[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 54 (Monday, March 21, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 15002-15003]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-06241]



46 CFR Parts 502, 503, 515, 520, 530, 535, 540, 550, 555, and 560

[Docket No. 16-06]
RIN 3072-AC34

Update of Existing and Addition of New User Fees

AGENCY: Federal Maritime Commission.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Federal Maritime Commission (Commission) is considering 
amending its current user fees and invites public comment on whether 
the Commission should amend its user fees. Specifically, the Commission 
is considering increasing fees for: Filing complaints and certain 
petitions; records searches, document copying, and admissions to 
practice; paper filing of ocean transportation intermediary (OTI) 
applications; filing applications for special permission; and filing 
    The Commission is also considering lowering fees for: Reviewing 
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests; revising clerical errors on 
service contracts; revising clerical errors on non-vessel-operating 
common carrier (NVOCC) service agreements; and Commission services to 
passenger vessel operators (PVOs).
    In addition, the Commission is considering repealing four existing 
fees for: Adding interested parties to a specific docket mailing list; 
the Regulated Persons Index database; database reports on Effective 
Carrier Agreements; and filing petitions for rulemaking. The Commission 
is also considering adding a new fee for requests for expedited review 
of an agreement filing.

DATES: Comments are due on or before: April 18, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by the docket number in 
the heading of this document, by any of the following methods:
     Email: [email protected]. Include in the subject line: 
``Docket No. 16-06, Comments on Update of User Fees.'' Comments should 
be attached to the email as a Microsoft Word or text-searchable PDF 
document. Comments containing confidential information should not be 
submitted by email.
     Mail: Karen V. Gregory, Secretary, Federal Maritime 
Commission, 800 North Capitol Street NW., Washington, DC 20573-0001. 
Phone: (202) 523-5725. Email: [email protected].
     Docket: For access to the docket to read 
background documents or comments received, go to: http://www.fmc.gov/16-06, select Docket No. 16-06 from the drop-down list next to 
``Proceeding or Inquiry Number'' and click the ``Search'' option.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen V. Gregory, Secretary, Federal 
Maritime Commission, 800 North Capitol Street NW., Washington, DC 
20573-0001. Phone: (202) 523-5725. Email: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Commission's current user fees are based 
on an assessment of fiscal year 2004 costs and have not been updated 
since 2005.\1\ Consequently, many of the current user fees no longer 
represent the Commission's actual costs for providing services. The 
Commission is seeking comments on possible adjustments to its user fees 
based on fiscal year 2015 costs assessed through a new methodology for 
calculating costs for services provided by the Commission.

    \1\ The Commission established the fee for filing or updating 
OTI license applications electronically in 2007.

    The Independent Offices Appropriation Act of 1952 (IOAA), 31 U.S.C. 
9701, authorizes agencies to establish charges (user fees) for services 
and benefits that it provides to specific recipients. Under the IOAA, 
charges must be fair and based on the costs to the Government, the 
value of the service or thing to the recipient, the public policy or 
interest served, and other relevant facts. The IOAA also provides that 
regulations implementing user fees are subject to policies prescribed 
by the President, which are currently set forth in OMB Circular A-25, 
User Charges (revised July 8, 1993).
    OMB Circular A-25 requires agencies to conduct a periodic 
reassessment of costs and, if necessary, adjust or establish new fees. 
Under OMB Circular A-25, fees should be established for Government-
provided services that confer benefits on identifiable recipients over 
and above those benefits received by the general public. OMB Circular 
A-25 also provides that agencies should determine or estimate costs 
based on the best available records in the agency, and that cost 
computations must cover the direct and indirect costs to the agency 
providing the activity.

Fee Assessment Methodology

    Applying the guidance for assessing fees provided in OMB Circular 
A-25, the Commission has revised its methodology for computing fees to 
determine the full costs of providing services.\2\ A detailed 
description of the methodology, as established by the Commission's 
Office of Budget and Finance, is available in the docket to this 

    \2\ The revised methodology also satisfies the recommendations 
set forth in the Commission's Office of Inspector General's report, 
Review of FMC's User Fee Calculations (May 27, 2010).

    The Commission has developed data on the time and cost involved in 
providing particular services to arrive at the updated direct and 
indirect labor costs for those services. As part of its assessment, the 
Commission utilized salaries of Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) assigned 
to fee-generating activities to identify the various direct and 
indirect costs associated with providing services. Direct labor costs 
include clerical and professional time expended on an activity. 
Indirect labor costs include labor provided by bureaus and offices that 
provide direct support to the fee-generating offices in their efforts 
to provide services, and include managerial and supervisory costs 
associated with providing a particular service. Other indirect costs 
include Government overhead costs, such as fringe benefits and other 
wage-related Government contributions contained in OMB Circular A-76, 
Performance of Commercial Activities (revised May 29, 2003) and office 
general and administrative expenses.\3\ The sum of these indirect cost 
components gives an indirect cost factor that is added to the direct 
labor costs of an activity to arrive at the fully distributed cost.

