Federal Government Participation in the Automated Clearing House, 1560-1565 [08-22]

Download as PDF 1560 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 6 / Wednesday, January 9, 2008 / Proposed Rules Related Information (h) European Aviation Safety Agency airworthiness directive 2007–0214, dated August 7, 2007, also addresses the subject of this AD. Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 19, 2007. Ali Bahrami, Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. E8–152 Filed 1–8–08; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Fiscal Service 31 CFR Part 210 RIN 1510–AB00 Federal Government Participation in the Automated Clearing House Financial Management Service, Fiscal Service, Treasury. ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking with request for comment. rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 AGENCY: SUMMARY: We are proposing to amend our regulation which governs the use of the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system by Federal agencies. That regulation adopts, with some exceptions, the ACH Rules developed by NACHA—The Electronic Payments Association (NACHA) as the rules governing the use of the ACH Network by Federal agencies. We are issuing this proposed rule to address changes that NACHA has made to the ACH Rules since the publication of NACHA’s 2005 ACH Rules book. We are proposing to adopt, with one exception, all of the changes that NACHA has approved since the issuance of the 2005 ACH Rules book, as reflected in the 2007 ACH Rules book. In addition, the proposed rule would provide two exceptions to the deposit account requirement in the regulation. The regulation requires that an ACH credit entry representing a Federal payment other than a vendor payment be deposited into a deposit account at a financial institution in the name of the recipient. On April 21, 2005, Treasury waived this requirement in order to allow some or all of the amount to be reimbursed to a Federal employee for official travel credit card charges to be disbursed directly to the credit card issuing bank. The proposed rule would codify this waiver. The proposed rule would also provide an exception from the requirements in cases where a Federal payment is to be disbursed through a debit card, stored value card, VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:20 Jan 08, 2008 Jkt 214001 prepaid card or similar payment card program established by the Financial Management Service (Service). DATES: Comments on the proposed rule must be received by March 10, 2008. ADDRESSES: You can download this proposed rule at the following Web site: http://www.fms.treas.gov/ach. You may also inspect and copy this proposed rule at: Treasury Department Library, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Collection, Room 1428, Main Treasury Building, 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20220. Before visiting, you must call (202) 622–0990 for an appointment. In accordance with the U.S. government’s eRulemaking Initiative, the Service publishes rulemaking information on www.regulations.gov. Regulations.gov offers the public the ability to comment on, search, and view publicly available rulemaking materials, including comments received on rules. Comments on this rule, identified by docket FISCAL–FMS–2007–2008, should only be submitted using the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions on the Web site for submitting comments. • Mail: Bill Brushwood, Financial Management Service, 401 14th Street, SW., Room 400A, Washington, DC 20227. • The fax and e-mail methods of submitting comments on rules to the Service have been retired. Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name (‘‘Financial Management Service’’) and docket number FISCAL–FMS–2007– 0008 for this rulemaking. In general, comments will be published on Regulations.gov without change, including any business or personal information provided. Comments received, including attachments and other supporting materials, are part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not enclose any information in your comment or supporting materials that you consider confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Brushwood, Financial Program Specialist, at (202) 874–1251 or bill.brushwood@fms.treas.gov; or Natalie H. Diana, Senior Counsel, at (202) 874–6680 or natalie.diana@fms.treas.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background Title 31 CFR part 210 (Part 210) governs the use of the ACH Network by PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Federal agencies. The ACH Network is a nationwide electronic fund transfer (EFT) system that provides for the interbank clearing of electronic credit and debit transactions and for the exchange of payment related information among participating financial institutions. Part 210 incorporates the ACH Rules adopted by NACHA, with certain exceptions. From time to time we amend part 210 in order to address changes that NACHA periodically makes to the ACH Rules or to revise the regulation as otherwise appropriate. We are proposing to amend part 210 to address changes that NACHA has made to the ACH Rules since the publication of the 2005 ACH Rules. We are publishing this proposed rule in order to indicate which amendments to the ACH Rules we are planning to accept and which amendments we are planning to reject. We are requesting comment on the proposed amendments. We are also proposing to amend part 210 to codify a waiver allowing for split disbursements of Federal employee travel payments. Currently, section 210.5 requires that an ACH credit entry representing a Federal payment to a payee (other than a vendor payment) be deposited into a deposit account at a financial institution in the name of the recipient. On August 5, 2005, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) revised Circular No. A–123 (Management’s Responsibility for Internal Control). This revision became effective in fiscal year 2006 (October 1, 2005). OMB Circular No. A–123, Appendix B (Improving the Management of Government Charge Card Programs), sec. 4.4 requires, as a general matter, that Federal executive branch agencies implement split disbursement when reimbursing employees for official travel charges. This requirement applies when the individual cardholder is responsible for making payment to the charge card vendor, i.e., the travel card issuing bank. Split disbursement ‘‘is the process of dividing a travel voucher reimbursement between the charge card vendor and traveler.’’ OMB Circular No. A–123, Appendix B, sec. 4.4.1. Under split disbursement, the ‘‘balance owed to each is sent directly to the appropriate party.’’ Id. In April 2005, the Department of the Treasury, under the authority of 31 CFR 210.5(b)(3), waived the section 210.5 requirement that an ACH entry be deposited into a deposit account at a financial institution in the name of the recipient for purposes of permitting split disbursement. This was necessary in order to implement OMB’s split disbursement policy since an account E:\FR\FM\09JAP1.SGM 09JAP1 rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 6 / Wednesday, January 9, 2008 / Proposed Rules maintained by the travel card issuing bank in the name of an employee is not a deposit account at a financial institution within the meaning of section 210.5. We are proposing to amend section 210.5 to codify the terms of the split disbursement waiver into the rule. The waiver issued by the Department of the Treasury in april 2005 also waived the sister deposit account regulation codified at 31 CFR part 208 (Management of Federal Agency Disbursements). We will issue a separate Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register for the purpose of amending Part 208 to codify the terms of the split disbursement waiver into that rule as well. The government’s disbursing officials disburse travel reimbursement payments, including split disbursements, in accordance with the terms of payment certification vouchers submitted by executive branch Federal agencies. See 31 U.S.C. 3325 (providing that disbursing officials shall ‘‘disburse money only as provided by a voucher certified’’ by a Federal executive agency) and 31 U.S.C. 3528 (setting forth certification voucher requirements). The proposed rule will permit disbursing officials to use the ACH system to disburse split disbursement payments to the travel card issuing bank’s account for credit to the employee, as directed by Federal certifying agencies. As such, the primary purpose of the proposed rule is to facilitate the continued implementation of the OMB guidance mandating split disbursement. From a general cash management perspective, the Service supports split disbursement because it may benefit Federal agencies by reducing the number of travel card delinquencies. Split disbursement may also benefit Federal employee travelers by facilitating payment of their travel card liabilities (although employees remain responsible for having their accounts current). The proposed rule is not intended to, and would not, establish or amend substantive Federal regulations or policies pertaining to Federal employee travel or reimbursement for official travel expenses. Such regulations and policies are established by, among other authorities, the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 CFR parts 300– 304. The FTR is within the purview of the General Services Administration (GSA). GSA issued GSA Bulletin FTR 05–08 on December 2, 2005, which advised Federal agencies of OMB Circular No. A–123 requirements, VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:20 Jan 08, 2008 Jkt 214001 including the requirement for split disbursement. In addition to amending section 210.5 to allow for split disbursement, we are proposing to amend section 210.5 to provide that where a Federal payment is to be disbursed through a debit card, stored value card, prepaid card or similar payment card program established by the Service, the Federal payment may be deposited to an account at a financial institution designated a financial or fiscal agent, and the Service may specify the title, access terms and other provisions governing the account. The requirement that an account to which Federal payments are delivered be a deposit account in the name of the recipient is designed to ensure that a payment reaches the intended recipient. In some cases in which the Service directs its financial or fiscal agent banks to set up a card program to facilitate the delivery of Federal payments, the most effective approach may be to utilize an account in which each card holder’s interest is recorded, but each individual’s name is not included in the account title. In these programs, the Service can ensure that the beneficial interests of Federal payment recipients are protected because the Service controls the terms and