[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 23 (Thursday, February 4, 1999)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5657-5658]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-2639]


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OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS


Proposed Collection; Comment Request: Proposed Slightly Revised 
OGE Form 201 Ethics Act Access Form

AGENCY: Office of Government Ethics (OGE).

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: After this first round notice and public comment period, OGE 
plans to submit a slightly modified OGE Form 201, which is used by 
persons for requesting access to executive branch public financial 
disclosure reports and other covered records, to the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for three-year approval under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. This modified form will replace the existing one.

DATES: Comments by the agencies and the public on this proposal are 
invited and should be received by April 20, 1999.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to William E. Gressman, Senior 
Associate General Counsel, Office of Government Ethics, Suite 500, 1201 
New York Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20005-3917. Comments may also be 
sent electronically to OGE's Internet E-mail address at usoge@oge.gov. 
For E-mail messages, the subject line should include the following 
reference--``Paperwork comment on the proposed slightly revised OGE 
Form 201.''

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Gressman at the Office of 
Government Ethics; telephone: 202-208-8000, ext. 1110; FAX: 202-208-
8037. A copy of the proposed slightly revised OGE Form 201 may be 
obtained, without charge, by contacting Mr. Gressman.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office of Government Ethics is planning 
to submit, after this notice and comment period (with any modifications 
that may appear warranted), a proposed slightly modified OGE Form 201 
``Request to Inspect or Receive Copies of SF 278 Executive Branch 
Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Report or Other Covered Record'' 
for three-year approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). Once finally approved by OMB and adopted 
by OGE, the modified version of this OGE form will replace the existing 
version (whose paperwork clearance is scheduled to expire at the end of 
next June).
    The Office of Government Ethics, as the supervising ethics office 
for the executive branch of the Federal Government under the Ethics in 
Government Act (the Ethics Act), 5 U.S.C. appendix, is planning to 
modify and update the existing access form. That form, the OGE Form 201 
(OMB control  3209-0002), collects information 
from, and provides certain information to, persons who seek access to 
SF 278 reports and other covered records. The form reflects the 
requirements of the Ethics Act and OGE's implementing regulations that 
must be met by a person before access can be granted. These 
requirements relate to information about the identity of the requester, 
as well as any other person on whose behalf a record is sought, and a 
notification of prohibited uses of SF 278 reports. See section 105(b) 
and (c) of the Ethics Act, 5 U.S.C. appendix, section 105(b) and (c), 
and 5 CFR 2634.603(c) and (f). For many years, OGE has disseminated to 
executive branch departments and agencies a locally reproducible 
uniform form to serve as the statutorily required written application 
to inspect or receive copies of SF 278 reports and other covered 
records. Departments and agencies are encouraged to utilize the OGE 
Form 201, but they can, if they so choose, continue to use or develop 
their own forms. See the discussion below.
    This proposed slightly modified version of the OGE Form 201 will 
add express mention (in part III of the form) in the reference to those 
Ethics Act-qualified blind trust and diversified trust materials that 
are publicly available to any trust dissolution report (and the list of 
trust assets at that time) and the qualification that any trust 
instrument provisions relating to testamentary disposition of trust 
assets are not publicly available. See 5 CFR 2634.408(a)(1)(i), (a)(3) 
and (d). Also, OGE proposes to clarify somewhat the wording regarding 
the sixth numbered routine use under the Privacy Act statement on the 
reverse side of the form. The modified wording would more closely track 
the wording of the underlying routine use (h) in the OGE/GOVT-1 
executive branchwide system of records. See 55 FR 6327-6331 (February 
22, 1990). Further, in the form's public burden statement, OGE proposes 
to drop the reference to OMB as a further point of contact for 
information collection comments on the OGE Form 201. Pursuant to 
current procedures, OGE will be indicated from now on as the sole 
contact point for

[[Page 5658]]

such comments for the form, on which OGE will coordinate with OMB if 
necessary.
    Moreover, as noted on the mark-up copy of the form as proposed to 
be revised, OGE will adjust the referenced civil monetary penalty at 
the bottom of the first page for prohibited uses of an SF 278 to which 
access has been gained. The penalty, under section 104(a) of the Ethics 
Act, 5 U.S.C. appendix, section 104(a), will be raised from $10,000 to 
$11,000 once OGE and the Department of Justice issue their respective 
inflation adjustment rulemakings under the 1996 Debt Collection 
Improvement Act revisions to the 1990 Federal Civil Penalties Inflation 
Adjustment Act. See 28 U.S.C. 2461 note. The OGE rulemaking will, in 
pertinent part, revise 5 CFR 2634.703 of the executive branch financial 
disclosure regulation. The Office of Government Ethics will request 
permission from OMB to adjust the OGE Form 201 reference once that 
adjustment takes effect without further paperwork clearance, even if 
the adjustment occurs after reclearance of the slightly revised form 
(with notice to OMB at that time). Moreover, any periodic future 
adjustments to that civil monetary penalty, pursuant to further 
rulemakings by OGE and the Justice Department under the inflation 
adjustment laws, will also be reflected in future editions of the form.
    Finally, OGE would also make a couple of minor stylistic changes to 
the form and show the 1999 edition date. The mark-up copy of the OGE 
Form 201 as proposed for slight revision, which is available from OGE 
(see the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above), shows all the 
changes that would be made.
    In light of OGE's experience over the past three years (1996-1998, 
with a total of 517 non-Federal access requests received), the estimate 
of the average number of access forms expected to be filed annually at 
OGE by members of the public (primarily by news media, public interest 
groups and private citizens) is proposed to be adjusted down from the 
current estimate of 275 to 172 (not counting access requests by other 
Federal agencies or Federal employees). The estimated average amount of 
time to complete the form, including review of the instructions, 
remains at ten minutes. Thus, the overall estimated annual public 
burden for the OGE Form 201 for forms filed at the Office of Government 
Ethics will decrease from 46 hours in the current OMB paperwork 
inventory listing (275 forms X 10 minutes per form--number rounded off) 
to 29 hours (172 forms X 10 minutes per form--number rounded off). 
Moreover, although OGE no longer asks executive branch departments and 
agencies on the annual ethics program questionnaire for their numbers 
of access requests, OGE estimates that the annual branchwide total is 
probably around 1,500 as in years past.
    The Office of Government Ethics expects that the slightly revised 
form should be ready, after OMB clearance, for dissemination to 
executive branch departments and agencies next summer. The OGE Form 201 
as revised will be made available free-of-charge to departments and 
agencies in paper form, on the ethics CD-ROM and on OGE's Internet Web 
site (Uniform Resource Locator address: http://www.usoge.gov). The 
Office of Government Ethics also will permit departments and agencies 
to photocopy or have copies printed of the form as well as to develop 
or utilize, on their own, electronic versions of the form, provided 
that they precisely duplicate the paper original to the extent 
possible. As noted above, agencies can also develop their own access 
forms, provided all the information required by the Ethics Act and OGE 
regulations is placed on the form, along with the appropriate Privacy 
Act and paperwork notices with any attendant clearances being obtained 
therefor.
    Public comment is invited on each aspect of the proposed slightly 
modified OGE Form 201 as set forth in this notice, including 
specifically views 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).
    Comments received in response to this notice will be summarized 
for, and may be included with, the OGE request for OMB paperwork 
approval for this modified information collection. The comments will 
also become a matter of public record.

    Approved: January 29, 1999.
Stephen D. Potts,
Director, Office of Government Ethics.
[FR Doc. 99-2639 Filed 2-3-99; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6345-01-P