal year, such funds shall remain available until expended to defray the costs of operations of the Commission.

    § 514.15 May tribes submit fingerprint cards to the NIGC for processing?

    Tribes may submit fingerprint cards to the Commission for processing by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Commission may charge a fee to process fingerprint cards on behalf of the tribes.

    § 514.16 How does the Commission adopt the fingerprint processing fee?

    (a) The Commission shall review annually the costs involved in processing fingerprint cards and, by a vote of not less than two of its members, shall adopt the fingerprint processing fee no later than November 1st of each year.

    (b) The Commission shall publish the fingerprint processing fee in a notice in the Federal Register.

    (c) The fingerprint processing fee shall be based on fees charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and costs incurred by the Commission. Commission costs include Commission personnel, supplies, equipment costs, and postage to submit the results to the requesting tribe.

    § 514.17 How are fingerprint processing fees collected by the Commission?

    (a) Fees for processing fingerprint cards will be billed monthly to each Tribe for cards processed during the prior month. Tribes shall pay the amount billed within forty-five (45) days of the date of the bill.

    (b) The Chair may suspend fingerprint card processing for a tribe that has a bill remaining unpaid for more than forty-five (45) days.

    (c) Remittances and other communications about fingerprint processing fees shall be sent to the Commission by the methods provided for in the rates of fees notice published in the Federal Register.

    Dated: November 2, 2017. Jonodev O. Chaudhuri, Chairman. Kathryn Isom-Clause, Vice Chair. E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, Associate Commissioner.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24363 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7565-01-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS Copyright Office 37 CFR Parts 201 and 202 [Docket No. 2017-15] Group Registration of Unpublished Works: Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Copyright Office is extending the deadlines for the submission of written comments in response to its October 12, 2017 notice of proposed rulemaking, regarding the creation of a new group registration option for unpublished works to replace the existing “unpublished collections” registration option. In this document, the Office also clarifies that the new group registration option is not intended for group registration of unpublished photographs; that is the subject of a separate proposed rulemaking, which would permit submission of up to 750 photographs on one application.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking published on October 12, 2017 (82 FR 47415), is extended. Comments must be made in writing and must be received in the U.S. Copyright Office no later than November 17, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    For reasons of government efficiency, the Copyright Office is using the regulations.gov system for the submission and posting of public comments in this proceeding. All comments are therefore to be submitted electronically through regulations.gov. Specific instructions for submitting comments are available on the Copyright Office Web site at https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/groupunpublished/. If electronic submission of comments is not feasible due to lack of access to a computer and/or the Internet, please contact the Office for special instructions using the contact information below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert J. Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy and Practice; Erik Bertin, Deputy Director of Registration Policy and Practice; or Regan A. Smith, Deputy General Counsel, by telephone at 202-707-8040 or by email at [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As detailed in an October 12, 2017 notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”),1 the U.S. Copyright Office is proposing to create a new group registration option for a limited number of unpublished works (“GRUW”). Under that proposal, applicants will be allowed to include up to five works in each submission. This new group registration option will replace the current “unpublished collections” option.

    1 82 FR 47415 (Oct. 12, 2017).

    After publication of the NPRM, there was some understandable confusion about the scope of the NPRM among the photographer community, who feared that the GRUW option would limit them to submitting five unpublished photographs per application. To clarify, the Office does not intend to impose such a limit on photographers. On December 1, 2016, the Office issued a separate notice of proposed rulemaking amending the existing option for group registration of photographs that would create an electronic application for group registration for published photographs, and also create an analogous application for group registration for unpublished photographs.2 Under that separate proposed rule, photographers would be permitted to include up to 750 photographs on each such application, rather than the five works proposed under the new GRUW option. See generally 81 FR at 86649. The Office is working on the group registration of photographs final rule in conjunction with the public comments received in that rulemaking. The Office fully intends to finalize that rule before finalizing the GRUW final rule.

    2 81 FR 86643 (Dec. 1, 2016).

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Sarang V. Damle, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24511 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-30-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0309; FRL-9968-49-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; Reasonably Available Control Technology for Cement Kilns, Revisions to Portland Cement Manufacturing Plant and Natural Gas Compression Station Regulations, and Removal of Nitrogen Oxides Reduction and Trading Program Replaced by Other Programs and Regulations AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a state implementation plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Maryland. This revision pertains to reasonably available control technology (RACT) for cement kilns, revisions to and recodification of certain provisions for Portland cement manufacturing plants (cement plants) and internal combustion (IC) engines at natural gas compression stations, and removal of the obsolete Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) Reduction and Trading Program that has been replaced by other trading programs or addressed in other regulations. This action is being taken under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before December 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0309 at http://www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected] For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be confidential business information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Marilyn Powers, (215) 814-2308, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On November 24, 2015, the State of Maryland, through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), submitted a SIP revision for approval into the Maryland SIP. The submission is comprised of three State actions pertaining to amendments to COMAR 26.11.01.10, COMAR 26.11.09.08, COMAR 26.11.29, and COMAR 26.11.30. The amendments address the requirement for NOX RACT for cement kilns for the 2008 ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), the removal of COMAR provisions related to the obsolete NOX Budget Trading Program under the NOX SIP Call 1 (that has been replaced by other trading programs), the consolidation of all existing and new requirements for cement kilns into one COMAR regulation, the consolidation of all existing and new requirements for IC engines into one COMAR regulation, the addition of new particulate matter (PM) monitoring requirements, and the addition of an alternate monitoring option for visible emissions at cement kilns. On February 17, 2017, MDE provided a letter to EPA clarifying the NOX RACT limits and withdrawing from EPA's consideration a provision of its regulation for natural gas compression stations.

    1See Finding of Significant Contribution and Rulemaking for Certain States in the Ozone Transport Assessment Group Region for Purposes of Reducing Regional Transport of Ozone, 63 FR 57371 (October 27, 1998).

    I. Background A. NOX RACT for Cement Kilns

    On March 12, 2008, EPA strengthened the NAAQS for ground level ozone, setting both the primary and secondary standards to a level of 0.075 parts per million (ppm), or 75 parts per billion (ppb), averaged over an 8-hour period (hereafter referred to as the 2008 ozone NAAQS). On May 21, 2012 (77 FR 30088), EPA designated 45 areas as nonattainment under the 2008 ozone NAAQS, including three areas or portions of areas in Maryland. Under section 182 of the CAA, states must review and revise the RACT requirements in their SIP to ensure that these requirements would still be considered RACT under the new, more stringent NAAQS. Major stationary sources of ozone precursor emissions located in ozone nonattainment areas classified as moderate and above (and sources located in the Ozone Transport Region (OTR), of which the entire state of Maryland is a part) are subject to RACT requirements. See sections 182(b)(2) and 184(b)(2) of the CAA. Section 182(f) of the CAA specifically requires RACT for major stationary sources of NOX. 2 The cement kilns in Maryland are major stationary sources of NOX and are therefore required to be evaluated for NOX RACT under the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    2 A major stationary source of NOX in a marginal or moderate ozone nonattainment area, or in an ozone transport region, is a source that emits or has the potential to emit 100 tons of NOX.

    B. Repeal of NOX Budget Trading Program Requirements Under the NOX SIP Call

    In October 1998, EPA finalized the “Finding of Significant Contribution and Rulemaking for Certain States in the Ozone Transport Assessment Group Region for Purposes of Reducing Regional Transport of Ozone”—commonly called the NOx SIP Call. The NOx SIP Call was designed to mitigate significant transport of NOX, one of the precursors of ozone. The NOX Budget Trading Program was established under the NOX SIP Call to allow electric generating units (EGUs) greater than 25 megawatts and industrial non-electric generating units (or non-EGUs) with a rated heat input greater than 250 million British thermal units per hour (MMBtu/hr) (referred to as large non-EGUs) to participate in a regional NOX cap and trade program.3 The NOX SIP call also established NOX reduction requirements for other non-EGUs that were not a part of the NOX Budget Trading Program, including cement kilns and stationary IC engines.

    3 In the cap and trade program established under the NOX SIP Call, a regional ozone season NOX cap, or budget, was established, which was allocated as NOX allowances to subject sources in the affected states. Each allowance equaled one ton of NOx, and allowances could be traded among sources. To comply, sources were required to hold enough allowances to cover their NOX emissions during the ozone season.

    EPA discontinued administration of the NOX Budget Trading Program in 2009 upon the start of the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) trading programs.4 The NOX SIP Call requirements continued to apply, and EGUs that were previously trading under the NOX Budget Trading Program continued to meet NOX SIP Call requirements under the more stringent requirements of the CAIR ozone season trading program. Certain large non-EGUs were not addressed in CAIR. Therefore, states needed to assess their state requirements and take regulatory action as necessary to ensure that all their non-EGU obligations continued to be met.

    4 CAIR was subsequently vacated and remanded. See North Carolina v. EPA, 531 F.3d 896 (D.C. Cir. 2008), modified by 550 F.3d 1176 (remanding CAIR). CAIR was replaced with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) (76 FR 48208, August 8, 2011), which, after legal challenges, was implemented starting in January 2015.

    Maryland regulations, COMAR 26.11.29—NO X Reduction Requirements and Trading Program and COMAR 26.11.30—Policies and Procedures Relating to Maryland's NO X Reduction and Trading Program, were previously approved into the Maryland SIP to implement the NOX Budget Trading Program and allowed EGUs and large non-EGUs in the state to participate in the regional NOX cap and trade program established under EPA's NOX SIP Call. COMAR 26.11.29 also included NOX reductions, monitoring, and recordkeeping requirements for cement kilns and IC engines. After EPA discontinued the NOX Budget Trading Program under the NOX SIP Call, Maryland's EGU obligations under the NOX SIP Call continued to be addressed in Maryland regulation COMAR 26.11.28—Clean Air Interstate Rule. However, in order to fill the gap for large non-EGUs created by the discontinuance of the NOX Budget Trading Program upon implementation of CAIR and then CSAPR, Maryland needed to take regulatory action to address NOX reduction requirements for its large non-EGUs. Maryland originally addressed these requirements for large non-EGUs as part of its regulation for kraft pulp mills, and submitted revisions to that regulation as a separate SIP revision, for which EPA took separate rulemaking action.5 However, Maryland has identified additional large non-EGUs that are subject to the NOX SIP Call at two sources, and is now required to take regulatory action to re-allocate the budget to cover both existing and new units. MDE is in the process of developing a new regulation to re-allocate the budget to include all units that are subject to the NOX SIP Call.

    5 The NOX SIP Call requirements applicable to large non-EGUs that were previously in COMAR 26.11.29 are now addressed in Maryland regulation COMAR 26.11.14—Control of Emissions from Kraft Pulp Mills, which MDE submitted to EPA as a separate SIP revision submittal. See rulemaking docket EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0054 for Maryland submittal #14-04 dated October 8, 2014. EPA approved the submittal on July 17, 2017 (82 FR 32641).

    The action in this notice pertains only to the cement kiln and IC engine provisions, which were previously approved in COMAR 26.11.29 to address NOX SIP Call requirements.

    II. Summary of SIP Revision and EPA Analysis

    Maryland's submittal explained that NOX RACT for cement kilns, which are major stationary sources of NOX subject to RACT requirements, was established consistent with the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) recommended RACT requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The 2007 OTC Technical Support Document on Identification and Evaluation of Candidate Control Measures6 (OTC TSD) recommended NOX emission rates for cement kilns based on applying a 60 percent reduction to uncontrolled emissions.

    6 The NOX limits adopted in Maryland's July 10, 2015 rulemaking were based on the 2007 “Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) Technical Support Document on Identification and Evaluation of Candidate Control Measures,” which was included in the State's submission and is available in the docket for this proposed rulemaking action and online at www.regulations.gov.

    There are two cement kilns in Maryland—a long, dry kiln in Washington County (Lehigh Cement Company) and a pre-calciner kiln in Carroll County (Holcim Cement Plant). Revised COMAR 26.11.30 establishes a limit of 3.4 pounds (lbs) of NOX per ton of clinker (lbs NOX/ton of clinker) for long, dry kilns, and 2.4 lbs NOX/ton of clinker for pre-calciner kilns. It defines a pre-calciner kiln as a “cement kiln that contains a pre-calciner at the bottom of the pre-heater tower before the materials enter the kiln,” and is commonly referred to as a pre-heater/pre-calciner kiln.

    In its November 24, 2015 submittal, MDE stated that the NOX emission rates for cement kilns are consistent with the OTC recommendations for cement kilns, and on February 17, 2017, MDE provided additional clarification on the justification for the NOX RACT limits for the cement kilns. As part of its submittal, MDE also provided an estimate of costs to comply with the revised NOX rates for cement kilns, including the costs to install selective non-catalytic reduction (SNCR) controls to meet the more stringent NOX rate limits required by its May 21, 2010 regulatory action and the additional costs to increase the amount of reagent used in the SNCR to meet the requirements in its July 10, 2015 action further lowering the NOX emission rate.

    EPA agrees with Maryland's determination of NOX RACT for cement kilns for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, based on our analysis of the cost effectiveness associated with installation of SNCR, the cost effectiveness for additional operating costs for the increase in ammonia use, as well as the technological considerations involved with further increasing the amount of ammonia used. A more detailed discussion of the NOX RACT limits for the cement kilns and EPA's analysis is provided in the technical support document (TSD) for this action, available in the docket for this rulemaking at www.regulations.gov.

    The November 24, 2015 SIP revision submittal also included several state regulatory actions for inclusion into the Maryland SIP. On May 21, 2010, Maryland repealed COMAR 26.11.29 and COMAR 26.11.30, with a State effective date of May 31, 2010. The requirements for large non-EGUs, cement kilns, and IC engines pursuant to the NOX SIP Call continue to apply, as noted previously. Therefore, Maryland recodified certain portions of the Portland cement plant and natural gas compression station provisions (formerly found at COMAR 26.11.29.15) into new COMAR 26.11.29 (with a State effective date of July 20, 2015), retitled NOX Reduction Requirements for Non-Electric Generating Units. The cement kiln provisions necessary to address the NOX SIP Call requirements were revised to add a compliance date of April 1, 2017 for the existing NOX emission rate limits in the regulation and to remove an alternative control method.

    COMAR 26.11.30 formerly included large non-EGUs as participants in the NOX Reduction and Trading Program and established an ozone season allocation of 947 tons of NOX for the large non-EGUs at the only kraft pulp mill located in Maryland.7 With repeal of the NOX Reduction and Trading Program, Maryland modified its kraft pulp mill regulation in COMAR 26.11.14.07 to limit NOX emissions from fuel burning equipment at kraft pulp mills to 947 tons per year (matching the ozone season allocation formerly in COMAR 26.11.30).8 While this addresses the State's current reduction requirements for large non-EGUs, if a new large non-EGU locates in the State at an existing or new kraft pulp mill, Maryland would be required to demonstrate that it is still meeting its federal NOX SIP Call requirements. If a new large non-EGU locates in the state at a source other than a pulp mill, MDE must take regulatory action to re-allocate the non-EGU budget to cover all large non-EGUs in the State, and require 40 CFR part 75 monitoring for the new non-EGU.

    7 40 CFR 97 Appendix C established Maryland's large non-EGU budget as 1013 tons. The kraft pulp mill was allocated 947 tons, with the remainder of the budget reserved in a set-aside account for allocation to new sources.

    8 The NOX SIP Call requirements applicable to large non-EGUs that were previously in COMAR 26.11.30 are now addressed in Maryland regulation COMAR 26.11.14—Control of Emissions from Kraft Pulp Mills, which was submitted to EPA as a separate SIP revision submittal, and for which EPA is taking separate action. See rulemaking docket EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0054 for Maryland submittal #14-04 dated October 8, 2014.

    On July 10, 2015, Maryland made some additional regulatory modifications to both COMAR 26.11.29 and 26.11.30. COMAR 26.11.29 was revised to include only the provisions pertaining to IC engines and retitled Control of NO X Emissions from Natural Gas Pipeline Compression Stations. The provisions for Portland cement manufacturing plants were removed from COMAR 26.11.29 and recodified and consolidated with the requirements for cement kilns, which were previously scattered among other COMAR regulations, into new COMAR 26.11.30—Control of Portland Cement Manufacturing Plants (with a State effective date of July 20, 2015). New COMAR 26.11.30 consolidates previous SIP approved requirements for PM, NOX, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and visible emissions that apply to Portland cement manufacturing plants.

    COMAR 26.11.30 also now contains revised provisions pertaining to PM monitoring requirements. The SIP currently requires compliance with the PM emission limits by stack tests using Method 5 or 5I of 40 CFR part 60. The revision to COMAR 26.11.30 aligned the PM emissions monitoring requirements with the monitoring requirements applicable under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry, 40 CFR part 63, subpart LLL (Portland cement NESHAP) (78 FR 10006, February 12, 2013). The revision requires performance testing using Method 5 or 5I to establish the parameter to be monitored by the PM continuous parametric monitoring system (CPMS). The PM CPMS will demonstrate continuing compliance with the PM emission limits established in COMAR 26.11.30.04. As explained in more detail in EPA's TSD, the revision strengthens the SIP by the addition of PM CPMS, and is at least as stringent as the monitoring requirements for PM previously approved in the Maryland SIP for cement kilns.

    COMAR 26.11.30 also allows cement kilns the option of using PM CPMS for monitoring visible emissions in lieu of a continuous opacity monitor (COM) when a PM CPMS is installed and operated as specified in the rule. In the Portland cement NESHAP, in disagreeing with industry commenters who stated a preference for COMs, EPA explained that “PM CPMS has a clear advantage in low PM concentration measurement over continuous opacity monitoring systems” and that “the CPMS is considerably more sensitive than an opacity monitor or bag leak detector at detecting fluctuations in PM level.” The revision in COMAR 26.11.30 allowing the use of PM CPMS in lieu of COMs is approvable under section 110 of the CAA for the reasons noted above and as discussed in EPA's TSD. EPA does not expect it to interfere with attainment of any of the NAAQS, with reasonable further progress, or with any other CAA requirement.

    Finally, the November 24, 2015 submittal proposed to remove from the Maryland SIP former COMAR provisions which implemented EPA's NOX Budget Trading Program under the NOX SIP Call as discussed in detail in EPA's TSD for this rulemaking. EPA's NOX Budget Trading Program under the NOX SIP Call is obsolete as it was replaced by CAIR, which was subsequently replaced by CSAPR in 2015 and the CSAPR Update in 2017. Therefore, the removal of the NOx Budget Trading Program requirements from the Maryland SIP that were formerly in COMAR 26.11.29 and .30 does not impact any of the NAAQS, reasonable further progress or any other CAA requirements as those NOX reductions now are achieved through the CSAPR Update, and the removal is thus approvable under section 110(l) of the CAA.

    EPA's TSD prepared for this proposed rulemaking action provides further detail on Maryland's submittal and EPA's analysis of Maryland's SIP revision submittal. EPA's TSD is available in the docket for this rulemaking action and online at www.regulations.gov.

