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Notice

Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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Upon Written Request, Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Filings and Information Services, Washington, DC 20549.

Extension:

Rule 31a-2, SEC File No. 270-174, OMB Control No. 3235-0179

Notice is hereby given that pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collection of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit this existing collection of information to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for extension and approval.

Section 31(a)(1) of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Act”) requires registered investment companies (“funds”) and certain principal underwriters, broker-dealers, investment advisers and depositors of funds to maintain and preserve records as prescribed by Commission rules.[1] Rule 31a-1 specifies the books and records each of these entities must maintain.[2] Rule 31a-2, which was adopted on April 17, 1944, specifies the time periods that entities must retain books and records required to be maintained under rule 31a-1.[3]

Rule 31a-2 requires the following:

1. Every fund must preserve permanently, and in an easily accessible place for the first two years, all books and records required under rule 31a-1(b)(1)-(4).[4]

2. Every fund must preserve for at least six years, and in an easily accessible place for the first two years: (a) all books and records required under rule 31a-1(b)(5)-(12);[5] (b) all vouchers, memoranda, correspondence, checkbooks, bank statements, canceled checks, cash reconciliations, canceled stock certificates and all schedules that support each computation of net asset value of fund shares; and (c) any advertisement, pamphlet, circular, form letter or other sales literature addressed or intended for distribution to prospective investors.

3. Every underwriter, broker or dealer that is a majority-owned subsidiary of a fund must preserve records required to be preserved by brokers and dealers under rules adopted under section 17 of the Securities Exchange Act (“section 17”) for the periods established in those rules.

4. Every depositor of any fund, and every principal underwriter of any fund other than a closed-end fund, must preserve for at least six years records Start Printed Page 55891required to be preserved by brokers and dealers under rules adopted under section 17 to the extent the records are necessary or appropriate to record the entity's transactions with the fund.

5. Every investment adviser that is a majority-owned subsidiary of a fund must preserve the records required to be maintained by investment advisers under rules adopted under section 204 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (“section 204”) for the periods specified in those rules.

6. Every investment adviser that is not a majority-owned subsidiary of a fund must preserve for at least six years records required to be maintained by registered investment advisers under rules adopted under section 204 to the extent the records are necessary or appropriate to reflect the adviser's transactions with the fund.

The records required to be maintained and preserved under this part may be maintained and preserved for the required time by, or on behalf of, an investment company on (i) micrographic media, including microfilm, microfiche, or any similar medium, or (ii) electronic storage media, including any digital storage medium or system that meets the terms of this section. The investment company, or person that maintains and preserves records on its behalf, must arrange and index the records in a way that permits easy location, access, and retrieval of any particular record.[6]

The Commission periodically inspects the operations of all funds to ensure their compliance with the provisions of the Act and the rules under the Act. The Commission staff spends a significant portion of their time in these inspections reviewing the information contained in the books and records required to be kept by rule 31a-1 and to be preserved by rule 31a-2.

There are approximately 4,500 active investment companies registered with the Commission as of April 30, 2002, all of which are required to comply with rule 31a-2. Based on conversations with representatives of the fund industry, the Commission staff estimates that each fund spends about 210 hours per year complying with rule 31a-2, for a total annual burden for the fund industry of approximately 945,000 hours.[7]

The Commission staff estimates the average cost of preserving books and records required by rule 31a-2, to be approximately $.000035 per $1.00 of net assets per year.[8] With the total net assets of all funds at about $7 trillion,[9] the staff estimates that compliance with rule 31a-2 costs the fund industry approximately $245 million per year.[10] The Commission staff estimates, however, based on past conversations with representatives of the fund industry, that funds could spend as much as half of this amount ($122.4 million) to preserve the books and records that are necessary to prepare financial statements, meet various state reporting requirements, and prepare their annual federal and state income tax returns.

These estimates of average costs are made solely for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. The estimate is not derived from a comprehensive or even a representative survey or study of the costs of Commission rules. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Written comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burdens of the collections of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burdens of the collections of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted in writing within 60 days of this publication.

Please direct your written comments to Michael E. Bartell, Associate Executive Director, Office of Information Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, Mail Stop 0-4, 450 5th Street, NW Washington, DC 20549.

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Dated: August 22, 2002.

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

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Footnotes

4.  17 CFR 270.31a-1(b)(1)-(4). These include, among other records, journals detailing daily purchases and sales of securities or contracts to purchase and sell securities, general and auxiliary ledgers reflecting all asset, liability, reserve, capital, income and expense accounts, separate ledgers reflecting, separately for each portfolio security as of the trade date all “long” and “short” positions carried by the fund for its own account, and corporate charters, certificates of incorporation and by-laws.

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5.  17 CFR 270.31a-1(b)(5)-(12). These include, among other records, records of each brokerage order given in connection with purchases and sales of securities by the fund, all other portfolio purchases, records of all puts, calls, spreads, straddles or other options in which the fund has an interest, has granted, or has guaranteed, records of proof of money balances in all ledger accounts, files of all advisory material received from the investment adviser, and memoranda identifying persons, committees or groups authorizing the purchase or sale of securities for the fund.

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6.  In addition, the fund, or whoever maintains the documents for the fund must provide promptly any of the following that the Commission (by its examiners or other representatives) or the directors of the company may request: (A) a legible, true, and complete copy of the record in the medium and format in which it is stored; (B) a legible, true, and complete printout of the record; and (C) means to access, view, and print the records; and separately store, for the time required for preservation of the original record, a duplicate copy of the record on any medium allowed by this section. In the case of records retained on electronic storage media, the investment company, or person that maintains and preserves records on its behalf, must establish and maintain procedures: (i) to maintain and preserve the records, so as to reasonably safeguard them from loss, alteration, or destruction; (ii) to limit access to the records to properly authorized personnel, the directors of the investment company, and the Commission (including its examiners and other representatives); and (iii) to reasonably ensure that any reproduction of a non-electronic original record on electronic storage media is complete, true, and legible when retrieved.

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7.  Commission staff surveyed several fund representatives to determine the current burden hour estimate. The staff found that an average fund spends approximately 210 hours per annum complying with rule 31a-2 (210 hours x 4,500 registered investment companies = 945,000). Although the Commission did not change its collection of information requirements in rule 31a-2, the fund representatives' estimates reflect an annual increase of 182 hours per fund over the burden of 27.8 hours estimated in the 1998 PRA submission. The change in annual hours is based upon an increase in the estimated time each fund spends complying with the rule.

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8.  The staff estimated the annual cost of preserving the required books and records by identifying the annual costs for several funds and then relating this total cost to the average net assets of these funds during the year. The staff estimates that the annual cost of preserving records is $70,000 per fund; the funds queried in support of this analysis had an average asset base of approximately $2 billion (70,000/2 billion = .000035).

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9.  See Investment Company Institute, 2002 Mutual Fund Fact Book, at 61.

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10.  This estimate is based on the annual cost per dollar of net assets of the average fund as applied to the net assets of all funds ($7 trillion x .000035 = $244.7 million).

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[FR Doc. 02-22157 Filed 8-29-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P