Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Modified OGE Form 450 Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report, 54081-54086 [E6-15129]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 177 / Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / Notices 54081 Trans No. Acquiring Acquired Entities 20061625 ....... 20061626 ....... 20061627 ....... New Mountain Partners II, L.P ................ Oak Investment Partners XI, L.P ............ ABRY Partners V, L.P ............................. Connextions, Inc ...................................... Airspan Networks Inc .............................. Cast & Crew Payroll, Inc ......................... 20061630 ....... 20061634 ....... 20061636 ....... Small Smiles Holding Company, Inc ....... Bain Capital Fund IX, L.P ....................... SFK Pulp Fund ........................................ FORBA, LLC ........................................... Trevor Lloyd ............................................ AFR Holdco, Inc ...................................... 20061638 ....... 20061643 ....... Bank of America Corporation .................. Vector Capital III, L.P .............................. Allegacy Federal Credit Union ................ WatchGuard Technologies, Inc ............... Connextions, Inc. Airspan Networks Inc. BTL Payments, LLC, B-T-L Payrolls, LLC, BTL/WD Studio Products, LLC, Cast & Crew Associated Payroll, LLC, Cast & Crew BV Payroll, LLC, Cast & Crew Cable Payroll, LLC, Cast & Crew Capital, Inc., Cast & Crew/Cinehub, LLC, Cast & Crew Entertainment Services, Inc., Cast & Crew Film Services, LLC, Cast & Crew Production Payroll, LLC, Cast & Crew Production Services, LLC, Cast & Crew Studio Payroll LLC, Cast & Crew Talent Services, LLC, Cast & Crew WD Payroll, LLC, Cast & Crew WD Studio Payroll, LLC, C&C–DTV Payroll, LLC, C&C–DTV Production Payroll, LLC, C&C–WD Film Payroll, LLC, C&C WD Film Services, LLC, C&C–WD Studio Productions, LLC, C.D. Payroll, LLC. FORBA NY, LLC. Yellowstone Holding Company. American Fiber International of New York, Inc., American Fiber Resources LLC, Great Lakes Pulp Company, Pulp & Paper Holdco, Inc. FIA Card Services, N.A. WatchGuard Technologies, Inc. Transactions Granted Early Termination—08/30/2006 20061565 ....... 20061632 ....... 20061650 ....... ValueAct Capital Master Fund, L.P ......... EPCOR Power L.P .................................. Nokia Corporation ................................... MDS, Inc .................................................. ASP III Alternative Investments, L.P ....... Loudeye Corp .......................................... MDS, Inc. Primary Energy Ventures LLC. Loudeye Corp. Transactions Granted Early Termination—08/31/2006 20061511 ....... Greif, Inc .................................................. 20061562 ....... 20061568 ....... 20061592 ....... Novartis AG ............................................. ProQuest Company ................................. A.M. Castle & Co .................................... Riverside XII Holding Company (Delta) L.P. Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc ............... Trevor Lloyd ............................................ H.I.G. Transtar, Inc .................................. Delta Petroleum Company, Inc. Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dealer Computer Services, Inc. Transtar Intermediate Holdings #2, Inc. Transactions Granted Early Termination—09/01/2006 20061624 ....... Sageview Capital Master, Ltd ................. For Further Information Contact: Sandra M. Peay, Contact Representative, or Renee Hallman, Contact Representative, Federal Trade Commission, Premerger Notification Office, Bureau of Competition, Room H– 303, Washington, DC 20580. (202) 326– 3100. By Direction of the Commission. Donald S. Clark, Secretary. [FR Doc. 06–7610 Filed 9–12–06; 8:45 am] hsrobinson on PROD1PC61 with NOTICES BILLING CODE 6750–01–M VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:19 Sep 12, 2006 Guitar Center, Inc .................................... OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Modified OGE Form 450 Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report AGENCY: Office of Government Ethics (OGE). ACTION: Notice. SUMMARY: Once this notice is published in the Federal Register, the Office of Government Ethics will promptly submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a proposed modified version of the OGE Form 450 Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report form (hereafter, OGE Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00064 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Guitar Center, Inc. Form 450) for review and three-year extension of approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). After that approval, the modified form would be used by covered departments and agency employees starting January 1, 2007. In August of 2005, the Office of Government Ethics published a first round paperwork notice that it intended to modify the OGE Form 450 to improve its clarity and design and to change in part the information that it collects. Because OGE received so many helpful comments in response to that notice, it significantly redesigned the proposed new OGE Form 450 and published another first round paperwork notice on March 17, 2006, in order to provide a further comment period. OGE received a number of comments on the March 2006 notice and has made a few minor E:\FR\FM\13SEN1.SGM 13SEN1 hsrobinson on PROD1PC61 with NOTICES 54082 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 177 / Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / Notices changes to the proposed modified form in response. DATES: Comments by the public and agencies on the proposal are again invited and should be received by October 13, 2006. ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Brenda Aguilar, the OMB Desk Officer for OGE, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10235, Washington, DC 20503; Telephone: 202–395–7316; fax: 202–395–6974. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul D. Ledvina, Records Officer, Information Resources Management Division, Office of Government Ethics; telephone: 202– 482–9281; TDD: 202–482–9293; fax: 202–482–9237; e-mail: pdledvin@oge.gov. A copy of the proposed modified OGE Form 450 may be obtained, without charge, by contacting Mr. Ledvina. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The OGE Form 450 (OMB control # 3209–0006) collects information from covered department and agency officials as required under OGE’s executive branchwide regulatory provisions in subpart I of 5 CFR part 2634. The OGE Form 450 serves as the uniform report form for collection, on a confidential basis, of financial information required by the OGE regulation from certain new entrant and incumbent employees of the Federal Government executive branch departments and agencies. Agency ethics officials then use the completed OGE Form 450 reports to conduct conflict of interest reviews and to resolve any actual or potential conflicts found. The basis for the OGE regulation and the report form is two-fold. First, section 201(d) of Executive Order 12674 of April 12, 1989 (as modified by Executive Order 12731 of October 17, 1990, 3 CFR, 1990 Comp., pp. 306–311, at p. 308), made OGE responsible for establishing a system of nonpublic (confidential) financial disclosure by executive branch employees to complement the system of public financial disclosure under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (the Ethics Act), as amended, 5 U.S.C. appendix. Second, section 107(a) of the Ethics Act, 5 U.S.C. app., sec. 107(a), further provided authority for OGE, as the supervising ethics office for the executive branch of the Federal Government, to require that appropriate executive agency employees file confidential financial disclosure reports, ‘‘in such form as the supervising ethics office may prescribe.’’ The OGE Form 450, and the underlying executive VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:19 Sep 12, 2006 Jkt 208001 branchwide financial disclosure regulation (5 CFR part 2634), constitute the basic reporting system that OGE has prescribed for such confidential financial disclosure in the executive branch. The Privacy Act Statement for the OGE Form 450 references the OGE/ GOVT–2 executive branchwide Privacy Act system of records. The information about this system of records is located on the OGE Web site, http:// www.usoge.gov. The Web site user should click on the ‘‘FOIA’’ heading on the left side of the home page. The user should then scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the heading ‘‘Links to Other Official Documents’’ the user will see links to the PDF, HTML and TXT formats of the most recent Privacy Act Records Systems. OGE has promulgated a number of changes to the regulation on confidential financial disclosure, 5 CFR part 2634, subpart I. These amendments will become effective on January 1, 2007. See 71 FR 28229–28239 (May 16, 2006). The amendments change, in several ways, the body of information that filers are required to report on the OGE Form 450. For example, the new regulation eliminates the requirement to report several types of assets and liabilities, such as diversified mutual funds and mortgages on residential rental property. In August 2005, OGE published a first round paperwork notice of a significant modification to the OGE Form 450. See 70 FR 47204–47206 (August 12, 2005). Because OGE received so many helpful comments in response to that notice, it significantly redesigned the proposed report form and published, in March 2006, another first round paperwork notice announcing that it intended to amend the OGE Form 450. See 71 FR 13848–13850 (March 17, 2006). This notice discusses only those comments received in response to the March 2006 paperwork notice. Proposed Modifications to the Form OGE’s goal, in addition to reflecting the regulatory amendments to 5 CFR part 2634 that will become effective on January 1, 2007, is to make the OGE Form 450 easier to complete electronically. For example, because it is much easier to fill in a form electronically when it appears in a portrait orientation, we have proposed changing the form’s orientation. Additionally, the ability to save an electronic copy of the completed report