    III. Proposed Action

    EPA is proposing to approve Maryland's November 24, 2015 SIP revision submittal, as clarified by its February 17, 2017 letter, pursuant to sections 110, 182 and 184 of the CAA. EPA's review of this material indicates that Maryland's November 24, 2015 submittal, as clarified by its February 17, 2017 letter, is approvable as it meets requirements for NOX RACT for cement kilns for the 2008 ozone NAAQS under sections 110, 182 and 184 of the CAA. EPA is also proposing to approve the Maryland SIP submittal which includes removal of regulations related to the NOX Reduction and Trading Program under the NOX SIP Call as that trading program is no longer operating as it has been replaced by the CSAPR Update as noted previously. Thus, the Maryland regulations in the SIP which addressed the NOX Reduction and Trading Program no longer provide emission reductions. Additionally, EPA is proposing to approve as part of the SIP Maryland's revised COMAR regulations that recodified certain requirements applicable to Portland cement manufacturing plants and natural gas compression stations and added new requirements for Portland cement plants and natural gas compression stations which are SIP strengthening under section 110 of the CAA. Finally, EPA is proposing to approve a new regulatory provision for inclusion in the Maryland SIP which creates new emission and monitoring requirements for cement kiln emissions as the new provision will strengthen the Maryland SIP and is approvable under section 110 of the CAA. EPA is taking comments on the issues discussed in this document. These comments will be considered before taking final action.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In this proposed rulemaking action, EPA is proposing to include in a final EPA rule, regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is proposing to incorporate by reference the revisions to COMAR 26.01.10, COMAR 26.11.09.08, COMAR 26.11.29 and COMAR 26.11.30 as described in this proposed rulemaking action. These documents are available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or may be viewed at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the CAA and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this proposed action:

    • Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

    • does not impose an information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.);

    • is certified as not having a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.);

    • does not contain any unfunded mandate or significantly or uniquely affect small governments, as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4);

    • does not have federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999);

    • is not an economically significant regulatory action based on health or safety risks subject to Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997);

    • is not a significant regulatory action subject to Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001);

    • is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the CAA; and

    • does not provide EPA with the discretionary authority to address, as appropriate, disproportionate human health or environmental effects, using practicable and legally permissible methods, under Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    This rulemaking action proposing to approve NOX RACT for cement kilns for the 2008 ozone NAAQS; to remove Maryland's NOX Reduction and Trading Program regulations under the NOX SIP Call; and to include revised and recodified provisions for natural gas compression stations and Portland cement manufacturing plants in Maryland regulations COMAR 26.11.29 and COMAR 26.11.30 respectively, does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). This is due to the fact that this SIP does not apply to Indian country, and therefore will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: October 25, 2017. Cosmo Servidio, Regional Administrator, Region III.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24536 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2016-0078; 4500030113] RIN 1018-BB64 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina (San Fernando Valley Spineflower) AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; reopening of the comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce that a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) has been prepared for Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina (San Fernando Valley spineflower). The CCA was developed as a collaborative effort between the Newhall Land and Farming Company (Newhall Land), a California limited partnership, and the Service to implement conservation measures for the species. With the release of the CCA, we are reopening for an additional 30 days the comment period on the proposed rule to list C. parryi var. fernandina as a threatened species. We will submit a final listing determination to the Federal Register on or before March 15, 2018.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule that published September 15, 2016, at 81 FR 63454 is reopened. We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before December 13, 2017. If you comment using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES), you must submit your comments by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the docket number for this proposed rule, which is FWS-R8-ES-2016-0078. Then click on the Search button. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!” Please ensure that you have found the correct rulemaking before submitting your comment.

    (2) U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2016-0078; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stephen P. Henry, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, 2493 Portola Road, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 805-644-5763; facsimile 805-644-3958. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On September 15, 2016, we published a proposed rule (81 FR 63454) to add Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina as a threatened species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Plants under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). That proposal had a 60-day comment period, ending November 16, 2016. For a description of previous Federal actions concerning C. parryi var. fernandina, please refer to the September 15, 2016, proposed listing rule (81 FR 63454). On July 19, 2017, the Service announced a 6-month extension of the final determination of whether to list the species as a result of scientific disagreement and uncertainty (82 FR 33036), and reopened an additional 30-day comment period.

    Newhall Land and the Service have developed a CCA to provide additional conservation measures for Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina. The CCA provides for Newhall Land to voluntarily implement additional conservation measures described in the San Fernando Valley Spineflower Enhancement and Introduction Plan (Introduction Plan) with the goal of enhancing the status of the species. The Introduction Plan provides for Newhall Land to voluntarily establish new, protected C. parryi var. fernandina occurrences within the species' historical range that will increase the resiliency of the existing populations and expand the redundancy and representation of the species. Newhall Land will voluntarily conserve an additional 1,498 acres of its property for the benefit of the C. parryi var. fernandina and carry out additional conservation activities within portions of these 1,498 acres and within a portion of the Petersen Ranch Mitigation Bank. Spineflower introduction will occur on a total of at least 10 acres within the Additional Conservation Areas. These actions, collectively known as the Additional Conservation Measures, would contribute to reducing and eliminating current and potential future threats to the persistence of the species by expanding the area of protected conservation land for the plant, increasing the number and extent of protected C. parryi var. fernandina occurrence locations with outplanting, and providing protection for the introduction sites from development-related stressors with conservation easements and management actions. The Additional Conservation Measures would result in at least two new, self-sustaining, and persistent C. parryi var. fernandina occurrences and would increase the number of ecoregions in which the species is represented. All documents are posted to http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2016-0078.

    Information Requested

    We will accept written comments and information during this reopened comment period on our proposed listing for Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina that was published in the Federal Register on September 15, 2016 (81 FR 63454) and the CCA. We will consider information and recommendations from all interested parties. We intend that any final action resulting from the proposal will be as accurate as possible and based on the best available scientific and commercial data.

    In consideration of the CCA, we are particularly interested in new information and comments regarding:

    (1) The efficacy of seed introduction for long-term establishment into suitable, unoccupied habitat of Chorizanthe or related taxa.

    (2) Whether the new areas proposed for seeding under the CCA will be appropriate to support populations of Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina.

    (3) Whether the Additional Conservation Areas and Measures established under the Introduction Plan will afford sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation for the conservation of the species.

    If you previously submitted comments or information on the September 15, 2016, proposed rule (81 FR 63454) and/or the July 19, 2017, reopening of the comment period on the proposed rule (82 FR 33036), please do not resubmit them. We have incorporated previously submitted comments into the public record, and we will fully consider them in the preparation of our final determination. Our final determination concerning the proposed listing will take into consideration all written comments and any additional information we receive.

    You may submit your comments and materials concerning the proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We request that you send comments only by the methods described in ADDRESSES.

    If you submit information via http://www.regulations.gov, your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. If your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal identifying information, you may request at the top of your document that we withhold this information from public review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We will post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.

    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing the proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). You may obtain copies of the proposed rule at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2016-0078. Copies of the proposed rule are also available at http://www.fws.gov/cno/es//.

    Authority:

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: October 4, 2017. Gregory Sheehan, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24474 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    82 217 Monday, November 13, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Office of Procurement and Property Management Notice of Request for an Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection AGENCY:

    Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for public comments regarding an extension to an existing OMB clearance.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Office of Procurement and Property Management's intention to request an extension of a currently approved information collection for Guidelines for the Transfer of Excess Computers or Other Technical Equipment Pursuant to Section 14220 of the 2008 Farm Bill.

    DATES:

    Comments on this notice must be received by January 12, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for sending comments.

    Email: [email protected] Include OMB Control No. 0505-0023 in the subject line of the message.

    Fax: (202) 720-8972.

    Mail: Office of Procurement and Property Management, Property Management Division, Attn: Michael R. Johnson, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Suite 1575, Mailstop 9304, Washington, DC 20250.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Suite 1575, Mailstop 9304, Washington, DC 20250.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Michael R. Johnson, OPPM at (202) 720-9779 or by mail at USDA, OPPM, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Suite 1575, Mailstop 9304, Washington, DC 20250. Please cite OMB Control No. 0505-0023.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Guidelines for the Transfer of Excess Computers or Other Technical Equipment Pursuant to Section 14220 of the 2008 Farm Bill.

    OMB Number: 0505-0023.

    Expiration Date of Approval: 03/31/2018.

    Type of Request: Extension and revision of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: USDA requires information in order to verify eligibility of requestors, determine availability of excess property, and have contact information for the requestor available to ensure an organization is designated to receive property on behalf of an eligible recipient. Information will be used to coordinate the transfer of excess property to eligible recipients. Respondents will be authorized representatives of a city, town, or local government entity located in a rural area as defined in 7 U.S.C. 1991(a)(13)(A).

    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average .167 hours per response.

    Respondents: City, town, or local government entities located in a rural area.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 10.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 2 hours.

    Comments are invited on: (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 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.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    George M. Cabaniss Jr., Director.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24479 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-TX-P
    BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS Government In The Sunshine Act Meeting Notice DATE AND TIME:

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 1:00 p.m. ET.

    PLACE:

    Cohen Building, Room 3321, 330 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20237.

    SUBJECT:

    Notice of Meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

    SUMMARY:

    The Broadcasting Board of Governors (Board) will be meeting at the time and location listed above. The Board will vote on a consent agenda consisting of the minutes of its August 30, 2017 meeting, a resolution honoring 35th Anniversary of Voice of America Broadcasts in Amharic-Language, and a resolution proposing 2018 BBG Board schedule. The Board will receive a report from the Chief Executive Officer and Director of BBG.

    This meeting will be available for public observation via streamed webcast, both live and on-demand, on the agency's public Web site at www.bbg.gov. Information regarding this meeting, including any updates or adjustments to its starting time, can also be found on the agency's public Web site.

    The public may also attend this meeting in person at the address listed above as seating capacity permits. Members of the public seeking to attend the meeting in person must register at https://bbgboardmeetingnovember2017.eventbrite.com by 12:00 p.m. (ET) on November 14. For more information, please contact BBG Public Affairs at (202) 203-4400 or by email at [email protected]

    CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Persons interested in obtaining more information should contact Oanh Tran at (202) 203-4545.

    Oanh Tran, Managing Director.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24643 Filed 11-8-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 8610-01-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Arizona Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) that a meeting of the Arizona Advisory Committee (Committee) to the Commission will be held at 2:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) Friday, November 17, 2017. The purpose of the meeting is for the Committee to deliberate on voting rights project proposal and begin initial brainstorm.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Friday, November 17, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. PT

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ana Victoria Fortes (DFO) at [email protected] or (213) 894-3437.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 877-723-9521, conference ID number: 7584074. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are entitled to make comments during the open period at the end of the meeting. Members of the public may also submit written comments; the comments must be received in the Regional Programs Unit within 30 days following the meeting. Written comments may be mailed to the Western Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 300 North Los Angeles Street, Suite 2010, Los Angeles, CA 90012. They may be faxed to the Commission at (213) 894-0508, or emailed Ana Victoria Fortes at [email protected]. Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit at (213) 894-3437.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing prior to and after the meeting at https://facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=235. Please click on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Regional Programs Unit, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Regional Programs Unit at the above email or street address.

    Agenda I. Welcome II. Approval of minutes from November 1, 2017 meeting III. Review Project Proposal IV. Review Briefing Timeline V. Brainstorm Venue location and Potential Dates VI. Next Steps VII. Adjournment

    Exceptional Circumstance: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.150, the notice for this meeting is given less than 15 calendar days prior to the meeting because of the exceptional circumstance of the committee needing to plan a briefing on voting rights to satisfy the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' 2018 Statutory Enforcement report timeline.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24482 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-66-2015] Proposed Foreign-Trade Zone—Hitchcock, Texas; Amendment of Application

    A request has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board (the Board) by the Port of Houston Authority (PHA), grantee of FTZ 84, at the request of the City of Hitchcock, to amend the City's pending application requesting authority to establish a new foreign-trade zone in Hitchcock, Texas. The pending application was docketed on October 6, 2015 (FTZ Board Docket B-66-2015, 80 FR 61358, October 13, 2015).

    PHA is requesting authority to include the site originally proposed for FTZ designation as part of a new zone in Hitchcock, Texas as an additional magnet site of FTZ 84, adjacent to the Houston Customs and Border Protection port of entry. The proposed site is as follows: Proposed Site 1 (280.54 acres)—Blimp Base, 7529 Blimp Base Road, Hitchcock. If approved, the proposed site would be assigned a new site number under FTZ 84. The amended application is limited to FTZ designation for the proposed Blimp Base site (i.e., it does not request authority for the ASF service area originally proposed in the application).

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at: Foreign-Trade Zones Board, U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 21013, 1401 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20230.

    The closing period for their receipt is December 13, 2017. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period (to December 28, 2017).

    For further information, contact Camille Evans at [email protected] or (202) 482-2350.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24518 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-967] Aluminum Extrusions From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is conducting an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on aluminum extrusions from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The period of review (POR) is May 1, 2015, through April 30, 2016. These final results cover 10 companies and the PRC-wide entity for which an administrative review was initiated.

    DATES:

    Applicable: November 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Deborah Scott or Mark Flessner, AD/CVD Operations, Office VI, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-2657 or (202) 482-6312, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Department initiated this review on July 7, 2016.1 On June 6, 2017, the Department published the Preliminary Results of this administrative review.2 At that time, we invited interested parties to comment on the Preliminary Results. On July 6, 2017, we received a case brief from the Aluminum Extrusions Fair Trade Committee (the petitioner).3 No other parties submitted case or rebuttal briefs. These final results cover 10 companies and the PRC-wide entity for which an administrative review was initiated and not rescinded.4

    1See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 81 FR 44260 (July 7, 2016) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Rescission of Review in Part; 2015-2016, 82 FR 26055 (June 6, 2017) (Preliminary Results), and accompanying preliminary decision memorandum (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    3See Petitioner Letter re: Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China: Case Brief, dated July 6, 2017.

    4 This administrative review initially covered 191 companies and the PRC-wide entity. See Initiation Notice, 81 FR at 44262. However, the Department rescinded this review with respect to 181 companies for which all administrative review requests were timely withdrawn. See Preliminary Results, 82 FR at 26056.

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise covered by the Order5 is aluminum extrusions which are shapes and forms, produced by an extrusion process, made from aluminum alloys having metallic elements corresponding to the alloy series designations published by The Aluminum Association commencing with the numbers 1, 3, and 6 (or proprietary equivalents or other certifying body equivalents).6

    5See Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China: Antidumping Duty Order, 76 FR 30650 (May 26, 2011) (Order).

    6 For a complete description of the scope of the Order, see Memorandum, “Issues and Decisions Memorandum for the Final Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review: Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China; 2015-2016,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Issues and Decision Memorandum).

    Imports of the subject merchandise are provided for under the following categories of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS): 6603.90.8100, 7616.99.51, 8479.89.94, 8481.90.9060, 8481.90.9085, 9031.90.9195, 8424.90.9080, 9405.99.4020, 9031.90.90.95, 7616.10.90.90, 7609.00.00, 7610.10.00, 7610.90.00, 7615.10.30, 7615.10.71, 7615.10.91, 7615.19.10, 7615.19.30, 7615.19.50, 7615.19.70, 7615.19.90, 7615.20.00, 7616.99.10, 7616.99.50, 8479.89.98, 8479.90.94, 8513.90.20, 9403.10.00, 9403.20.00, 7604.21.00.00, 7604.29.10.00, 7604.29.30.10, 7604.29.30.50, 7604.29.50.30, 7604.29.50.60, 7608.20.00.30, 7608.20.00.90, 8302.10.30.00, 8302.10.60.30, 8302.10.60.60, 8302.10.60.90, 8302.20.00.00, 8302.30.30.10, 8302.30.30.60, 8302.41.30.00, 8302.41.60.15, 8302.41.60.45, 8302.41.60.50, 8302.41.60.80, 8302.42.30.10, 8302.42.30.15, 8302.42.30.65, 8302.49.60.35, 8302.49.60.45, 8302.49.60.55, 8302.49.60.85, 8302.50.00.00, 8302.60.90.00, 8305.10.00.50, 8306.30.00.00, 8414.59.60.90, 8415.90.80.45, 8418.99.80.05, 8418.99.80.50, 8418.99.80.60, 8419.90.10.00, 8422.90.06.40, 8473.30.20.00, 8473.30.51.00, 8479.90.85.00, 8486.90.00.00, 8487.90.00.80, 8503.00.95.20, 8508.70.00.00, 8515.90.20.00, 8516.90.50.00, 8516.90.80.50, 8517.70.00.00, 8529.90.73.00, 8529.90.97.60, 8536.90.80.85, 8538.10.00.00, 8543.90.88.80, 8708.29.50.60, 8708.80.65.90, 8803.30.00.60, 9013.90.50.00, 9013.90.90.00, 9401.90.50.81, 9403.90.10.40, 9403.90.10.50, 9403.90.10.85, 9403.90.25.40, 9403.90.25.80, 9403.90.40.05, 9403.90.40.10, 9403.90.40.60, 9403.90.50.05, 9403.90.50.10, 9403.90.50.80, 9403.90.60.05, 9403.90.60.10, 9403.90.60.80, 9403.90.70.05, 9403.90.70.10, 9403.90.70.80, 9403.90.80.10, 9403.90.80.15, 9403.90.80.20, 9403.90.80.41, 9403.90.80.51, 9403.90.80.61, 9506.11.40.80, 9506.51.40.00, 9506.51.60.00, 9506.59.40.40, 9506.70.20.90, 9506.91.00.10, 9506.91.00.20, 9506.91.00.30, 9506.99.05.10, 9506.99.05.20, 9506.99.05.30, 9506.99.15.00, 9506.99.20.00, 9506.99.25.80, 9506.99.28.00, 9506.99.55.00, 9506.99.60.80, 9507.30.20.00, 9507.30.40.00, 9507.30.60.00, 9507.90.60.00, and 9603.90.80.50.

    The subject merchandise entered as parts of other aluminum products may be classifiable under the following additional Chapter 76 subheadings: 7610.10, 7610.90, 7615.19, 7615.20, and 7616.99, as well as under other HTSUS chapters. In addition, fin evaporator coils may be classifiable under HTSUS numbers: 8418.99.80.50 and 8418.99.80.60. While HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of this Order is dispositive.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case briefs filed by parties in this review are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, which is incorporated herein by reference. A list of the issues which any party raised, and to which we respond in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, follows in the appendix to this notice. The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov and is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly on the Internet at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Issues and Decision Memorandum and the electronic version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Results

    For the purposes of these final results, the Department made no changes to the Preliminary Results.

    PRC-Wide Entity

    For the purposes of the final results of this administrative review, the Department finds that the following entities are part of the PRC-wide entity because they failed to submit both a Q&V response and information to establish eligibility for a separate rate: (1) Kam Kiu; (2) Atlas Integrated Manufacturing Ltd.; (3) Classic & Contemporary Inc.; (4) Dongguan Golden Tiger Hardware Industrial Co., Ltd.; (5) Jiaxing Jackson Travel Products Co., Ltd.; (6) Taishan City Kam Kiu Aluminium Extrusion Co., Ltd.; (7) Shenyang Yuanda Aluminium Industry Engineering Co. Ltd.; (8) Sincere Profit Limited; and (9) Suzhou New Hongji Precision Part Co.

    The Department's change in policy regarding conditional review of the PRC-wide entity applies to this administrative review.7 Under this policy, the PRC-wide entity will not be under review unless a party specifically requests, or the Department self-initiates, a review of the entity. The petitioner 8 requested a review of the PRC-wide entity in the instant review; therefore, the PRC-wide entity is currently under review and the rate for the PRC-wide entity is subject to change.

    7See Antidumping Proceedings: Announcement of Change in Department Practice for Respondent Selection in Antidumping Duty Proceedings and Conditional Review of the Nonmarket Economy Entity in NME Antidumping Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 65963, 65970 (November 4, 2013).

    8 The petitioner is the Aluminum Extrusions Fair Trade Committee.

    Adjustments for Countervailable Subsidies

    Because no mandatory respondent established eligibility for an adjustment under section 777A(f) of the Act for countervailable domestic subsidies, the Department, for these final results, did not make an adjustment pursuant to section 777A(f) of the Act for countervailable domestic subsidies for the separate-rate recipients.9

    9See Preliminary Decision Memorandum, at 17-18.

    Pursuant to section 772(c)(1)(C) of the Act, we made an adjustment for countervailable export subsidies for tenKsolar. We calculated this adjustment as the simple average of the countervailable export subsidies determined for the mandatory respondents in the 2014 (i.e., most recently completed) CVD administrative review 10 and deducted this amount from the weighted-average dumping margin assigned to tenKsolar.11 The adjusted rate for tenKsolar is 85.96 percent.

    10Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China: Final Results and Partial Rescission of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2014, 81 FR 92778 (December 20, 2016).

    11See Preliminary Decision Memorandum, at 12 and 17-18.

    Pursuant to section 772(c)(1)(C) of the Act, we also made an adjustment for countervailable export subsidies for the PRC-wide entity. We adjusted the PRC-wide entity cash deposit rate by the lowest countervailable export subsidy determined for the mandatory respondents in the 2014 (i.e., most recently completed) CVD administrative review.12

    12Id., at 17-18.

