Proposed Agency Information Collection Activity; Comment Request

Proposed Agency Information Collection Activity; Comment Request

Federal Register Notice
September 2, 1997
Volume 62, Number 169

AGENCY: Bureau of Transportation Statistics (DOT).

ACTION: Notice.

OMB CONTROL NUMBERS: 2139-0002, 2139-0004, and 2139-0005

SUMMARY: This notice announces that three data collections are coming up for renewal: Quarterly Report of Class I Motor Carriers of Property, Form QFR; Annual Report of Class I Motor Carriers of Property, Form M- 1; and Annual Report of Class II Motor Carriers of Property, Form M-2. In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., Public Law 104-13), the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) invites the general public, industry, and other Federal agencies to comment on the continuing need and usefulness of BTS collecting financial data from Class I and Class II motor carriers of property. The renewal is occurring while BTS is beginning formal rulemaking for the program under which data are collected. The rulemaking proposes to examine the same issues as the paperwork renewal.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted by November 3, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be directed to the Docket Clerk, Docket No. BTS-97-2859, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Room PL-401, Washington, DC 20590, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.

Comments should identify the regulatory docket number and be submitted in duplicate to the address listed above. Commenters wishing the Department to acknowledge receipt of their comments must submit with those comments a self-addressed stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: Comments on Docket BTS-97-2859. The Docket Clerk will date stamp the postcard and mail it back to the commenter. All comments submitted will be available for examination in the Rules Docket both before and after the closing date for comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Mednick, K-2, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590; (202) 366-8871; Fax: (202) 366-3640; e-mail: david.mednick@bts.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. The Data Collection

(1) Title: Quarterly Report of Class I Motor Carriers of Property. OMB Control No. 2139-0002.

Form No.: BTS Form QFR.

Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

Respondents: Class I Motor Carriers of Property.

Number of Respondents: 900.

Estimated Time Per Response: 2 hours.

Total Annual Burden: 7,200 hours.

(2) Title: Annual Report of Class I Motor Carriers of Property. OMB Control No. 2139-0004.

Form No.: BTS Form M-1.

Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

Respondents: Class I Motor Carriers of Property.

Number of Respondents: 900.

Estimated Time Per Response: 25 hours.

Total Annual Burden: 22,500 hours.

(3) Title: Annual Report of Class II Motor Carriers of Property. OMB Control No. 2139-0005.

Form No.: BTS Form M-2.

Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

Respondents: Class II Motor Carriers of Property.

Number of Respondents: 1,900.

Estimated Time Per Response: 10 hours.

Total Annual Burden: 19,000 hours.

Needs and Uses: These data collection forms were transferred from the Interstate Commerce Commission to the Department of Transportation (DOT) on January 1, 1996, by the ICC Termination Act of 1995 (the Act), Public Law 104-88, 109 Stat. 803 (1995) (codified at 49 U.S.C. 14123). The OMB Control numbers while under the ICC were 3120-0002, 3120-0032, and 3120-0138. Since Congress preserved the data collection provisions, albeit with some differences, the regulations remain in effect until ``modified, terminated, superseded, set aside, or revoked'' by BTS. Section 204 of the Act. That is, the program remains current and DOT will continue collecting motor carrier financial data as was done when the ICC administered the program.

The program will also continue under current regulations during rulemaking. On December 9, 1996, BTS proposed establishing a negotiated rulemaking committee to help revise the program. A public issues forum, held on March 31, 1997, provided additional information as to the best way to proceed with rulemaking. BTS is currently considering how to proceed with rulemaking, including whether to use negotiated rulemaking.

Revision of the reporting requirements is necessary because the Act changed the laws governing data collection slightly. Similar to the old legislation, the Act requires DOT to collect certain data from motor carriers of property and motor carriers of passengers.

The Secretary shall require Class I and Class II motor carriers to file with the Secretary annual financial and safety reports, the form and substance of which shall be prescribed by the Secretary; except that, at a minimum, such reports shall include balance sheets and income statements.

However, the earlier statute did not explicitly charge ICC to collect information relevant to safety. The Act also allows DOT to collect certain other data as needed.

The Secretary may require motor carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, lessors, and associations, or classes of them as the Secretary may prescribe, to file quarterly, periodic, or special reports with the Secretary and to respond to surveys concerning their operations.

In designing the reporting program, DOT must consider, pursuant to the Act: (1) Safety needs; (2) the need to preserve confidential business information and trade secrets and prevent competitive harm; (3) private sector, academic, and public use of information in the reports; and (4) the public interest. Congress has also explicitly called on DOT to ``streamline and simplify'' reporting requirements to the maximum extent practicable. BTS notes that the data needs of the public and private sectors have changed, and the technology to collect, process, and disseminate data is much improved. Further, as part of the Regulatory Reinvention Initiative, the President asked that agencies reduce by half the frequency of reports that the public is required to provide. Likewise, the Paperwork Reduction Act sets a Government wide goal for the reduction of information collection burdens of 25 percent by the end of fiscal year 1998. 35 U.S.C. 3505.

As it redesigns the data collection program under the Act, BTS will seek to determine the government and private needs for motor carrier financial and operating data and how to balance these needs against the burden on respondents. This rulemaking will form the basis for addressing these questions, as well as others that may be identified as this process continues. When complete, the Bureau hopes to resolve: (1) Which motor carriers should report; (2) what data items should be collected; (3) how often data should be collected; and (4) whether BTS should release carrier-specific data in addition to aggregate data and, if so, what entities should have access.

It is against this background of rulemaking that BTS is renewing the QFR, M-1, and M-2 report forms. While the rulemaking process will likely take longer to complete than renewal of the report forms, it covers the same areas and is a more rigorous review. The rulemaking will serve to inform BTS about the needs and uses of the data on the one hand, and about potential gains in reducing reporting burdens on the other. The information collection will be changed accordingly.

II. Request for Comments

BTS requests comments concerning the information collection, including whether (a) the reports are needed by BTS to fulfill its legal mandate under 14 U.S.C. Sec. 14123 to collect financial data from motor carriers; (b) BTS accurately estimated the reporting burden; (c) there are other ways to enhance the quality, utility, or clarity of the information collected; and (d) there are ways to minimize reporting burden, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Robert A. Knisely,
Deputy Director, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

[FR Doc. 97-23195 Filed 8-29-97; 8:45 am]

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