permits the filer to use it in subsequent filing cycles, without retyping information that has not changed. The proposed form provides enough space PO 00000 Frm 00065 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 for filers to type at least two lines of data in each block and provides agencies with the option to accept digital signatures. Many agency ethics officials have told us that filers make errors on the current OGE Form 450 because they do not read the attached instructions. On the proposed OGE Form 450, the instructions are integrated within the respective response areas. The proposed modifications to the OGE Form 450 reflect the changes in the confidential financial disclosure regulation. Generally, these changes to the information that will have to be reported on the OGE Form 450 include: Eliminating the reporting of diversified mutual funds, eliminating dates of honoraria, eliminating dates of agreements and arrangements (other than those for future employment), and eliminating the reporting of types of income that assets earned (i.e., dividends, capital gains, or interest), and revising reporting requirements relating to liabilities by eliminating the requirement to report student loans, mortgages on rental property, and credit card debt if the loans are granted on terms made available to the general public. Also, OGE is proposing to incorporate in the modified OGE Form 450 the new aggregation threshold of more than $305 for the reporting of gifts and travel reimbursements received from one source during the year by regular employee annual filers, with an exception for any items valued at $122 or less that are not counted toward the overall threshold. These new thresholds are based on the General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) increase in ‘‘minimal value’’ under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to $305 or less for 2005–2007, to which the thresholds are linked by the Ethics Act and OGE regulation. See GSA’s redefinition at 70 FR 2317–2318 (pt. V) (January 12, 2005), section 102(a)(2)(A) and (B) of the Ethics Act, OGE’s regulatory adjustment of the gifts/reimbursements thresholds for both public and confidential reports at 70 FR 12111–12112 (March 11, 2005), and OGE DAEOgram DO–05–007 of March 17, 2005, all available on OGE’s Web site at http://www.usoge.gov. Finally, OGE is proposing to update the OGE Form 450’s Privacy Act Statement summary of the sixth listed routine use (see OGE’s notice of revised Privacy Act records systems as published at 68 FR 3097–3109 (January 22, 2003) and routine use ‘‘f’’ at p. 3102 in particular). E:\FR\FM\13SEN1.SGM 13SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 177 / Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / Notices hsrobinson on PROD1PC61 with NOTICES Analysis of General Comments Received OGE received comments on the proposed revised OGE Form 450 from fourteen executive branch agencies and one Federal Government employee association. Several of the agencies provided multiple comments. Based on these comments, a few minor modifications were made to the proposed report form. Several of the comments that were received seem to concern the proposed report’s application to various aspects of the regulation that will be superseded by the above-mentioned amendments on January 1, 2007. For example, some commenters noted that the revised form fails to ask for certain information such as the dates for agreements and arrangements. This is because the new regulation eliminates the requirement to report the specific date for agreements and arrangements on the confidential report form, except for future employment. Also received were a few comments that the form could not easily be completed electronically. This is because the version of the proposed modified form that was distributed to requesters during the paperwork notice process was not electronically fillable. Many agencies have asked for a ‘‘smart form’’ rather than simply a form that can be filled out and saved electronically. A ‘‘smart form’’ allows the filer to answer a series of questions, after which a computer program enters the relevant data and generates the actual form. The expectation is that a ‘‘smart form’’ would eliminate many of the errors that filers often make when completing the form manually. We understand that such a form would be very useful. Unfortunately, as a small agency, OGE’s budget constraints do not permit it to take on this larger project. In the first round paperwork notice published on March 17, 2006, OGE indicated it intended to permit electronic filing of the new OGE Form 450. For this filing cycle, however, OGE has decided electronic filing using an Internet-based system will not be permitted. Further information about electronic filing will be forthcoming. In response to the initial first round paperwork notice issued in August 2005, and at the autumn 2005 OGE conference, many commenters criticized the form’s length. In response to these comments, the form’s length has been significantly reduced. Although the proposed form contains seven pages, no agency will be required to retain the first page of the form (which contains the general instructions) or the last page of the form (which contains the VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:19 Sep 12, 2006 Jkt 208001 examples), thus reducing the form to five pages. OGE noted, however, that in order to minimize the form’s length certain concessions had to be made. For example, as one agency noted, it would be more effective to place the examples with the parts of the form that they illustrate, rather than on one page at the end of the form. But placing the examples on a separate page reduces the form’s storage bulk by allowing agencies to separate and discard this page. The proposed new OGE Form 450 also replaces the ‘‘none’’ boxes that appear in each part of the current OGE Form 450 with five ‘‘yes’’ or ‘‘no’’ boxes that all appear on the signature page. Like the ‘‘none’’ boxes, these ‘‘yes/no’’ boxes will indicate whether the filer has information to report in a particular part of the form. Although filers will still be required to check boxes to indicate whether they have information to report, these statements will be more visible to filers than the ‘‘none’’ boxes and will take up less space than in the previous proposal. Most significantly, placing all of the ‘‘yes/no’’ boxes on the signature page will allow agencies to retain only one page for each filer who checks the ‘‘no’’ box for all five parts, thereby vastly reducing the total number of pages that agencies will be required to store. Analysis of Specific Comments One agency commented that placing the signature lines on the form’s first page may cause people to sign the form before they fill it out. We note, however, that the current version of the form also is organized in this manner. The filer provides his or her name, position, filing status, and grade, and then he or she signs the form. Parts I—V follow the signature. On the draft of the form that accompanied the first round paperwork notice published in August 2005, we placed all of the signatures at the end of the form. But many ethics officials expressed the concern that filers would forget to sign the form, or that the last page might become detached from the form and lost. As noted above, by putting the signature lines on the same page with the previously mentioned ‘‘yes/no’’ boxes, OGE was able to reduce the length of the proposed modified form in many cases to one page. One agency requested that supervisors and intermediate reviewers not be required to fill in their e-mail addresses. Although OGE added a block for these individuals to provide their e-mail addresses, OGE is not requiring them to do so. We believe that providing a space on the form for supervisors to include contact information, if they choose to do so, will be helpful to most ethics offices. PO 00000 Frm 00066 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 54083 One agency suggested that the penalty notice be placed adjacent to the filer’s signature in the hope that employees will be more likely to notice it. Unfortunately, it will not fit there. As a compromise, the penalty notice has been moved to the center of page 1, its font size has been increased, it has been placed in bold print and a border is now surrounding it. These changes make it much more prominent than it was on prior versions of the form. At the suggestion of two agencies, the ‘‘Date Received by Agency’’ box has been enlarged. At another agency’s suggestion, the definition of special Government employee (SGE) has been moved so that it appears near the block requiring the filer to indicate his or her SGE status. A third agency recommended the elimination of the requirement that SGEs provide their home addresses, citing privacy concerns, and noting that it is not necessary to have an SGE’s address now that the form asks for the filer’s e-mail address. OGE agrees that it is not necessary for an SGE to provide a home address. However, OGE thinks it is useful to require an SGE to provide a mailing address at which the agency can contact him or her. Thus, ‘‘home address’’ has been changed to ‘‘mailing address’’ so that the SGE can decide which to provide. As noted above, the first page of the proposed form includes five statements that take the place of the ‘‘none’’ boxes. One agency correctly noted that only annual filers must complete the gifts/ travel reimbursements part of the form. Although in Part V of the form employees are instructed that only annual filers must complete this part of the form, it is agreed that this instruction also needs to be provided with these statements. Immediately above Statement V, the following language has been added: ‘‘Statement V is for annual filers only. It does not apply to new entrants and SGEs.’’ Three agencies recommended the addition of an instruction that the underlying holdings of variable annuities and investment life insurance must be reported in Part I. Space constraints originally precluded doing this, but this additional instruction has now been included. Three agencies also noted that the definition of ‘‘diversified mutual fund’’ that appeared on the proposed form was incorrect. This editing error has been corrected. The definition now reads as follows: ‘‘A mutual fund that does not have a stated policy of concentrating its investments in one industry, business, or single country other than the United States, or E:\FR\FM\13SEN1.SGM 13SEN1 hsrobinson on PROD1PC61 with NOTICES 54084 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 177 / Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / Notices bonds of a single State within the United States.’’ One agency recommended that the addition of the following to the instructions proposed for Part I: ‘‘Designate entries for your dependent children with ’(DC)’ and ’(J)’ for joint holdings.’’ Because it was not the intention of OGE to signal any change in the use of these abbreviations, the instruction in Part I will now read: ‘‘You may distinguish any entry for a family member by preceding it with S for spouse, DC for dependent child, or J for jointly held.’’ In addition to changing the wording of this proposed instruction, it has been placed in the block labeled ‘‘Reportable Information’’ and removed from the instruction blocks for assets and income. At the suggestion of one agency, line numbers have been added to the Part I continuation page. The suggestion of another agency that the ‘‘Bryggadune University’’ example that illustrates the receipt of earned income in Part I also be used as an example for Part III in order to help illustrate that any position with a former employer should also be listed in Part III has also been accepted. One agency asked that the portions of the proposed modified form that filers have to complete be shaded, and instructions be provided to fill in the highlighted portions of the form. Although it was initially decided to accept this recommendation, when the highlighting suitable for viewing on a computer screen was made, the highlighting on the printed form was barely visible. One agency requested that the ethics official, rather than the filer, be required to check the box for the filer’s status because filers often mark the wrong box, and ethics officials must correct the error. It is understood that this error occurs, but OGE disagrees that the solution is to require the ethics official to complete this portion of the form. Requiring ethics officials to fill in this information on every form rather than correcting only those forms that have errors in this block would unnecessarily increase the administrative burden on ethics officials. Filers, not ethics officials, should be responsible for providing this information. One agency asserted that two separate categories of instructions for assets and income are no longer needed because, under the current proposal, earned income, investment income, and assets would all be reported in Part I. OGE disagrees. The instructions for the reporting of assets and investment income are different from the instructions for reporting earned income. For example, a filer must report VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:19 Sep 12, 2006 Jkt 208001 his or her assets, as well as the assets of the spouse and dependent children, but need not report the earned income of any dependent children. In addition, the reporting threshold for the earned income of the filer is different from the reporting threshold for the earned income of the filer’s spouse. OGE believes that keeping the instructions in separate tables will help the filer notice these distinctions. One agency recommended the addition of a column to Part I for the filer to list the type of asset or income (e.g., stock, bond, employer) which he or she reports. However, in response to comments received when ethics officials were surveyed in 2003, OGE intentionally eliminated the column that required filers to describe the type of income (dividends, rent, salary, capital gains) that they received from the assets listed in Part I. Just as it is unnecessary to require filers to report the type of investment income earned (e.g., ‘‘interest, dividends, capital gains’’), it also is unnecessary to report the type of asset reported. OGE thinks that it is less time-consuming for the reviewer to contact the filer and ask about any particular entry that is not clearly identifiable on the form. OGE also disagrees with one agency’s suggestion that filers be required to provide the ticker symbols for their stocks and mutual funds. Although OGE recognizes that the inclusion of ticker symbols may be helpful to some reviewers, if the use of the ticker symbols were mandatory, ethics officials would then be required to obtain this information from filers who fail to provide it. OGE also has not accepted a similar recommendation that it allow filers to use the ticker symbol as an alternative to the full name of the reportable asset. Filers sometimes report the wrong ticker symbols and such mistakes make the conflict of interest analysis more difficult. OGE believes that it is best to continue to require that the filer report the full name of the company or fund, and make the use of ticker symbols optional. On the proposed report that accompanied the first round paperwork notice published in August 2005, OGE had included a column for the filer to indicate whether a particular asset was worth over $15,000 or $50,000. Two agencies recommended that this column be reinstated. OGE had proposed this column so that filers could indicate which of their stocks and sector mutual funds are valued above these regulatory exemption amounts. On further reflection, however, OGE decided that the benefit of receiving this information would not justify the additional filing PO 00000 Frm 00067 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 burden. The regulatory exemption amounts refer to the total value of the filer’s financial interest in a particular matter, not just the value of a particular asset. In addition, security values fluctuate. Two agencies asked that more blocks be added for the reporting of liabilities in Part II. OGE included only two lines in order to shorten the form. In addition, because the underlying confidential financial disclosure regulation amendments that will become effective on January 1, 2007 include a significant expansion of the exceptions for reporting liabilities, most filers will now have few, if any, liabilities to report. One agency noted that the most common error that employees make in Part III on outside positions is to report, unnecessarily, their official duty activities. This agency recommended that OGE add official duty activities to the ‘‘Do Not Report’’ column in the instructions for Part III. The ‘‘Do Not Report’’ column in Part III already includes the instruction that a filer does not need to report ‘‘any position that you hold as part of your official duties.’’ Another agency recommended that, in Part III, OGE change the proposed column heading ‘‘organization’’ because it does not adequately convey to filers that they must report their outside activities and employment. Because the heading ‘‘organization’’ is used on the current version of the form, and we have received no indication that it has caused confusion, OGE has not accepted this recommendation. One agency recommended the removal of the instruction in Part V that filers need not report bequests and other forms of inheritance that they receive. This agency’s concern is that including this instruction may lead filers to believe that they also are not required to report their inherited assets in Part I. OGE does not believe it is necessary to change this instruction as proposed. Two agencies suggested that the proposed example illustrating the requirement that a filer report his or her spouse’s earned income on Part I should include the employer’s city and State. We have not accepted this recommendation because this information is not required by the regulation either in its current version or as amended effective January 1, 2007. Although the city and State of the spouse’s employer appear in the example on the current version of the form, neither the regulation nor the instructions on that form require that this information be reported. E:\FR\FM\13SEN1.SGM 13SEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 177 / Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / Notices Availability and Timing After it is finally updated and authorized for use next year, OGE will make the modified OGE Form 450 available to departments and agencies, and their reporting employees, through the Forms, Publications & Other Ethics Documents section of OGE’s Web site (http://www.usoge.gov). We will maintain the current version of the form on the OGE Web site for the remainder of 2006. As noted above, OGE does not intend that the modified OGE Form 450 (once finalized) be utilized until 2007. OGE received from OMB an extension of paperwork clearance for the current version of the report form to allow its continued use for the remainder of 2006. Thus, agencies should continue to have their new entrant confidential report filers, including special Government employees filing such reports upon their reappointment/ redesignation or appointment anniversary dates, use the current version of the form throughout 2006. After the forthcoming final clearance of the new modified version of the OGE Form 450, agencies should require both new entrant and annual incumbent confidential report filers to use the new version of the form starting in 2007. Because of the introduction of the new form, filers will not be required to file their annual incumbent reports by October 31, 2006. Instead, OGE will require annual confidential filers to file the new modified form with their agencies by the new filing deadline of February 15, 2007. This first new report will incorporate a 15-month reporting period (from October 2005 through December 2006) in order to avoid any gap in reporting due to the transition from a fiscal year to a calendar year basis for annual reporting. Thereafter, the new annual confidential reports due each February will just cover the prior calendar year. The electronically fillable form will be provided in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. It is specially encoded to allow the filer to save the completed form on his or her computer just by using the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software, available from Adobe via a link