    Final Results of Review

    The Department determines that the following weighted-average dumping margins exist for the 2015-2016 POR:

    Exporter Weighted-average dumping margin
  • (percent)
  • Margin adjusted for liquidation and cash deposit
  • purposes
  • (percent)
  • tenKsolar (Shanghai) Co., Ltd 86.01 85.96 PRC-wide Entity 86.01 85.96

    Additionally, as explained above, the Department determines that the following companies are part of the PRC-wide entity: (1) Kam Kiu; (2) Atlas Integrated Manufacturing Ltd.; (3) Classic & Contemporary Inc.; (4) Dongguan Golden Tiger Hardware Industrial Co., Ltd.; (5) Jiaxing Jackson Travel Products Co., Ltd.; (6) Taishan City Kam Kiu Aluminium Extrusion Co., Ltd.; (7) Shenyang Yuanda Aluminium Industry Engineering Co. Ltd.; (8) Sincere Profit Limited; and (9) Suzhou New Hongji Precision Part Co.

    Assessment

    Pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.212(b), the Department will determine, and CBP shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries of subject merchandise in accordance with the final results of this review. The Department intends to issue assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the date of publication of the final results of review in the Federal Register. Consistent with the Department's assessment practice in NME cases, if the Department determines that an exporter under review had no shipments of subject merchandise, any suspended entries that entered under the exporter's case number (i.e., at that exporter's rate) will be liquidated at the PRC-wide rate.13 For the companies eligible for a separate rate, the Department will instruct CBP to assess antidumping duties on the company's entries of subject merchandise at the rates listed above in the section “Final Results of Review.”

    13See Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694 (October 24, 2011).

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of the final results of this administrative review for all shipments of the subject merchandise from the PRC entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the publication date, as provided for by section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) For the companies eligible for a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will that listed above in the section “Final Results of Review;” (2) for previously investigated or reviewed PRC and non-PRC exporters not listed above that received a separate rate in a prior segment of this proceeding, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the exporter-specific rate published for the most-recently completed segment of this proceeding in which the exporter was reviewed; (3) for all PRC exporters of subject merchandise which have not been found to be entitled to a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be that established for the PRC-wide entity, which is 85.96 percent; and (4) for all non-PRC exporters of subject merchandise which have not received their own rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the PRC exporter that supplied that non-PRC exporter with the subject merchandise. These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties and/or countervailing duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this POR. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties and/or countervailing duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties.

    Notification to Interested Parties Regarding Administrative Protective Order

    This notice also serves as the only reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the disposition of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3), which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and the terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation.

    We are issuing and publishing this notice in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h).

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix—List of Topics Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum 1. Summary 2. Background 3. Scope of the Order 4. Discussion of the Issues Comment: The Margin Assigned to the PRC-Wide Entity 5. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2017-24407 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) has received requests to conduct administrative reviews of various antidumping and countervailing duty orders and findings with September anniversary dates. In accordance with the Department's regulations, we are initiating those administrative reviews.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brenda E. Waters, Office of AD/CVD Operations, Customs Liaison Unit, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, telephone: (202) 482-4735.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Department has received timely requests, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.213(b), for administrative reviews of various antidumping and countervailing duty orders and findings with September anniversary dates.

    All deadlines for the submission of various types of information, certifications, or comments or actions by the Department discussed below refer to the number of calendar days from the applicable starting time.

    Notice of No Sales

    If a producer or exporter named in this notice of initiation had no exports, sales, or entries during the period of review (POR), it must notify the Department within 30 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. All submissions must be filed electronically at http://access.trade.gov in accordance with 19 CFR 351.303.1 Such submissions are subject to verification in accordance with section 782(i) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). Further, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.303(f)(1)(i), a copy must be served on every party on the Department's service list.

    1See Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Electronic Filing Procedures; Administrative Protective Order Procedures, 76 FR 39263 (July 6, 2011).

    Respondent Selection

    In the event the Department limits the number of respondents for individual examination for administrative reviews initiated pursuant to requests made for the orders identified below, the Department intends to select respondents based on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data for U.S. imports during the period of review. We intend to place the CBP data on the record within five days of publication of the initiation notice and to make our decision regarding respondent selection within 30 days of publication of the initiation Federal Register notice. Comments regarding the CBP data and respondent selection should be submitted seven days after the placement of the CBP data on the record of this review. Parties wishing to submit rebuttal comments should submit those comments five days after the deadline for the initial comments.

    In the event the Department decides it is necessary to limit individual examination of respondents and conduct respondent selection under section 777A(c)(2) of the Act:

    In general, the Department has found that determinations concerning whether particular companies should be “collapsed” (i.ee.g., treated as a single entity for purposes of calculating antidumping duty rates) require a substantial amount of detailed information and analysis, which often require follow-up questions and analysis. Accordingly, the Department will not conduct collapsing analyses at the respondent selection phase of this review and will not collapse companies at the respondent selection phase unless there has been a determination to collapse certain companies in a previous segment of this antidumping proceeding (e.g., investigation, administrative review, new shipper review or changed circumstances review). For any company subject to this review, if the Department determined, or continued to treat, that company as collapsed with others, the Department will assume that such companies continue to operate in the same manner and will collapse them for respondent selection purposes. Otherwise, the Department will not collapse companies for purposes of respondent selection. Parties are requested to (a) identify which companies subject to review previously were collapsed, and (b) provide a citation to the proceeding in which they were collapsed. Further, if companies are requested to complete the Quantity and Value (Q&V) Questionnaire for purposes of respondent selection, in general each company must report volume and value data separately for itself. Parties should not include data for any other party, even if they believe they should be treated as a single entity with that other party. If a company was collapsed with another company or companies in the most recently completed segment of this proceeding where the Department considered collapsing that entity, complete Q&V data for that collapsed entity must be submitted.

    Deadline for Withdrawal of Request for Administrative Review

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1), a party that has requested a review may withdraw that request within 90 days of the date of publication of the notice of initiation of the requested review. The regulation provides that the Department may extend this time if it is reasonable to do so. In order to provide parties additional certainty with respect to when the Department will exercise its discretion to extend this 90-day deadline, interested parties are advised that the Department does not intend to extend the 90-day deadline unless the requestor demonstrates that an extraordinary circumstance has prevented it from submitting a timely withdrawal request. Determinations by the Department to extend the 90-day deadline will be made on a case-by-case basis.

    Separate Rates

    In proceedings involving non-market economy (NME) countries, the Department begins with a rebuttable presumption that all companies within the country are subject to government control and, thus, should be assigned a single antidumping duty deposit rate. It is the Department's policy to assign all exporters of merchandise subject to an administrative review in an NME country this single rate unless an exporter can demonstrate that it is sufficiently independent so as to be entitled to a separate rate.

    To establish whether a firm is sufficiently independent from government control of its export activities to be entitled to a separate rate, the Department analyzes each entity exporting the subject merchandise. In accordance with the separate rates criteria, the Department assigns separate rates to companies in NME cases only if respondents can demonstrate the absence of both de jure and de facto government control over export activities.

    All firms listed below that wish to qualify for separate rate status in the administrative reviews involving NME countries must complete, as appropriate, either a separate rate application or certification, as described below. For these administrative reviews, in order to demonstrate separate rate eligibility, the Department requires entities for whom a review was requested, that were assigned a separate rate in the most recent segment of this proceeding in which they participated, to certify that they continue to meet the criteria for obtaining a separate rate. The Separate Rate Certification form will be available on the Department's Web site at http://enforcement.trade.gov/nme/nme-sep-rate.html on the date of publication of this Federal Register notice. In responding to the certification, please follow the “Instructions for Filing the Certification” in the Separate Rate Certification. Separate Rate Certifications are due to the Department no later than 30 calendar days after publication of this Federal Register notice. The deadline and requirement for submitting a Certification applies equally to NME-owned firms, wholly foreign-owned firms, and foreign sellers who purchase and export subject merchandise to the United States.

    Entities that currently do not have a separate rate from a completed segment of the proceeding 2 should timely file a Separate Rate Application to demonstrate eligibility for a separate rate in this proceeding. In addition, companies that received a separate rate in a completed segment of the proceeding that have subsequently made changes, including, but not limited to, changes to corporate structure, acquisitions of new companies or facilities, or changes to their official company name,3 should timely file a Separate Rate Application to demonstrate eligibility for a separate rate in this proceeding. The Separate Rate Status Application will be available on the Department's Web site at http://enforcement.trade.gov/nme/nme-sep-rate.html on the date of publication of this Federal Register notice. In responding to the Separate Rate Status Application, refer to the instructions contained in the application. Separate Rate Status Applications are due to the Department no later than 30 calendar days of publication of this Federal Register notice. The deadline and requirement for submitting a Separate Rate Status Application applies equally to NME-owned firms, wholly foreign-owned firms, and foreign sellers that purchase and export subject merchandise to the United States.

    2 Such entities include entities that have not participated in the proceeding, entities that were preliminarily granted a separate rate in any currently incomplete segment of the proceeding (e.g., an ongoing administrative review, new shipper review, etc.) and entities that lost their separate rate in the most recently completed segment of the proceeding in which they participated.

    3 Only changes to the official company name, rather than trade names, need to be addressed via a Separate Rate Application. Information regarding new trade names may be submitted via a Separate Rate Certification.

    For exporters and producers who submit a separate-rate status application or certification and subsequently are selected as mandatory respondents, these exporters and producers will no longer be eligible for separate rate status unless they respond to all parts of the questionnaire as mandatory respondents.

    Initiation of Reviews

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.221(c)(1)(i), we are initiating administrative reviews of the following antidumping and countervailing duty orders and findings. We intend to issue the final results of these reviews not later than September 30, 2018.

    Period to be
  • reviewed
  • Antidumping Duty Proceedings India: Certain Lined Paper Products, A-533-843 9/1/16-8/31/17 Goldenpalm Manufacturers PVT Limited Kokuyo Riddhi Paper Products Pvt. Ltd Lodha Offset Limited Lotus Global Private Limited Magic International Pvt. Ltd Marisa International Navneet Education Ltd Pioneer Stationery Pvt. Ltd PP Bafna Ventures Private Limited SAB International SGM Paper Products Super Impex India: Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products, A-533-865 3/7/16-8/31/17 Anil Special Steel Industries Ltd Bhandari Foils & Tubes Ltd Bhiwadi Metal Rollwell Pvt Ltd Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd Bhushan Steel Ltd Bhusan Steel and Strips Limited Bhuvee Profiles & Stainless Steel Pvt Ltd BRG & Steel Pvt Disha Auto Components Pvt Ltd Essar Steel Ltd Fit-Wel Industries Good Luck Steel Tubes Ltd Hi-Tech Pipes Ltd Indian Steel Corp. Ltd IUP Jindal Metals & Alloys Ltd Jai Corp Ltd Jainex Ltd Jindal Stainless Ltd JSW Steel Limited JSW Steel Coated Products Limited JSW Ispat Steel Ltd KR Steelunion Ltd Lloyds Group Mehta Alloys Ltd Metalman Industries Ltd National Steel & Agro Industries Ltd Niko Steel Centre POSCO India Quality Foils (India) Pvt Ltd Rabirun Vinimay Pvt Ltd Rapsri Engineering Products Co Ltd Real Strips Ltd Rimjhim Ispat Ltd RSAL—Ruchi Strips & Alloys Ltd Sahu Refrigeration Industries Ltd SAIL-Steel Authority of India Ltd Sandvik Asia Ltd Shah Alloys Ltd Shresty India Soni Ispat Ltd Steel Corp Steelco Gujarat Ltd Stelco Ltd Sunflag Iron & Steel Co Ltd Surya Global Ltd Swastik Pipes Ltd Tarun International Ltd Tata Steel Ltd The Tinplate Co of India Ltd Tube Products of India Ltd Unichem Steel & Alloys Pvt Ltd Uttam Galva Steels Ltd Uttam Value Steels Ltd Mexico: Certain Magnesia Carbon Bricks, A-201-837 9/1/16-8/31/17 RHI-Refmex SA de C.V Vesuvius Mexico S.A. de C.V Mexico: Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Pipes and Tubes, A-201-847 3/1/16-8/31/17 Arco Metal S.A. de C.V Forza Steel S.A. de C.V Industrias Monterrey, S.A. de C.V Maquilacero S.A. de C.V Perfiles y Herrajes LM S.A. de C.V Productos Laminados de Monterrey S.A. de C.V PYTCO S.A. de C.V Regiomontana de Perfiles y Tubos S.A. de C.V Ternium S.A. de C.V Tuberia Nacional S.A. de C.V Tuberia Procarsa S.A. de C.V Republic of Korea: Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products, A-580-881 3/7/16-8/31/17 Ameri-Source Korea Dongkuk Industries Co., Ltd Dongbu Steel Co., Ltd Dongkuk Steel Mill Co., Ltd GS Gobal Corp Hanawell Co., Ltd Hankum Co., Ltd Hyuk San Profile Co., Ltd Hyundai Glovis Co., Ltd Hyundai Steel Company Kindus Inc POSCO Daewoo International Corporation Samsung C&T Corp Steel N Future Taihan Electric Wire Co., Ltd Uin Global Co Republic of Korea: Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Pipes and Tubes, A-580-880 3/1/16-8/31/17 Ahshin Pipe & Tube Company Bookook Steel Co., Ltd Dongbu Steel Co., Ltd Dong-A Steel Company Histeel Co., Ltd Husteel Co., Ltd Hyundai Steel Pipe Company Hyundai Steel Co Miju Steel Manufacturing Co., Ltd NEXTEEL Co., Ltd Sam Kang Industries Co., Ltd SeAH Steel Corporation Kukje Steel Co., Ltd Yujin Steel Industry Co. Ltd Republic of Korea: Oil Country Tubular Goods, A-580-870 9/1/16-8/31/17 AJU Besteel Co., Ltd BDP International Daewoo International Corporation Daewoo America Dong-A Steel Co. Ltd Dong Yang Steel Pipe Dongbu Incheon Steel DSEC Erndtebruecker Eisenwerk and Company Hansol Metal Husteel Co., Ltd HYSCO Hyundai RB Hyundai Steel Co., Ltd Hyundai Steel Company ILJIN Steel Corporation Jim And Freight Co., Ltd Kia Steel Co. Ltd KSP Steel Company Kukje Steel Kurvers NEXTEEL Co., Ltd POSCO Daewoo Corporation POSCO Daewoo America Samsung Samsung C and T Corporation SeAH Besteel Corporation SeAH Steel Corporation Steel Canada Sumitomo Corporation TGS Pipe Yonghyun Base Materials ZEECO Asia Taiwan: Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, A-583-844 9/1/16-8/31/17 Banduoo Ltd Fujian Rongshu Industry Co., Ltd Ming Wei Co., Ltd Roung Shu Industry Corporation Xiamen Yi-He Textile Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: Certain Steel Nails,4 A-570-909 8/1/16-7/31/17 The People's Republic of China: Magnesia Carbon Bricks, A-570-954 9/1/16-8/31/16 Fedmet Resources Corporation Fengchi Imp. and Exp. Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City Fengchi Mining Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City Fengchi Refractories Co., of Haicheng City RHI Refractories Liaoning Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat, A-570-848 9/1/16-8/31/17 China Kingdom (Beijing) Import & Export Co., Ltd Deyan Aquatic Products and Food Co., Ltd Hubei Nature Agriculture Industry Co., Ltd Hubei Qianjiang Huashan Aquatic Food and Product Co., Ltd Hubei Yuesheng Aquatic Products Co., Ltd Jingzhou Tianhe Aquatic Products Co., Ltd Nanjing Gemsen International Co., Ltd Shanghai Ocean Flavor International Trading Co., Ltd Weishan Hongda Aquatic Food Co., Ltd Xiping Opeck Food Co., Ltd Xuzhou Jinjiang Foodstuffs Co., Ltd Yancheng Hi-King Agriculture Developing Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: New Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires, A-570-912 9/1/16-8/31/17 Maxon Int'l Co., Limited Tianjin Leviathan International Trade Co., Ltd Weihai Zhongwei Rubber Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: Raw Flexible Magnets, A-570-922 9/1/16-8/31/17 SOM International Limited Wenzhou Haibao Printing Co., LTD Turkey: Oil Country Tubular Goods, A-489-816 9/1/16-8/31/17 Cayirova Boru San A.S Cayirova Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S. and Yücel Boru Ithalat-Ihracat ve Pazarlama A.S. (collectively Yücel) HG Tubulars Canada Ltd Toscelik Profil ve Sac Endustrisi A.S Tosyali Dis Ticaret A.S Yucelboru Ihracat, Ithalat United Kingdom: Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products, A-412-824 3/7/16-8/31/17 Caparo Precision Strip, Ltd./Liberty Performance Steels Ltd.5 Countervailing Duty Proceedings India: Certain Lined Paper Products, C-533-844 1/1/16-12/31/16 Goldenpalm Manufacturers Pvt Limited India: Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products, C-533-866 9/16/16-12/31/16 Anil Special Steel Industries Ltd Bhandari Foils & Tubes Ltd Bhiwadi Metal Rollwell Pvt Ltd Bhushan Power & Steel Ltd Bhushan Steel Ltd Bhusan Steel and Strips Limited Bhuvee Profiles & Stainless Steel Pvt Ltd BRG & Steel Pvt Disha Auto Components Pvt Ltd Essar Steel Ltd Fit-Wel Industries Good Luck Steel Tubes Ltd Hi-Tech Pipes Ltd Indian Steel Corp. Ltd IUP Jindal Metals & Alloys Ltd Jai Corp Ltd Jainex Ltd Jindal Stainless Ltd JSW Steel Limited JSW Steel Coated Products Limited JSW Ispat Steel Ltd KR Steelunion Ltd Lloyds Group Mehta Alloys Ltd Metalman Industries Ltd National Steel & Agro Industries Ltd Niko Steel Centre POSCO India Quality Foils (India) Pvt Ltd Rabirun Vinimay Pvt Ltd Rapsri Engineering Products Co Ltd Real Strips Ltd Rimjhim Ispat Ltd RSAL—Ruchi Strips & Alloys Ltd Sahu Refrigeration Industries Ltd SAIL- Steel Authority of India Ltd Sandvik Asia Ltd Shah Alloys Ltd Shresty India Soni Ispat Ltd Steel Corp Steelco Gujarat Ltd Stelco Ltd Sunflag Iron & Steel Co Ltd Surya Global Ltd Swastik Pipes Ltd Tarun International Ltd Tata Steel Ltd The Tinplate Co of India Ltd Tube Products of India Ltd Unichem Steel & Alloys Pvt Ltd Uttam Galva Steels Ltd Republic of Korea: Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products, C-580-882 7/29/16-12/31/16 Dongbu Incheon Steel Co., Ltd Dongkuk Industries Co., Ltd Dongkuk Steel Mill Co., Ltd Dongbu Steel Co., Ltd Hyuk San Profile Co., Ltd Hyundai Steel Co., Ltd Hyundai Steel Company POSCO Taihan Electric Wire Co., Ltd Union Steel Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: Magnesia Carbon Bricks, C-570-955 1/1/16-12/31/16 Fedmet Resources Corporation Fengchi Imp. and Exp. Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City Fengchi Mining Co., Ltd. of Haicheng City Fengchi Refractories Co., of Haicheng City RHI Refractories Liaoning Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, C-570-953 1/1/16-12/31/16 Yama Ribbons and Bows Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: New Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires, C-570-913 1/1/16-12/31/16 Techking Tires Limited Tianjin Leviathan International Trade Co., Ltd Shandong Huitong Tyre Co., Ltd The People's Republic of China: Raw Flexible Magnets, C-570-923 1/1/16-12/31/16 SOM International Limited Wenzhou Haibao Printing Co., LTD Turkey: Heavy Walled Rectangular Welded Carbon Steel Pipes and Tubes, C-489-825 12/28/15-4/25/16
  • 9/12/16-12/31/16
  • Ozdemir Boru Profil San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti Turkey: Oil Country Tubular Goods,6 C-489-817 1/1/16-12/31/16 Borusan Mannesmann Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S Borusan Istikbal Ticaret Cayirova Boru San A.S Cayirova Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S HG Tubulars Canada Ltd Yucel Boru Ihracat ve Pazarlama A.S Yucelboru Ihracat, Ithalat Turkey: Oil Country Tubular Goods, C-489-817 1/1/16-12/31/16 Borusan Mannesmann Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S Borusan Istikbal Ticaret Cayirova Boru San A.S Cayirova Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret A.S HG Tubulars Canada Ltd Tosyali Dis Ticaret A.S Yucel Boru Ihracat ve Pazarlama A.S Yucelboru Ihracat, Ithalat
    Suspension Agreements

    None.