conditions of the programs. The section 210.5 requirements serve little purpose in this context, and add to the complexity of operating these programs. We are therefore proposing to adopt an exception to section 210.5 which would provide the Service with greater flexibility in setting up payment card programs. II. Summary of Rule Changes Since we last addressed changes to the ACH Rules in 2005, NACHA has published two sets of changes to the ACH Rules. The first set of changes was published in NACHA’s 2006 ACH Rules book and a subsequent set of changes was published in NACHA’s 2007 ACH Rules book. We are proposing to adopt all of the changes set forth in the 2006 and 2007 ACH Rules books except those relating to the self-audit provisions of the ACH Rules, which we have previously determined not to incorporate in part 210. The rule changes that we are proposing to adopt consist primarily of modifications to the ACH Rules that have a minimal impact on participants in the ACH Network and that we believe will not significantly affect Federal agencies’ use of the ACH Network. However, there are a few rule changes that could have a significant impact on the Federal government’s use of the ACH Network. PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 1561 A. Changes to ACH Rules Published in 2006 ACH Rules Book The changes published in the 2006 ACH Rules book include a number of minor operational efficiency and return issues changes, and a more significant rules change related to the identification of business checks ineligible for conversion to ACH entries for Accounts Receivable (ARC) entries and Point-ofPurchase (POP) entries. The more significant rule change amended the ACH Rules to enable Receivers 1 to identify business checks that are not to be converted to ARC or POP entries. For ARC entries, the rule change allows a Receiver to notify the Originator 2 directly that the Receiver’s checks are not to be converted, or to utilize checks that include an identifier within the Auxiliary On-Us Field within the MICR line. For POP entries, Receivers may opt out either by utilizing checks that include an identifier within the Auxiliary On-Us Field within the MICR line, or by refusing to sign the required written authorization. Part 210 allows agencies to convert business checks at points-of-purchase and lockboxes by using the Corporate Credit or Debit (CCD) entry format. However, the great majority of checks converted by agencies are consumer checks, and in 2004 we indicated that as we continued to implement check conversion we would not convert business checks at new over-the-counter or lockbox locations. NACHA’s rule change provides a way for agencies to clearly identify, in an automated fashion, whether a business check is ineligible for conversion to an ARC or POP entry.3 We believe the rule change solves a problem that the ACH rules previously presented for agencies: how to identify business checks that are ineligible for conversion that are received in collection streams. Because NACHA’s rule change eliminates the need to address the conversion of business checks in part 210, we are proposing to delete those provisions from the regulation. The proposed rule 1 In an ARC or POP transaction, the Receiver is the person or entity making the payment (i.e., the remitter or payor) by presenting the check that is converted to an ACH debit. 2 In an ARC or POP transaction, the Originator is the person or entity originating the debit entry to the account of the payor by accepting the payor’s check and converting it to an ACH debit. 3 In 2007, NACHA adopted a rule change to implement a new application for converting checks received at points-of-purchase and manned bill payment locations to ACH debit entries in a backoffice environment (see discussion below). As with POP and ARC, Receivers may opt out of back-office conversion by utilizing checks that include an identifier within the Auxiliary On-Us Field within the MICR line. E:\FR\FM\09JAP1.SGM 09JAP1 1562 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 6 / Wednesday, January 9, 2008 / Proposed Rules rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 change does not mean that we intend to begin converting all eligible business checks to ACH entries. Rather, the proposed rule change allows for greater flexibility in determining the most advantageous way for the government to handle business checks. Thus, we may continue to process business checks by using image presentment or presenting the original items, as appropriate, but we will also have the option of converting eligible business checks in situations where it is more efficient and cost-effective to do so. The minor rule changes published in the 2006 Rules book include: • Changes related to the Company Name Field definition for ARC entries; • A requirement for the Originating Depository Financial Institution (ODFI) to enter into a contractual relationship with Third-Party Senders; • Removal of redundant language regarding use of encryption technology for Internet-initiated (WEB) entries; • Inclusion of language with respect to an ODFI’s liability for breach of specific Telephone-initiated (TEL) warranties; • Addition of definitions for Automated Accounting Advice (ADV) and Notification or Change (COR) entries; • Minor modifications of definitions associated with various Return Reason codes; and • Consolidation of Dishonored Return Reason codes. We are proposing to adopt all the foregoing rule changes, which we believe improve the operation of the ACH Network and the clarity of the ACH Rules. B. Changes to ACH Rules Published in 2007 ACH Rules Book The rule changes published in NACHA’s 2007 Rules book involve a number of changes that have a minimal impact on ACH Network participants, as well as three rule amendments with a significant impact either on the private sector or on Federal agencies. Those three amendments are: Changes to NACHA’s voting and funding requirements; changes to the requirements for ARC entries and POP entries; and changes to implement a new application for converting checks received at points-of-purchase and manned bill payment locations to ACH debit entries in a back-office environment. Voting and Funding Requirements Effective January 1, 2007, NACHA amended the ACH Rules to provide for the assessment of new Network administration fees to cover the costs VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:20 Jan 08, 2008 Jkt 214001 related to management of the ACH Network. These fees include a per-entry fee for each commercial, inter-bank or Federal Government entry transmitted or received by the participating Depository Financial Institution (DFI). The amount of the transaction fee will be established from time to time by the NACHA Board of Directors based on projected costs and volumes. For calendar year 2007, the per-entry fee is $.0001. In addition to providing for fees, NACHA also modified the procedures for the amendment of the ACH Rules to clarify the specific allocation of votes required for approval of an amendment by the voting membership. We support this rule change because of its importance in providing for the long term funding of NACHA’s Network management activities, including risk management and the advancement of rules supporting the ability of entities to convert check payments received into ACH entries. The Service will pay these fees on behalf of agencies for which we disburse and collect payments. ARC and POP Entries NACHA has amended its check conversion rules to keep the rules in sync with Regulation E (12 CFR part 205) and its associated commentary, which the Federal Reserve revised by amendments effective January 1, 2007. NACHA’s rule changes ensure that the ACH Rules are consistent with the mandatory changes required by Regulation E by making corresponding changes to the electronic check applications supported by the ACH Rules. Specifically, NACHA’s amendment (1) modifies the ACH Rules with respect to the notice requirement for ARC entries, and (2) incorporates a notice obligation into the authorization requirements for POP Entries. This amendment also includes other minor revisions to the ACH Rules to clarify that (1) an ARC source document may not be presented for payment unless the ARC entry is returned by the Receiving Depository Financial Institution (RDFI); (2) ARC entries for which the Receiver opted out of check conversion constitute a valid reason for recredit to the Receiver and return by the RDFI; and (3) a POP entry is considered to be unauthorized if the requirements for both written authorization and notice were not met. In addition, effective March 16, 2007, the requirement that ARC source documents be destroyed within 14 days of the settlement of the entry has been deleted. A new rule has been added to provide that Originators must use commercially reasonable methods to securely store all source documents until destruction, as well as PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 all banking information relating to ARC entries. Finally, NACHA (1) modified the ARC and POP rules governing requirements for MICR capture of source document information, and (2) made corresponding modifications/additions to the audit requirements regarding MICR capture obligations for ARC and POP entries to ensure consistency of wording among various electronic check applications. The ACH rule changes incorporate Regulation E safe harbor language for the notice required to be provided to Receivers whose checks are converted using ARC entries. Under the newly revised ACH Rules, agencies would be required to use the following language, or language that is substantially similar, for their notices. ‘‘When you provide a check as payment, you authorize us either to use information from your check to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account or to process the payment as a check transaction.’’ Until January 1, 2010, the following, or substantially similar, additional language must also be included: ‘‘When we use information from your check to make an electronic fund transfer, funds may be withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day we receive your payment, and you will not receive your check back from your financial institution.’’ The new ACH Rule changes provide that an Originator may convert a check presented at a point-of-purchase, provided that a required notice is posted in a prominent and conspicuous location, and that a copy of the notice is provided to the Receiver at the time of the transaction. The notice and copy of the notice must include the following or substantially similar language: ‘‘When you provide a check as payment, your authorized us either to use the information from your check to make a onetime electronic fund transfer from your account or to process the payment as a check transaction.’’ Until January 1, 2010, the following or substantially similar additional language must be included in the notice: ‘‘When we use information from your check to make an electronic fund transfer, funds may be withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day you make your payment.’’ Agencies are currently required by part 210 to use specifically worded disclosures for POP and ARC check conversion. Those disclosures, which are set out in Appendices A, B, and C to part 210, are substantially similar to (but much longer than) the foregoing POP and ARC required notices. We are E:\FR\FM\09JAP1.SGM 09JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 6 / Wednesday, January 9, 2008 / Proposed Rules rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 proposing to delete Appendices A, B, and C from part 210, which would mean that agencies could either continue to use the same disclosures they are currently using or, alternatively, begin using the shorter disclosures now required under the ACH Rules. Back Office Conversion Entries Effective March 16, 2007, NACHA established a new electronic check conversion application, Back Office Conversion (BOC) entries, that will allow retailers and billers to accept checks at the point-of-purchase or at manned bill payment locations and convert the checks to ACH debits during back office processing. In order to use a check to originate a BOC entry, the Originator must post a notice in a prominent and conspicuous location that states: ‘‘When you provide a check as payment, you authorize us either to use the information from your check to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account or to process the payment as a check transaction. For inquiries, please call [retailer phone number].’’ Until January 1, 2010, the posted notice must also state: ‘‘When we use information from your check to make an electronic fund transfer, funds may be withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day you make your payment, and you will not receive your check back from your financial institution.’’ A copy of the notice, or language that is substantially similar, must be provided to the Receiver at the time of the transaction. In addition, the Originator must provide the Receiver the ability to opt out of the conversion of his check to an ACH debit entry. To opt out, the Receiver must notify the Originator at the time of purchase that a particular check does not authorize an ACH debit entry. We are proposing to adopt most of the ACH rule changes implementing the BOC application. In 2003, we amended part 210 to allow agencies to convert checks to ARC entries in certain circumstances that fall outside typical accounts receivable and point-ofpurchase settings. Our rule enabled Federal agencies to convert checks in circumstances in which check conversion would not have been possible under NACHA’s then-existing ARC and POP rules. For example, when Army pay officers travel to remote, offbase locations in order to cash checks for soldiers, pay officers cannot bring along the necessary equipment to scan and return voided checks, as is required by the ACH rules governing POP entries. Nor could these checks be converted to ARC entries under ACH rules, because a pay officer’s acceptance of checks in VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:20 Jan 08, 2008 Jkt 214001 these circumstances does not constitute an accounts receivable (lockbox) setting. To provide for the conversion of checks in a variety of circumstances falling outside typical accounts receivable and point-of-purchase settings, we adopted in part 210 a provision to allow agencies to convert checks delivered in person in circumstances in which an agency cannot contemporaneously image and return the check. Because the BOC application addresses the Government’s need for flexibility in these situations, there is no longer a need to retain this provision in Part 210. Instead, agencies can now convert these checks using the BOC application. We therefore propose to adopt the rule changes implementing the BOC application, with the exception of the audit requirements associated with the BOC entry type as reflected within Appendix Eight (Rule Compliance Audit Requirements), Sections 8.2 and 8.3 of the ACH Rules. We are proposing not to adopt the audit requirements, consistent with our previous position exempting Federal agencies from the requirements of ACH Rules associated with enforcement of the ACH Rules (Appendix Eight and Appendix Eleven). Treasury needs to make the programming and operational changes necessary to implement the BOC application. Accordingly, we expect that for some period of time after the adoption of a final rule, it will be necessary to continue our existing process of converting items to ARC entries in circumstances other than typical lockbox and point-of-purchase settings. Rules With a Minor Impact on the ACH Network NACHA published in the 2007 Rules book the following amendments that have a minor impact on the ACH Network: • Description of Corrected Data Within Contested Dishonored Return Reason Code R74—Previously, the description of Return Reason Code R74 (Corrected Return), related to the correction of the Individual Identification Number/Identification Number Field within the Entry Detail Record, did not reflect all applicable SEC Codes that contain these fields. This amendment modified the description of Return Reason Code R74 within Appendix Five, Section 5.4 (Table of Return Reason Codes), as it relates to the Individual Identification Number/Identification Number, to add the following additional SEC Codes to be consistent with current industry PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 1563 practice; CBR, CTX, DNE, ENR, PBR, TEL, TRX, and WEB. • Direct Financial Institution and Payment Association Definitions—The Terms ‘‘Direct Financial Institution’’ and ‘‘Payment Association’’ were referenced within the procedures for amendment of the ACH Rules in Article Thirteen but not defined within the ACH Rules. This amendment added definitions for these terms to Article Fourteen (Definition of Terms) of the ACH Rules. • Time Frame to Re-initiate Entries— Previously, the ACH Rules defined under what conditions an ACH entry that is returned may be re-initiated, but did not prescribe any limitations on the time period within which such reinitation must occur. To preclude attempts to re-initiate extremely stale entries, NACHA amended the rules to establish the period of time after which returned entries cannot be re-initiated. Specifically, an entry may not be reinitiated more than 180 days after the settlement date of the original transaction. • Available ACH Characters—This amendment modified the definition of ‘‘alphameric’’ within Article Fourteen and the data specification requirements within Appendix One to clarify that lowercase alpha characters are permitted within ACH entries, except where explicitly noted otherwise. • Name and Definition of Cash Concentration or Disbursement (CCD) Standard Entry Class Code—This amendment modified the name and description of the CCD format to clarify that CCD entries can be used more broadly than just for intra-corporate payments. The name of the CCD format was changed from ‘‘Cash Concentration or Disbursement’’ to ‘‘Corporate Credit or Debit’’ and the description was revised to indicate that this code may also be used for a transfer of funds from the account of one organization to the account of another organization. • Formatting Requirements for TEL (Telephone-Initiated) and WEB (Internet-Initiated) Entries—This amendment redefined the Individual Name Field within the Entry Detail Record of both TEL and WEB entries (and related returns) from Required to Mandatory to facilitate ACH Operators’ use of various risk filters to monitor the field for possible fraudulent content. Operator edits within Appendix Three, as they relate to Return Reason Code R26 (Mandatory Field Error), were also modified to permit the return of any TEL or WEB entry within which this field contains all spaces or all zeros. • Additional Addenda Code for Dishonored Return Reason Code R69— E:\FR\FM\09JAP1.SGM 09JAP1 1564 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 6 / Wednesday, January 9, 2008 / Proposed Rules This amendment added, under the description of Return Reason Code R69 (Field Errors), an additional criterion under which an entry containing incorrect information may be dishonored. This change enables an ODFI to dishonor a return if the original Effective Entry Date was incorrectly copied from the forward entry. We support the foregoing ACH Rules changes. The changes clarify certain ACH Rules that were previously unclear or ambiguous, and provide greater flexibility and operational efficiency for users of the ACH Network. We believe these changes are beneficial and propose to incorporate them into part 210. III. Section-by-Section Analysis In order to incorporate in part 210 the ACH rule changes that we are accepting, the only change necessary to the current regulation is to replace references to the 2005 Rules book with references to the 2007 ACH Rules book. No change to part 210 is necessary in order to exclude the amendments to the audit provisions, since part 210 already provides that the ACH audit requirements do not apply to Federal agency ACH transactions. Section 210.2(d) We are proposing to amend the definition of applicable ACH Rules at § 210.2(d) to reference the rules published in NACHA’s 2007 Rules book rather than the rules published in NACHA’s 2005 Rules book. rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 Section 210.3(b) We are proposing to amend § 210.3(b) by replacing the references to the ACH Rules as published in the 2005 Rules book with references to the ACH Rules as published in the 2007 Rules book. Section 210.5 We are proposing to amend § 210.5(b) by adding a new paragraph (b)(3) to allow for the issuance of part or all of a Federal employee’s travel reimbursement to the employee’s travel card account at the card issuing bank. We are also proposing to add a new paragraph (b)(4), which would provide that where a Federal payment is to be disbursed through a debit card, stored value card, prepaid card or similar payment card program established by the Service, the Federal payment may be deposited to an account at a financial institution designated as a financial or fiscal agent. The Service may specify the account title, access terms, and other account provisions, and thereby protect the interest of payment recipients. This paragraph would apply in those cases when the Service directs its financial or VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:20 Jan 08, 2008 Jkt 214001 fiscal agent bank to set up a card program. procedures contained therein do not apply. Section 210.6(g) We are proposing to revise current § 210.6(g) to reflect the revision of the ACH Rules governing POP entries. We believe that, as revised, the ACH Rules governing POP entries are appropriate in most respects for agencies. Unlike the ACH Rules, however, part 210 will continue to allow agencies to originate POP entries without a written authorization, as long as the notice required by the ACH Rules is posted and the Receiver is provided with a copy of the notice. This approach is consistent with the authorization requirements of Regulation E. Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis Section 210.6(h) We are proposing to delete the text of current § 210.6(h). We believe that, as revised, the ACH Rules governing accounts receivable check conversion are appropriate for agencies, and therefore, a separate rule within part 210 is no longer necessary. We are proposing to revise the text of current § 210.6(i) and renumber it as § 210.6(h). The revision would clarify that in order to debit a Receiver’s account for an insufficient funds service fee, the agency must have independent authority to collect fees for items returned due to insufficient funds. An agency that has such authority may originate an ACH debit entry to collect a one-time service fee in connection with an ARC, POP or BOC entry that is returned due to insufficient funds, provided that the agency discloses the service fee in the notices required for the ARC, POP or BOC entry. The required disclosure is unchanged, but has been relocated from Appendices A, B, and C, which we are proposing to remove from the regulation. IV. Procedural Requirements It is hereby certified that the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The proposed changes to the regulation related to ARC, POP, and BOC check conversion will not result in significant costs for individuals or financial institutions affected by the changes, including financial institutions that are small entities. New ACH fees will be borne by the government, and will not affect other parties sending or receiving Federal ACH transactions, including small entities. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) is not required. Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995 Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1532 (Unfunded Mandates Act), requires that the agency prepare a budgetary impact statement before promulgating any rule likely to result in a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. If a budgetary impact statement is required, section 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Act also requires the agency to identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives before promulgating the rule. We have determined that the proposed rule will not result in expenditures by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. Accordingly, we have not prepared a budgetary impact statement or specifically addressed any regulatory alternatives. Request for Comment on Plain Language Executive Order 12866 requires each agency in the Executive branch to write regulations that are simple and easy to understand. We invite comment on how to make the proposed rule clearer. For example, you may wish to discuss: (1) Whether we have organized the material to suit your needs; (2) whether the requirements of the rules are clear; or (3) whether there is something else we could do to make these rules easier to understand. List of Subjects in 31 CFR Part 210 Regulatory Planning and Review The proposed rule does not meet the criteria for a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ as defined in Executive Order 12866. Therefore, the regulatory review 1. The authority citation for part 210 continues to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Automated Clearing House, Electronic funds transfer, Financial institutions, Fraud, and Incorporation by reference. Words of Issuance For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend 31 CFR part 210 as follows: PART 210—FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PARTICIPATION IN THE AUTOMATED CLEARING HOUSE Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5525; 12 U.S.C. 391; 31 U.S.C. 321, 3301, 3302, 3321, 3332, 3335, and 3720. E:\FR\FM\09JAP1.SGM 09JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 6 / Wednesday, January 9, 2008 / Proposed Rules 2. Revise § 210.2(d) to read as follows: § 210.2 Definitions. * * * * * (d) Applicable ACH Rules means the ACH Rules with an effective date on or before September 21, 2007, as published in Parts II, III and VI of the ‘‘2007 ACH Rules: A Complete Guide to Rules & Regulations Governing the ACH Network’’ except: (1) ACH Rule 1.1 (limiting the applicability of the ACH Rules to members of an ACH association); (2) ACH Rule 1.2.2 (governing claims for compensation); (3) ACH Rules 1.2.4 and 2.2.1.12; Appendix Eight; and Appendix Eleven (governing the enforcement of the ACH Rules, including self-audit requirements); (4) ACH Rules 2.2.1.10; 2.6; and 4.8 (governing the reclamation of benefit payments); (5) ACH Rule 9.3 and Appendix Two (requiring that a credit entry be originated no more than two banking days before the settlement date of the entry—see definition ‘‘Effective Entry Date’’ in Appendix Two); (6) ACH Rule 2.11.2.3 (requiring that originating depository financial institutions (ODFIs) establish exposure limits for Originators of Internetinitiated debit entries); and (7) ACH Rule 2.13.3 (requiring reporting regarding unauthorized Telephone-initiated entries). * * * * * 3. Revise § 210.3(b) to read as follows: § 210.3 Governing law. rwilkins on PROD1PC63 with PROPOSALS-1 * * * * * (b) Incorporation by reference— applicable ACH Rules. (1) This part incorporates by reference the applicable ACH Rules, including rule changes with an effective date on or before September 21, 2007, as published in parts II, III, and VI of the ‘‘2007 ACH Rules: A Complete Guide to Rules & Regulations Governing the ACH Network.’’ The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. Copies of the ‘‘2007 ACH Rules’’ are available from NACHA—The Electronic Payments Association, 13450 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 100, Herndon, Virginia 20171. Copies also are available for public inspection at the Office of the Federal Register, 800 North Capital Street, NW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20002; and the Financial Management Service, 401 14th Street, SW., Room 400A, Washington, DC 20227. (2) Any amendment to the applicable ACH Rules that is approved by VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:20 Jan 08, 2008 Jkt 214001 1565 NACHA—The Electronic Payments Association after January 1, 2007 shall not apply to Government entries unless the Service expressly accepts such amendment by publishing notice of acceptance of the amendment to this part in the Federal Register. An amendment to the ACH Rules that is accepted by the Service shall apply to Government entries on the effective date of the rulemaking specified by the Service in the Federal Register notice expressly accepting such amendment. * * * * * 4. Redesignate paragraph § 210.5(b)(3) as § 210.5(b)(5) and add new paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4) to read as follows: a one-time service fee in connection with an ARC, POP or BOC entry that is returned due to insufficient funds. An entry originated pursuant to this paragraph shall meet the requirements of ACH Rules 2.1.2 and 3.5 if the agency includes the following statement in the required notice(s) to the Receiver: ‘‘If the electronic fund transfer cannot be completed because there are insufficient funds in your account, we may impose a one-time fee of $[llll] against your account, which we will also collect by electronic fund transfer.’’ § 210.5 Account requirements for Federal payments. Dated: December 27, 2007. Kenneth R. Papaj, Commissioner. [FR Doc. 08–22 Filed 1–8–08; 8:45 am] * * * * * (b) * * * (3) Where an agency is issuing part or all of an employee’s travel reimbursement payment to the official travel card issuing bank, as authorized or required by Office of Management and Budget guidance or the Federal Travel Regulation, the ACH credit entry representing the payment may be deposited to the account of the travel card issuing bank for credit to the employee’s travel card account at the bank. (4) Where a Federal payment is to be disbursed through a debit card, stored value card, prepaid card or similar payment card program established by the Service, the Federal payment may be deposited to an account at a financial institution designated by the Service as a financial or fiscal agent. The account title, access terms and other account provisions may be specified by the Service. 6. In § 210.6, revise paragraphs (g) and (h) to read as follows, and remove paragraph (i): § 210.6 Agencies. * * * * * (g) Point-of-purchase debit entries. An agency may originate a Point-ofPurchase (POP) entry using a check drawn on a consumer or business account and presented at a point-ofpurchase unless the Receiver opts out in accordance with the ACH Rules. The requirements of ACH Rules 2.1.2 and 3.12 shall be met for such an entry if the Receiver presents the check at a location where the agency has posted the notice required by the ACH Rules and has provided the Receiver with a copy of the notice. (h) Returned item service fee. An agency that has authority to collect returned item service fees may do so by originating an ACH debit entry to collect PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Appendices A, B and C [Removed] 7. Remove Appendices A, B and C from this part. BILLING CODE 4810–35–M DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [USCG–2007–0043] RIN 1625–AA09 Drawbridge Operation Regulations; Arkansas Waterway, Little Rock, AR Coast Guard, DHS. Notice of proposed rulemaking. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: The Coast Guard proposes an amendment to the regulation for the operation of the Baring Cross Railroad Drawbridge across the Arkansas Waterway at Mile 119.6 at Little Rock, Arkansas. The revised regulation would accurately depict where the drawbridge operator is located and that the bridge, which is remotely operated, is equipped with a Photoelectric Boat Detection System. Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before March 10, 2008. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number USCG–2007–0043 to the Docket Management Facility at the U.S. Department of Transportation. To avoid duplication, please use only one of the following methods: (1) Online: http:// www.regulations.gov. (2) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey DATES: E:\FR\FM\09JAP1.SGM 09JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 6 (Wednesday, January 9, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 1560-1565]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 08-22]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Fiscal Service