from the OGE Web site. hsrobinson on PROD1PC61 with NOTICES Effect on Use of Alternative Reports and OGE Optional Form 450–A Since 1992, various departments and agencies have developed, with OGE review/approval, alternative reporting formats such as certificates of no conflict for certain classes of employees. Other agencies provide for additional disclosures pursuant to independent VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:19 Sep 12, 2006 Jkt 208001 organic statutes and in certain other circumstances when authorized by OGE. In 1997, OGE itself developed the OGE Optional Form 450–A (Confidential Certificate of No New Interests (Executive Branch)) for possible agency and employee use in certain years, if applicable. That optional form continues in use at various agencies. However, the OGE Form 450 remains the uniform executive branch report form for most of those executive branch employees required by their agencies to report confidentially on their financial interests. Agencies may allow annual filers who meet the requirements to file the OGE Form 450–A rather than the new OGE Form 450 for this 15-month filing cycle. Reporting Individuals The OGE Form 450 is to be filed by each reporting individual with the designated agency ethics official at the executive department or agency where he or she is or will be employed. Reporting individuals are regular employees whose positions have been designated by their agency under 5 CFR 2634.904 (both the current regulation as codified and the rule that will become effective in January 2007) as requiring confidential financial disclosure in order to help avoid conflicts with their assigned responsibilities. Under that section, all special Government employees are also generally required to file. Agencies may, if appropriate under the OGE regulation, exclude certain regular employees or SGEs as provided in 5 CFR 2634.905 (§ 2634.904(b) of the rule that will become effective in January 2007). Reports normally are required to be filed within 30 days of entering a covered position (or earlier if required by the agency concerned), and again annually if the employee serves for more than 60 days in the position. Most of the persons who file this report are current executive branch Government employees at the time they complete their report. However, some filers are private citizens who are asked by their prospective agencies to file new entrant reports prior to entering Government service in order to permit advance identification of any potential conflicts of interest and resolution thereof by recusal, divestiture, waiver, etc. Reporting Burden In the two first round paperwork notices for the proposed modified form, the statistics OGE used to compute the reporting burden mistakenly included filers of the OGE Form 450–A and of alternative forms approved by OGE. Because the statistics should reflect the PO 00000 Frm 00068 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 54085 work involved in completing the OGE Form 450 and not any variations of the form, OGE is refining the statistics to reflect the reporting burden pertaining to the OGE Form 450 only. Additionally, the prior first round paperwork notices used statistics from calendar years 2002, 2003, and 2004. This paperwork notice uses the figures from calendar years 2003, 2004, and 2005. Based on OGE’s annual agency ethics program questionnaire responses for 2003 through 2005, OGE estimates that an average of approximately 246,131 OGE Form 450 reports will be filed each year for the next three years throughout the executive branch. This estimate is based on the number of OGE Form 450 reports filed branchwide for 2003 through 2005 (218,130 in 2003, 280,152 in 2004, and 240,111 in 2005) for a total of 738,393, with that number then divided by three and rounded, to give the projected annual average of 246,131 OGE Form 450 reports. Of these reports, OGE estimates that 7.65 percent, or some 18,829 per year, will be filed by private citizens with departments and agencies throughout the executive branch. Private citizen filers are those potential (incoming) regular employees whose positions are designated for confidential disclosure filing as well as potential special Government employees whose agencies require that they file their new entrant reports prior to assuming Government responsibilities. No termination reports are required for the OGE Form 450. Because the amount of information that must be reported on the proposed modified form has been reduced, each filing is now estimated to take an average of one hour to complete. This yields an annual reporting burden of 18,829 hours. Consideration of Comments In this second round notice, public comment is again invited, this time on the proposed further modified OGE Form 450 summarized in this notice and available without charge from OGE upon request (see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above). In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), public comments are invited specifically on the need for and practical utility of this proposed modified collection of information, the accuracy of OGE’s burden estimate, the enhancement of quality, utility and clarity of the information collected, and the minimization of burden (including the use of information technology). The Office of Government Ethics, in consultation with OMB, will consider E:\FR\FM\13SEN1.SGM 13SEN1 54086 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 177 / Wednesday, September 13, 2006 / Notices all comments received, which will become a matter of public record. Approved: September 6, 2006. Robert I. Cusick, Director, Office of Government Ethics. [FR Doc. E6–15129 Filed 9–12–06; 8:45 am] defined by the newborn screening system of each State. These children are referred for diagnosis and treatment. However, some cases are not detected at all or the detection comes too late to prevent harm. These ‘‘missed cases’’ often result in severe morbidity such as mental retardation or death. In this project, we will update and expand a previous epidemiological study of missed cases of two disorders published in 1986. We will assess the number of cases of each disorder missed, the reasons for the miss and legal outcomes, if any. The reasons for the miss will be tabulated according to which step or steps of the screening process it occurred. Data will be collected by asking state public health laboratory directors, newborn screening laboratory managers, follow-up coordinators, specialists at metabolic clinics and parent groups with an interest in newborn screening for information regarding missed cases. An estimated 100 subjects will be requested to complete a short questionnaire that asks for information regarding the details of any missed cases of which they are aware. The survey will highlight procedures and actions taken by States and other participants in newborn screening systems to identify causes of missed cases and to modify policies and procedures to prevent or minimize recurrences. The information gleaned from this study may be used to help craft changes in the screening protocols that will make the process more organized and efficient and less likely to fail an affected child. Further, it is not clear that there is a systematic assessment of missed cases on a population basis; this project will seek to identify procedures for routine surveillance of missed cases. There are no costs to respondents except their time to participate in the survey. on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Written comments should be received within 60 days of this notice. Proposed Project BILLING CODE 6345–02–P Descriptive Epidemiology of Missed or Delayed Diagnoses for Conditions Detected by Newborn Screening—(OMB No. 0920–0641)—Extension-National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day–06–0641] Background and Brief Description Proposed Data Collections Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations Every State in the United States and Washington, DC, has a public health program to test newborn babies for congenital metabolic and other disorders through laboratory testing of dried blood spots. These programs screen for between 4 and 36 different conditions including phenylketonuria (PKU) and congenital hypothroidism, with testing performed in both state laboratories and private laboratories contracted by state health departments. The screening process or system is broader than the state public health newborn screening program, which is composed only of the laboratory and follow-up personnel. It involves the collection of blood from a newborn, analysis of the sample in a screening laboratory, follow-up of abnormal results, confirmatory testing and diagnostic work-up. Parents, hospitals, medical providers including primary care providers and specialists, state laboratory and follow-up personnel, advocates, as well as other partners such as local health departments, police, child protection workers, and courts play important roles in this process. Most children born with metabolic disease are identified in a timely manner and within the parameters In compliance with the requirement of Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 for opportunity for public comment on proposed data collection projects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will publish periodic summaries of proposed projects. To request more information on the proposed projects or to obtain a copy of the data collection plans and instruments, call 404–639–5960 and send comments to Seleda Perryman, CDC Assistant Reports Clearance Officer, 1600 Clifton Road, MS–D74, Atlanta, GA 30333 or send an e-mail to omb@cdc.gov. 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 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 ESTIMATED ANNUALIZED BURDEN HOURS Number of respondents Respondents Number of responses per respondent 100 1 hsrobinson on PROD1PC61 with NOTICES State laboratory directors, screening laboratory managers, follow-up coordinators, metabolic clinic specialists, and parent groups ............................... VerDate Aug<31>2005 16:19 Sep 12, 2006 Jkt 208001 PO 00000 Frm 00069 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\13SEN1.SGM 13SEN1 Average burden per response (in hours) 10/60 Total burden (hours) 17