    4 In the initiation that published on October 16, 2017 (82 FR 48051), the Department incorrectly identified that an administrative review was initiated on the antidumping duty order of Certain Steel Nails from the PRC for Shanxi Hairut Trade Co. Ltd. The Department is now correcting that notice: The Department is initiating administrative reviews on the antidumping duty order of Certain Steel Nails from the PRC for the following companies: (1) Shanxi Hairui Trade Co., Ltd.; and (2) Qingdao D&L Group Ltd.

    5 We have previously determined that Liberty Performance Steels Ltd. is the successor-in-interest to Caparo Precision Strip, Ltd.

    6 The Department also received a request for review of Tosyali Dis Ticaret A.S.. However, this company was excluded from the CVD order as a result of litigation. See Oil Country Tubular Goods from the Republic of Turkey: Amendment of Countervailing Duty Order, 82 FR 46483 (October 26, 2017).

    Duty Absorption Reviews

    During any administrative review covering all or part of a period falling between the first and second or third and fourth anniversary of the publication of an antidumping duty order under 19 CFR 351.211 or a determination under 19 CFR 351.218(f)(4) to continue an order or suspended investigation (after sunset review), the Secretary, if requested by a domestic interested party within 30 days of the date of publication of the notice of initiation of the review, will determine whether antidumping duties have been absorbed by an exporter or producer subject to the review if the subject merchandise is sold in the United States through an importer that is affiliated with such exporter or producer. The request must include the name(s) of the exporter or producer for which the inquiry is requested.

    Gap Period Liquidation

    For the first administrative review of any order, there will be no assessment of antidumping or countervailing duties on entries of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption during the relevant provisional-measures “gap” period, of the order, if such a gap period is applicable to the POR.

    Administrative Protective Orders and Letters of Appearance

    Interested parties must submit applications for disclosure under administrative protective orders in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Department's regulations at 19 CFR 351.305. Those procedures apply to administrative reviews included in this notice of initiation. Parties wishing to participate in any of these administrative reviews should ensure that they meet the requirements of these procedures (e.g., the filing of separate letters of appearance as discussed at 19 CFR 351.103(d)).

    Factual Information Requirements

    The Department's regulations identify five categories of factual information in 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21), which are summarized as follows: (i) Evidence submitted in response to questionnaires; (ii) evidence submitted in support of allegations; (iii) publicly available information to value factors under 19 CFR 351.408(c) or to measure the adequacy of remuneration under 19 CFR 351.511(a)(2); (iv) evidence placed on the record by the Department; and (v) evidence other than factual information described in (i)-(iv). These regulations require any party, when submitting factual information, to specify under which subsection of 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) the information is being submitted and, if the information is submitted to rebut, clarify, or correct factual information already on the record, to provide an explanation identifying the information already on the record that the factual information seeks to rebut, clarify, or correct. The regulations, at 19 CFR 351.301, also provide specific time limits for such factual submissions based on the type of factual information being submitted. Please review the final rule, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/2013/1304frn/2013-08227.txt, prior to submitting factual information in this segment.

    Any party submitting factual information in an antidumping duty or countervailing duty proceeding must certify to the accuracy and completeness of that information.7 Parties are hereby reminded that revised certification requirements are in effect for company/government officials as well as their representatives. All segments of any antidumping duty or countervailing duty proceedings initiated on or after August 16, 2013, should use the formats for the revised certifications provided at the end of the Final Rule. 8 The Department intends to reject factual submissions in any proceeding segments if the submitting party does not comply with applicable revised certification requirements.

    7See section 782(b) of the Act.

    8See Certification of Factual Information To Import Administration During Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 42678 (July 17, 2013) (Final Rule); see also the frequently asked questions regarding the Final Rule, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/tlei/notices/factual_info_final_rule_FAQ_07172013.pdf.

    Extension of Time Limits Regulation

    Parties may request an extension of time limits before a time limit established under Part 351 expires, or as otherwise specified by the Secretary. See 19 CFR 351.302. In general, an extension request will be considered untimely if it is filed after the time limit established under Part 351 expires. For submissions which are due from multiple parties simultaneously, an extension request will be considered untimely if it is filed after 10:00 a.m. on the due date. Examples include, but are not limited to: (1) Case and rebuttal briefs, filed pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309; (2) factual information to value factors under 19 CFR 351.408(c), or to measure the adequacy of remuneration under 19 CFR 351.511(a)(2), filed pursuant to 19 CFR 351.301(c)(3) and rebuttal, clarification and correction filed pursuant to 19 CFR 351.301(c)(3)(iv); (3) comments concerning the selection of a surrogate country and surrogate values and rebuttal; (4) comments concerning U.S. Customs and Border Protection data; and (5) quantity and value questionnaires. Under certain circumstances, the Department may elect to specify a different time limit by which extension requests will be considered untimely for submissions which are due from multiple parties simultaneously. In such a case, the Department will inform parties in the letter or memorandum setting forth the deadline (including a specified time) by which extension requests must be filed to be considered timely. This modification also requires that an extension request must be made in a separate, stand-alone submission, and clarifies the circumstances under which the Department will grant untimely-filed requests for the extension of time limits. These modifications are effective for all segments initiated on or after October 21, 2013. Please review the final rule, available at http://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-20/html/2013-22853.htm, prior to submitting factual information in these segments.

    These initiations and this notice are in accordance with section 751(a) of the Act (19 U.S.C. 1675(a)) and 19 CFR 351.221(c)(1)(i).

    Dated: November 3, 2017. James Maeder, Senior Director perfoming the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24517 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-910] Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe From the People's Republic of China: Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2016-2017 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is rescinding the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on circular welded carbon quality steel pipe from the People's Republic of China (PRC) covering the period July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Eli Lovely, AD/CVD Operations, Office IV, Enforcement & Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1593.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On September 13, 2017, based on a timely request by Zekelman Industries (Zekelman), the Department published in the Federal Register a notice of initiation of an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on circular welded carbon quality steel pipe from the PRC with respect to 20 companies.1 On September 29, 2017, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1), Zekelman timely withdrew its request for an administrative review of all 20 companies.2

    1See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 82 FR 42974 (September 13, 2017).

    2See Letter from Zekelman Industries, regarding “Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe from the People's Republic of China: Withdrawal of Request for Administrative Review,” dated September 29, 2017.

    Rescission of Administrative Review

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1), the Department will rescind an administrative review, in whole or in part, if the party that requested the review withdraws the requests within 90 days of the date of publication of the notice of initiation of the requested review. Zekelman withdrew its review request by the 90-day deadline, and no other parties requested an administrative review of this order. Therefore, we are rescinding the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on circular welded carbon quality steel pipe from the PRC covering the period July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017, in its entirety.

    Assessment

    The Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assess antidumping duties on all appropriate entries. Because the Department is rescinding this administrative review in its entirety, the entries to which this administrative review pertains shall be assessed antidumping duties that are equal to the cash deposits of estimated antidumping duties required at the time of entry, or withdrawal from warehouse, for consumption, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(c)(1)(i). The Department intends to issue appropriate assessment instructions to CBP within 15 days after the publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice serves as the only reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the presumption that reimbursement of the antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of doubled antidumping duties.

    Administrative Protective Orders

    This notice also serves as the only reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305, which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials, or conversion to judicial protective order, is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This notice is issued and published in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, and 19 CFR 351.213(d)(4).

    Dated: November 6, 2017. James Maeder, Senior Director performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24514 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 a.m.] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-588-850, A-588-851, A-485-805] Certain Large Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe From Japan; Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe From Japan and Romania: Continuation of Antidumping Duty Orders AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 13, 2017.

    SUMMARY:

    As a result of the determinations by the Department of Commerce (the Department) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) that revocation of the antidumping duty orders on certain large diameter carbon and alloy seamless standard, line and pressure pipe (large diameter pipe) from Japan and certain small diameter carbon and alloy seamless standard, line and pressure pipe (small diameter pipe) from Japan and Romania would likely lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping and material injury to an industry in the United States, the Department is publishing a notice of continuation of the antidumping duty orders.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas Schauer, AD/CVD Operations, Office I, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone (202) 482-0410.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On June 26, 2000, and August 10, 2000, the Department published the AD orders on large diameter pipe from Japan and small diameter pipe from Japan and Romania, respectively.1 On September 1, 2016, the Department published the notice of initiation of the third sunset review of the antidumping duty orders on large diameter pipe from Japan and small diameter pipe from Japan and Romania pursuant to section 751(c) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act).2 On December 16, 2016, the USITC instituted its review of the orders.3

    1See Notice of Antidumping Duty Orders: Certain Large Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan; and Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan and the Republic of South Africa, 65 FR 39360 (June 26, 2000), and Notice of Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Antidumping Duty Order: Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Romania, 65 FR 48963 (August 10, 2000).

    2See Initiation of Five-Year (Sunset) Reviews, 81 FR 60343 (September 1, 2016).

    3See Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe from Japan and Romania Institution of Five-Year Reviews; Notice of Commission Determination to Conduct Full Five Year Reviews, 81 FR 91199 (December 16, 2016).

    As a result of its review, the Department determined that revocation of the antidumping duty orders on large diameter pipe from Japan and small diameter pipe from Japan and Romania would likely lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping and, therefore, notified the USITC of the magnitude of the margins of dumping likely to prevail should the orders be revoked.4

    4See Certain Large Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan; Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan and Romania: Final Results of the Expedited Third Five-Year Sunset Reviews of the Antidumping Duty Orders, 81 FR 93648 (December 21, 2016).

    On October 16, 2017, the USITC published its determination, pursuant to section 751(c)(1) of the Act, that revocation of the antidumping duty orders on large diameter pipe from Japan and small diameter pipe from Japan and Romania would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury to an industry in the United States within a reasonably foreseeable time.5

    5See Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe from Japan and Romania; Determinations, 82 FR 48113 (October 16, 2017) and USITC Publication 4731 (October 2017), titled Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe from Japan and Romania, Investigation Nos. 731-TA-847 and 849 (Third Review).

    Scope of the Orders Large Diameter Pipe From Japan

    The products covered by this order are large diameter seamless carbon and alloy (other than stainless) steel standard, line, and pressure pipes. The seamless pipes subject to this order are currently classifiable under the subheadings 7304.10.10.30, 7304.10.10.45, 7304.10.10.60, 7304.10.50.50, 7304.19.10.30, 7304.19.10.45, 7304.19.10.60, 7304.19.50.50, 7304.31.60.10, 7304.31.60.50, 7304.39.00.04, 7304.39.00.06, 7304.39.00.08, 7304.39.00.36, 7304.39.00.40, 7304.39.00.44, 7304.39.00.48, 7304.39.00.52, 7304.39.00.56, 7304.39.00.62, 7304.39.00.68, 7304.39.00.72, 7304.51.50.15, 7304.51.50.45, 7304.51.50.60, 7304.59.20.30, 7304.59.20.55, 7304.59.20.60, 7304.59.20.70, 7304.59.60.00, 7304.59.80.30, 7304.59.80.35, 7304.59.80.40, 7304.59.80.45, 7304.59.80.50, 7304.59.80.55, 7304.59.80.60, 7304.59.80.65, and 7304.59.80.70 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes. The written product description remains dispositive.6

    6 A full description of the scope of the order is contained in the Memorandum, “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Results of the Expedited Third Sunset Reviews of the Antidumping Duty Orders on Certain Large Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan (A-588-850), Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Japan (A-588-851) and Romania (A-485-805),” dated December 15, 2016.

    Small Diameter Pipe From Japan and Romania

    The products covered by these orders include small diameter seamless carbon and alloy (other than stainless) steel standard, line, and pressure pipes and redraw hollows. The seamless pipes subject to these orders are currently classifiable under the subheadings 7304.10.10.20, 7304.10.50.20, 7304.19.10.20, 7304.19.50.20, 7304.31.30.00, 7304.31.60.50, 7304.39.00.16, 7304.39.00.20, 7304.39.00.24, 7304.39.00.28, 7304.39.00.32, 7304.51.50.05, 7304.51.50.60, 7304.59.60.00, 7304.59.80.10, 7304.59.80.15, 7304.59.80.20, and 7304.59.80.25 of the HTSUS. The HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes. The written product description remains dispositive.7

    7Id.

    Continuation of the Orders

    As a result of these determinations by the Department and the USITC that revocation of the antidumping duty orders would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping and material injury to an industry in the United States, pursuant to section 751(d)(2) of the Act, the Department hereby orders the continuation of the antidumping orders on large diameter pipe from Japan and small diameter pipe from Japan and Romania. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to collect antidumping duty cash deposits at the rates in effect at the time of entry for all imports of subject merchandise. The effective date of the continuation of these orders will be the date of publication in the Federal Register of this notice of continuation. Pursuant to section 751(c)(2) of the Act, the Department intends to initiate the next five-year review of the orders not later than 30 days prior to the fifth anniversary of the effective date of continuation.

    These five-year (sunset) reviews and this notice are in accordance with section 751(c) of the Act and published pursuant to section 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, Performing the Non-exclusive Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24515 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-570-011] Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products From the People's Republic of China: Notice of Court Decision Not in Harmony With Amended Final Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On September 8, 2017, the United States Court of International Trade (CIT) entered final judgment sustaining the Department of Commerce's (the Department's) final results of remand redetermination pertaining to the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products (solar products) from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Department is notifying the public that the CIT's final judgment in this case is not in harmony with the Department's final determination, as amended, in the CVD investigation of solar products from the PRC.

    DATES:

    Applicable September 18, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gene H. Calvert, AD/CVD Operations, Office VII, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone (202) 482-3586.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On December 23, 2014, the Department published its final determination in the CVD investigation of solar products from the PRC.1 On February 18, 2015, the Department published an amended final determination and CVD order.2 In the Final Determination, the Department found that certain unreported assistance discovered during the investigation was countervailable using adverse facts available (AFA) pursuant to section 776 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act).3 Additionally, the Department determined not to initiate investigations into the mandatory respondents' creditworthinesss in certain years, finding that SolarWorld Americas, Inc.'s (SolarWorld) creditworthiness allegation failed to satisfy the threshold initiation requirements of 19 CFR 351.505(a)(6)(i).4 In the Amended Final Determination, the Department found that it made a ministerial error in countervailing one of the unreported programs, and removed that program from the net countervailable subsidy rate calculated for Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. (Trina Solar).5

    1See Countervailing Duty Investigation of Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products from the People's Republic of China: Final Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination, 79 FR 76962 (December 23, 2014) (Final Determination).

    2See Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products from the People's Republic of China: Antidumping Duty Order; and Amended Final Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination and Countervailing Duty Order, 80 FR 8592 (February 18, 2015) (Amended Final Determination).

    3See Final Determination, and accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum at Comment 15.

    4Id. at Comment 17.

    5See Amended Final Determination, 80 FR at 8593.

    Trina Solar and SolarWorld appealed the Amended Final Determination to the CIT, and on December 30, 2016, the CIT sustained, in part, and remanded, in part, the Amended Final Determination. 6 First, the CIT remanded the Amended Final Determination for the Department to make the necessary factual findings to support its determinations, based upon AFA, to countervail the unreported government subsidies discovered during the investigation.7 The CIT further held that should the Department continue to find those government subsidies countervailable on remand, the Department must then explain how it selected the AFA rates for those subsidies.8 Second, the CIT granted the Department's request for a voluntary remand to reconsider its determination not to initiate creditworthiness investigations for Trina Solar and the other mandatory company respondent, Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd. (Suntech).

    6See Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. et al. v. United States, Consol. Court No. 15-00068; Slip Op. 16-121 (CIT December 30, 2016) (Remand Opinion and Order).

    7Id. at 24-25.

    8Id. at 26-28.

    In accordance with the CIT's remand order, the Department reconsidered these issues and submitted its Final Remand Results with the CIT on April 28, 2017.9 In the Final Remand Results, the Department continued to countervail all but one of the unreported programs using AFA. The Department also revised its determination regarding whether to initiate creditworthiness investigations for Trina Solar and Suntech, in part, and ultimately found Trina Solar and Suntech to be uncreditworthy in certain years. As a result of these changes, on remand, the Department determined revised countervailable subsidy rates of 39.50 percent for Trina Solar, 27.65 percent for Suntech, and 33.58 percent for all other producers/exporters of solar products from the PRC.10 On September 8, 2017, the CIT sustained the Department's Final Remand Results in full.11

    9See Final Results of Redetermination Pursuant to Court Remand, Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. et al. v. United States, Consol. Court No. 15-00068; Slip Op. 161-121 (April 28, 2017) (Final Remand Results).

    10See Final Remand Results at 48.

    11See Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. et al., v. United States, Consol. Court No. 15-00068; Slip Op. 17-122 (CIT September 8, 2017).

    Timken Notice

    In its decision in Timken, 12 as clarified in Diamond Sawblades, 13 the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that, pursuant to section 516A(e) of the Act, the Department must publish a notice of a court decision that is not “in harmony” with a Department determination and must suspend liquidation of entries pending a “conclusive” court decision. The CIT's September 8, 2017, judgment sustaining the Final Remand Results constitutes a final decision of the CIT that is not in harmony with the Department's Amended Final Determination. This notice is published in fulfillment of the publication requirement of Timken.

    12See Timken Co. v. United States, 893 F.2d 337, 341 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (Timken).

    13See Diamond Sawblades Mfrs. Coalition v. United States, 626 F.3d. 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2010) Diamond Sawblades.

    Amended Final Determination

    As there is now a final court decision with respect to the Amended Final Determination, the Department amends its Amended Final Determination. The Department finds that the revised net countervailable subsidy rates exist:

    Company Subsidy rate (ad valorem)
  • (%)
  • Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd 33.50 Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd 27.65 All Others 33.58
    Cash Deposit Requirements

    Because there has been a subsequent administrative review for Trina Solar, the cash deposit rate for Trina Solar will remain the rate established in the final results of the administrative review of solar products from the PRC covering the period June 10, 2014, through December 31, 2015, which is 13.93 percent.14 As there have been no subsequent administrative reviews for Suntech, the Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to set the cash deposit rate for Suntech as listed above.

    14See Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products from the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review, and Partial Rescission of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2014-2015, 82 FR 42792 (September 12, 2017).

    Finally, the Department will instruct CBP that the all-others cash deposit rate is to be amended to reflect the simple average of the revised subsidy rates calculated for Trina Solar and for Suntech, as listed above.

    This notice is issued and published in accordance with sections 516(e), 705(c)(1)(B), and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, Performing the Non-exclusive Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24516 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board: Meeting of the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board AGENCY:

    International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of an open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board (Board or TTAB) will hold an open meeting via teleconference on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. The Board advises the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the U.S. travel and tourism industry. The purpose of the meeting is for Board members to consider recommendations being developed by the Hurricane Recovery subcommittee on how to accelerate recovery in destinations affected by the recent hurricanes. The final agenda will be posted on the Department of Commerce Web site for the Board at http://trade.gov/ttab at least one week in advance of the meeting.

    DATES:

    Wednesday, November 29, 2017, 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. EST. The deadline for members of the public to register, including requests to make comments during the meeting and for auxiliary aids, or to submit written comments for dissemination prior to the meeting, is 5:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held via conference call. The call-in number and passcode will be provided by email to registrants. Requests to register (including to speak or for auxiliary aids) and any written comments should be submitted to: National Travel and Tourism Office, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave. NW., Room 10003, Washington, DC 20230 or by email to [email protected] Members of the public are encouraged to submit registration requests and written comments via email to ensure timely receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brian Beall, the United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, National Travel and Tourism Office, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave. NW., Room 10003, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: 202-482-5634; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background: The Board advises the Secretary of Commerce on matters relating to the U.S. travel and tourism industry.

