[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 188 (Wednesday, September 28, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 59914-59916]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-24605]


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GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

41 CFR Parts 300-3, 301-30, 301-31, Appendix E to Chapter 301, 302-
3, 302-4, 302-6, and 303-70

[FTR Amendment 2011-04; FTR Case 2010-303; Docket Number 2011-0019, 
Sequence 1]
RIN 3090-AJ06


Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Terms and Definitions for 
``Dependent'', ``Domestic Partner'', ``Domestic Partnership'', and 
``Immediate Family''

AGENCY: Office of Governmentwide Policy, General Services 
Administration (GSA).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: GSA has adopted as final, with two changes, an interim rule 
amending the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) by adding terms and 
definitions for ``Dependent'', ``Domestic partner'', and ``Domestic 
partnership'', and by revising the definition of ``Immediate family'' 
to include ``Domestic partner'' and children, dependent parents, and 
dependent brothers and sisters of the Domestic partner as named members 
of the employee's household. This final rule also adds references to 
domestic partners and domestic partnerships, where applicable, in the 
FTR.

DATES: Effective date: September 28, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For clarification of content, contact 
Mr. Rick Miller, Office of Travel, Transportation, and Asset Management 
(MT), General Services Administration, at (202) 501-3822 or e-mail at 
rodney.miller@gsa.gov. Contact the Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), 1275 
First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20417, (202) 501-4755, for 
information pertaining to status or publication schedules. Please cite 
FTR Amendment 2011-04; FTR case 2010-303.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

    On June 17, 2009, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum 
on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination stating that ``[t]he heads 
of all other executive departments and agencies, in consultation with 
the Office of Personnel Management, shall conduct a review of the 
benefits provided by their respective departments and agencies to 
determine what authority they have to extend such benefits to same-sex 
domestic partners of Federal employees.'' GSA conducted its review and, 
as part of that review, identified a number of changes to the FTR that 
could be made. Subsequently, on June 2, 2010, President Obama signed a 
Presidential Memorandum, ``Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic 
Partners of Federal Employees,'' which directed agencies to immediately 
take actions, consistent with existing law, to extend certain benefits, 
including travel and relocation benefits, to same-sex domestic partners 
of Federal employees, and, where applicable, to the children of same-
sex domestic partners of Federal employees.
    Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 5707, the Administrator of General Services is 
authorized to prescribe necessary regulations to implement laws 
regarding Federal employees who are traveling while in the performance 
of official business away from their official stations. Similarly, 5 
U.S.C. 5738 mandates that the Administrator of General Services 
prescribe regulations relating to official relocation. The overall 
implementing authority is the FTR, codified in Title 41 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations, Chapters 300-304 (41 CFR chapters 300-304).
    Pursuant to this authority, this final rule adds the same terms and 
definitions, based on a published Office of Personnel Management (OPM) 
memorandum to agencies, dated June 2, 2010, ``Implementation of the 
President's Memorandum Regarding Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex 
Domestic Partners of Federal Employees,'' and guidance from 5 CFR 875, 
``Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program,'' for ``Domestic partner'' 
and ``Domestic partnership'', adds a definition for ``Dependent'', and 
revises the definition of ``Immediate family'' to include ``Domestic 
partner'' and children, dependent parents, and dependent brothers and 
sisters of the Domestic partner as named members of the employee's 
household. This rule also adds references to ``Domestic partners'' and 
``domestic partnership,'' where applicable, to travel and relocation 
allowances permitted under existing statutes. Due to current statutory 
restrictions, this final rule does not apply to house-hunting trip 
expense reimbursement, the relocation income tax allowance, the income 
tax reimbursement allowance, or non-Federal source travel.

B. Summary of Comments Received

    GSA received 13 comments on the interim rule published in the 
Federal Register on November 3, 2010 (75 FR 67629).
     Three associations and three individuals supported the 
rule, four

[[Page 59915]]