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 177 (Wednesday, September 13, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 54081-54086]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-15129]


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OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS


Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB 
Review; Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Modified OGE Form 450 
Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report

AGENCY: Office of Government Ethics (OGE).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: Once this notice is published in the Federal Register, the 
Office of Government Ethics will promptly submit to the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) a proposed modified version of the OGE Form 
450 Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report form 
(hereafter, OGE Form 450) for review and three-year extension of 
approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). After that approval, 
the modified form would be used by covered departments and agency 
employees starting January 1, 2007.
    In August of 2005, the Office of Government Ethics published a 
first round paperwork notice that it intended to modify the OGE Form 
450 to improve its clarity and design and to change in part the 
information that it collects. Because OGE received so many helpful 
comments in response to that notice, it significantly redesigned the 
proposed new OGE Form 450 and published another first round paperwork 
notice on March 17, 2006, in order to provide a further comment period. 
OGE received a number of comments on the March 2006 notice and has made 
a few minor

[[Page 54082]]

changes to the proposed modified form in response.

DATES: Comments by the public and agencies on the proposal are again 
invited and should be received by October 13, 2006.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Brenda Aguilar, the OMB Desk 
Officer for OGE, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office 
of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10235, 
Washington, DC 20503; Telephone: 202-395-7316; fax: 202-395-6974.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul D. Ledvina, Records Officer, 
Information Resources Management Division, Office of Government Ethics; 
telephone: 202-482-9281; TDD: 202-482-9293; fax: 202-482-9237; e-mail: 
pdledvin@oge.gov. A copy of the proposed modified OGE Form 450 may be 
obtained, without charge, by contacting Mr. Ledvina.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The OGE Form 450 (OMB control  
3209-0006) collects information from covered department and agency 
officials as required under OGE's executive branchwide regulatory 
provisions in subpart I of 5 CFR part 2634. The OGE Form 450 serves as 
the uniform report form for collection, on a confidential basis, of 
financial information required by the OGE regulation from certain new 
entrant and incumbent employees of the Federal Government executive 
branch departments and agencies. Agency ethics officials then use the 
completed OGE Form 450 reports to conduct conflict of interest reviews 
and to resolve any actual or potential conflicts found.
    The basis for the OGE regulation and the report form is two-fold. 
First, section 201(d) of Executive Order 12674 of April 12, 1989 (as 
modified by Executive Order 12731 of October 17, 1990, 3 CFR, 1990 
Comp., pp. 306-311, at p. 308), made OGE responsible for establishing a 
system of nonpublic (confidential) financial disclosure by executive 
branch employees to complement the system of public financial 
disclosure under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (the Ethics Act), 
as amended, 5 U.S.C. appendix. Second, section 107(a) of the Ethics 
Act, 5 U.S.C. app., sec. 107(a), further provided authority for OGE, as 
the supervising ethics office for the executive branch of the Federal 
Government, to require that appropriate executive agency employees file 
confidential financial disclosure reports, ``in such form as the 
supervising ethics office may prescribe.'' The OGE Form 450, and the 
underlying executive branchwide financial disclosure regulation (5 CFR 
part 2634), constitute the basic reporting system that OGE has 
prescribed for such confidential financial disclosure in the executive 
branch.
    The Privacy Act Statement for the OGE Form 450 references the OGE/
GOVT-2 executive branchwide Privacy Act system of records. The 
information about this system of records is located on the OGE Web 
site, http://www.usoge.gov. The Web site user should click on the 
``FOIA'' heading on the left side of the home page. The user should 
then scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the heading ``Links to 
Other Official Documents'' the user will see links to the PDF, HTML and 
TXT formats of the most recent Privacy Act Records Systems.
    OGE has promulgated a number of changes to the regulation on 
confidential financial disclosure, 5 CFR part 2634, subpart I. These 
amendments will become effective on January 1, 2007. See 71 FR 28229-
28239 (May 16, 2006). The amendments change, in several ways, the body 
of information that filers are required to report on the OGE Form 450. 
For example, the new regulation eliminates the requirement to report 
several types of assets and liabilities, such as diversified mutual 
funds and mortgages on residential rental property.
    In August 2005, OGE published a first round paperwork notice of a 
significant modification to the OGE Form 450. See 70 FR 47204-47206 
(August 12, 2005). Because OGE received so many helpful comments in 
response to that notice, it significantly redesigned the proposed 
report form and published, in March 2006, another first round paperwork 
notice announcing that it intended to amend the OGE Form 450. See 71 FR 
13848-13850 (March 17, 2006). This notice discusses only those comments 
received in response to the March 2006 paperwork notice.

