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Electric Engineering, Architectural Services and Design Policies and Procedures

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is amending its regulations to revise its requirements regarding RUS approval of plans and specifications for buildings. Specifically, the requirement for RUS approval of architectural plans and specifications for buildings is eliminated and instead the borrower's architect or engineer is required to state that the design complies with certain specific standards. This change is being made in order to provide better service to borrowers.

DATES:

This rule will become effective on November 22, 2000.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Fred J. Gatchell, Deputy Director, Electric Staff Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Stop 1569, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-1569. Telephone: (202) 720-1398. FAX: (202) 720-7491. E-mail: fgatchel@rus.usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Order 12866

This rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866 and, therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Executive Order 12372

This rule is excluded from the scope of Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Consultation, which may require consultation with state and local officials. See the final rule related notice entitled “Department Programs and Activities Excluded from Executive Order 12372,” (50 FR 47034) advising that RUS loans and loan guarantees were not covered by Executive Order 12372.

Executive Order 12988

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. RUS has determined that this rule meets the applicable standards provided in section 3 of the Executive Order. In addition, (1) all state and local laws and regulations that are in conflict with this rule will be preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this rule; and (3), in accordance with section 212(e) of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (7 U.S.C. 6912(e)) administrative appeals procedures, if any are required, must be exhausted prior to initiating an action against the Department or its agencies.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

The Administrator of RUS has determined that this rule relating to RUS electric loan program is not a rule as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) and therefore, the Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this rule. RUS borrowers, as a result of obtaining federal financing, receive economic costs associated with complying with RUS regulations and requirements.

National Environmental Policy Act Certification

The Administrator of RUS has determined that this rule will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment as defined by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). Therefore, this action does not require an environmental impact statement or assessment.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

The program described by this rule is listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance programs under No. 10.850, Rural Electrification Loans and Loan Guarantees. This catalog is available on a subscription basis from the Superintendent of Documents, the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325, telephone number (202) 512-1800.

Information Collection and Recordkeeping Requirements

The recording and recordkeeping requirements contained in this rule were approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35) under OMB control number 0572-0118.

Send questions or comments regarding this burden or any other aspect of these collections of information, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to F. Lamont Heppe, Jr., Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4034 SBldg., Stop 1522, Washington, DC 20250-1522.

Unfunded Mandates

This rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provision of title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act) for State, local, and tribal governments or the private sector. Thus, this rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Background

RUS has promulgated regulations pertaining to the design and construction of RUS electric borrower's systems. These regulations are contained in 7 CFR Part 1724, Electric Engineering, Architectural Services and Design Policies and Procedures, which describes policies and procedures pertaining to RUS electric borrower procurement of architectural and engineering services for planning, design, and construction management of buildings and electric utility plant such as distribution and transmission lines, substations, communications and control systems, and generating plants. RUS has determined that continued review and approval of plans and specifications for buildings by RUS is not necessary. This will eliminate the burden on the borrowers of having to send the plans and specifications to RUS before issuing them to bidders. However, RUS will require that the borrower's architect or engineer state that the design complies with certain specific standards. This change is being Start Printed Page 63196made in order to provide better service to borrowers.

We are also correcting a date in the list of contract forms.

RUS received no comments to the proposed regulation published in the Federal Register on April 24, 2000, at 65 FR 21671.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1724

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For the reasons set forth in the preamble, RUS amends 7 CFR chapter XVII by amending part 1724 as follows:

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PART 1724—ELECTRIC ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES AND DESIGN POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

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1. The authority citation for part 1724 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 901 et seq., 1921 et seq., 6941 et seq.

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2. Section 1724.54(f)(2) is revised to read as follows:

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Requirements for RUS approval of plans and specifications.
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(f) * * *

(2) Unless RUS approval is required by paragraph (a) of this section, plans and specifications for headquarters buildings do not require RUS approval. The borrower shall submit two copies of RUS Form 740g, Application for Headquarters Facilities. This form is available from Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, Rural Utilities Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Stop 1522, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-1522. The application must show floor area and estimated cost breakdown between office building space and space for equipment warehousing and service facilities, and include a one line drawing (floor plan and elevation view), to scale, of the proposed building with overall dimensions shown. The information concerning the planned building may be included in the borrower's construction work plan in lieu of submitting it with the application. (See 7 CFR part 1710, subpart F.) Prior to issuing the plans and specifications for bid, the borrower shall also submit to RUS a statement, signed by the architect or engineer, that the building design meets the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (See § 1724.51(e)(1)(i)).

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3. Section 1724.74(d)(7) is revised to read as follows:

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List of electric program standard contract forms.
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(d) * * *

(7) RUS Form 284, Rev. 4-72, Final Statement of Cost for Architectural Service. This form is used for the closeout of architectural services contracts.

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Dated: October 5, 2000.

Jill Long Thompson,

Under Secretary, Rural Development.

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[FR Doc. 00-27155 Filed 10-20-00; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-15-P