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Agency Information Collection Activities: Continuing Collection; Comment Request; Confidentiality Rules

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).




In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this document announces that EPA is planning to submit the following continuing Information Collection Request (ICR) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB): Confidentiality Rules, EPA ICR No. 1665.06, OMB Control No. 2020-0003, expiration date September 30, 2003. Before submitting the ICR to OMB for review and approval, EPA is soliciting comments on specific aspects of the proposed information collection as described below.


Comments must be submitted on or before June 9, 2003.


Follow the detailed instructions in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

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Alan D. Margolis, Collection Stategies Division, Office of Information Collection (2822T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-566-1644; fax number: 202-566-1639; e-mail address:

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EPA has established a public docket for this ICR under Docket ID number OEI-2003-0003, which is available for public viewing at the OEI Docket in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room B102, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The EPA Docket Center Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OEI Docket is (202) 566-1752; FAX (202) 566-1753. An electronic version of the public docket is available through EPA Dockets (EDOCKET) at​edocket. Use EDOCKET to obtain a copy of the draft collection of information, submit or view public comments, access the index listing of the contents of the public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “search,” then key in the docket ID number identified above.

Any comments related to this ICR should be submitted to EPA within 60 days of this notice, and according to the following detailed instructions: submit your comments to EPA online using EDOCKET (our preferred method), by e-mail to, or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, OEI Docket, (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460.

EPA's policy is that public comments, whether submitted electronically or in paper, will be made available for public viewing in EDOCKET as EPA receives them and without change, unless the comment contains copyrighted material, confidential business information (CBI), or other information whose public disclosure is restricted by statute. When EPA identifies a comment containing copyrighted material, EPA will provide a reference to that material in the version of the comment that is placed in EDOCKET. The entire printed comment, including the copyrighted material, will be available in the public docket. Although identified as an item in the official docket, information claimed as CBI, or whose disclosure is otherwise restricted by statute, is not included in the official public docket, and will not be available for public viewing in EDOCKET. For further information about the electronic docket, see EPA's Federal Register notice describing the electronic docket at 67 FR 38102 (May 31, 2002), or go to​edocket.

Affected entities: Entities potentially affected by this action are those who characterize the information they provide to EPA as CBI. Start Printed Page 17632

Title: Confidentiality Rules, OMB Control Number 2020-0003; EPA ICR Number 1665.06, expiring 9/30/2003.

Abstract: EPA administers a number of environmental protection statutes (e.g., the Clean Water Act; the Clean Air Act; the Toxic Substances Control Act; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act), under which the Agency collects information from thousands of facilities in many economic sectors. In addition, businesses submit information to EPA without the Agency requesting it. The information addresses topics such as toxic chemicals, industrial processes, waste streams, and regulatory compliance. In many cases, businesses that submit information claim it as CBI. EPA established the procedures described in 40 CFR part 2, subparts A and B, to protect the confidentiality of information as well as the rights of the public to obtain access to information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In accordance with these regulations, when EPA finds it necessary to make a final confidentiality determination (e.g., in response to a FOIA request or in the course of rulemaking or litigation) or an advance confidentiality determination, it notifies the affected business by sending a letter requesting substantiation of the confidentiality claim. This letter provides the affected business with an opportunity to submit comments (i.e., a substantiation). This ICR relates to the collection of information that will assist EPA in determining whether previously submitted information is entitled to confidential treatment.

EPA is proposing to use an updated Request for Substantiation letter (“proposed letter”). The proposed letter consists of two samples to address separate factual situations: Sample Letter A and Sample Letter B. The use of two letters is a clarification of existing EPA procedures. Some of the information requested differs slightly from the current Request for Substantiation letter, concerning the possible voluntary nature of the submission and the issue of substantial competitive harm, and takes into account the vast amount of information now available electronically. Nevertheless, EPA estimates that the overall burden is the same. The proposed letter would apply to any context where a final confidentiality determination is needed, either in response to FOIA requests or in other situations (e.g., where EPA is making information public to support rulemakings), or in the case of an advance confidentiality determination.

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. The OMB control numbers for EPA's regulations are listed in 40 CFR part 9 and 48 CFR chapter 15.

EPA is soliciting comments to:

(i) Evaluate 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;

(ii) Evaluate 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;

(iii) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

(iv) 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.

Current Burden Statement: EPA estimates that in response to the procedures outlined in 40 CFR part 2, subpart B, the Agency would notify 543 businesses annually and provide them with an opportunity to submit comments explaining why previously submitted information should be treated as confidential. Of the 543 businesses, EPA estimates that approximately 443 industries would respond by submitting substantiations. The Agency estimates that it takes industry approximately 14 hours and $464.43 in labor costs to prepare and submit each substantiation; or a total of 6,202 hours at a cost of $205,742.49 in labor for all 443 substantiations. For those 100 businesses that do not submit substantiations, they are still likely to spend approximately 1 hour at a cost of $32.04 in labor to review EPA's notice, examine the information in question, and make a decision not to respond; or a total of 100 hours at a cost of $3,204.00 in labor costs for reviewing and deciding not to respond in 100 cases. The total burden on industry to review and, if desired, respond to 543 EPA substantiation requests is 6,302 hours at a cost of $208,946.49 in labor.

In addition, when EPA utilizes the services of contractors/subcontractors under the authority of 40 CFR part 2, subpart B, all contractor/subcontractor employees who may be given access to confidential information must first sign confidentiality agreements stating that they will honor the terms of the contract/subcontract which requires the protection of CBI. Contractor/ subcontractor businesses must maintain a file of all such agreements. EPA estimates that there are about 129 contractor/subcontractor businesses that handle CBI in connection with their work for EPA each year. These 129 contractor/subcontractor businesses together have a total of approximately 658 employees who must sign confidentiality agreements each year. Each employee would need approximately 0.1 hour to review and sign an agreement, at a cost of $3.34 in labor; employees' review and signature of all agreements would require approximately 65.8 hours at a cost of $2,197.72 in labor per year. In addition, each subcontractor/contractor business would need approximately 0.5 hour at a cost of $8.07 in labor per year to maintain a file of employee confidentiality agreements; the 129 contractor/subcontractor businesses together would require a total of 64.5 hours at a labor cost of $1,041.03 to maintain a file of confidentiality agreements. The total burden for signing and maintaining confidentiality agreements would thus be 130.3 hours at a cost of $3,238.75.

The overall burden for handling confidentiality claims—including the substantiation process and the signing and maintaining of confidentiality agreements—would be 6,432.3 hours at a total labor cost of $212,185.24 per year. EPA estimates that no capital costs or operation and maintenance costs would be incurred as a result of this information collection.

EPA is soliciting the following additional information to assist in its assessment of the Agency's burden statement:

1. How many substantiation requests do you receive from EPA per year? How many CBI substantiations do you submit per year in response?

2. What is the average number, type, and level of staff involved in preparing a substantiation of CBI claims?

3. What is the average number of hours per staff type and level required to prepare a substantiation of CBI claims? How does this hour estimate breakdown by the following activities:

a. Read/review EPA's substantiation request.

b. Review information claimed confidential.

c. Prepare substantiation.

4. What is the average wage per hour for each staff type and level involved in preparing substantiations? Start Printed Page 17633

Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, or disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; adjust the existing ways to comply with any applicable instructions and requirements; train personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; search data sources; complete and review the collection of information; and transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

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Dated: April 2, 2003.

Mark Luttner,

Director, Office of Information Collection.

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[FR Doc. 03-8827 Filed 4-9-03; 8:45 am]