Proposed Modifications to the Form

    OGE's goal, in addition to reflecting the regulatory amendments to 
5 CFR part 2634 that will become effective on January 1, 2007, is to 
make the OGE Form 450 easier to complete electronically. For example, 
because it is much easier to fill in a form electronically when it 
appears in a portrait orientation, we have proposed changing the form's 
orientation. Additionally, the ability to save an electronic copy of 
the completed report permits the filer to use it in subsequent filing 
cycles, without retyping information that has not changed. The proposed 
form provides enough space for filers to type at least two lines of 
data in each block and provides agencies with the option to accept 
digital signatures. Many agency ethics officials have told us that 
filers make errors on the current OGE Form 450 because they do not read 
the attached instructions. On the proposed OGE Form 450, the 
instructions are integrated within the respective response areas.
    The proposed modifications to the OGE Form 450 reflect the changes 
in the confidential financial disclosure regulation. Generally, these 
changes to the information that will have to be reported on the OGE 
Form 450 include: Eliminating the reporting of diversified mutual 
funds, eliminating dates of honoraria, eliminating dates of agreements 
and arrangements (other than those for future employment), and 
eliminating the reporting of types of income that assets earned (i.e., 
dividends, capital gains, or interest), and revising reporting 
requirements relating to liabilities by eliminating the requirement to 
report student loans, mortgages on rental property, and credit card 
debt if the loans are granted on terms made available to the general 
public.
    Also, OGE is proposing to incorporate in the modified OGE Form 450 
the new aggregation threshold of more than $305 for the reporting of 
gifts and travel reimbursements received from one source during the 
year by regular employee annual filers, with an exception for any items 
valued at $122 or less that are not counted toward the overall 
threshold. These new thresholds are based on the General Services 
Administration's (GSA's) increase in ``minimal value'' under the 
Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to $305 or less for 2005-2007, to 
which the thresholds are linked by the Ethics Act and OGE regulation. 
See GSA's redefinition at 70 FR 2317-2318 (pt. V) (January 12, 2005), 
section 102(a)(2)(A) and (B) of the Ethics Act, OGE's regulatory 
adjustment of the gifts/reimbursements thresholds for both public and 
confidential reports at 70 FR 12111-12112 (March 11, 2005), and OGE 
DAEOgram DO-05-007 of March 17, 2005, all available on OGE's Web site 
at http://www.usoge.gov.
    Finally, OGE is proposing to update the OGE Form 450's Privacy Act 
Statement summary of the sixth listed routine use (see OGE's notice of 
revised Privacy Act records systems as published at 68 FR 3097-3109 
(January 22, 2003) and routine use ``f'' at p. 3102 in particular).

[[Page 54083]]

Analysis of General Comments Received

    OGE received comments on the proposed revised OGE Form 450 from 
fourteen executive branch agencies and one Federal Government employee 
association. Several of the agencies provided multiple comments. Based 
on these comments, a few minor modifications were made to the proposed 
report form.
    Several of the comments that were received seem to concern the 
proposed report's application to various aspects of the regulation that 
will be superseded by the above-mentioned amendments on January 1, 
2007. For example, some commenters noted that the revised form fails to 
ask for certain information such as the dates for agreements and 
arrangements. This is because the new regulation eliminates the 
requirement to report the specific date for agreements and arrangements 
on the confidential report form, except for future employment. Also 
received were a few comments that the form could not easily be 
completed electronically. This is because the version of the proposed 
modified form that was distributed to requesters during the paperwork 
notice process was not electronically fillable.
    Many agencies have asked for a ``smart form'' rather than simply a 
form that can be filled out and saved electronically. A ``smart form'' 
allows the filer to answer a series of questions, after which a 
computer program enters the relevant data and generates the actual 
form. The expectation is that a ``smart form'' would eliminate many of 
the errors that filers often make when completing the form manually. We 
understand that such a form would be very useful. Unfortunately, as a 
small agency, OGE's budget constraints do not permit it to take on this 
larger project.
    In the first round paperwork notice published on March 17, 2006, 
OGE indicated it intended to permit electronic filing of the new OGE 
Form 450. For this filing cycle, however, OGE has decided electronic 
filing using an Internet-based system will not be permitted. Further 
information about electronic filing will be forthcoming.
    In response to the initial first round paperwork notice issued in 
August 2005, and at the autumn 2005 OGE conference, many commenters 
criticized the form's length. In response to these comments, the form's 
length has been significantly reduced. Although the proposed form 
contains seven pages, no agency will be required to retain the first 
page of the form (which contains the general instructions) or the last 
page of the form (which contains the examples), thus reducing the form 
to five pages. OGE noted, however, that in order to minimize the form's 
length certain concessions had to be made. For example, as one agency 
noted, it would be more effective to place the examples with the parts 
of the form that they illustrate, rather than on one page at the end of 
the form. But placing the examples on a separate page reduces the 
form's storage bulk by allowing agencies to separate and discard this 
page.
    The proposed new OGE Form 450 also replaces the ``none'' boxes that 
appear in each part of the current OGE Form 450 with five ``yes'' or 
``no'' boxes that all appear on the signature page. Like the ``none'' 
boxes, these ``yes/no'' boxes will indicate whether the filer has 
information to report in a particular part of the form. Although filers 
will still be required to check boxes to indicate whether they have 
information to report, these statements will be more visible to filers 
than the ``none'' boxes and will take up less space than in the 
previous proposal. Most significantly, placing all of the ``yes/no'' 
boxes on the signature page will allow agencies to retain only one page 
for each filer who checks the ``no'' box for all five parts, thereby 
vastly reducing the total number of pages that agencies will be 
required to store.

