[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 58 (Tuesday, March 26, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 18285-18287]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-06724]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 553

[NHTSA-2013-0042]
RIN 2127-AL32


Direct Final Rulemaking Procedures

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: NHTSA is proposing to establish direct final rulemaking (DFR) 
procedures for use in adopting amendments to its regulations on which 
no adverse public comment is expected by the agency. Under these 
procedures, NHTSA would issue a direct final rule adopting amendments 
that become effective a number of days (specified in the rule) after 
the date of publication of the rule in the Federal Register, unless 
NHTSA receives written adverse comment(s) or written notice of intent 
to submit adverse comment(s) by the specified date. Adoption of these 
new procedures would expedite the promulgation of routine and 
noncontroversial rules by reducing the time and resources necessary to 
develop, review, clear and publish separate proposed and final rules. 
NHTSA would not use direct final rule procedures for complex or 
controversial issues.

[[Page 18286]]


DATES: Written comments must be received by May 28, 2013. Comments 
received after that date will be considered to the extent possible.

ADDRESSES: Docket: For access to the docket to submit comments, read 
background documents including those referenced in this document, or to 
read comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search by 
Docket ID number NHTSA-2013-0042 at any time. Follow the online 
instructions for submitting comments. For hand delivery of comments, go 
to the ground floor, room W12-140, DOT Building, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE, Washington, DC, 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form for all 
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review the 
U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) complete Privacy Act 
Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (65 FR 
19476) or you may visit http://dms.dot.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lily Smith, Office of Chief Counsel, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590; Telephone: (202) 366-2992.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On January 30, 2004, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation 
(OST) published a final rule establishing DFR procedures\1\ in order to 
expedite the process for non-controversial actions within that office. 
Several operating administrations within DOT have since established 
their own DFR procedures.\2\ NHTSA believes similar provisions would be 
useful to its rulemaking activities.
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    \1\ 69 FR 4455.
    \2\ See 70 FR 67318 (FTA), 72 FR 10086 (FRA), and 75 FR 29915 
(FMCSA).
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    Notice and comment rulemaking procedures are not required under the 
Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553) when an agency has 
good cause not to use them, such as when they would be unnecessary.\3\ 
NHTSA is proposing to use the DFR process when the action to be taken 
is not anticipated to generate adverse comment, and therefore, 
providing notice and opportunity for comment would not be necessary. 
NHTSA believes this procedural option would expedite the issuance of, 
and thereby save time and agency resources on, rules that are not 
controversial.
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    \3\ 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). Good cause may also exist where notice 
and comment procedures would be impracticable or contrary to the 
public interest.
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    NHTSA would not use direct final rule procedures for complex or 
controversial issues.

Procedure for Direct Final Rulemaking

    NHTSA proposes to use the DFR process for rules that the agency 
determines are not controversial and therefore unlikely to receive 
adverse comment. The agency anticipates that it would be able to make 
this determination based on experience with prior rulemakings and/or 
technical or policy assessments of the likely impacts of the rule, if 
any. NHTSA would consider a comment to be adverse if it were critical 
of the rule's adoption or any provision of the rule, or suggested a 
change to the rule. NHTSA would not consider frivolous or irrelevant 
comments to be adverse. NHTSA would also not consider a comment 
recommending additional actions or changes to be adverse, unless the 
comment also stated why the DFR would be ineffective without the 
additional action or change.
    NHTSA anticipates that a DFR might be appropriate when the agency 
seeks to make the following types of changes: (1) Non-substantive 
amendments, such as clarifications or corrections, to an existing rule; 
(2) updates to existing forms or rules, such as incorporations by 
reference of the latest technical standards; (3) changes affecting 
NHTSA's internal procedures, such as filing requirements and rules 
governing inspection and copying of documents; (4) minor substantive 
rules or changes to existing rules on which the agency does not expect 
adverse comment.
    If NHTSA decided a DFR is the appropriate procedure for an action, 
the agency would publish the final rule in the Federal Register. The 
preamble to the rule would describe the specific actions the agency is 
taking, along with any anticipated impacts, and explain why the agency 
does not expect adverse comment to those actions. The preamble would 
state that unless written adverse comment or written notice of intent 
to submit adverse comment were received, the rule would become 
effective on the date specified after publication in the Federal 
Register.
    NHTSA would provide sufficient time to allow for public comment on 
its DFRs. NHTSA anticipates that it would allow 30 days for submission 
of an adverse comment (or statement of intent to submit an adverse 
comment) on a DFR, and that a DFR would go into effect 60 days after 
publication in the Federal Register. NHTSA might use a longer comment 
period, or a longer time between publication and the effective date, if 
the agency determined that it was necessary.
    If either written adverse comment or written notice of intent to 
submit adverse comment were received, NHTSA would withdraw the DFR 
either in whole or in part (i.e., with respect to those parts on which 
adverse comment was received). If the agency decided to pursue further 
a provision on which adverse comment was received, the agency would 
publish a subsequent notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal 
Register and provide another opportunity for comment on that provision.
    If no adverse comment or notice of intent to submit adverse comment 
were received on the DFR, NHTSA would publish another Federal Register 
notice, generally within 15 days after the comment period closes, 
indicating that the DFR did not receive adverse comment and would 
become effective on the specified date.
    NHTSA believes that the time and resources that would be involved 
in withdrawing a DFR in whole or part and issuing a subsequent notice 
of proposed rulemaking with a second comment period would induce the 
agency to evaluate carefully whether the DFR process is appropriate for 
a given action.
    In accordance with the above, NHTSA is proposing to also amend 49 
CFR Sections 553.14 and 553.23, which describe the content 
specifications and consideration of comments for proposed rules, to 
apply to direct final rules. This would ensure that direct final rules 
provide the same level of notice and consideration of public input as 
would a proposed rule.

