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Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Extension

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Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).




The information collection requirements described below will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for review, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (“PRA”). The FTC is seeking public comments on its proposal to extend through February 28, 2005 the current PRA clearance for information collection requirements contained in its Funeral Industry Practices Rules (“Funeral Rule” or “Rule”). That clearance expires on February 28, 2002.


Comments must be submitted on or before January 22, 2002.


Send written comments to Secretary, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-159, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20580. All comments should be captioned “Funeral Rule: Paperwork comment.”

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Requests for additional information or copies of the proposed information requirements should be addressed to Myra Howard, Attorney, Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, Room H-238, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20580, (202) 326-2047.

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Under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” means agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or private information to a third party. 44 U.S.C. 3502(3), 5 CFR 1320.3(c). As required by section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, the FTC is providing this opportunity for public comment before requesting that OMB extend the existing paperwork clearance for the Funeral Rule, 16 CFR part 453 (OMB Control Number 3084-0025).

The FTC invites comments on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

The Funeral Rule ensures that consumers who are purchasing funeral goods and service have accurate information about the terms and conditions (especially prices) for such goods and services. The Rule requires that funeral providers disclose this information to consumers and maintain records to facilitate enforcement of the Rule.

Estimated annual hours burden: The estimated burden associated with the collection of information required by the Rule is 22,300 hours for recordkeeping and 57,900 hours for disclosures, for a total of 80,200 hours. This estimate is based on the number of funeral providers (approximately 22,300), the number of funerals annually (approximately 2.3 million), and the time needed to fulfill the information collection tasks required by the Rule.

Recordkeeping: The Rule requires that funeral providers retain copies of price lists and statements of funeral goods and services selected by consumers. Based on a maximum average burden of one hour per provider per year for this task, the total burden for the 22,300 providers is 22,300 hours. This estimate is unchanged from 1998.

Disclosure: The Rule requires that funeral providers (1) maintain current price lists for funeral goods and services, (2) provide written documentation of the funeral goods and services selected by consumers making funeral arrangements, and (3) provide information about funeral prices in response to telephone inquiries.

Maintaining current price lists requires that funeral providers revise their price lists from time to time through the year to reflect price changes. Based on a maximum average burden of two hours per provider per year for this task, the total burden for 22,300 providers is 44,600 hours. This estimate is unchanged from the FTC's prior estimate in 1998.

The original rulemaking record indicated that 87 percent of funeral providers written documentation of funeral arrangements, even absent the Rule's requirements.[1] Accordingly, the Rule imposes a disclosure burden on 2,899 providers (13 percent of 22,300 providers). These providers are typically the smallest funeral homes. The disclosure requirement can be satisfied through the use of a standard form (an example of which is available to the industry in the Compliance Guide to the Funeral Rule). Based on an estimation that these smaller homes arrange, on average, approximately 20 funerals per year and that it would take each of them about 3 minutes to record prices for each consumer on the standard form, FTC staff estimates that the total burden associated with this disclosure Start Printed Page 58493requirement is one hour per provider not already in compliance, for a total of 2,899 hours.

The Funeral Rule also requires funeral providers to answer telephone inquiries about the provider's offerings or prices. Industry data indicate that only about nine percent of funeral purchasers make telephone inquiries, with each call lasting an estimated three minutes. Only about half of that additional time is attributed to disclosures required solely by the Rule, since many providers would provide the requested information even without it. Thus, assuming that the average purchaser makes two calls per funeral to compare prices, the estimated burden is 10,350 hours [(1/2 × 3 minute call × 2 calls/funeral) × 207,000 funerals (nine percent of 2,300,000 funerals/year)]. This burden likely will decline over time as consumers increasingly rely on the Internet for funeral price information.

In sum, the disclosure total is 57,849 hours (44,600 + 2,899 + 10,350). The total estimated hours burden associated with the Rule for both recordkeeping and disclosure requirements is 80,000, rounded to the nearest thousand (22,300 hours for recordkeeping + 57,849 hours for disclosure).

Estimated annual cost burden: $3,900,000, rounded ($3,560,000 in labor costs and $340,000 in non-labor costs).

Labor costs: Labor costs are derived by applying appropriate hourly cost figures to the burden hours described above. The hourly rate used below are averages.

Clerical personnel, at an hourly rate of $10, can perform the recordkeeping tasks required under the Rule. Based on the estimated hour burden of 22,300 hours, the estimated cost burden for recordkeeping is $223,000 ($10 × 22,300 hours).

The two hours required of each provider, on average, to update price lists should consist of approximately 1.5 hours of managerial or professional time, at $75 per hour, and .5 hours of clerical time, at $10 per hour, for a total of $117.50 per provider. Thus, the estimated total cost burden for maintaining price lists is $2,620,250 ($117.50 × 22,300 providers).

The cost of providing written documentation of the goods and services selected by the consumer is 2,899 hours of managerial or professional time at approximately $75 per hour, or $217,425.

The cost of responding to telephone inquiries about offerings or prices is 10,350 hours of managerial or professional time at $75, or $776,250.

The total labor cost of the three disclosure requirements imposed by the Funeral Rule is $3,613,925 ($2,620,250 + $217,425 + $776,250). The total labor cost for recordkeeping and disclosures is $3,837,000 ($223,000 for recordkeeping + $3,613,925 for disclosures), rounded to the nearest thousand.

Capital or other non-labor costs: The Rule imposes minimal capital costs and no current startup costs. The Rule first took effect in 1984 and the revised Rule took effect in 1994, so funeral providers should already have in place capital equipment to carry out tasks associated with Rule compliance. Moreover, most funeral homes already have access, for other business purposes, to the ordinary office equipment needed for compliance, so the Rule likely imposes minimal additional capital expense.

Compliance with the Rule, however, does entail some expense to funeral providers for printing and duplication of price lists. Based on a rough estimate of 300 pages per year per provider for copies of the various price lists, at 5 cents per page, and 22,300 providers, the total cost burden associated with printing and copying is $334,500. In addition, the estimated 2,899 providers not already providing written documentation of funeral arrangements apart from the Rule will incur additional printing and copying costs. Assuming that those providers use the standard two-page form shown in the Compliance Guide, at 5 cents per page, at an average of 20 funerals per year, the added cost burden would be $5,798. Thus, estimated non-labor costs are $340,000, rounded to the nearest thousand.

The cost of training associated with Rule compliance is generally included in continuing education requirements for licensing and voluntary certification programs. Moreover, the FTC has provided its Compliance Guide to all funeral providers at no cost, and additional copies are available on the FTC web site or by mail. Accordingly, the Rule imposes no additional training costs.

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William E. Kovacic,

General Counsel.

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1.  The original version of the Funeral Rule required that funeral providers retain a copy of and give each customer a separate “Statement of Funeral Goods and Services Selected.” The 1994 amendments to the Rule eliminated that requirement, allowing instead for such disclosures to be incorporated into a written contract, bill of sale, or other record of a transaction that providers use to memorialize sales agreements with customers.

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[FR Doc. 01-29119 Filed 11-20-01; 8:45 am]