 Analysis of Specific Comments

    One agency commented that placing the signature lines on the form's 
first page may cause people to sign the form before they fill it out. 
We note, however, that the current version of the form also is 
organized in this manner. The filer provides his or her name, position, 
filing status, and grade, and then he or she signs the form. Parts I--V 
follow the signature. On the draft of the form that accompanied the 
first round paperwork notice published in August 2005, we placed all of 
the signatures at the end of the form. But many ethics officials 
expressed the concern that filers would forget to sign the form, or 
that the last page might become detached from the form and lost. As 
noted above, by putting the signature lines on the same page with the 
previously mentioned ``yes/no'' boxes, OGE was able to reduce the 
length of the proposed modified form in many cases to one page.
    One agency requested that supervisors and intermediate reviewers 
not be required to fill in their e-mail addresses. Although OGE added a 
block for these individuals to provide their e-mail addresses, OGE is 
not requiring them to do so. We believe that providing a space on the 
form for supervisors to include contact information, if they choose to 
do so, will be helpful to most ethics offices.
    One agency suggested that the penalty notice be placed adjacent to 
the filer's signature in the hope that employees will be more likely to 
notice it. Unfortunately, it will not fit there. As a compromise, the 
penalty notice has been moved to the center of page 1, its font size 
has been increased, it has been placed in bold print and a border is 
now surrounding it. These changes make it much more prominent than it 
was on prior versions of the form.
    At the suggestion of two agencies, the ``Date Received by Agency'' 
box has been enlarged. At another agency's suggestion, the definition 
of special Government employee (SGE) has been moved so that it appears 
near the block requiring the filer to indicate his or her SGE status. A 
third agency recommended the elimination of the requirement that SGEs 
provide their home addresses, citing privacy concerns, and noting that 
it is not necessary to have an SGE's address now that the form asks for 
the filer's e-mail address. OGE agrees that it is not necessary for an 
SGE to provide a home address. However, OGE thinks it is useful to 
require an SGE to provide a mailing address at which the agency can 
contact him or her. Thus, ``home address'' has been changed to 
``mailing address'' so that the SGE can decide which to provide.
    As noted above, the first page of the proposed form includes five 
statements that take the place of the ``none'' boxes. One agency 
correctly noted that only annual filers must complete the gifts/travel 
reimbursements part of the form. Although in Part V of the form 
employees are instructed that only annual filers must complete this 
part of the form, it is agreed that this instruction also needs to be 
provided with these statements. Immediately above Statement V, the 
following language has been added: ``Statement V is for annual filers 
only. It does not apply to new entrants and SGEs.''
    Three agencies recommended the addition of an instruction that the 
underlying holdings of variable annuities and investment life insurance 
must be reported in Part I. Space constraints originally precluded 
doing this, but this additional instruction has now been included. 
Three agencies also noted that the definition of ``diversified mutual 
fund'' that appeared on the proposed form was incorrect. This editing 
error has been corrected. The definition now reads as follows: ``A 
mutual fund that does not have a stated policy of concentrating its 
investments in one industry, business, or single country other than the 
United States, or

[[Page 54084]]

bonds of a single State within the United States.''
    One agency recommended that the addition of the following to the 
instructions proposed for Part I: ``Designate entries for your 
dependent children with '(DC)' and '(J)' for joint holdings.'' Because 
it was not the intention of OGE to signal any change in the use of 
these abbreviations, the instruction in Part I will now read: ``You may 
distinguish any entry for a family member by preceding it with S for 
spouse, DC for dependent child, or J for jointly held.'' In addition to 
changing the wording of this proposed instruction, it has been placed 
in the block labeled ``Reportable Information'' and removed from the 
instruction blocks for assets and income.
    At the suggestion of one agency, line numbers have been added to 
the Part I continuation page. The suggestion of another agency that the 
``Bryggadune University'' example that illustrates the receipt of 
earned income in Part I also be used as an example for Part III in 
order to help illustrate that any position with a former employer 
should also be listed in Part III has also been accepted.
    One agency asked that the portions of the proposed modified form 
that filers have to complete be shaded, and instructions be provided to 
fill in the highlighted portions of the form. Although it was initially 
decided to accept this recommendation, when the highlighting suitable 
for viewing on a computer screen was made, the highlighting on the 
printed form was barely visible.
    One agency requested that the ethics official, rather than the 
filer, be required to check the box for the filer's status because 
filers often mark the wrong box, and ethics officials must correct the 
error. It is understood that this error occurs, but OGE disagrees that 
the solution is to require the ethics official to complete this portion 
of the form. Requiring ethics officials to fill in this information on 
every form rather than correcting only those forms that have errors in 
this block would unnecessarily increase the administrative burden on 
ethics officials. Filers, not ethics officials, should be responsible 
for providing this information.
    One agency asserted that two separate categories of instructions 
for assets and income are no longer needed because, under the current 
proposal, earned income, investment income, and assets would all be 
reported in Part I. OGE disagrees. The instructions for the reporting 
of assets and investment income are different from the instructions for 
reporting earned income. For example, a filer must report his or her 
assets, as well as the assets of the spouse and dependent children, but 
need not report the earned income of any dependent children. In 
addition, the reporting threshold for the earned income of the filer is 
different from the reporting threshold for the earned income of the 
filer's spouse. OGE believes that keeping the instructions in separate 
tables will help the filer notice these distinctions.
    One agency recommended the addition of a column to Part I for the 
filer to list the type of asset or income (e.g., stock, bond, employer) 
which he or she reports. However, in response to comments received when 
ethics officials were surveyed in 2003, OGE intentionally eliminated 
the column that required filers to describe the type of income 
(dividends, rent, salary, capital gains) that they received from the 
assets listed in Part I. Just as it is unnecessary to require filers to 
report the type of investment income earned (e.g., ``interest, 
dividends, capital gains''), it also is unnecessary to report the type 
of asset reported. OGE thinks that it is less time-consuming for the 
reviewer to contact the filer and ask about any particular entry that 
is not clearly identifiable on the form.
    OGE also disagrees with one agency's suggestion that filers be 
required to provide the ticker symbols for their stocks and mutual 
funds. Although OGE recognizes that the inclusion of ticker symbols may 
be helpful to some reviewers, if the use of the ticker symbols were 
mandatory, ethics officials would then be required to obtain this 
information from filers who fail to provide it. OGE also has not 
accepted a similar recommendation that it allow filers to use the 
ticker symbol as an alternative to the full name of the reportable 
asset. Filers sometimes report the wrong ticker symbols and such 
mistakes make the conflict of interest analysis more difficult. OGE 
believes that it is best to continue to require that the filer report 
the full name of the company or fund, and make the use of ticker 
symbols optional.
    On the proposed report that accompanied the first round paperwork 
notice published in August 2005, OGE had included a column for the 
filer to indicate whether a particular asset was worth over $15,000 or 
$50,000. Two agencies recommended that this column be reinstated. OGE 
had proposed this column so that filers could indicate which of their 
stocks and sector mutual funds are valued above these regulatory 
exemption amounts. On further reflection, however, OGE decided that the 
benefit of receiving this information would not justify the additional 
filing burden. The regulatory exemption amounts refer to the total 
value of the filer's financial interest in a particular matter, not 
just the value of a particular asset. In addition, security values 
fluctuate.
    Two agencies asked that more blocks be added for the reporting of 
liabilities in Part II. OGE included only two lines in order to shorten 
the form. In addition, because the underlying confidential financial 
disclosure regulation amendments that will become effective on January 
1, 2007 include a significant expansion of the exceptions for reporting 
liabilities, most filers will now have few, if any, liabilities to 
report.
    One agency noted that the most common error that employees make in 
Part III on outside positions is to report, unnecessarily, their 
official duty activities. This agency recommended that OGE add official 
duty activities to the ``Do Not Report'' column in the instructions for 
Part III. The ``Do Not Report'' column in Part III already includes the 
instruction that a filer does not need to report ``any position that 
you hold as part of your official duties.''
    Another agency recommended that, in Part III, OGE change the 
proposed column heading ``organization'' because it does not adequately 
convey to filers that they must report their outside activities and 
employment. Because the heading ``organization'' is used on the current 
version of the form, and we have received no indication that it has 
caused confusion, OGE has not accepted this recommendation.
    One agency recommended the removal of the instruction in Part V 
that filers need not report bequests and other forms of inheritance 
that they receive. This agency's concern is that including this 
instruction may lead filers to believe that they also are not required 
to report their inherited assets in Part I. OGE does not believe it is 
necessary to change this instruction as proposed.
    Two agencies suggested that the proposed example illustrating the 
requirement that a filer report his or her spouse's earned income on 
Part I should include the employer's city and State. We have not 
accepted this recommendation because this information is not required 
by the regulation either in its current version or as amended effective 
January 1, 2007. Although the city and State of the spouse's employer 
appear in the example on the current version of the form, neither the 
regulation nor the instructions on that form require that this 
information be reported.