Statutory and Executive Orders

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    NHTSA has determined that this action is not a significant 
regulatory action under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563, or under the 
Department's Regulatory Policies and Procedures. There are no costs 
associated with the proposed rule. There would be some cost savings in 
Federal Register publication costs and efficiencies for the public and 
NHTSA personnel in eliminating duplicative reviews.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    NHTSA certifies that this rule, if adopted, would not have a 
significant impact on a substantial number of small entities.

[[Page 18287]]

Executive Order 13132

    NHTSA does not believe that there would be sufficient federalism 
implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    The proposed rule does not contain any information collection 
requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-
3520).

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    NHTSA has determined that the requirements of Title II of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 do not apply to this rulemaking.

Privacy Act

    Anyone is able to search the electronic form for all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comments (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). For more information 
on DOT's implementation of the Privacy Act, please visit: http://www.dot.gov/privacy.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 553

    Rulemaking Procedures.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration proposes to amend 49 CFR part 553 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 553--RULEMAKING PROCEDURES

0
1. The authority citation is revised to read 49 U.S.C. 322, 1657, 
30103, 30122, 30124, 30125, 30127, 30146, 30162, 32303, 32502, 32504, 
32505, 32705, 32901, 32902, 33102, 33103, and 33107; delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.95.
0
2. Add Sec.  553.14 to Subpart B to read as follows:


Sec.  553.14  Direct final rulemaking.

    If the Administrator, for good cause, finds that notice is 
unnecessary, and incorporates that finding and a brief statement of the 
reasons for it in the rule, a direct final rule may be issued according 
to the following procedures.
    (a) Rules that the Administrator judges to be non-controversial and 
unlikely to result in adverse public comment may be published as direct 
final rules. These may include rules that:
    (1) Are non-substantive amendments, such as clarifications or 
corrections, to an existing rule;
    (2) Update existing forms or rules, such as incorporations by 
reference of the latest technical standards;
    (3) Affect NHTSA's internal procedures, such as filing requirements 
and rules governing inspection and copying of documents;
    (4) Are minor substantive rules or changes to existing rules on 
which the agency does not expect adverse comment.
    (b) The Federal Register document will state that any adverse 
comment or notice of intent to submit adverse comment must be received 
in writing by NHTSA within the specified time after the date of 
publication of the direct final rule and that, if no written adverse 
comment or written notice of intent to submit adverse comment is 
received in that period, the rule will become effective a specified 
number of days after the date of publication of the direct final rule.
    (c) If no written adverse comment or written notice of intent to 
submit adverse comment is received by NHTSA within the specified time 
after the date of publication in the Federal Register, NHTSA will 
publish a notice in the Federal Register indicating that no adverse 
comment was received and confirming that the rule will become effective 
on the date that was indicated in the direct final rule.
    (d) If NHTSA receives any written adverse comment or written notice 
of intent to submit adverse comment within the specified time after 
publication of the direct final rule in the Federal Register, the 
agency will publish a notice withdrawing the direct final rule, in 
whole or in part, in the final rule section of the Federal Register. If 
NHTSA decides to proceed with a provision on which adverse comment was 
received, the agency will publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in 
the proposed rule section of the Federal Register to provide another 
opportunity to comment.
    (e) An ``adverse'' comment, for the purpose of this subpart, means 
any comment that NHTSA determines is critical of any provision of the 
rule, suggests that the rule should not be adopted, or suggests a 
change that should be made in the rule. A comment suggesting that the 
policy or requirements of the rule should or should not also be 
extended to other Departmental programs outside the scope of the rule 
is not adverse.
0
3. In Sec.  553.15, revise paragraphs (a), (b)(1) and (b)(3) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  553.15  Contents of notices of proposed rulemaking and direct 
final rules.

    (a) Each notice of proposed rulemaking, and each direct final rule, 
is published in the Federal Register, unless all persons subject to it 
are named and are personally served with a copy of it.
    (b) * * *
    (1) A statement of the time, place, and nature of the rulemaking 
proceeding;
* * * * *
    (3) A description of the subjects and issues involved or the 
substance and terms of the rule;
* * * * *
0
4. Revise Sec.  553.23 to read as follows:


Sec.  553.23,  Consideration of comments received.

    All timely comments are considered before final action is taken on 
a rulemaking proposal or direct final rule. Late filed comments will be 
considered to the extent practicable.

    Issued in Washington, DC on March 19, 2013, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR part 1.95.
Christopher J. Bonanti,
Associate Administrator for Rulemaking.
[FR Doc. 2013-06724 Filed 3-25-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P