    Public Participation: The meeting will be open to the public and will be accessible to people with disabilities. Any member of the public requesting to join the meeting is asked to register in advance by the deadline identified under the DATES caption. Requests for auxiliary aids must be submitted by the registration deadline. Last minute requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to grant. There will be fifteen (15) minutes allotted for oral comments from members of the public joining the meeting. To accommodate as many speakers as possible, the time for public speaking time may be limited to three (3) minutes per person. Members of the public wishing to reserve speaking time during the meeting must submit a request at the time of registration, as well as the name and address of the proposed speaker. If the number of registrants requesting speaking time is greater than can be reasonably accommodated during the meeting, the International Trade Administration may conduct a lottery to determine the speakers. Speakers are requested to submit a written copy of their prepared remarks by 5:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, for inclusion in the meeting records and for circulation to the members of the Board.

    In addition, any member of the public may submit pertinent written comments concerning the Board's affairs at any time before or after the meeting. Comments may be submitted to Brian Beall at the contact information indicated above. To be considered during the meeting, comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, November 22, 2017, to ensure transmission to the Board prior to the meeting. Comments received after that date and time will be distributed to the members but may not be considered during the meeting. Copies of Board meeting minutes will be available within 90 days of the meeting.

    Dated: October 31, 2017. Brian Beall, Designated Federal Officer, United States Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24488 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF822 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting via webinar.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee will hold a webinar to reconsider its recommendations for setting an overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch for Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder and possibly for each of several other flounder stocks using an empirical stock assessment approach. Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    This webinar will be held on Monday, November 27, 2017 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Webinar registration URL information: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7349973934358582785; Call in information: +1 (415) 930-5321, Attendee Access Code: 179-198-666.

    ADDRESSES:

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda

    The Scientific and Statistical Committee will consider an alternative to the method it used at its October 23-24, 2017 meeting for calculating acceptable biological catch for Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder for fishing years 2018-20. Other business will be discussed as needed.

    Although non-emergency issues not contained on the agenda may come before this Council for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Council action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency. The public also should be aware that the meeting will be recorded. Consistent with 16 U.S.C. 1852, a copy of the recording is available upon request.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24505 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF828 Fisheries of the South Atlantic; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Announcement of rescheduled meeting and an additional meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Citizen Science Advisory Panel Finance and Infrastructure Action Team.

    SUMMARY:

    The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a meeting of its Citizen Science Advisory Panel Finance and Infrastructure Action Team via webinar. The meeting via webinar was originally scheduled for November 9, 2017 but has been rescheduled as a result of schedule changes (See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION). In December 2017, the Council will also hold another meeting of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel Finance and Infrastructure Action Team via webinar.

    DATES:

    The meeting via webinar has been rescheduled for November 29, 2017 at 1 p.m. The additional Action Team webinar for December 2017 is scheduled for December 13, 2017 at 1 p.m. Both meetings are scheduled to last approximately 90 minutes each. Additional Action Team meetings and plenary webinar dates and times will publish in a subsequent issue in the Federal Register.

    ADDRESSES:

    Meeting address: The meetings will be held via webinar and are open to members of the public. Webinar registration is required and registration links will be posted to the Citizen Science program page of the Council's Web site at www.safmc.net.

    Council address: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amber Von Harten, Citizen Science Program Manager, SAFMC; phone (843) 302-8433 or toll free (866) SAFMC-10; fax: (843) 769-4520; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Due to schedule changes, the scheduled meeting of the Council's Citizen Science Finance and Infrastructure Action Team originally scheduled for Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 2 p.m. is rescheduled for Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 1 p.m. The original notice for that meeting published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2017 (82 FR 48063). The Council will also hold another meeting of the Council's Citizen Science Finance and Infrastructure Action Team on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 1 p.m.

    The Council created a Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool in June 2017. The Council appointed members of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool to five Action Teams in the areas of Volunteers, Data Management, Projects/Topics Management, Finance and Infrastructure, and Communication/Outreach/Education to develop program policies and operations for the Council's Citizen Science Program.

    The Finance and Infrastructure Action Team will meet to continue work on developing recommendations on program policies and operations to be reviewed by the Council's Citizen Science Committee. Public comment will be accepted at the beginning of the meeting.

    Items to be addressed during these meetings:

    1. Discuss work on tasks in the Terms of Reference 2. Other Business Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for auxiliary aids should be directed to the council office (see ADDRESSES) 3 days prior to the meeting.

    Note:

    The times and sequence specified in this agenda are subject to change.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24507 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; NOAA Customer Surveys AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before January 12, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Sarah Brabson, NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer, (301) 628-5751 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    This request is for extension of a currently approved generic information collection.

    This collection follows the guidelines contained in the OMB Resource Manual for Customer Surveys. In accordance with Executive Order 12862, the National Performance Review, and good management practices, NOAA offices seek approval to continue to gather customer feedback on services and/or products, which can be used in planning for service/product modification and prioritization. Under this generic clearance, individual offices would use approved questionnaires and develop new questionnaires, as needed, by selecting subsets of the approved set of collection questions and tailoring those specific questions to be meaningful for their particular programs. These proposed questionnaires would then be submitted to OMB using a fast-track request for approval process, for which separate Federal Register notices are not required. Surveys currently being conducted include Web site satisfaction surveys, Weather Service product surveys and National Marine Sanctuary participation surveys.

    The generic clearance will not be used to survey any bodies NOAA regulates unless precautions are taken to ensure that the respondents believe that they are not under any risk for not responding or for the contents of their responses; e.g., in no survey to such a population will the names and addresses of respondents be required.

    II. Method of Collection

    Information will be collected via mail, email or online.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0342.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Affected Public: Individuals or households; not-for-profit institutions; state, local or tribal government; business or other for-profit organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 24,000.

    Estimated Time per Response: Response times averages 5-10 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 22,500.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in recordkeeping/reporting costs.

    IV. Request for Comments

    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 practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (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.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24470 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Alaska Chinook Salmon Economic Data Report (EDR) AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before January 12, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Scott Miller, (907) 586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    This request is for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) manages the Bering Sea pollock fishery under the American Fisheries Act (AFA) (16 U.S.C. 1851). AFA fishing vessels harvest pollock in the Bering Sea pollock fishery using pelagic (mid-water) trawl gear, which consists of large nets towed through the water by the vessel. At times, Chinook salmon and pollock occur in the same locations in the Bering Sea; consequently, Chinook salmon are incidentally caught in the nets as pollock is harvested. This incidental catch is called bycatch and is also called prohibited species catch (PSC).

    The Chinook Salmon Economic Data Report (Chinook Salmon EDR) Program provides NMFS and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) with data to evaluate the effectiveness of Chinook salmon bycatch management measures for the Bering Sea pollock fishery that were implemented under Amendment 91 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010). The EDR consists of three data collections that are submitted annually by owners and operators of catcher vessels, catcher/processors, motherships, and the Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program groups qualified to participate in the Bering Sea pollock fishery (50 CFR 679.65). The Chinook Salmon EDR Program also includes a means for NMFS to verify the data submitted in these three collections.

    NMFS and the Council use the information to determine the effectiveness of the Incentive Plan Agreement (IPA), the IPA incentives, the PSC limits, and the performance standard in terms of minimizing salmon bycatch in times of high and low levels of salmon abundance. NMFS and the Council also use the data to evaluate how Amendment 91 affects where, when, and how pollock fishing and salmon bycatch occur and to study and verify conclusions drawn by industry in the IPA annual reports.

    II. Method of Collection

    The Compensated Transfer Report, Vessel Fuel Survey, and Vessel Master Survey are completed and submitted annually using a data reporting web application on the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission Web site at https://www.psmfc.org//chinookedr/. Data for the Chinook EDR Verification/Audit are submitted by email, electronically, fax, or mail.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0633.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a current information collection).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 133.

    Estimated Time per Response: 40 hours for Compensated Transfer Report; 4 hours each for Vessel Fuel Survey, Vessel Master Survey; and Chinook EDR Verification/Audit.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 1,168.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $4,631 in recordkeeping/reporting costs.

    IV. Request for Comments

    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 practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (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.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24467 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF826 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Groundfish Committee to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    This meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 9 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Courtyard Marriott Boston Logan Airport, 225 McClellan Highway, Boston, MA; phone: (617) 569-5250.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda

    The Committee will review Framework Adjustment 57/Specifications and Management Measures, review the draft alternatives under consideration, the Groundfish Plan Development Team's (PDT) impact analysis, and make recommendations on preferred alternatives to the Council. They will also discuss Amendment 23/Groundfish Monitoring and review an updated draft outline prepared by the PDT of the likely range of alternatives and make recommendations to the Council. The committee will also hold a discussion of possible groundfish priorities for 2018 and make recommendations to the Council. They also plan to discuss several recent Executive Orders that have been issued about streamlining current regulations, and NOAA is seeking public input on the efficiency and effectiveness of current regulations and whether they can be improved. Discuss whether there are any regulations in the Northeast Multispecies fishery management plan that could be eliminated, improved, or streamlined. The committee will also review Groundfish Advisory Panel and Recreational Advisory Panel recommendations and make recommendations to the council. Other business will be discussed as necessary.

    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. This meeting will be recorded. Consistent with 16 U.S.C. 1852, a copy of the recording is available upon request.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24506 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF818 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a public meeting of its Scallop Advisory Panel to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate.

    DATES:

    This meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 9 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Logan Airport, 100 Boardman Street, Boston, MA 02128; phone: (617) 567-6789.

    Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Agenda

    The Scallop Advisory Panel will review Framework 29 (FW 29) alternatives and analyses, and make final recommendations. FW 29 will set specifications including acceptable biological catch/annual catch limit (ABC/ACLs), Days at Sea (DAS), access area allocations for Limited Access (LA) and Limited Access General Category (LAGC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) management area, target-TAC for LAGC incidental catch and set-asides for the observer and research programs for fishing year 2018 and default specifications for fishing year 2019. Make final recommendations for potential FW 29 specifications that includes areas that may open through Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2). The Advisory Panel will also review FW 29 management measures and make final recommendations. These measures may include, but are not limited to: (1) NGOM management measures; (2) Flatfish accountability measures for Northern windowpane flounder, Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, and Southern New England yellowtail flounder; (3) Measures to modify and/or create access area and open area boundaries, consistent with potential changes to habitat and groundfish closed areas; (4) measures to allocate unused CAI carryover pounds under certain scenarios of OHA2 approval. Other business may be discussed as necessary.

    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465-0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Consistent with 16 U.S.C. 1852, a copy of the recording is available upon request.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24504 Filed 11-9-17; 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: Alaska Prohibited Species Donation Program.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0316.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 1.

    Average Hours per Response: 50 hours for a three-year permit, annualized to 17.

    Burden Hours: 17.

    Needs and Uses: The prohibited species donation (PSD) program for salmon and halibut has effectively reduced regulatory discard of salmon and halibut by allowing fish that would otherwise be discarded to be donated to needy individuals through tax-exempt organizations. Vessels and processing plants participating in the PSD program voluntarily retain and process salmon and halibut bycatch. An authorized, tax-exempt distributor, chosen by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), is responsible for monitoring retention and processing of fish donated by vessels and processors. The authorized distributor also coordinates processing, storage, transportation, and distribution of salmon and halibut. The PSD program requires an information collection so that NMFS can monitor the authorized distributors' ability to effectively supervise program participants and ensure that donated fish are properly processed, stored, and distributed.

    Affected Public: Not-for-profit institution.

    Frequency: Every three years.

    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: November 7, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24471 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF829 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary determination that an Exempted Fishing Permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. This Exempted Fishing Permit would exempt a commercial fishing vessel from Atlantic sea scallop regulations in support of research conducted by the Coonamessett Farm Foundation. Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed Exempted Fishing Permits.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 28, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit written comments by any of the following methods:

    Email: [email protected]. Include in the subject line “DA17-100 CFF BREP LA Flounder Sweep Study EFP.”

    Mail: John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope “Comments on DA17-100 CFF BREP LA Flounder Sweep Study EFP.”

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannah Jaburek, Fisheries Management Specialist, 978-282-8456.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Coonamessett Farm Foundation (CFF) submitted an application for an EFP on September 18, 2017, for a 2017 Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program project titled “A Modified Flounder Sweep for Flatfish Bycatch Reduction in the Limited Access (LA) Scallop Fishery.” The project would test a modified flounder cookie sweep on the outer bale bars of the scallop dredge and film fish-dredge interactions to monitor the effectiveness of the gear modification in reducing flatfish bycatch.

    To conduct this experiment, vessels would require exemptions from the following regulations: Atlantic sea scallop crew size restrictions at 50 CFR 648.51(c); dredge gear obstruction restrictions at § 648.51(b)(4)(ii); Atlantic sea scallop observer program requirements at § 648.11(g); and closed area exemptions for Closed Area I at § 648.60(c), Closed Area II at § 648.60(d), Closed Area II Extension at § 648.60(e), and Nantucket Lightship at § 648.60(f). It would also exempt participating vessels from possession limits and minimum fish size requirements specified in 50 CFR part 648, subsections B and D through O, for biological sampling purposes only.

    Vessels would conduct scallop dredging between November 2017-June 2018, on 2 trips each lasting approximately 7 days-at-sea (DAS) each for a project total of 14 DAS. An average of 10 tows per day would be conducted for a maximum duration of 50 minutes at a tow speed range of 4.8-5.1 knots (2.5-2.6 m/s). Trips would take place in scallop open areas of Southern New England and Georges Bank along with scallop access areas Nantucket Lightship and Closed Areas I and II.

    The vessel would conduct all tows with two 15-foot (4.57-m) New Bedford Style dredges, one acting as a control dredge and one acting as an experimental dredge. The vessel would tow both dredges simultaneously to reduce spatial and temporal variability. Researchers would attach the two 9-foot (2.74-m) cookie sweeps to each of the outer bale bars using chain and shackles on the experimental dredge. The cookie sweeps would alternate between the two dredges each tow to reduce “side” effects. The cookie sweeps would be constructed of round rubber disks with lead cookies approximately 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm) in diameter evenly spaced to encourage bottom contact. The attachment chains would be evenly spaced and varied in length to account for dredge position while being towed to ensure contact with the ocean bottom. Exemption from the dredge gear obstruction regulation would allow researchers to use the cookie sweep for the experimental tows.

    Researchers would weigh all scallop catch in industry bushel baskets caught in both dredges and measure a one-basket sub-sample from each side in 5-millimeter increments. The researchers would also obtain total weight of bycatch species and individual measurements to the nearest centimeter. If the volume of the catch is large, subsampling protocols would be necessary. All bycatch would be returned to the sea as soon as practicable following data collection. Exemption from possession limit and minimum sizes would support catch sampling activities, and ensure the vessel is not in conflict with possession regulations while collecting catch data. Researchers would discard all catch above a possession limit or below a minimum size as soon as practicable following data collection. The table below lists the anticipated catch for the project. No catch would be landed for sale.

    Species Weight
  • (lb)
  • Weight
  • (kg)
  • Scallop 20,000 9,072 Northeast Skate Complex (Barndoor Skate not included) 50,000 22,680 Barndoor Skate 250 113 Summer Flounder 90 41 Winter Flounder 250 113 Yellowtail Flounder 750 340 Windowpane Flounder 750 340 Monkfish 1,750 794

    Researchers need additional exemptions to deploy dredge gear in closed areas in order to help locate large enough aggregations of flatfish to test the experimental gear. Participating vessels need crew size waivers to accommodate science personnel and possession waivers would enable them to conduct data collection activities. We would waive the observer program notification requirements because the research activity is not representative of standard fishing activity.

    If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impacts that do not change the scope or impact of the initially approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24520 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF816 Fisheries of the South Atlantic; Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR); Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of SEDAR 55 Assessment Scoping webinar II.

    SUMMARY:

    The SEDAR 55 assessment of the South Atlantic stock of Vermilion Snapper will consist of a series of webinars. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

    DATES:

    A SEDAR 55 Assessment Scoping webinar II will be held on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Meeting address: The meetings will be held via webinar. The webinars are open to members of the public. Those interested in participating should contact Julia Byrd at SEDAR (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) to request an invitation providing webinar access information. Please request webinar invitations at least 24 hours in advance of each webinar.

    SEDAR address: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405; www.sedarweb.org.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Julia Byrd, SEDAR Coordinator, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, North Charleston, SC 29405; phone: (843) 571-4366; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Caribbean Fishery Management Councils, in conjunction with NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions, have implemented the Southeast Data, Assessment and Review (SEDAR) process, a multi-step method for determining the status of fish stocks in the Southeast Region. The product of the SEDAR webinar series will be a report which compiles and evaluates potential datasets and recommends which datasets are appropriate for assessment analyses, and describes the fisheries, evaluates the status of the stock, estimates biological benchmarks, projects future population conditions, and recommends research and monitoring needs. Participants for SEDAR Workshops are appointed by the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, and Caribbean Fishery Management Councils and NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, and Southeast Fisheries Science Center. Participants include: Data collectors and database managers; stock assessment scientists, biologists, and researchers; constituency representatives including fishermen, environmentalists, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs); international experts; and staff of Councils, Commissions, and state and federal agencies.

    The items of discussion in the Assessment Scoping webinar II are as follows:

    Participants will review data and discuss data issues, as necessary, and initial model issues.

    Although non-emergency issues not contained in this agenda may come before this group for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically identified in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the intent to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for auxiliary aids should be directed to the SAFMC office (see ADDRESSES) at least 5 business days prior to the meeting.

    Note:

    The times and sequence specified in this agenda are subject to change.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24503 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Monitoring Programs for Vessels in the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before January 12, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to the West Coast Regional Office—7600 Sand Point Way NE., Seattle, WA 98115, Keeley Kent, telephone number ((206) 526-4655), or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    In 2011, NMFS mandated observer requirements for the West Coast groundfish trawl catch shares program. For all fishery sectors, observers must be obtained through third-party observer provider companies operating under permits issued by NMFS. The regulations at §§ 660.140 (h), 660.150 (j), 660.160 (g), specify observer coverage requirements for trawl vessels and define the responsibilities for observer providers, including reporting requirements. Regulations at § 660.140 (i) specify requirements for catch monitor coverage for first receivers. Data collected by observers are used by NMFS to estimate total landed catch and discards, monitor the attainment of annual groundfish allocations, estimate catch rates of prohibited species, and as a component in stock assessments. These data are necessary to comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements to prevent overfishing. In addition, observer data is used to assess fishing related mortality of protected and endangered species.

    II. Method of Collection

    This collection utilizes both electronic and paper forms, depending on the specific item. Methods of submittal include email of electronic forms, and mail and facsimile transmission of paper forms. Additionally, this collection utilizes interviews for some information collection and phone calls for transmission of other information.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0500.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Regular (extension of a current information collection).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 268 (5 providers (supplying a total of 75 observers or catch monitors) and 263 fishing vessels).

    Estimated Time per Response: For providers: 15 minutes for observer training/briefing/debriefing registration, notification of observer physical examination, observer status reports, other reports on observer harassment, safety concerns, or performance problems, catch monitor status reports, and other catch monitor reports on harassment, prohibited actions, illness or injury, or performance problems; 5 minutes for observer safety checklist submission to NMFS, observer provider contracts, observer information materials, catch monitor provider contracts, and catch monitor informational materials; 10 minutes for certificate of insurance; 7 minutes for catch monitor training/briefing registration, notification of catch monitor physical examination, and catch monitor debriefing registration. For vessels: 10 minutes for fishing departure reports and cease-fishing reports.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 525 (305 for providers and 220 for fishing vessels).

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in capital costs as it is assumed that each of the 5 observer/catch monitor providers will maintain a computer system with email capacity for general business purposes and that each vessel owner/operator has access to a telephone for toll-free calls.

    IV. Request for Comments

    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 practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (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.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24469 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION [Docket No. CFPB-2017-0037] Request for Information Regarding Consumers' Experience With Free Access to Credit Scores AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for information.

    SUMMARY:

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) established the Office of Financial Education within the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB or Bureau) to develop and launch initiatives that will educate consumers and help them make better informed financial decisions.