31 CFR Part 210

RIN 1510-AB00


Federal Government Participation in the Automated Clearing House

AGENCY: Financial Management Service, Fiscal Service, Treasury.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking with request for comment.

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SUMMARY: We are proposing to amend our regulation which governs the use 
of the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system by Federal agencies. That 
regulation adopts, with some exceptions, the ACH Rules developed by 
NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association (NACHA) as the rules 
governing the use of the ACH Network by Federal agencies. We are 
issuing this proposed rule to address changes that NACHA has made to 
the ACH Rules since the publication of NACHA's 2005 ACH Rules book. We 
are proposing to adopt, with one exception, all of the changes that 
NACHA has approved since the issuance of the 2005 ACH Rules book, as 
reflected in the 2007 ACH Rules book.
    In addition, the proposed rule would provide two exceptions to the 
deposit account requirement in the regulation. The regulation requires 
that an ACH credit entry representing a Federal payment other than a 
vendor payment be deposited into a deposit account at a financial 
institution in the name of the recipient. On April 21, 2005, Treasury 
waived this requirement in order to allow some or all of the amount to 
be reimbursed to a Federal employee for official travel credit card 
charges to be disbursed directly to the credit card issuing bank. The 
proposed rule would codify this waiver. The proposed rule would also 
provide an exception from the requirements in cases where a Federal 
payment is to be disbursed through a debit card, stored value card, 
prepaid card or similar payment card program established by the 
Financial Management Service (Service).

DATES: Comments on the proposed rule must be received by March 10, 
2008.

ADDRESSES: You can download this proposed rule at the following Web 
site: http://www.fms.treas.gov/ach. You may also inspect and copy this 
proposed rule at: Treasury Department Library, Freedom of Information 
Act (FOIA) Collection, Room 1428, Main Treasury Building, 1500 
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20220. Before visiting, you 
must call (202) 622-0990 for an appointment.
    In accordance with the U.S. government's eRulemaking Initiative, 
the Service publishes rulemaking information on www.regulations.gov. 
Regulations.gov offers the public the ability to comment on, search, 
and view publicly available rulemaking materials, including comments 
received on rules.
    Comments on this rule, identified by docket FISCAL-FMS-2007-2008, 
should only be submitted using the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow 
the instructions on the Web site for submitting comments.
     Mail: Bill Brushwood, Financial Management Service, 401 
14th Street, SW., Room 400A, Washington, DC 20227.
     The fax and e-mail methods of submitting comments on rules 
to the Service have been retired.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
(``Financial Management Service'') and docket number FISCAL-FMS-2007-
0008 for this rulemaking. In general, comments will be published on 
Regulations.gov without change, including any business or personal 
information provided. Comments received, including attachments and 
other supporting materials, are part of the public record and subject 
to public disclosure. Do not enclose any information in your comment or 
supporting materials that you consider confidential or inappropriate 
for public disclosure.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Brushwood, Financial Program 
Specialist, at (202) 874-1251 or bill.brushwood@fms.treas.gov; or 
Natalie H. Diana, Senior Counsel, at (202) 874-6680 or 
natalie.diana@fms.treas.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Title 31 CFR part 210 (Part 210) governs the use of the ACH Network 
by Federal agencies. The ACH Network is a nationwide electronic fund 
transfer (EFT) system that provides for the inter-bank clearing of 
electronic credit and debit transactions and for the exchange of 
payment related information among participating financial institutions. 
Part 210 incorporates the ACH Rules adopted by NACHA, with certain 
exceptions. From time to time we amend part 210 in order to address 
changes that NACHA periodically makes to the ACH Rules or to revise the 
regulation as otherwise appropriate.
    We are proposing to amend part 210 to address changes that NACHA 
has made to the ACH Rules since the publication of the 2005 ACH Rules. 
We are publishing this proposed rule in order to indicate which 
amendments to the ACH Rules we are planning to accept and which 
amendments we are planning to reject. We are requesting comment on the 
proposed amendments.
    We are also proposing to amend part 210 to codify a waiver allowing 
for split disbursements of Federal employee travel payments. Currently, 
section 210.5 requires that an ACH credit entry representing a Federal 
payment to a payee (other than a vendor payment) be deposited into a 
deposit account at a financial institution in the name of the 
recipient. On August 5, 2005, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
revised Circular No. A-123 (Management's Responsibility for Internal 
Control). This revision became effective in fiscal year 2006 (October 
1, 2005). OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix B (Improving the Management 
of Government Charge Card Programs), sec. 4.4 requires, as a general 
matter, that Federal executive branch agencies implement split 
disbursement when reimbursing employees for official travel charges. 
This requirement applies when the individual cardholder is responsible 
for making payment to the charge card vendor, i.e., the travel card 
issuing bank. Split disbursement ``is the process of dividing a travel 
voucher reimbursement between the charge card vendor and traveler.'' 
OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix B, sec. 4.4.1. Under split 
disbursement, the ``balance owed to each is sent directly to the 
appropriate party.'' Id.
    In April 2005, the Department of the Treasury, under the authority 
of 31 CFR 210.5(b)(3), waived the section 210.5 requirement that an ACH 
entry be deposited into a deposit account at a financial institution in 
the name of the recipient for purposes of permitting split 
disbursement. This was necessary in order to implement OMB's split 
disbursement policy since an account

[[Page 1561]]

maintained by the travel card issuing bank in the name of an employee 
is not a deposit account at a financial institution within the meaning 
of section 210.5. We are proposing to amend section 210.5 to codify the 
terms of the split disbursement waiver into the rule.
    The waiver issued by the Department of the Treasury in april 2005 
also waived the sister deposit account regulation codified at 31 CFR 
part 208 (Management of Federal Agency Disbursements). We will issue a 
separate Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register for the 
purpose of amending Part 208 to codify the terms of the split 
disbursement waiver into that rule as well.
    The government's disbursing officials disburse travel reimbursement 
payments, including split disbursements, in accordance with the terms 
of payment certification vouchers submitted by executive branch Federal 
agencies. See 31 U.S.C. 3325 (providing that disbursing officials shall 
``disburse money only as provided by a voucher certified'' by a Federal 
executive agency) and 31 U.S.C. 3528 (setting forth certification 
voucher requirements). The proposed rule will permit disbursing 
officials to use the ACH system to disburse split disbursement payments 
to the travel card issuing bank's account for credit to the employee, 
as directed by Federal certifying agencies. As such, the primary 
purpose of the proposed rule is to facilitate the continued 
implementation of the OMB guidance mandating split disbursement.
    From a general cash management perspective, the Service supports 
split disbursement because it may benefit Federal agencies by reducing 
the number of travel card delinquencies. Split disbursement may also 
benefit Federal employee travelers by facilitating payment of their 
travel card liabilities (although employees remain responsible for 
having their accounts current).
    The proposed rule is not intended to, and would not, establish or 
amend substantive Federal regulations or policies pertaining to Federal 
employee travel or reimbursement for official travel expenses. Such 
regulations and policies are established by, among other authorities, 
the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), 41 CFR parts 300-304. The FTR is 
within the purview of the General Services Administration (GSA). GSA 
issued GSA Bulletin FTR 05-08 on December 2, 2005, which advised 
Federal agencies of OMB Circular No. A-123 requirements, including the 
requirement for split disbursement.
    In addition to amending section 210.5 to allow for split 
disbursement, we are proposing to amend section 210.5 to provide that 
where a Federal payment is to be disbursed through a debit card, stored 
value card, prepaid card or similar payment card program established by 
the Service, the Federal payment may be deposited to an account at a 
financial institution designated a financial or fiscal agent, and the 
Service may specify the title, access terms and other provisions 
governing the account. The requirement that an account to which Federal 
payments are delivered be a deposit account in the name of the 
recipient is designed to ensure that a payment reaches the intended 
recipient. In some cases in which the Service directs its financial or 
fiscal agent banks to set up a card program to facilitate the delivery 
of Federal payments, the most effective approach may be to utilize an 
account in which each card holder's interest is recorded, but each 
individual's name is not included in the account title. In these 
programs, the Service can ensure that the beneficial interests of 
Federal payment recipients are protected because the Service controls 
the terms and conditions of the programs. The section 210.5 
requirements serve little purpose in this context, and add to the 
complexity of operating these programs. We are therefore proposing to 
adopt an exception to section 210.5 which would provide the Service 
with greater flexibility in setting up payment card programs.