[[Page 54085]]

Availability and Timing

    After it is finally updated and authorized for use next year, OGE 
will make the modified OGE Form 450 available to departments and 
agencies, and their reporting employees, through the Forms, 
Publications & Other Ethics Documents section of OGE's Web site (http:/
/www.usoge.gov). We will maintain the current version of the form on 
the OGE Web site for the remainder of 2006.
    As noted above, OGE does not intend that the modified OGE Form 450 
(once finalized) be utilized until 2007. OGE received from OMB an 
extension of paperwork clearance for the current version of the report 
form to allow its continued use for the remainder of 2006. Thus, 
agencies should continue to have their new entrant confidential report 
filers, including special Government employees filing such reports upon 
their reappointment/redesignation or appointment anniversary dates, use 
the current version of the form throughout 2006. After the forthcoming 
final clearance of the new modified version of the OGE Form 450, 
agencies should require both new entrant and annual incumbent 
confidential report filers to use the new version of the form starting 
in 2007.
    Because of the introduction of the new form, filers will not be 
required to file their annual incumbent reports by October 31, 2006. 
Instead, OGE will require annual confidential filers to file the new 
modified form with their agencies by the new filing deadline of 
February 15, 2007. This first new report will incorporate a 15-month 
reporting period (from October 2005 through December 2006) in order to 
avoid any gap in reporting due to the transition from a fiscal year to 
a calendar year basis for annual reporting. Thereafter, the new annual 
confidential reports due each February will just cover the prior 
calendar year.
    The electronically fillable form will be provided in Adobe Acrobat 
PDF format. It is specially encoded to allow the filer to save the 
completed form on his or her computer just by using the free Adobe 
Acrobat Reader software, available from Adobe via a link from the OGE 
Web site.

Effect on Use of Alternative Reports and OGE Optional Form 450-A

    Since 1992, various departments and agencies have developed, with 
OGE review/approval, alternative reporting formats such as certificates 
of no conflict for certain classes of employees. Other agencies provide 
for additional disclosures pursuant to independent organic statutes and 
in certain other circumstances when authorized by OGE. In 1997, OGE 
itself developed the OGE Optional Form 450-A (Confidential Certificate 
of No New Interests (Executive Branch)) for possible agency and 
employee use in certain years, if applicable. That optional form 
continues in use at various agencies. However, the OGE Form 450 remains 
the uniform executive branch report form for most of those executive 
branch employees required by their agencies to report confidentially on 
their financial interests. Agencies may allow annual filers who meet 
the requirements to file the OGE Form 450-A rather than the new OGE 
Form 450 for this 15-month filing cycle.

Reporting Individuals

    The OGE Form 450 is to be filed by each reporting individual with 
the designated agency ethics official at the executive department or 
agency where he or she is or will be employed. Reporting individuals 
are regular employees whose positions have been designated by their 
agency under 5 CFR 2634.904 (both the current regulation as codified 
and the rule that will become effective in January 2007) as requiring 
confidential financial disclosure in order to help avoid conflicts with 
their assigned responsibilities. Under that section, all special 
Government employees are also generally required to file. Agencies may, 
if appropriate under the OGE regulation, exclude certain regular 
employees or SGEs as provided in 5 CFR 2634.905 (Sec.  2634.904(b) of 
the rule that will become effective in January 2007). Reports normally 
are required to be filed within 30 days of entering a covered position 
(or earlier if required by the agency concerned), and again annually if 
the employee serves for more than 60 days in the position.
    Most of the persons who file this report are current executive 
branch Government employees at the time they complete their report. 
However, some filers are private citizens who are asked by their 
prospective agencies to file new entrant reports prior to entering 
Government service in order to permit advance identification of any 
potential conflicts of interest and resolution thereof by recusal, 
divestiture, waiver, etc.

Reporting Burden

    In the two first round paperwork notices for the proposed modified 
form, the statistics OGE used to compute the reporting burden 
mistakenly included filers of the OGE Form 450-A and of alternative 
forms approved by OGE. Because the statistics should reflect the work 
involved in completing the OGE Form 450 and not any variations of the 
form, OGE is refining the statistics to reflect the reporting burden 
pertaining to the OGE Form 450 only. Additionally, the prior first 
round paperwork notices used statistics from calendar years 2002, 2003, 
and 2004. This paperwork notice uses the figures from calendar years 
2003, 2004, and 2005.
    Based on OGE's annual agency ethics program questionnaire responses 
for 2003 through 2005, OGE estimates that an average of approximately 
246,131 OGE Form 450 reports will be filed each year for the next three 
years throughout the executive branch. This estimate is based on the 
number of OGE Form 450 reports filed branchwide for 2003 through 2005 
(218,130 in 2003, 280,152 in 2004, and 240,111 in 2005) for a total of 
738,393, with that number then divided by three and rounded, to give 
the projected annual average of 246,131 OGE Form 450 reports. Of these 
reports, OGE estimates that 7.65 percent, or some 18,829 per year, will 
be filed by private citizens with departments and agencies throughout 
the executive branch. Private citizen filers are those potential 
(incoming) regular employees whose positions are designated for 
confidential disclosure filing as well as potential special Government 
employees whose agencies require that they file their new entrant 
reports prior to assuming Government responsibilities. No termination 
reports are required for the OGE Form 450.
    Because the amount of information that must be reported on the 
proposed modified form has been reduced, each filing is now estimated 
to take an average of one hour to complete. This yields an annual 
reporting burden of 18,829 hours.

Consideration of Comments

    In this second round notice, public comment is again invited, this 
time on the proposed further modified OGE Form 450 summarized in this 
notice and available without charge from OGE upon request (see the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above). In accordance with the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), public comments 
are invited specifically on the need for and practical utility of this 
proposed modified collection of information, the accuracy of OGE's 
burden estimate, the enhancement of quality, utility and clarity of the 
information collected, and the minimization of burden (including the 
use of information technology).
    The Office of Government Ethics, in consultation with OMB, will 
consider

[[Page 54086]]

all comments received, which will become a matter of public record.

    Approved: September 6, 2006.
Robert I. Cusick,
Director, Office of Government Ethics.
 [FR Doc. E6-15129 Filed 9-12-06; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6345-02-P