    The CFPB's Office of Financial Education seeks to learn more about the experience consumers are having with access to free credit scores and the experience of companies, and nonprofits, offering their customers and the general public free access to their credit scores. The Bureau encourages comments from all interested members of the public, including consumers, consumer advocacy groups, credit card companies and other lenders, nonprofit credit and financial counseling providers, credit reporting companies, researchers and any other interested party.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before February 12, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments regarding the “Request for Information Regarding Consumers' Experience with Free Access to Credit Scores,” identified by title and by Docket No. CFPB-2017-0037, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: Office of Financial Education), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: Office of Financial Education), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Instructions: The Bureau encourages the early submission of comments. All submissions must include the document title and docket number. Because paper mail in the Washington, DC area and at the Bureau is subject to delay, commenters are encouraged to submit comments electronically. In general, all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov. In addition, comments will be available for public inspection and copying at 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. eastern standard time. You can make an appointment to inspect the documents by telephoning 202-435-7275.

    All submissions, including attachments and other supporting materials, will become part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not include sensitive personal information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers. Comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information, such as name and address information, email addresses, or telephone numbers.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For general inquiries, submission process questions or any additional information, please contact Monica Jackson, Office of the Executive Secretary, at 202-435-7275. For information about the “Request for Information Regarding Consumers' Experience with Free Access to Credit Scores,” please contact Irene Skricki, Office of Financial Education, at 202-435-7181.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    Over the last few years, many financial institutions, credit card issuers, and other companies have offered consumers free access to a credit score, giving consumers an important tool to manage their financial lives.

    To raise consumer awareness of this service, the CFPB's Office of Financial Education published in March 2017 a list of companies that told the Bureau they offer existing credit card customers free access to a credit score. The list was compiled based on comments received in response to a public notice published in the Federal Register in October 2016.

    As a next step, through this request for information, the Bureau seeks to learn more about the experience consumers are having with access to free credit scores. The Bureau also seeks to learn about the experience of companies and of nonprofit credit and financial counseling providers offering their customers and the general public free access to credit scores.

    A core part of the mission of the Bureau is educating and empowering consumers to take more control over their financial lives. The information gathered through this request for information will be used to identify educational content that is providing the most value to consumers, and additional educational content that the Bureau or others could develop to increase consumers' understanding of credit scores and credit reports. This request for information will also be used to gain a broader understanding of the industry practices that best support educating and empowering consumers.

    The Bureau encourages comments from all interested members of the public, including consumers, consumer advocacy groups, credit card companies and other lenders, nonprofit credit and financial counseling providers, credit reporting companies, researchers and any other interested party. The Bureau is interested in all input from commenters, including consumer experiences, knowledge of the industry practices that best support educating and empowering consumers, educational content that is providing the most value to consumers, and views on the questions included in this notice.

    Please feel free to comment generally and/or respond to any or all of the questions below.

    1. How are companies, and nonprofit credit and financial counseling providers, offering existing customers and the general public free access to credit scores?

    2. What sources are consumers using to access free credit scores?

    3. How have consumers benefitted from having increased free regular access to one of their credit scores? Are there ways in which consumers have been hurt from having this access? What are examples of the ways in which consumers have benefitted or been hurt from having increased free regular access to one of their credit scores?

    4. What have been the benefits and costs to companies for providing consumers with increased free regular access to one of their credit scores? What are examples of these benefits and costs?

    5. What has been the rate of uptake, frequency, and duration of use of the service that provides consumers with free regular access to one of their credit scores?

    6. How is access to free credit scores and/or frequency and duration of use of this service related to observed changes in consumers' credit standing or credit behavior? For example, these changes might include positive or negative trends in credit scores, or changes in loan payment behavior, the speed of payment of outstanding loan balances, the rate of applications for new loans, or any other factor.

    7. What are examples of the questions consumers ask companies, as well as credit and financial counseling providers, after they have seen their free credit scores?

    8. Do consumers face challenges in accessing free credit scores? If so, what are examples of those challenges?

    9. What are examples of implementation challenges companies have faced, continue to face, or are likely to emerge in the future, in providing consumers with free regular access to one of their credit scores?

    10. What are examples of solutions companies have identified to address these implementation challenges?

    11. What are examples of the educational content that is provided to consumers when they access their free credit scores? With regards to this educational content, what information appears to be most effective in helping consumers understand their credit scores and the factors that impact their scores?

    12. Can consumers have free regular access to one of their credit scores without receiving marketing for other products and services? If marketing is provided with the access to a free score, what are examples of the types of products and services being marketed? How have consumers benefitted or otherwise been impacted by being offered products and services at the time when they access and see their credit scores?

    13. What features related to how regular free access to a credit score is offered to consumers appear to be most effective in helping consumers make use of this service?

    14. The CFPB also offers a number of educational supports to help consumers understand and act on their credit reports and scores, including a Credit Reports & Scores information portal available at consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/credit-reports-and-scores/; many frequently asked questions in Ask CFPB on the Bureau's Web site; and online brochures that include Check your credit report, Understand your credit score, You have many credit scores, Credit report review check list, and a list of consumer reporting companies. Is there additional educational content or topics that could be developed by the CFPB or others to support increased consumer understanding of credit scores and credit reports—for example, educational content that focuses on increasing awareness of credit scores to young consumers; how student debt can impact a consumer's credit score; or a person's credit standing over time, which might be of interest to older adults/seniors?

    15. Has increased access to free credit scores encouraged consumers that use this service to also check their credit reports or take other steps to learn more about their credit standing? What are examples of the steps these consumers have taken?

    Thank you for your contribution to improve consumer financial awareness.

    Dated: November 4, 2017. Richard Cordray, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24555 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION [Docket No. CFPB-2017-0034] Notice of an Update to the Public List of Companies That Offer Customers Free Access to a Credit Score AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) established the Office of Financial Education within the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB or Bureau) to develop and launch initiatives that will educate consumers and help them make better informed financial decisions.

    The CFPB's Office of Financial Education published in March 2017 a list of companies that told us they offer existing credit card customers free access to a credit score. The Bureau is updating this list and will use the responses received to this notice to publish an updated list. The Bureau will leverage this updated list to bring consumer attention to the topic of consumers' credit standing, of which their credit score is a valuable indicator. The Bureau will follow up the publication of this updated list with content to educate consumers about the availability of credit scores and credit reports and how this information can be used effectively.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before January 12, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments regarding the “Notice of an Update to the Public List of Companies That Offer Customers Free Access to a Credit Score,” identified by title and by Docket No. CFPB-2017-0034, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: Office of Financial Education), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: Office of Financial Education), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Instructions: The Bureau encourages the early submission of comments. All submissions must include the document title and docket number. Because paper mail in the Washington, DC area and at the Bureau is subject to delay, commenters are encouraged to submit comments electronically. In general, all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov. In addition, comments will be available for public inspection and copying at 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. eastern standard time. You can make an appointment to inspect the documents by telephoning 202-435-7275.

    All submissions, including attachments and other supporting materials, will become part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not include sensitive personal information such as account numbers or Social Security numbers. Comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information, such as name and address information, email addresses, or telephone numbers.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For general inquiries, submission process questions or any additional information, please contact Monica Jackson, Office of the Executive Secretary, at 202-435-7275. For information about the “Notice of an Update to the Public List of Companies That Offer Customers Free Access to a Credit Score,” please contact Irene Skricki, Office of Financial Education, at 202-435-7181.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    Over the last few years, many financial institutions, credit card issuers, and other companies have offered consumers free access to a credit score, giving consumers an important tool to manage their financial lives. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“the Bureau”) would like to highlight and build consumer awareness of this practice. A core part of the mission of the Bureau is educating and empowering consumers to take more control over their financial lives. The Bureau believes that enabling consumers to see their credit scores can be a first step towards consumers learning about their credit history, becoming aware of and encouraged to request a free copy of their credit reports, ensuring the accuracy and completeness of their credit reports, and ultimately making informed decisions about credit that serve their own financial and life goals.

    The Bureau published in March 2017 a list of companies that told us they offer existing credit card customers free access to a credit score. The Bureau is updating this list and will use the responses received to this Notice to publish an updated list.

    The Bureau will leverage this updated list to bring consumer attention to the topic of consumers' credit standing, of which their credit score is a valuable indicator. The Bureau will follow up the publication of this updated list with content to educate consumers about the availability of credit scores and credit reports and how this information can be used effectively.

    If your company was included on the list published in March 2017 and would like to be included in the updated list, your company must submit a new entry. Please indicate in your comment if your company would like the entry submitted last year to be included in the new list without any changes. Or, alternatively, please submit a new entry providing an update on how your company offers this service to consumers.

    II. Criteria To Be Included in the Update to This Public List

    If your company is a credit card issuer, fits the criteria outlined below, and would like to be included in the updated list the Bureau plans to publish, contact us by following the instructions included in this Notice for submitting an entry.1

    1 “Credit card issuer” refers to any entity to which a consumer is legally obligated, or would be legally obligated, under the terms of a credit card agreement. Alternatively, you can also be included in this list if you are a bank or a credit union and you contract with a third party to issue credit cards on your behalf and under your brand name.

    If your company is not a credit card issuer, but offers existing consumer customers free access to a credit score, fits the criteria outlined below, and would like to be included in a possible list for companies in other markets, you may contact us as well. Depending on the feedback received, the Bureau may decide to expand the scope of the initial list of companies offering free credit scores beyond credit card issuers to companies in some other markets, include such companies in a future separate list, or decide not to publish a list of companies in other markets offering this service.

    To be included in this list of credit card issuers, or in a possible list of companies in other markets, you must meet the following criteria:

    • Offer or provide a consumer financial product or service;

    • Offer existing customers 2 (at least some, but not necessarily all) the ability to obtain free of charge a credit score 3 that either your company or other lenders use for account origination, portfolio management, or for other business purposes;

    2 “Customers” refers to individuals, not corporations or small businesses.

    3 By “credit score” we refer to a score that is empirically derived, demonstrably and statistically sound, and based on current data from a consumer reporting agency to predict the likelihood of certain credit behavior for the applicant.

    • Offer this access to a credit score on a continuous basis, as opposed to on a time-limited or promotional basis, and periodically update the score.

    You may include other information you think is relevant for consumers reading the public list to understand whether the service applies to them. The updated list will include a link to the comment your company submits—or a link to your company's entry from last year, if you indicate that you would like last year's submission to be included again. Consumers reading the list will be encouraged to check this information, or to contact each company, to find out which specific credit card or financial products are eligible for the service, and on what conditions, if any.

    By responding to this Federal Register Notice (FRN) you are stating that you meet the criteria and are consenting to include the name of your company in a public list of credit card issuers, or in a possible list of companies in other markets as applicable, offering free access to credit scores to their existing customers. The Bureau reserves the right to conduct due diligence on a company's assertions about meeting the criteria stated in this notice. Your response to this FRN and inclusion in this public list are completely voluntary, and your choice to do so, or refrain from doing so, is not connected to supervisory activity by the Bureau.

    We emphasize that these lists will be created to further inform the public about where to find a credit score, and will not be an endorsement of the financial institutions, credit card issuers, or any other company mentioned in any document the Bureau publishes.

    Thank you for your contribution to improve consumer financial awareness.

    Dated: November 4, 2017. Richard Cordray, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24552 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2017-ICCD-0136] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Eligibility Regulations AGENCY:

    Federal Student Aid (FSA), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, ED is proposing an extension of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before January 12, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2017-ICCD-0136. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 216-34, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Beth Grebeldinger, 202-377-4018.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant Eligibility Regulations.

    OMB Control Number: 1845-0084.

    Type of Review: An extension of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local, and Tribal Governments; Individuals or Households; Private Sector.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 232,324.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 36,673.

    Abstract: The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program is a non-need-based grant program that provides up to $4,000 per year to students who are enrolled in an eligible program and who agree to teach in a high-need field, at a low-income elementary or secondary school for at least four years within eight years of completing the program for which the TEACH Grant was awarded. The TEACH Grant program regulations are required to ensure accountability of the program participants, both institutions and student recipients, for proper program administration, to determine eligibility to receive program benefits and to prevent fraud and abuse of program funds. The regulations include both record-keeping and reporting requirements. The record-keeping by the school allows for review of compliance with the regulation during on-site institutional reviews. The Department uses the required reporting to allow for close-out of institutions that are no longer participating or who lose eligibility to participate in the program.

    Dated: November 7, 2017. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24533 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Notice of Public Meeting of the Supercritical CO2 Oxy-combustion Technology Group AGENCY:

    National Energy Technology Laboratory, Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) will host a public meeting via WebEx December 11, 2017, of the Supercritical CO2 Oxy-combustion Technology Group, to address challenges associated with oxy-combustion systems in directly heated supercritical CO2 (sCO2) power cycles.

    DATES:

    The public meeting will be held on December 11, 2017, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The public meeting will be held via WebEx and hosted by NETL.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information regarding the public meeting, please contact Seth Lawson or Walter Perry at NETL by telephone at (304) 285-4469, by email at [email protected], [email protected], or by postal mail addressed to National Energy Technology Laboratory, 3610 Collins Ferry Road, P.O. Box 880, Morgantown, WV 26507-0880. Please direct all media inquiries to the NETL Public Affairs Officer at (304) 285-0228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Instructions and Information on the Public Meeting

    The public meeting will be held via WebEx. The public meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. and end at 3:00 p.m. Agenda details will be available prior to the meeting on the NETL Web site, https://www.netl.doe.gov/events/sco2-tech-group. Interested parties may RSVP, to confirm their participation and receive login instructions, by emailing [email protected]

    The objective of the Supercritical CO2 Oxy-combustion Technology Group is to promote a technical understanding of oxy-combustion for direct-fired sCO2 power cycles by sharing information or viewpoints from individual participants regarding risk reduction and challenges associated with developing the technology.

    Oxy-combustion systems in directly heated supercritical CO2 (SCO2) power cycles utilize natural gas or syngas oxy-combustion systems to produce a high temperature SCO2 working fluid and have the potential to be efficient, cost effective and well-suited for carbon dioxide (CO2) capture. To realize the benefits of direct fired SCO2 power cycles, the following challenges must be addressed: Chemical kinetic uncertainties, combustion instability, flowpath design, thermal management, pressure containment, definition/prediction of turbine inlet conditions, ignition, off-design operation, transient capabilities, in-situ flame monitoring, and modeling, among others.

    The format of the meeting will facilitate equal opportunity for discussion among all participants; all participants will be welcome to speak. Following a detailed presentation by one volunteer participant regarding lessons learned from his or her area of research, other participants will be provided the opportunity to briefly share lessons learned from their own research. Meetings are expected to take place every other month with a different volunteer presenting at each meeting. Meeting minutes shall be published for those who are unable to attend.

    This meeting is considered “open-to-the-public;” the purpose for this meeting has been examined during the planning stages, and NETL management has made specific determinations that affect attendance. All information presented at this meeting must meet criteria for public sharing or be published and available in the public domain. Participants should not communicate information that is considered official use only, proprietary, sensitive, restricted or protected in any way. Foreign nationals, who may be present, have not been approved for access to DOE information and technologies.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Heather Quedenfeld, Associate Director, Coal Technology Development & Integration Center National Energy Technology Laboratory.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24497 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14795-002] Shell Energy North America (US), LP; Notice of Application Tendered for Filing With the Commission and Soliciting Additional Study Requests

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection.

    a. Type of Application: Original major license.

    b. Project No.: P-14795-002.

    c. Date filed: November 1, 2017.

    d. Applicant: Shell Energy North America (US), LP.

    e. Name of Project: Hydro Battery Pearl Hill Pumped Storage Project.

    f. Location: On the Columbia River and Rufus Woods Lake, near Bridgeport, Douglas County, Washington. The project would be located on state lands and the lower reservoir and power generation and pumping equipment would be located on Rufus Woods Lake, a reservoir operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act 16 U.S.C. 791(a)-825(r).

    h. Applicant Contact: Kent Watt, Shell US Hosting Company, Shell Woodcreek Office, 150 North Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77079, (832) 337-1160, [email protected].

    i. FERC Contact: Ryan Hansen, 888 1st St. NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-8074, [email protected].

    j. Cooperating agencies: Federal, state, local, and tribal agencies with jurisdiction and/or special expertise with respect to environmental issues that wish to cooperate in the preparation of the environmental document should follow the instructions for filing such requests described in item l below. Cooperating agencies should note the Commission's policy that agencies that cooperate in the preparation of the environmental document cannot also intervene. See, 94 FERC 61,076 (2001).

    k. Pursuant to section 4.32(b)(7) of 18 CFR of the Commission's regulations, if any resource agency, Indian Tribe, or person believes that an additional scientific study should be conducted in order to form an adequate factual basis for a complete analysis of the application on its merit, the resource agency, Indian Tribe, or person must file a request for a study with the Commission not later than 60 days from the date of filing of the application, and serve a copy of the request on the applicant.

    l. Deadline for filing additional study requests and requests for cooperating agency status: January 2, 2018.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file additional study requests and requests for cooperating agency status using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14795-002.

    m. The application is not ready for environmental analysis at this time.

    n. The proposed project would utilize the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Rufus Woods Lake Reservoir, and would consist of the following new facilities: (1) A 300-foot-diameter, 20-foot-tall lined corrugated steel tank upper reservoir with a storage capacity of 26.5 acre-feet; (2) a 3-foot-diameter, 3,400-foot-long above-ground carbon steel penstock transitioning to a 3-foot-diameter, 2,700-foot-long buried carbon steel penstock; (3) a 77-foot-long, 77-foot-wide structural steel power platform housing five 2,400 horsepower vertical turbine pumps, one 5 megawatt twin-jet Pelton turbine and synchronous generator, and accompanying electrical equipment; (4) five vertical turbine pump intakes, each fitted with a 27-inch-diameter by 94-inch-long T-style fish screen; (5) a 2,500-foot-long, 24.9-kilovolt buried/affixed transmission line interconnecting to an existing non-project transmission line; (6) an approximately 3,847-foot long gravel access road; and (7) appurtenant facilities. The average annual generation is estimated to be 24 gigawatt-hours.

    o. A copy of the application is available for review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov using the eLibrary link. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item h above.

    You may also register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filings and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    p. Procedural schedule: The application will be processed according to the following preliminary schedule. At this time we anticipate issuing a single EA. Revisions to the schedule will be made as appropriate.

    Issue Notice of Acceptance—February 2018 Issue Scoping Document 1 for comments—March 2018 Comments on Scoping Document 1—May 2018 Issue Scoping Document 2—June 2018 Issue notice of ready for environmental analysis—May 2018 Commission issues EA—November 2018 Comments on EA—December 2018 Dated: November 6, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24459 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #2

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric corporate filings:

    Docket Numbers: EC18-13-000.

    Applicants: Plum Point Energy Associates, LLC, Plum Point Services Company, LLC, Excalibur Power, L.L.C.

    Description: Application Under FPA Section 203 of Plum Point Energy Associates, LLC, et. al.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5182.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER18-245-000.

    Applicants: Georgia Power Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: GPCo 2017 PBOP Filing to be effective 1/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5116.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-246-000.

    Applicants: Arizona Public Service Company.

    Description: Compliance filing: Rate Schedule No. 289—SCE Expiration Agreement to be effective 12/22/2015.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5118.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-247-000.

    Applicants: Mississippi Power Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: PBOP 2017 Filing to be effective 1/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5119.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-248-000.

    Applicants: Southern Electric Generating Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: SEGCo 2017 PBOP Filing to be effective 1/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5120.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-249-000.

    Applicants: Public Service Company of New Mexico.

    Description: Initial rate filing: Executed TCIA with Western Spirit Clean Line LLC to be effective 11/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5166.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-250-000.

    Applicants: Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: DEC-Brookfield-TVA Pseudo-Tie Agrmnts to be effective 11/14/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5173.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-251-000.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: 2017-11-03 Powerex Canadian EIM Entity Agreement to be effective 2/15/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5180.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-251-001.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 2017-11-03 Powerex Canadian EIM Entity Scheduling Coordinator Agreement to be effective 2/15/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5185.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-251-002.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 2017-11-03 Powerex EIM Participating Resource Agreement to be effective 2/15/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5196.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-251-003.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 2017-11-03 Powerex EIM Participating Resource Scheduling Coordinator Agreement to be effective 2/15/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5203.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-251-004.