II. Summary of Rule Changes

    Since we last addressed changes to the ACH Rules in 2005, NACHA has 
published two sets of changes to the ACH Rules. The first set of 
changes was published in NACHA's 2006 ACH Rules book and a subsequent 
set of changes was published in NACHA's 2007 ACH Rules book. We are 
proposing to adopt all of the changes set forth in the 2006 and 2007 
ACH Rules books except those relating to the self-audit provisions of 
the ACH Rules, which we have previously determined not to incorporate 
in part 210. The rule changes that we are proposing to adopt consist 
primarily of modifications to the ACH Rules that have a minimal impact 
on participants in the ACH Network and that we believe will not 
significantly affect Federal agencies' use of the ACH Network. However, 
there are a few rule changes that could have a significant impact on 
the Federal government's use of the ACH Network.

A. Changes to ACH Rules Published in 2006 ACH Rules Book

    The changes published in the 2006 ACH Rules book include a number 
of minor operational efficiency and return issues changes, and a more 
significant rules change related to the identification of business 
checks ineligible for conversion to ACH entries for Accounts Receivable 
(ARC) entries and Point-of-Purchase (POP) entries. The more significant 
rule change amended the ACH Rules to enable Receivers \1\ to identify 
business checks that are not to be converted to ARC or POP entries. For 
ARC entries, the rule change allows a Receiver to notify the Originator 
\2\ directly that the Receiver's checks are not to be converted, or to 
utilize checks that include an identifier within the Auxiliary On-Us 
Field within the MICR line. For POP entries, Receivers may opt out 
either by utilizing checks that include an identifier within the 
Auxiliary On-Us Field within the MICR line, or by refusing to sign the 
required written authorization.
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    \1\ In an ARC or POP transaction, the Receiver is the person or 
entity making the payment (i.e., the remitter or payor) by 
presenting the check that is converted to an ACH debit.
    \2\ In an ARC or POP transaction, the Originator is the person 
or entity originating the debit entry to the account of the payor by 
accepting the payor's check and converting it to an ACH debit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Part 210 allows agencies to convert business checks at points-of-
purchase and lockboxes by using the Corporate Credit or Debit (CCD) 
entry format. However, the great majority of checks converted by 
agencies are consumer checks, and in 2004 we indicated that as we 
continued to implement check conversion we would not convert business 
checks at new over-the-counter or lockbox locations. NACHA's rule 
change provides a way for agencies to clearly identify, in an automated 
fashion, whether a business check is ineligible for conversion to an 
ARC or POP entry.\3\ We believe the rule change solves a problem that 
the ACH rules previously presented for agencies: how to identify 
business checks that are ineligible for conversion that are received in 
collection streams. Because NACHA's rule change eliminates the need to 
address the conversion of business checks in part 210, we are proposing 
to delete those provisions from the regulation. The proposed rule

[[Page 1562]]

change does not mean that we intend to begin converting all eligible 
business checks to ACH entries. Rather, the proposed rule change allows 
for greater flexibility in determining the most advantageous way for 
the government to handle business checks. Thus, we may continue to 
process business checks by using image presentment or presenting the 
original items, as appropriate, but we will also have the option of 
converting eligible business checks in situations where it is more 
efficient and cost-effective to do so.
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    \3\ In 2007, NACHA adopted a rule change to implement a new 
application for converting checks received at points-of-purchase and 
manned bill payment locations to ACH debit entries in a back-office 
environment (see discussion below). As with POP and ARC, Receivers 
may opt out of back-office conversion by utilizing checks that 
include an identifier within the Auxiliary On-Us Field within the 
MICR line.
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    The minor rule changes published in the 2006 Rules book include:
     Changes related to the Company Name Field definition for 
ARC entries;
     A requirement for the Originating Depository Financial 
Institution (ODFI) to enter into a contractual relationship with Third-
Party Senders;
     Removal of redundant language regarding use of encryption 
technology for Internet-initiated (WEB) entries;
     Inclusion of language with respect to an ODFI's liability 
for breach of specific Telephone-initiated (TEL) warranties;
     Addition of definitions for Automated Accounting Advice 
(ADV) and Notification or Change (COR) entries;
     Minor modifications of definitions associated with various 
Return Reason codes; and
     Consolidation of Dishonored Return Reason codes.

We are proposing to adopt all the foregoing rule changes, which we 
believe improve the operation of the ACH Network and the clarity of the 
ACH Rules.

B. Changes to ACH Rules Published in 2007 ACH Rules Book

    The rule changes published in NACHA's 2007 Rules book involve a 
number of changes that have a minimal impact on ACH Network 
participants, as well as three rule amendments with a significant 
impact either on the private sector or on Federal agencies. Those three 
amendments are: Changes to NACHA's voting and funding requirements; 
changes to the requirements for ARC entries and POP entries; and 
changes to implement a new application for converting checks received 
at points-of-purchase and manned bill payment locations to ACH debit 
entries in a back-office environment.
Voting and Funding Requirements
    Effective January 1, 2007, NACHA amended the ACH Rules to provide 
for the assessment of new Network administration fees to cover the 
costs related to management of the ACH Network. These fees include a 
per-entry fee for each commercial, inter-bank or Federal Government 
entry transmitted or received by the participating Depository Financial 
Institution (DFI). The amount of the transaction fee will be 
established from time to time by the NACHA Board of Directors based on 
projected costs and volumes. For calendar year 2007, the per-entry fee 
is $.0001. In addition to providing for fees, NACHA also modified the 
procedures for the amendment of the ACH Rules to clarify the specific 
allocation of votes required for approval of an amendment by the voting 
membership.
    We support this rule change because of its importance in providing 
for the long term funding of NACHA's Network management activities, 
including risk management and the advancement of rules supporting the 
ability of entities to convert check payments received into ACH 
entries. The Service will pay these fees on behalf of agencies for 
which we disburse and collect payments.
ARC and POP Entries
    NACHA has amended its check conversion rules to keep the rules in 
sync with Regulation E (12 CFR part 205) and its associated commentary, 
which the Federal Reserve revised by amendments effective January 1, 
2007. NACHA's rule changes ensure that the ACH Rules are consistent 
with the mandatory changes required by Regulation E by making 
corresponding changes to the electronic check applications supported by 
the ACH Rules. Specifically, NACHA's amendment (1) modifies the ACH 
Rules with respect to the notice requirement for ARC entries, and (2) 
incorporates a notice obligation into the authorization requirements 
for POP Entries. This amendment also includes other minor revisions to 
the ACH Rules to clarify that (1) an ARC source document may not be 
presented for payment unless the ARC entry is returned by the Receiving 
Depository Financial Institution (RDFI); (2) ARC entries for which the 
Receiver opted out of check conversion constitute a valid reason for 
recredit to the Receiver and return by the RDFI; and (3) a POP entry is 
considered to be unauthorized if the requirements for both written 
authorization and notice were not met. In addition, effective March 16, 
2007, the requirement that ARC source documents be destroyed within 14 
days of the settlement of the entry has been deleted. A new rule has 
been added to provide that Originators must use commercially reasonable 
methods to securely store all source documents until destruction, as 
well as all banking information relating to ARC entries. Finally, NACHA 
(1) modified the ARC and POP rules governing requirements for MICR 
capture of source document information, and (2) made corresponding 
modifications/additions to the audit requirements regarding MICR 
capture obligations for ARC and POP entries to ensure consistency of 
wording among various electronic check applications.
    The ACH rule changes incorporate Regulation E safe harbor language 
for the notice required to be provided to Receivers whose checks are 
converted using ARC entries. Under the newly revised ACH Rules, 
agencies would be required to use the following language, or language 
that is substantially similar, for their notices.

    ``When you provide a check as payment, you authorize us either 
to use information from your check to make a one-time electronic 
fund transfer from your account or to process the payment as a check 
transaction.''

Until January 1, 2010, the following, or substantially similar, 
additional language must also be included: ``When we use information 
from your check to make an electronic fund transfer, funds may be 
withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day we receive your 
payment, and you will not receive your check back from your financial 
institution.''
    The new ACH Rule changes provide that an Originator may convert a 
check presented at a point-of-purchase, provided that a required notice 
is posted in a prominent and conspicuous location, and that a copy of 
the notice is provided to the Receiver at the time of the transaction. 
The notice and copy of the notice must include the following or 
substantially similar language:

    ``When you provide a check as payment, your authorized us either 
to use the information from your check to make a one-time electronic 
fund transfer from your account or to process the payment as a check 
transaction.''