    \3\ OMB Circular A-76 lists the following indirect labor costs: 
leave and holidays, retirement, worker's compensation, awards, 
health and life insurance, and Medicare. General and administrative 
costs are expressed as a percentage of basic pay. These include all 
salaries and overhead such as rent, utilities, supplies, and 
equipment allocated to Commission offices that provide direct 
support to fee-generating offices such as the Office of the Managing 
Director, Office of Information Technology, Office of Human 
Resources, Office of Budget and Finance, and the Office of 
Management Services.

Proposed Fee Adjustments

    The adjustments the Commission is considering would allow some user 
fees to remain unchanged; increase, reduce, or delete other fees; and 
add one new fee. The Commission is considering making upward 
adjustments of fees to reflect increases in salary and indirect 
(overhead) costs. For some services, an increase in processing or 
review time may account for all or part of increase

[[Page 15003]]

in the amount of the proposed fees. For other services, fees may be 
lower than current fees due to an overall reduced cost to provide those 
    The Commission assesses nominal processing fees for services 
related to the filing of complaints and certain petitions; various 
public information services, such as records searches, document 
copying, and admissions to practice; and filing applications for 
special permission. Due to an increase in the processing cost of these 
services, the Commission is considering adjusting upward these 
administrative fees based on an assessment of fiscal year 2015 costs. 
Similarly, the Commission is considering adjusting upward the user fees 
associated with agreements filed under 46 CFR part 535 because of the 
increase in reviewing and analyzing the agreement filings.
    With respect to OTI license applications, the Commission offers 
lower fees for electronic filing of license applications through its 
FMC-18 automated filing system. The Commission first adopted lower fees 
in 2007 to promote the use of the electronic filing option by the 
public and to facilitate the transfer of OTI records from a paper-based 
format to a more convenient and accessible digital format.\4\ As 
intended, the majority of OTI applicants are using the automated system 
and paying the reduced fees. In fiscal year 2015, the total number of 
OTI applicants using the automated filing system at the reduced fees 
was 619, and the total number of OTI applicants filing their 
applications in paper format at the higher fees was 44. This program 
has been successful and the Commission is considering continuing to 
offer the lower fees for electronic filing at the current fee 

    \4\ FMC Docket No. 07-08, Optional Method of Filing Form FMC-18, 
Application for a License as an Ocean Transportation Intermediary, 
72 FR 44976, 44977 (Aug. 10, 2007).
    \5\ While the automated filing system allows users to file their 
applications electronically, the automated system for processing the 
applications is still under development. The fees for the electronic 
filing of OTI applications will be addressed by the Commission when 
the entire FMC-18 automated system is complete and operational, and 
the costs of the system and its impact on the review of OTI 
applications can be quantified.

    The Commission is considering decreasing fees for the Commission's 
services to passenger vessel operators (PVOs) under 46 CFR part 540. 
These services include reviewing and processing the application for 
certification on performance; the supplemental application on 
performance for the addition or substitution of a vessel; the 
application for certification on casualty, and the supplemental 
application on casualty for the addition or substitution of a vessel.
    For reviews of requests filed under FOIA and requests for revisions 
of clerical errors on service contracts, the Commission is considering 
lowering the fees due to the change in grade level of the professional 
staff that review FOIA requests.
    The Commission is considering repealing the user fee for obtaining 
a copy of the Regulated Persons Index given that it is currently 
available on the Commission's Web site. The Commission is also 
considering repealing the current fee assessed for adding an interested 
party to a specific docket mailing list under Sec.  503.50(d), and the 
fee assessed under Sec.  535.401(h) for obtaining a Commission 
agreement database report.
    In addition, the Commission is considering repealing the user fee 
for filing petitions for rulemaking found in Sec.  503.51(a). This 
would align the Commission with the practice of other agencies, the 
vast majority of which do not impose a fee to file petitions for 
rulemaking. Repealing this user fee would also enhance access to the 
rulemaking process, thereby making it fairer and more open.
    The Commission is also considering adding a new fee for processing 
requests for expedited review of an agreement under Sec.  535.605, 
which allows filing parties to request that the 45-day waiting period 
be shortened to meet an operational urgency. The Commission believes 
that a fee for processing such requests is necessary to recoup the cost 
of publishing a separate Federal Register notice for expedited review. 
This new fee would be assessed in addition to the underlying agreement 
filing fee required by Sec.  535.401(g).
    The Commission welcomes comments on its new fee calculation 
methodology and possible fee adjustments.

    By the Commission.
Karen V. Gregory,
[FR Doc. 2016-06241 Filed 3-18-16; 8:45 am]