    Applicants: California Independent System Operator Corporation.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: 2017-11-03 CAISO and BC Hydro Data Sharing Agreement to be effective 2/15/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5206.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    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: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24454 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 14799-001] Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC; Notice of Intent To File License Application, Filing of Pre-Application Document, and Approving Use of the Traditional Licensing Process

    a. Type of Filing: Notice of Intent to File License Application and Request to Use the Traditional Licensing Process.

    b. Project No.: 14799-001.

    c. Date Filed: September 7, 2017.

    d. Submitted By: Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC.

    e. Name of Project: Evelyn Hydroelectric Project.

    f. Location: On the Kentucky River, in Lee and Estill Counties, Kentucky. No federal land occupied by the project works or located within the project boundary.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: 18 CFR 5.3 of the Commission's regulations.

    h. Potential Applicant Contact: David Brown Kinloch, Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC, 414 S. Wenzel Street, Louisville, KY 40204; (502) 589-0975; email—[email protected]

    i. FERC Contact: Sarah Salazar at (202) 502-6863; or email at [email protected]

    j. Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC filed its request to use the Traditional Licensing Process on September 7, 2017. Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC provided public notice of its request on September 14, 2017. In a letter dated November 6, 2017, the Director of the Division of Hydropower Licensing approved Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC's request to use the Traditional Licensing Process.

    k. With this notice, we are initiating informal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and/or NOAA Fisheries under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and the joint agency regulations thereunder at 50 CFR, Part 402. We are also initiating consultation with the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Officer, as required by section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and the implementing regulations of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation at 36 CFR 800.2.

    l. With this notice, we are designating Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC as the Commission's non-federal representative for carrying out informal consultation pursuant to section 7 of the Endangered Species Act and consultation pursuant to section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

    m. Lock 13 Hydro Partners, LLC filed a Pre-Application Document (PAD; including a proposed process plan and schedule) with the Commission, pursuant to 18 CFR 5.6 of the Commission's regulations.

    n. A copy of the PAD is available for review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site (http://www.ferc.gov), using the eLibrary link. Enter the docket number, excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in paragraph h.

    o. Register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filing and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, contact FERC Online Support.

    Dated: November 6, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24460 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-236-000] GSP Merrimack LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of GSP Merrimack LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 24, 2017.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also 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.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24450 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-234-000] GSP Newington LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of GSP Newington LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 24, 2017.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also 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.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24456 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-241-000] Luz Solar Partners Ltd., V; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of Luz Solar Partners Ltd., V's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 24, 2017.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also 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.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24458 Filed 11-9-17; 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 rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER17-718-001.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: Compliance filing: Compliance Filing per 10/3/2017 Order re: TMEPs in Docket No. ER17-718 et al to be effective 6/28/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/2/17.

    Accession Number: 20171102-5254.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-721-001.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Compliance filing: 2017-11-02_Compliance filing re Targeted Market Efficiency Amendments to be effective 6/28/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/2/17.

    Accession Number: 20171102-5269.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-241-000.

    Applicants: Luz Solar Partners Ltd., V.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Luz Solar Partners Ltd., V Application for Market-Based Rates to be effective 1/1/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/2/17.

    Accession Number: 20171102-5255.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-242-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Edison Company.

    Description: Notice of Cancellation of the Amended and Restated Mutual Assistance Transmission Agreement (Rate Schedule No. 174) of Southern California Edison Company.

    Filed Date: 11/2/17.

    Accession Number: 20171102-5282.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-243-000.

    Applicants: San Diego Gas & Electric Company.

    Description: Notice of Cancellation of the Amended and Restated Mutual Assistance Transmission Agreement (Rate Schedule No. 62) of San Diego Gas & Electric Company.

    Filed Date: 11/2/17.

    Accession Number: 20171102-5284.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-244-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Amendment to WMPA SA No. 3234, Queue No. W4-060 to be effective 9/17/2014.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5097.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    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: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24453 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-238-000] GSP Schiller LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of GSP Schiller LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 24, 2017.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also 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.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24452 Filed 11-9-17; 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 rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER14-2046-004.

    Applicants: Plum Point Energy Associates, LLC.

    Description: Compliance filing: Informational Filing Pursuant to Schedule 2 of the MISO OATT to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/6/17.

    Accession Number: 20171106-5196.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/27/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER16-2217-005.

    Applicants: Logan Generating Company, L.P.

    Description: Compliance filing: Information Filing Pursuant to Schedule 2 of the PJM OATT to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/6/17.

    Accession Number: 20171106-5204.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/27/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-2515-001.

    Applicants: Chambers Cogeneration, Limited Partnership.

    Description: Compliance filing: Informational Filing Pursuant to Schedule 2 of the PJM OATT to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/6/17.

    Accession Number: 20171106-5200.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/27/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-252-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Rev to OA, Sched 1, sec 6.4.1 and OATT, Att K-Appx, sec 6.4.1 RE: Offer Capping to be effective 1/3/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5217.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-253-000.

    Applicants: Duke Energy Progress, LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: DEP-French Broad EMC RS Nos. 195 & 210 to be effective 1/1/2016.

    Filed Date: 11/3/17.

    Accession Number: 20171103-5231.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/24/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-254-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C., Buckeye Power, Inc.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Revised SA No. 4753—NITSA among PJM and Buckeye Power, Inc. to be effective 1/1/2018.

    Filed Date: 11/6/17.

    Accession Number: 20171106-5302.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 11/27/17.

    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: November 6, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24455 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-237-000] GSP White Lake LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of GSP White Lake LLC's application for, market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 24, 2017.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also 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.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24451 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-239-000] GSP Lost Nation LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding of GSP Lost Nation LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is November 24, 2017.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also 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.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24457 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Western Area Power Administration Boulder Canyon Project-Rate Order No. WAPA-178 AGENCY:

    Western Area Power Administration, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of order concerning formula rates for electric service and calculation of the fiscal year 2018 base charge and rates for the Boulder Canyon Project.

    SUMMARY:

    The Deputy Secretary of Energy confirmed and approved Rate Order No. WAPA-178 and Rate Schedule BCP-F10, placing formula rates for electric service from the Boulder Canyon Project (BCP) of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) into effect on an interim basis. The provisional formula rates will provide sufficient revenue to pay all annual costs, including interest expense, and repay required investment within the allowable periods. The Deputy Secretary has also confirmed and approved the fiscal year (FY) 2018 base charge and rates for BCP electric service.

    DATES:

    Rate Schedule BCP-F10 is effective as of December 13, 2017, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2022, pending approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on a final basis or until superseded. The FY 2018 base charge and rates for BCP are applicable December 13, 2017, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Ronald E. Moulton, Regional Manager, Desert Southwest Region, Western Area Power Administration, P.O. Box 6457, Phoenix, AZ 85005-6457, (602) 605-2453, email [email protected] or Mr. Jack Murray, Vice President of Power Marketing, Desert Southwest Region, Western Area Power Administration, P.O. Box 6457, Phoenix, AZ 85005-6457, (602) 605-2555, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Rate Schedule BCP-F9 under Rate Order No. WAPA-171 1 was approved for a five-year period beginning on October 1, 2015, and ending September 30, 2020. On June 19, 2017, WAPA proposed to update the formula rates under Rate Schedule BCP-F10 and calculate the FY 2018 base charge and rates in a notice published in the Federal Register on June 19, 2017 (82 FR 27813). The notice detailed the proposed formula rates, initiated a public consultation and comment period, and set forth the date and location of public information and comment forums.

    1 Rate Order No. WAPA-171 was approved by FERC on a final basis on December 11, 2015, in Docket No. EF15-7-000 (153 FERC ¶ 62,189).

    By Delegation Order No. 00-037.00B, effective November 19, 2016, the Secretary of Energy delegated: (1) The authority to develop power and transmission rates to the Administrator of WAPA; (2) the authority to confirm, approve, and place such rates into effect on an interim basis to the Deputy Secretary of Energy; and (3) the authority to confirm, approve, and place into effect on a final basis, to remand, or to disapprove such rates to FERC. Federal rules (10 CFR part 903) govern Department of Energy procedures for public participation in power and transmission rate adjustments.

    Under Delegation Order Nos. 00-037.00B and 00-001.00F and in compliance with 10 CFR part 903, 10 CFR part 904 and 18 CFR part 300, I hereby confirm, approve and place Rate Order No. WAPA-178, which places formula rates for BCP electric service into effect on an interim basis, and calculates the base charge and rates for FY 2018. Rate Schedule BCP-F10 will be submitted promptly to FERC for confirmation and approval on a final basis.

    Dated: November 3, 2017. Dan Brouillette, Deputy Secretary of Energy. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY DEPUTY SECRETARY In the matter of: Western Area Power Administration, Boulder Canyon Project Rate Adjustment for Electric Service Rate Order No. WAPA-178 Order Confirming, Approving and Placing Formula Rates for Electric Service Into Effect on an Interim Basis and Calculation of Fiscal Year 2018 Base Charge and Rates

    The formula rates set forth in this order are established pursuant to Section 302 of the Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7152). This act transferred to and vested in the Secretary of Energy the power marketing functions of the Secretary of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) under the Reclamation Act of 1902 (ch. 1093, 32 Stat. 388), as amended and supplemented by subsequent laws, particularly section 9(c) of the Reclamation Project Act of 1939 (43 U.S.C. 485h(c)), and other acts that specifically apply to the project involved.

    By Delegation Order No. 00-037.00B, effective November 19, 2016, the Secretary of Energy delegated: (1) The authority to develop power and transmission rates to the Administrator of the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA); (2) the authority to confirm, approve, and place such rates into effect on an interim basis to the Deputy Secretary of Energy; and (3) the authority to confirm, approve, and place into effect on a final basis, to remand, or to disapprove such rates to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Federal rules (10 CFR part 903) govern DOE procedures for public participation in power and transmission rate adjustments.

    Acronyms and Definitions

    As used in this Rate Order, the following acronyms and definitions apply:

    Base Charge: The total charge paid by the contractors for their allocated contingent capacity and firm energy based on the annual revenue requirement. The base charge is composed of a capacity and an energy component.

    Boulder Canyon Project (BCP): All works and the real property associated with such works authorized by the Boulder Canyon Project Act, as amended, the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984, as amended, and any future additions authorized by Congress, to be constructed and owned by the United States, but exclusive of the main canal and its related appurtenances authorized by the Boulder Canyon Project Act, known as the All-American Canal.

    Contractor: Any party that has a fully executed contract with WAPA for BCP electric service.

    DOE: Department of Energy.

    DSW: Desert Southwest Region.

    FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

    Reclamation: Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation.

    WAPA: Western Area Power Administration.

    Working Capital: Funds advanced by the contractors to meet BCP cash flow needs.

    Effective Date

    Rate Schedule BCP-F10 is effective as of December 13, 2017, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2022, pending approval by FERC on a final basis or until superseded. The FY 2018 base charge and rates are applicable December 13, 2017, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2018.

    Public Notice and Comment

    WAPA followed the Procedures for Public Participation in Power and Transmission Rate Adjustments and Extensions (10 CFR parts 903) and General Regulations for the Charges for the Sale of Power from the BCP (10 CFR 904), in developing these formula rates and schedule. WAPA took the following steps to involve the public in the rate adjustment process:

    1. WAPA published a Federal Register notice on June 19, 2017 (82 FR 27813), announcing the proposed formula rates, initiating the 90-day public consultation and comment period, setting forth the date and location of public information and public comment forums, and outlining the procedures for public participation.

    2. On July 19, 2017, WAPA held a public information forum in Phoenix, Arizona. WAPA's representatives explained the need for the formula rate adjustment and proposed changes to the formula rates, answered questions, and provided presentation handouts.

    3. On August 18, 2017, WAPA held a public comment forum in Phoenix, Arizona, to provide contractors and interested parties an opportunity to comment for the record.

    4. WAPA posts information about this public process at: https://www.wapa.gov/regions/DSW/Rates/Pages/boulder-canyon-rates.aspx.

    Comments

    WAPA received comments from the Irrigation & Electrical Districts Association of Arizona and the Colorado River Commission during the public consultation and comment period and responds to them in the paragraphs that follow. All comments received were considered in preparing this Rate Order. The comments have been paraphrased where appropriate without compromising their meaning.

    Comment: A commenter requested further explanation of how Reclamation's $15 million for working capital was derived and whether the increase in working capital over the prior marketing period was necessary. The commenter requested steps be taken to further moderate the impact of collecting the working capital amount in the FY 2018 base charge.

    Response: The greatest need for working capital is generally during the first quarter of a FY when receipts are not sufficient to cover obligations and expenditures. Because the working capital for the new marketing period will be incrementally funded over 12 billing cycles, the full amount will not be available until FY 2019. For FY 2018, the carryover balance from the marketing period ending September 30, 2017, will be available to cover funding shortfalls before the full $15 million of working capital is collected. Because the carryover balance for the marketing period ending September 30, 2017, must be refunded by September 30, 2018, Reclamation must have the $15 million in working capital to maintain a positive cash balance at the end of FY 2018.

    Following the public comment forum, Reclamation reviewed their budgets and revenue projections for FY 2018. To moderate the base charge increase, Reclamation was able to further reduce its replacement budget by $800,000 and increased revenue projections for the Hoover Dam Visitor Center by $3 million. This resulted in a net decrease to the base charge of $3.8 million.

    Comment: A commenter requested Reclamation's working capital analysis and footnotes be updated with the latest budget figures reflected in the revised base charge.

    Response: The analysis was updated with the revised budget figures and posted to WAPA's Web site provided above. There was no change to Reclamation's working capital needs.

    Comment: A commenter thanked all parties involved for the efforts made to moderate the impact of Reclamation's working capital needs on the in FY 2018 base charge. The commenter encouraged further efforts as well.

    Response: Reclamation and WAPA were able to collectively moderate the impact of the working capital collection by reducing agency budgets by approximately $4.5 million. Reclamation and WAPA will continue to work collaboratively to ensure the stability of the base charge.

    Comment: A commenter thanked Reclamation and WAPA for their collaborative efforts to moderate the impact of the working capital collection in FY 2018 by billing over a 12-month period rather than a one-time collection. The commenter also requested that pre-2017 and post-2017 marketing period balances be accounted for separately, included the post retirement benefit (PRB) amounts.

    Response: Reclamation and WAPA are able to separately identify balances between pre-2017 and post-2017 marketing periods, including PRB balances.

    Background and Provisional Base Charge and Rates

    The Hoover Dam, authorized by the Boulder Canyon Project Act (45 Stat. 1057, December 21, 1928), sits on the Colorado River along the Arizona-Nevada border. The Hoover Dam's power plant has 19 generating units (two for plant use) and an installed capacity of 2,078.8 megawatts (4,800 kilowatts for plant use). High-voltage transmission lines and substations deliver this power to southern Nevada, Arizona, and southern California.

    The rate-setting process for BCP is different from most WAPA power systems. The Boulder Canyon Project Amended and Restated Implementation Agreement (BCPIA), executed in 2016 between WAPA, Reclamation, and contractors, carried forward the rate methodology used for the marketing period ending September 30, 2017. This rate methodology requires contractors to pay a base charge rather than a unit rate for power. The base charge is designed to collect sufficient revenue to cover all annual costs and to repay investment obligations within allowable time periods. Each contractor is billed a base charge in proportion to their allocation of power from the Hoover Dam. A unit rate is calculated for comparative purposes but is not used to determine charges for electric service.

    Since a new 50-year marketing period commences on October 1, 2017, WAPA is updating the formula rates for a five-year period and calculating the base charge and rates for FY 2018.

    The revision to Rate Schedule BCP-F10 is:

    Capacity: Shall be equal to the annual capacity dollars divided by 2,074 megawatt hours. This rate is applied to unauthorized overruns.

    The existing formula used to calculate the forecast capacity rate was revised from 1,951 to 2,074 megawatts to reflect the current generating (nameplate) capacity for the BCP, as required by the Hoover Power Allocation Act of 2011. No other changes to the formula rates in the rate schedule were proposed.

    The update to the FY 2018 formula driven base charge and rates are:

    FY 2017
  • base charge
  • FY 2018
  • base charge
  • Percent
  • change
  • Base Charge $69,662,289 $76,910,193 10.4 Composite Rates (mills/kWh) 19.63 19.98 1.75

    The FY 2018 base charge increased from $69.6 million in FY 2017 to $76.9 million in FY 2018, a 10.4 percent increase. The composite rate increased to 19.98 mills per kilowatt month, a 1.75 percent increase. Although the overall BCP budget decreased in FY 2018, the establishment of a working capital fund for the new 50-year marketing period caused the FY 2018 base charge to increase. As part of the BCPIA, Reclamation is establishing a $15 million working capital fund to cover short-term liabilities until sufficient revenues are received. This fund is particularly important at the beginning of a fiscal year when project-related expenses tend to be greater than the revenue collected. This working capital fund balance will be reviewed annually in accordance with the BCPIA.

    Certification of Rates

    WAPA's Administrator certified that the provisional formula rates for BCP electric service under Rate Schedule BCP-F10 result in the lowest possible rates consistent with sound business principles. The provisional formula rates were developed following administrative policies and applicable laws.

    Availability of Information

    All brochures, studies, comments, letters, memorandums and other documents used by WAPA to develop the provisional formula rates are available for inspection and copying at the Desert Southwest Regional Office, Western Area Power Administration, 615 South 43rd Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona. Many of these documents are also available on WAPA's Web site: https://www.wapa.gov/regions/DSW/Rates/Pages/boulder-canyon-rates.aspx.

    RATEMAKING PROCEDURE REQUIREMENTS Environmental Compliance

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347; the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); and DOE NEPA Implementing Procedures and Guidelines (10 CFR part 1021), WAPA has determined that this action is categorically excluded from preparing an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement.

    Determination Under Executive Order 12866

    WAPA has an exemption from centralized regulatory review under Executive Order 12866; accordingly, no clearance of this notice by the Office of Management and Budget is required.

    Submission to FERC

    The formula rates herein confirmed, approved, and placed into effect on an interim basis, together with supporting documents, will be submitted to FERC for confirmation and final approval.

    Order

    In view of the foregoing and under the authority delegated to me, I confirm and approve, on an interim basis, the formula rates under Rate Schedule BCP-F10. Rate Schedule BCP-F10 is applicable the first full billing period on or after November 13, 2017, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2022, pending FERC's confirmation and approval of the rate schedule or substitute formula rates on a final basis.

    Dated: November 3, 2017.

    Dan Brouillette, Deputy Secretary of Energy.
    Rate Schedule BCP-F10 (Supersedes Rate Schedule BCP-F9) UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY WESTERN AREA POWER ADMINISTRATION DESERT SOUTHWEST REGION Boulder Canyon Project SCHEDULE OF RATES FOR ELECTRIC SERVICE Effective

    The first day of the first full billing period beginning on or after December 13, 2017, and extending through September 30, 2022, or until superseded by another rate schedule, whichever occurs earlier.

    Available

    In the marketing area serviced by the Boulder Canyon Project.

    Applicable

    To power supplied by the Boulder Canyon Project through one meter, at one point of delivery, unless otherwise provided by contract.

    Character and Conditions of Service

    Alternating current at 60 hertz, three-phase, delivered and metered at the voltages and points established by contract.

    Base Charge

    The charge paid by each contractor for their allocated capacity and firm energy based on the annual revenue requirement. The base charge shall be composed of a capacity component and an energy component:

    Capacity Charge: Each month WAPA shall bill each contractor for a capacity charge equal to one-twelfth (1/12) of the capacity dollars multiplied by each contractor's contingent capacity percentage as provided by contract.

    Energy Charge: Each month WAPA shall bill each contractor for an energy charge equal to that period's monthly energy ratio, multiplied by the contractor's energy dollars as provided by contract.

    Forecast Rates

    Energy: Shall be equal to the annual energy dollars divided by the lesser of the total master schedule energy or 4,501 megawatt hours. This rate is applied to excess energy, unauthorized overruns, and water pump energy.

    Capacity: Shall be equal to the annual capacity dollars divided by 2,074 megawatt hours. This rate is applied to unauthorized overruns.