Until January 1, 2010, the following or substantially similar 
additional language must be included in the notice: ``When we use 
information from your check to make an electronic fund transfer, funds 
may be withdrawn from your account as soon as the same day you make 
your payment.''
    Agencies are currently required by part 210 to use specifically 
worded disclosures for POP and ARC check conversion. Those disclosures, 
which are set out in Appendices A, B, and C to part 210, are 
substantially similar to (but much longer than) the foregoing POP and 
ARC required notices. We are

[[Page 1563]]

proposing to delete Appendices A, B, and C from part 210, which would 
mean that agencies could either continue to use the same disclosures 
they are currently using or, alternatively, begin using the shorter 
disclosures now required under the ACH Rules.
Back Office Conversion Entries
    Effective March 16, 2007, NACHA established a new electronic check 
conversion application, Back Office Conversion (BOC) entries, that will 
allow retailers and billers to accept checks at the point-of-purchase 
or at manned bill payment locations and convert the checks to ACH 
debits during back office processing. In order to use a check to 
originate a BOC entry, the Originator must post a notice in a prominent 
and conspicuous location that states: ``When you provide a check as 
payment, you authorize us either to use the information from your check 
to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account or to 
process the payment as a check transaction. For inquiries, please call 
[retailer phone number].'' Until January 1, 2010, the posted notice 
must also state: ``When we use information from your check to make an 
electronic fund transfer, funds may be withdrawn from your account as 
soon as the same day you make your payment, and you will not receive 
your check back from your financial institution.'' A copy of the 
notice, or language that is substantially similar, must be provided to 
the Receiver at the time of the transaction. In addition, the 
Originator must provide the Receiver the ability to opt out of the 
conversion of his check to an ACH debit entry. To opt out, the Receiver 
must notify the Originator at the time of purchase that a particular 
check does not authorize an ACH debit entry.
    We are proposing to adopt most of the ACH rule changes implementing 
the BOC application. In 2003, we amended part 210 to allow agencies to 
convert checks to ARC entries in certain circumstances that fall 
outside typical accounts receivable and point-of-purchase settings. Our 
rule enabled Federal agencies to convert checks in circumstances in 
which check conversion would not have been possible under NACHA's then-
existing ARC and POP rules. For example, when Army pay officers travel 
to remote, off-base locations in order to cash checks for soldiers, pay 
officers cannot bring along the necessary equipment to scan and return 
voided checks, as is required by the ACH rules governing POP entries. 
Nor could these checks be converted to ARC entries under ACH rules, 
because a pay officer's acceptance of checks in these circumstances 
does not constitute an accounts receivable (lockbox) setting. To 
provide for the conversion of checks in a variety of circumstances 
falling outside typical accounts receivable and point-of-purchase 
settings, we adopted in part 210 a provision to allow agencies to 
convert checks delivered in person in circumstances in which an agency 
cannot contemporaneously image and return the check.
    Because the BOC application addresses the Government's need for 
flexibility in these situations, there is no longer a need to retain 
this provision in Part 210. Instead, agencies can now convert these 
checks using the BOC application. We therefore propose to adopt the 
rule changes implementing the BOC application, with the exception of 
the audit requirements associated with the BOC entry type as reflected 
within Appendix Eight (Rule Compliance Audit Requirements), Sections 
8.2 and 8.3 of the ACH Rules. We are proposing not to adopt the audit 
requirements, consistent with our previous position exempting Federal 
agencies from the requirements of ACH Rules associated with enforcement 
of the ACH Rules (Appendix Eight and Appendix Eleven).
    Treasury needs to make the programming and operational changes 
necessary to implement the BOC application. Accordingly, we expect that 
for some period of time after the adoption of a final rule, it will be 
necessary to continue our existing process of converting items to ARC 
entries in circumstances other than typical lockbox and point-of-
purchase settings.
Rules With a Minor Impact on the ACH Network
    NACHA published in the 2007 Rules book the following amendments 
that have a minor impact on the ACH Network:
     Description of Corrected Data Within Contested Dishonored 
Return Reason Code R74--Previously, the description of Return Reason 
Code R74 (Corrected Return), related to the correction of the 
Individual Identification Number/Identification Number Field within the 
Entry Detail Record, did not reflect all applicable SEC Codes that 
contain these fields. This amendment modified the description of Return 
Reason Code R74 within Appendix Five, Section 5.4 (Table of Return 
Reason Codes), as it relates to the Individual Identification Number/
Identification Number, to add the following additional SEC Codes to be 
consistent with current industry practice; CBR, CTX, DNE, ENR, PBR, 
TEL, TRX, and WEB.
     Direct Financial Institution and Payment Association 
Definitions--The Terms ``Direct Financial Institution'' and ``Payment 
Association'' were referenced within the procedures for amendment of 
the ACH Rules in Article Thirteen but not defined within the ACH Rules. 
This amendment added definitions for these terms to Article Fourteen 
(Definition of Terms) of the ACH Rules.
     Time Frame to Re-initiate Entries--Previously, the ACH 
Rules defined under what conditions an ACH entry that is returned may 
be re-initiated, but did not prescribe any limitations on the time 
period within which such re-initation must occur. To preclude attempts 
to re-initiate extremely stale entries, NACHA amended the rules to 
establish the period of time after which returned entries cannot be re-
initiated. Specifically, an entry may not be re-initiated more than 180 
days after the settlement date of the original transaction.
     Available ACH Characters--This amendment modified the 
definition of ``alphameric'' within Article Fourteen and the data 
specification requirements within Appendix One to clarify that 
lowercase alpha characters are permitted within ACH entries, except 
where explicitly noted otherwise.
     Name and Definition of Cash Concentration or Disbursement 
(CCD) Standard Entry Class Code--This amendment modified the name and 
description of the CCD format to clarify that CCD entries can be used 
more broadly than just for intra-corporate payments. The name of the 
CCD format was changed from ``Cash Concentration or Disbursement'' to 
``Corporate Credit or Debit'' and the description was revised to 
indicate that this code may also be used for a transfer of funds from 
the account of one organization to the account of another organization.
     Formatting Requirements for TEL (Telephone-Initiated) and 
WEB (Internet-Initiated) Entries--This amendment redefined the 
Individual Name Field within the Entry Detail Record of both TEL and 
WEB entries (and related returns) from Required to Mandatory to 
facilitate ACH Operators' use of various risk filters to monitor the 
field for possible fraudulent content. Operator edits within Appendix 
Three, as they relate to Return Reason Code R26 (Mandatory Field 
Error), were also modified to permit the return of any TEL or WEB entry 
within which this field contains all spaces or all zeros.
     Additional Addenda Code for Dishonored Return Reason Code 
R69--

[[Page 1564]]

This amendment added, under the description of Return Reason Code R69 
(Field Errors), an additional criterion under which an entry containing 
incorrect information may be dishonored. This change enables an ODFI to 
dishonor a return if the original Effective Entry Date was incorrectly 
copied from the forward entry.
    We support the foregoing ACH Rules changes. The changes clarify 
certain ACH Rules that were previously unclear or ambiguous, and 
provide greater flexibility and operational efficiency for users of the 
ACH Network. We believe these changes are beneficial and propose to 
incorporate them into part 210.

III. Section-by-Section Analysis

    In order to incorporate in part 210 the ACH rule changes that we 
are accepting, the only change necessary to the current regulation is 
to replace references to the 2005 Rules book with references to the 
2007 ACH Rules book. No change to part 210 is necessary in order to 
exclude the amendments to the audit provisions, since part 210 already 
provides that the ACH audit requirements do not apply to Federal agency 
ACH transactions.

Section 210.2(d)

    We are proposing to amend the definition of applicable ACH Rules at 
Sec.  210.2(d) to reference the rules published in NACHA's 2007 Rules 
book rather than the rules published in NACHA's 2005 Rules book.

Section 210.3(b)

    We are proposing to amend Sec.  210.3(b) by replacing the 
references to the ACH Rules as published in the 2005 Rules book with 
references to the ACH Rules as published in the 2007 Rules book.

Section 210.5

    We are proposing to amend Sec.  210.5(b) by adding a new paragraph 
(b)(3) to allow for the issuance of part or all of a Federal employee's 
travel reimbursement to the employee's travel card account at the card 
issuing bank. We are also proposing to add a new paragraph (b)(4), 
which would provide that where a Federal payment is to be disbursed 
through a debit card, stored value card, prepaid card or similar 
payment card program established by the Service, the Federal payment 
may be deposited to an account at a financial institution designated as 
a financial or fiscal agent. The Service may specify the account title, 
access terms, and other account provisions, and thereby protect the 
interest of payment recipients. This paragraph would apply in those 
cases when the Service directs its financial or fiscal agent bank to 
set up a card program.

