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Proposed Data Collection Available for Public Comment and Recommendations

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In accordance with the requirement of section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 which provides opportunity for public comment on new or revised data collections, the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) will publish periodic summaries of proposed data collections.

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed information collection is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information has practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the RRB's estimate of the burden of the collection of the information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden related to the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Title and purpose of information collection: Gross Earnings Report; OMB 3220-0132.

In order to carry out the financial interchange provisions of section 7(c)(2) of the Railroad Retirement Act (RRA), the RRB obtains annually from railroad employer's the gross earnings for their employees on a one-percent basis, i.e., 1% of each employer's railroad employees. The gross earnings sample is based on the earnings of employees whose social security numbers end with the digits “30.” The gross earnings are used to compute payroll taxes under the financial interchange.

The gross earnings information is essential in determining the tax amounts involved in the financial interchange with the Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Besides being necessary for current financial interchange calculations, the gross earnings file tabulations are also an integral part of the data needed to estimate future tax income and corresponding financial interchange amounts. These estimates are made for internal use and to satisfy requests from other government agencies and interested groups. In addition, cash flow projections of the social security equivalent benefit account, railroad retirement account and cost estimates made for proposed amendments to laws administered by the RRB are dependent on input developed from the information collection.

The RRB utilizes Form BA-11 or its electronic equivalent to obtain gross earnings information from railroad employers. One response is requested of each railroad employer. Completion is mandatory. No changes are proposed to Form BA-11.

Estimate of Annual Respondent Burden

Gross earnings reports are required annually from all employers reporting railroad service and compensation. There are approximately 637 railroad employers who currently report gross earnings to the RRB. Most large railroad employers include their railroad subsidiaries in their gross earnings reports. This results in the RRB collecting less than 637 earnings reports. Also, there are a large number of railroad employers having work forces so small that they do not have employees with social security numbers ending in “30.” Currently, there are 373 such employers in this category who file “negative” BA-11 responses to the RRB. Overall, on an annual basis, the RRB receives 54 reports consisting of computer prepared tapes or diskettes and 100 by means of manually prepared Form BA-11. The RRB estimates an average preparation time of 5 hours for each gross earnings report submitted by computer tape or diskette and 30 minutes for each manually prepared BA-11.

Additional Information or Comments: To request more information or to obtain a copy of the information collection justification, forms, and/or supporting material, please call the RRB Clearance Officer at (312) 751-3363.

Comments regarding the information collection should be addressed to Ronald J. Hodapp, Railroad Retirement Board, 844 N. Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611-2092. Written comments should be received within 60 days of this notice.

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Chuck Mierzwa,

Clearance Officer.

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[FR Doc. 02-25934 Filed 10-10-02; 8:45 am]