    Calculated Energy Rate

    Within ninety (90) days after the end of the fiscal year, a calculated energy rate shall be calculated. For any rate year in which energy deemed delivered is greater than 4,501 megawatt hours, WAPA shall apply the calculated energy rate to each contractor's energy deemed delivered to determine the contractor's actual energy charge. A credit or debit shall be established for each contractor based on the difference between the contractor's energy dollars and the contractor's actual energy charge, to be applied in the month following the calculation or as soon as possible thereafter.

    Lower Colorado River Basin Development Fund (Contribution Charge)

    The Contribution Charge is 4.5 mills for each kilowatt hour measured or scheduled to an Arizona purchaser and 2.5 mills for each kilowatt hour measured or scheduled to a California or Nevada purchaser, except for purchased power.

    Billing for Unauthorized Overruns

    For each billing period in which there is a contract violation involving an unauthorized overrun of contractual power obligations, such overrun shall be billed at ten (10) times the forecast energy rate and forecast capacity rate. The Contribution Charge shall also be applied to each kilowatt hour of overrun.

    Adjustments

    None.

    [FR Doc. 2017-24496 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-ORD-2016-0632; FRL-9959-51-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Willingness To Pay Survey To Evaluate Recreational Benefits of Nutrient Reductions in Coastal New England Waters (New) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted an information collection request (ICR), “Willingness to Pay Survey to Evaluate Recreational Benefits of Nutrient Reductions in Coastal New England Waters (New)” (EPA ICR No. 2558.01, OMB Control No. 2080-NEW) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act. This is a request for approval of a new collection. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register (81 FR 78809) on 11/09/2016 during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. 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 OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before December 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-ORD-2016-0632, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected], or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected] Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Marisa Mazzotta, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Atlantic Ecology Division, 27 Tarzwell Drive, Narragansett, Rhode Island 02882; telephone number: 401-782-3026; fax number: 401-782-3139; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: Researchers at the EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD), Atlantic Ecology Division (AED) are piloting an effort to better understand how reduced water quality due to nutrient enrichment affects the economic prosperity, social capacity, and ecological integrity of coastal New England communities. This project proposes a survey to collect data for a case study of changes in recreation demand and values due to changes in nutrients in northeastern coastal waters. This includes the development of methods and tools for estimating recreational values that can be applied in other locations, either by EPA researchers, EPA's regional offices or state partners. Cape Cod is in the midst of an extensive regional planning effort related to its coastal waters, and this research can provide helpful socio-economic information to decision makers about the use of those waters. Because the 100-mile radius from Cape Cod includes a large area of southern New England and the largest population centers in New England, the results will be more broadly applicable to residents of southern New England.

    One of the key water quality concerns on Cape Cod, and throughout New England, is nonpoint sources of nitrogen, which lead to ecological impairments in estuaries, with resultant socio-economic impacts. The decisions needed to meet water quality standards are highly complex and involve significant cross-disciplinary challenges in identifying, implementing, and monitoring social and ecological management needs. We will focus on understanding recreational uses as valued economic goods in coastal New England (including beachgoing, swimming, fishing, shellfishing, and boating).

    Form Numbers: 6000-02 and 6000-03.

    Respondents/affected entities: Individuals and Households.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Voluntary.

    Estimated number of respondents: 2,455 (total).

    Frequency of response: Once.

    Total estimated burden: 205 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $7,129 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: This is a new collection.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Collection Strategies Division.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24446 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS ADVISORY BOARD Notice of Issuance of Technical Bulletin 2017-2, Assigning Assets to Component Reporting Entities AGENCY:

    Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3511(d), the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463), as amended, and the FASAB Rules of Procedure, as amended in October 2010, notice is hereby given that the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) has issued Technical Bulletin 2017-2, Assigning Assets to Component Reporting Entities.

    The Technical Bulletin is available on the FASAB Web site at http://www.fasab.gov/accounting-standards/. Copies can be obtained by contacting FASAB at (202) 512-7350.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Wendy M. Payne, Executive Director, 441 G Street NW., Mailstop 6H19, Washington, DC 20548, or call (202) 512-7350.

    Authority:

    Federal Advisory Committee Act, Pub. L. 92-463.

    Dated: November 1, 2017. Wendy M. Payne, Executive Director.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24510 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1610-02-P
    FEDERAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS ADVISORY BOARD Notice of Issuance of Technical Bulletin 2017-1, Intragovernmental Exchange Transactions AGENCY:

    Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    Pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3511(d), the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463), as amended, and the FASAB Rules Of Procedure, as amended in October 2010, notice is hereby given that the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB) has issued Technical Bulletin 2017-1, Intragovernmental Exchange Transactions.

    The Technical Bulletin is available on the FASAB Web site at http://www.fasab.gov/accounting-standards/. Copies can be obtained by contacting FASAB at (202) 512-7350.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Wendy M. Payne, Executive Director, 441 G Street NW., Mailstop 6H19, Washington, DC 20548, or call (202) 512-7350.

    Authority:

    Federal Advisory Committee Act, Pub. L. 92-463.

    Dated: November 1, 2017. Wendy M. Payne, Executive Director.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24509 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1610-02-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies

    The companies listed in this notice have applied to the Board for approval, pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1841 et seq.) (BHC Act), Regulation Y (12 CFR part 225), and all other applicable statutes and regulations to become a bank holding company and/or to acquire the assets or the ownership of, control of, or the power to vote shares of a bank or bank holding company and all of the banks and nonbanking companies owned by the bank holding company, including the companies listed below.

    The applications listed below, as well as other related filings required by the Board, are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The applications will also be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the standards enumerated in the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1842(c)). If the proposal also involves the acquisition of a nonbanking company, the review also includes whether the acquisition of the nonbanking company complies with the standards in section 4 of the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1843). Unless otherwise noted, nonbanking activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding each of these applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than December 7, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (David L. Hubbard, Senior Manager) P.O. Box 442, St. Louis, Missouri 63166-2034. Comments can also be sent electronically to [email protected]:

    1. Southern Missouri Bancorp, Inc., Poplar Bluff, Missouri; to merge with Southern Missouri Bancshares, Inc., Marshfield, Missouri, and thereby indirectly acquire Southern Missouri Bank of Marshfield, Marshfield, Missouri.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 6, 2017.

    Michele Taylor Fennell, Assistant Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24432 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Notice of Proposals To Engage in or To Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities

    The companies listed in this notice have given notice under section 4 of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 U.S.C. 1843) (BHC Act) and Regulation Y, (12 CFR part 225) to engage de novo, or to acquire or control voting securities or assets of a company, including the companies listed below, that engages either directly or through a subsidiary or other company, in a nonbanking activity that is listed in § 225.28 of Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.28) or that the Board has determined by Order to be closely related to banking and permissible for bank holding companies. Unless otherwise noted, these activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Each notice is available for inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notice also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the question whether the proposal complies with the standards of section 4 of the BHC Act.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding the applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than November 29, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (Dennis Denney, Assistant Vice President) 1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Missouri 64198-0001:

    1. Henderson State Company, Henderson, Nebraska; to engage in lending activities, pursuant to section 225.28(b)(1) of Regulation Y.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 6, 2017.

    Michele Taylor Fennell, Assistant Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24431 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-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 November 27, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (Gerald C. Tsai, Director, Applications and Enforcement) 101 Market Street, San Francisco, California 94105-1579:

    1. Matthew Moskowitz, Plainview, New York; Yaakov Markowitz, Brooklyn, New York; Jarret Prussin, Westport, Connecticut; Paul Brown, Monte Carlo, Monaco; and Menachem Wilenkin, Brooklyn, New York; to acquire voting shares of All West Bancorp, and thereby indirectly acquire shares of FinWise Bank, both of Sandy, Utah.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 7, 2017. Yao-Chin Chao, Assistant Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24522 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION [Notice-PBS-2017-03; Docket 2017-0002; Sequence 22] Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Modernization of the San Luis I Land Port of Entry (LPOE) Modernization AGENCY:

    Public Building Service, (PBS), General Services Administration (GSA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent; announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations, and the GSA Public Buildings Service NEPA Desk Guide, GSA is issuing this notice to advise the public that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be prepared for the San Luis I LPOE. The action to be evaluated by this EIS is the modernization of the existing San Luis I LPOE, located in San Luis, Arizona, to improve its functionality, capacity, and security.

    DATES:

    Meeting Date: A public scoping meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, from 4:00 p.m., Mountain Standard Time (MST), to 6:00 p.m., MST.

    ADDRESSES:

    The public scoping meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers at 1090 E. Union Street, San Luis, AZ, where GSA will meet with governmental and public stakeholders to explain the project, and obtain input on the scoping of the project. The meeting will be an informal open house, where visitors may come, receive information, and provide written comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Osmahn Kadri, Regional Environmental Quality Advisor/NEPA PM, by phone at 415-522-3617 or via email at [email protected] Please also call this number if special assistance is needed to attend and participate in the public scoping meeting.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    GSA intends to prepare an EIS to analyze the potential impacts resulting from proposed modifications and design changes to the San Luis I LPOE modernization project. The San Luis I LPOE consists of several facilities that are in need of modernization.

    The primary users of the LPOE are officers belonging to Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, as well as the general public seeking to enter or exit the country. The LPOE needs modernization due to unacceptable building conditions and increasing traffic demand.

    Currently, the LPOE is physically constrained on both the north and south, by Urtuzuastegui Street and the Mexico-U.S. border, respectively. Traffic from the LPOE must be routed into downtown San Luis, which often creates traffic jams. All vehicular traffic coming into town has been rerouted recently to exit via First Street, while outgoing traffic enters the port via Main Street.

    The possible phasing for the demolition and modernization of the LPOE includes:

    • Phase 1: Acquire a portion of Friendship Park, a Public-Facing Building, Parking Garage, Vault, Impound, and Utility Yard.

    • Phase 2: Construct new privately owned vehicle processing facilities and kennel.

    • Phase 3: Construct new main building and outbound east exits.

    • Phase 4: Demolish main building, construct pedestrian processing, and construct outbound west exits.

    Alternatives Under Consideration: Two modernization alternatives for the proposed project are currently under consideration and will be analyzed in the EIS for the potential environmental impacts. In addition, the “No Action” alternative will be analyzed.

    Alternative 1—GSA will demolish then reconstruct a modernized LPOE. The existing San Luis LPOE will be demolished and reconstructed in four (4) phases. Some adjacent land on the west side of the LPOE will be acquired which will allow modernization of the facility to accommodate modern operational requirements, and alleviate traffic strain in downtown San Luis.

    Alternative 2—Renovate, expand, and modernize the existing LPOE. GSA will renovate and modernize the existing San Luis LPOE and expand the existing footprint of the facility on the west as mentioned in Alternative 1 which will accommodate modern operational requirements, and alleviate traffic strain in downtown San Luis.

    Alternative 3—No Action Alternative. GSA will continue operations at the existing LPOE facilities as they are currently configured and will not perform any renovation nor modernization of the LPOE.

    The EIS will address the potential environmental impacts of the proposed alternatives of the including aesthetics, air quality during construction and operation, geology and soils, hazards and hazardous materials, hydrology and water quality, land use, noise during construction and operation, utilities, and traffic. The EIS will also address the socioeconomic effects of the project.

    Scoping Process: Scoping will be accomplished through a public scoping meeting, direct mail correspondence to appropriate federal, state, and local agencies, and to private organizations and citizens who have previously expressed, or are known to have, an interest in the project.

    This meeting will be announced in the local newspaper, the Yuma Sun. Agencies and the public are encouraged to provide written comments regarding the scope of the EIS. Written comments must be received by Friday, December 22, 2017, and sent to the General Services Administration, Attention: Osmahn Kadri, Regional Environmental Quality Advisor/NEPA PM, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 3rd Floor East, San Francisco, CA, 94102, or via email to [email protected]

    Dated: November 2, 2017. Matthew Jear, Director, Portfolio Management Division, Pacific Rim Region, Public Buildings Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24551 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-YF-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [30Day-17-1014] Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act Review

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has submitted the information collection request titled CDC Worksite Health Scorecard to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. CDC previously published a “Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations” notice on March 2, 2017 to obtain comments from the public and affected agencies. CDC received three comments related to the previous notice. This notice serves to allow an additional 30 days for public and affected agency comments.

    CDC will accept all comments for this proposed information collection project. The Office of Management and Budget is particularly interested in comments that:

    (a) Evaluate 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;

    (b) Evaluate the accuracy of the agencies estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (c) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;

    (d) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including, through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses; and

    (e) Assess information collection costs.

    To request additional information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, call (404) 639-7570 or send an email to [email protected] Direct written comments and/or suggestions regarding the items contained in this notice to the Attention: CDC Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503 or by fax to (202) 395-5806. Provide written comments within 30 days of notice publication.

    Proposed Project

    CDC Worksite Health Scorecard (OMB Control Number 0920-1014, expired 4/30/2017)—Reinstatement with Change—National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established the Worksite Health Scorecard (Scorecard), an online organizational assessment tool, to enable employers to assess the number of evidence-based health promotion interventions or strategies in their worksites to prevent heart disease, stroke, and related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

    The CDC Worksite Health Scorecard will support small, mid-size, and large employer with three primary goals: (1) Assist employers in identifying gaps in their health promotion programs, and help them to prioritize high-impact strategies for health promotion at their worksites; (2) Improve the health and wellbeing of employees and their families through science-based workplace health interventions and promising practices; and (3) Support research and increase understanding of the organizational programs, policies, and practices that employers of various sizes and industry sectors have implemented to support healthy lifestyle behaviors.

    The Scorecard approval under OMB Control number 0920-1014 expired at a time when it was unclear if resources would be available to continue its use. Strong commitments from internal and external stakeholders have enabled CDC to continue to offer a revised Scorecard to employers nationwide. CDC is requesting a reinstatement with change to a previously approved data collection. CDC plans to first pilot test an updated version of the Scorecard and when finalized submit a revision request to expand the number of employers the new Scorecard is offered to.

    From 2014-2016, 1,531 worksites have submitted CDC Worksite Health Scorecards from employers in 40 different states. The average employer is implementing a little more than half of the recommended programmatic, policy, environmental support, and health-benefit intervention strategies assessed in the Scorecard. Additionally, those employers who have re-assessed at least once during this period have seen their Scorecard score improve from an average of 95.85 points to 139.72 points. This represents an improvement in the total number of intervention strategies being implemented as well as the number of best practice and high-impact strategies, which garner more points improving the work environment for employees to improve their health and well-being. Overall, exposure to the Scorecard is contributing to better and more effective work-place health program offerings to employees.

    CDC will recruit a convenience sample of one hundred employers (each represented by two knowledgeable employees for 200 total respondents) to pilot test and evaluate the updated Scorecard. CDC will seek a diverse set of employers with respect to size and industry type who will be reached through meetings, presentations, and through gatekeeper organizations to be enrolled/registered. The updated Scorecard includes questions in four new topic areas: Sleep (8 questions); Alcohol & Other Substance Abuse (6 questions); Cancer (7 questions); and Musculoskeletal Disorders (7 questions), to include minor revisions to previously existing questions or adjustment in the associated points received for answering affirmatively to a question based on supporting evidence from the peer reviewed literature as well as sources such as the Community Guide. Additional updates also included dropping 20 questions from the prior version due to redundancy or lack of evidence to support their use. From the employers that complete the survey, CDC will conduct follow-up telephone interviews on a subset of about 16 employers (each represented by two knowledgeable employees, for 32 respondents in total). The follow-up telephone interviews will gather general impressions of the Scorecard—particularly the new modules and allow for discussion of items that presented discrepancies (and items that were left blank) to understand the respondent's interpretation and perspective of their answers these questions. This process will assess the validity and reliability of the questions, as well as allow CDC to gather suggestions for additional refinements, where necessary.

    Following this pilot testing, CDC will continue to provide outreach to and register approximately 800 employers per year to use the online survey Scorecard in their workplace health program assessment, planning, and implementation efforts, which is open to employers of all sizes, industry sectors, and geographic locations across the country.

    CDC requests a one-year OMB approval for this project. CDC will pilot test the updated Scorecard in year one and create a finalized version of the instrument based on respondent feedback gathered during the pilot. After the completion of the pilot test, CDC will submit a finalized instrument as a revision request for a three-year clearance.

    Participation in the CDC Worksite Health Scorecard is voluntary and there are no costs to respondents other than their time. The total estimated annualized burden hours are 303.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of
  • respondent
  • Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • (in hours)
  • Employer pilot CDC Worksite Health Scorecard Registration Application 200 1 2/60 CDC Worksite Health Scorecard 200 1 1.25 CDC Worksite Health Scorecard Cognitive interview 32 1 1 CDC Worksite Health Scorecard Pilot evaluation 200 1 5/60
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2017-24472 Filed 11-9-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-18-18AG; Docket No. CDC-2017-0095] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing efforts to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed work and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on the Evaluation of the Cancer Survivorship Demonstration Project. This information collection aims to help CDC better understand strategies and best practices to identify and address current cancer survivorship needs and gaps.

    DATES:

    CDC must receive written comments on or before January 12, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2017-0095 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. CDC will post, without change, all relevant comments to Regulations.gov.

    Please note: Submit all comments through the Federal eRulemaking portal (regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (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. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to the OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    The OMB is particularly interested in comments that will help:

    1. Evaluate 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. Evaluate 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. Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    4. Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

    5. Assess information collection costs.

    Proposed Project

    Evaluation of the Cancer Survivorship Demonstration Project—New—National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    Under CDC's National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP) Request for Applications DP5-1501, the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (DCPC) funded six grantees to implement evidence-based and promising strategies to increase knowledge of cancer survivor needs, increase survivor knowledge of treatment and follow-up care, and increase provider knowledge of guidelines pertaining to treatment of cancer. Specifically, this initiative employs strategies that relate to increasing surveillance and community-clinical linkages. Through this initiative, DCPC intends to help address the public health needs of cancer survivors. To facilitate evidence-informed policymaking and quality improvement of federal programs, CDC needs a comprehensive evaluation to characterize survivorship interventions and document outcomes.

    CDC seeks to request OMB approval to collect information needed for this evaluation. The proposed information collection will focus on how each grantee has expanded their knowledge of cancer survivor needs, increased utilization of surveillance data to inform program planning by providers and coalition members, and enhanced partnerships to facilitate and broaden program reach. CDC will also collect data on challenges encountered and addressed, factors that facilitated implementation, and lessons learned along the way. The requested information does not currently exist for organizations and entities working to improve cancer survivorship needs. With this data, CDC will gain critical insights for improving achieving immediate strategic efforts and goals to improve the public health needs of cancer survivors.

    CDC plans to collect information during two cycles of the program using a Web-based Grantee survey of NCCCP DP15-1501 grantee program directors and program managers, a Web-based Partner Survey of grantees' self-identified key partners (e.g., coalition members, providers, patient navigators), and semi-structured telephone interviews with NCCCP DP15-1501 grantee program directors and program managers. The data from the survey and semi-structured interviews will provide additional insight into program efforts.

    CDC is requesting OMB approval to conduct a Web-based Grantee survey using Survey Gizmo to a purposive sample of one program director and one program manager for each of the six grantee sites (12 respondents total) and to conduct a Web-based Partner Survey of 10 self-identified key partners in each of 6 grantees for a total of 60 respondents. CDC will administer the Web-based surveys to the same respondents at two time points for a total estimated burden of 8 hours for the Web-based Grantee Survey and 40 hours for the Web-based Partner Survey.

    CDC will ask the respondents to provide information regarding the type of respondent; their use of surveillance data to inform survivorship interventions; communication, education, and training activities to support the implementation of survivorship interventions; partnership engagement; challenges and facilitators regarding the implementation of evidence-based cancer survivorship strategies; reach of cancer survivorship interventions; and respondent background information.

    CDC intends to also seek OMB approval to conduct semi-structured interviews by telephone with a purposive sample of one program director and one program manager for each of the six grantee sites (12 respondents total). CDC will conduct the semi-structured interviews with the same respondents at two time points for a total estimated burden of 36 hours.

    CDC will ask the respondents to provide information on the following: (1) Administration of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Cancer Survivorship Module; (2) communication, education, and training activities to support the implementation of cancer survivorship interventions; (3) community clinical linkage strategies to support cancer survivors, knowledge regarding best practices for survivorship care; partnership engagement; (4) dissemination of evidence-based survivorship interventions; and (5) recommendations for i