Section 210.6(g)

    We are proposing to revise current Sec.  210.6(g) to reflect the 
revision of the ACH Rules governing POP entries. We believe that, as 
revised, the ACH Rules governing POP entries are appropriate in most 
respects for agencies. Unlike the ACH Rules, however, part 210 will 
continue to allow agencies to originate POP entries without a written 
authorization, as long as the notice required by the ACH Rules is 
posted and the Receiver is provided with a copy of the notice. This 
approach is consistent with the authorization requirements of 
Regulation E.

Section 210.6(h)

    We are proposing to delete the text of current Sec.  210.6(h). We 
believe that, as revised, the ACH Rules governing accounts receivable 
check conversion are appropriate for agencies, and therefore, a 
separate rule within part 210 is no longer necessary. We are proposing 
to revise the text of current Sec.  210.6(i) and renumber it as Sec.  
210.6(h). The revision would clarify that in order to debit a 
Receiver's account for an insufficient funds service fee, the agency 
must have independent authority to collect fees for items returned due 
to insufficient funds. An agency that has such authority may originate 
an ACH debit entry to collect a one-time service fee in connection with 
an ARC, POP or BOC entry that is returned due to insufficient funds, 
provided that the agency discloses the service fee in the notices 
required for the ARC, POP or BOC entry. The required disclosure is 
unchanged, but has been relocated from Appendices A, B, and C, which we 
are proposing to remove from the regulation.

IV. Procedural Requirements

Request for Comment on Plain Language

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency in the Executive branch 
to write regulations that are simple and easy to understand. We invite 
comment on how to make the proposed rule clearer. For example, you may 
wish to discuss: (1) Whether we have organized the material to suit 
your needs; (2) whether the requirements of the rules are clear; or (3) 
whether there is something else we could do to make these rules easier 
to understand.

Regulatory Planning and Review

    The proposed rule does not meet the criteria for a ``significant 
regulatory action'' as defined in Executive Order 12866. Therefore, the 
regulatory review procedures contained therein do not apply.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    It is hereby certified that the proposed rule will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
The proposed changes to the regulation related to ARC, POP, and BOC 
check conversion will not result in significant costs for individuals 
or financial institutions affected by the changes, including financial 
institutions that are small entities. New ACH fees will be borne by the 
government, and will not affect other parties sending or receiving 
Federal ACH transactions, including small entities. Accordingly, a 
regulatory flexibility analysis under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.) is not required.

Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995

    Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 
1532 (Unfunded Mandates Act), requires that the agency prepare a 
budgetary impact statement before promulgating any rule likely to 
result in a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. If a budgetary 
impact statement is required, section 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Act 
also requires the agency to identify and consider a reasonable number 
of regulatory alternatives before promulgating the rule. We have 
determined that the proposed rule will not result in expenditures by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. Accordingly, 
we have not prepared a budgetary impact statement or specifically 
addressed any regulatory alternatives.

List of Subjects in 31 CFR Part 210

    Automated Clearing House, Electronic funds transfer, Financial 
institutions, Fraud, and Incorporation by reference.

Words of Issuance

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend 31 CFR 
part 210 as follows:

PART 210--FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PARTICIPATION IN THE AUTOMATED 
CLEARING HOUSE

    1. The authority citation for part 210 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5525; 12 U.S.C. 391; 31 U.S.C. 321, 3301, 
3302, 3321, 3332, 3335, and 3720.


[[Page 1565]]


    2. Revise Sec.  210.2(d) to read as follows:


Sec.  210.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (d) Applicable ACH Rules means the ACH Rules with an effective date 
on or before September 21, 2007, as published in Parts II, III and VI 
of the ``2007 ACH Rules: A Complete Guide to Rules & Regulations 
Governing the ACH Network'' except:
    (1) ACH Rule 1.1 (limiting the applicability of the ACH Rules to 
members of an ACH association);
    (2) ACH Rule 1.2.2 (governing claims for compensation);
    (3) ACH Rules 1.2.4 and 2.2.1.12; Appendix Eight; and Appendix 
Eleven (governing the enforcement of the ACH Rules, including self-
audit requirements);
    (4) ACH Rules 2.2.1.10; 2.6; and 4.8 (governing the reclamation of 
benefit payments);
    (5) ACH Rule 9.3 and Appendix Two (requiring that a credit entry be 
originated no more than two banking days before the settlement date of 
the entry--see definition ``Effective Entry Date'' in Appendix Two);
    (6) ACH Rule 2.11.2.3 (requiring that originating depository 
financial institutions (ODFIs) establish exposure limits for 
Originators of Internet-initiated debit entries); and
    (7) ACH Rule 2.13.3 (requiring reporting regarding unauthorized 
Telephone-initiated entries).
* * * * *
    3. Revise Sec.  210.3(b) to read as follows:


Sec.  210.3  Governing law.

* * * * *
    (b) Incorporation by reference--applicable ACH Rules.
    (1) This part incorporates by reference the applicable ACH Rules, 
including rule changes with an effective date on or before September 
21, 2007, as published in parts II, III, and VI of the ``2007 ACH 
Rules: A Complete Guide to Rules & Regulations Governing the ACH 
Network.'' The Director of the Federal Register approves this 
incorporation by reference in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR 
part 51. Copies of the ``2007 ACH Rules'' are available from NACHA--The 
Electronic Payments Association, 13450 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 100, 
Herndon, Virginia 20171. Copies also are available for public 
inspection at the Office of the Federal Register, 800 North Capital 
Street, NW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20002; and the Financial 
Management Service, 401 14th Street, SW., Room 400A, Washington, DC 
20227.
    (2) Any amendment to the applicable ACH Rules that is approved by 
NACHA--The Electronic Payments Association after January 1, 2007 shall 
not apply to Government entries unless the Service expressly accepts 
such amendment by publishing notice of acceptance of the amendment to 
this part in the Federal Register. An amendment to the ACH Rules that 
is accepted by the Service shall apply to Government entries on the 
effective date of the rulemaking specified by the Service in the 
Federal Register notice expressly accepting such amendment.
* * * * *
    4. Redesignate paragraph Sec.  210.5(b)(3) as Sec.  210.5(b)(5) and 
add new paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  210.5  Account requirements for Federal payments.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) Where an agency is issuing part or all of an employee's travel 
reimbursement payment to the official travel card issuing bank, as 
authorized or required by Office of Management and Budget guidance or 
the Federal Travel Regulation, the ACH credit entry representing the 
payment may be deposited to the account of the travel card issuing bank 
for credit to the employee's travel card account at the bank.
    (4) Where a Federal payment is to be disbursed through a debit 
card, stored value card, prepaid card or similar payment card program 
established by the Service, the Federal payment may be deposited to an 
account at a financial institution designated by the Service as a 
financial or fiscal agent. The account title, access terms and other 
account provisions may be specified by the Service.
    6. In Sec.  210.6, revise paragraphs (g) and (h) to read as 
follows, and remove paragraph (i):


Sec.  210.6  Agencies.

* * * * *
    (g) Point-of-purchase debit entries. An agency may originate a 
Point-of-Purchase (POP) entry using a check drawn on a consumer or 
business account and presented at a point-of-purchase unless the 
Receiver opts out in accordance with the ACH Rules. The requirements of 
ACH Rules 2.1.2 and 3.12 shall be met for such an entry if the Receiver 
presents the check at a location where the agency has posted the notice 
required by the ACH Rules and has provided the Receiver with a copy of 
the notice.
    (h) Returned item service fee. An agency that has authority to 
collect returned item service fees may do so by originating an ACH 
debit entry to collect a one-time service fee in connection with an 
ARC, POP or BOC entry that is returned due to insufficient funds. An 
entry originated pursuant to this paragraph shall meet the requirements 
of ACH Rules 2.1.2 and 3.5 if the agency includes the following 
statement in the required notice(s) to the Receiver: ``If the 
electronic fund transfer cannot be completed because there are 
insufficient funds in your account, we may impose a one-time fee of 
$[--------] against your account, which we will also collect by 
electronic fund transfer.''

Appendices A, B and C [Removed]

    7. Remove Appendices A, B and C from this part.

    Dated: December 27, 2007.
Kenneth R. Papaj,
Commissioner.
[FR Doc. 08-22 Filed 1-8-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-35-M