individuals opposed it, and three comments did not express an opinion 
but posed specific inquiries.
     Four individuals, including two who opposed the rule 
overall, asked about including opposite-sex domestic partners.
     Two individuals and one association asked about making the 
rule retroactive.
     Three individuals asked how partnership status will be 
determined.
     One association offered alternate language for two 
definitions included in the rule.
    As previously mentioned, several comments to the interim rule noted 
that the changes to the FTR definition of ``Immediate family'' exclude 
opposite-sex domestic partners. As the Presidential Memoranda of June 
17, 2009, and June 2, 2010, do not specifically address opposite-sex 
domestic partners, opposite-sex domestic partners have not been 
included within the definition of ``Immediate family.''
    In regards to the comments received suggesting retroactive 
application, the Presidential Memoranda did not address retroactivity; 
neither is there specific authority mandating GSA to do so. To assist 
with implementation, FTR Sec.  302-2.3 states that relocation 
allowances are determined by the regulations that are in effect at the 
time an employee reports for duty at his or her new duty station. Thus, 
if orders are issued and the employee reports to the permanent duty 
station prior to March 3, 2011 (the effective date of the interim 
rule), there is no domestic partner coverage. However, if orders are 
issued and the employee reports to the new permanent duty station on or 
after March 3, 2011, there is coverage under the domestic partner 
benefits effective on March 3, 2011. Finally, if the orders are issued 
prior to March 3, 2011, and the employee does not report until after 
March 3, 2011, then the orders can be amended in accordance with the 
FTR.
    As further noted above, several comments related to the status of 
domestic partnerships and how this status will be determined. GSA 
believes that the requirements listed in the new definition of 
``Domestic Partnership'' are sufficient to determine partnership 
status. As Federal agencies use a wide variety of processes and systems 
to manage travel and relocation, GSA is deferring to individual 
agencies to develop their own processes for determining partnership 
status in accordance with the definition of ``Domestic Partnership.''
    Finally, one association recommended changing the definition of 
``Domestic Partnership.'' Specifically, it was recommended that GSA 
change the factor, ``[a]re not related in a way that, if they were of 
opposite sex, would prohibit legal marriage in the U.S. jurisdiction in 
which they reside'' to ``[a]re not related in a way that, if they were 
of opposite sex, would prohibit legal marriage in the U.S. jurisdiction 
in which the domestic partnership was formed''. GSA has considered this 
suggestion and is amending the definition of ``Domestic Partnership''.
    This association also recommended changing the factor ``[s]hare 
responsibility for a significant measure of each other's financial 
obligations'' to ``[a]re financially interdependent.'' GSA considered 
this suggestion and has chosen to continue to use the interim rule's 
definition in order to be consistent with the OPM definition. However, 
as a result of this comment, GSA is including a ``Note'' at the end of 
the definition for ``Domestic Partnership,'' referencing OPM's position 
that this criterion, requires only that there be financial 
interdependence between the partners, and that it should not be 
interpreted to exclude partnerships in which one partner stays at home 
while the other is the primary breadwinner (see e.g., 76 FR 45204, July 
28, 2011).
    The same association also suggested adding the term ``in loco 
parentis'' for both children and dependent adults within the definition 
of ``Immediate family.'' Similarly, GSA considered this recommendation 
and has decided to maintain consistency with OPM's definition.

C. Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all 
costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if 
regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize 
net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public 
health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive 
Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and 
benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting 
flexibility. This is a significant regulatory action, and therefore, 
was subject to review under Section 6(b) of Executive Order 12866, 
Regulatory Planning and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is 
not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

D. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This final rule will not have significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq. This final rule is 
also exempt from the Administrative Procedures Act per 5 U.S.C. 
553(a)(2) because it applies to agency management or personnel. 
However, this final rule is being published because this is a 
significant rule under Section 6(a)(3)(B) of Executive Order 12866 and 
to provide transparency in the promulgation of Federal policies.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the changes to 
the FTR do not impose recordkeeping or information collection 
requirements, or the collection of information from offerors, 
contractors, or members of the public that require the approval of the 
Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.

F. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This final rule is also exempt from congressional review prescribed 
under 5 U.S.C. 801 since it relates solely to agency management and 
personnel.

List of Subjects in 41 CFR Parts 300-3, 301-30, 301-31, Appendix E 
to Chapter 301, 302-3, 302-4, 302-6, and 303-70

    Government employees, Relocation, Travel, and Transportation 
expenses.

    Dated: June 30, 2011.
Martha Johnson,
Administrator of General Services.

Interim Rule Adopted as Final With Two Changes

    Accordingly, the interim rule amending 41 CFR parts 300-3, 301-30, 
301-31, Appendix E to Chapter 301, 302-3, 302-4, 302-6, and 303-70, 
which was published in the Federal Register at 75 FR 67629 on November 
3, 2010, is adopted as a final rule with two changes.
    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, under 5 U.S.C. 5701-
5709, 5721-5738, and 5741-5742, 41 CFR part 300-3 is amended to read as 
follows:

PART 300-3--GLOSSARY OF TERMS

0
1. The authority citation for 41 CFR part 300-3 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 5707; 40 U.S.C. 121(c); 49 U.S.C. 40118; 5 
U.S.C. 5738; 5 U.S.C. 5741-5742; 20 U.S.C. 905(a); 31 U.S.C. 1353; 
E.O. 11609, as amended; 3 CFR, 1971-1975 Comp., p. 586, Office of 
Management and Budget Circular No. A-126, revised May 22, 1992.


0
2. Amend Sec.  300-3.1 by--
0
(a) Removing from the definition ``Domestic partnership'', paragraph 
(7),

[[Page 59916]]

``they reside'' and adding ``the domestic partnership was formed'' in 
its place; and
0
(b) Adding a ``Note'' at the end of the definition ``Domestic 
partnership'' to read as follows:


Sec.  300-3.1  What do the following terms mean?

* * * * *

    Note to definition of ``Domestic partnership'': The definition 
of ``Domestic partnership'' requires that the partners ``share 
responsibility for a significant measure of each other's financial 
obligations.'' This criterion requires only that there be financial 
interdependence between the partners and should not be interpreted 
to exclude partnerships in which one partner stays at home while the 
other is the primary breadwinner.

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2011-24605 Filed 9-27-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6820-14-P