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Proposed Extension of Information Collection; Comment Request

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The Department of Labor (the department), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, conducts a preclearance consultation program to provide the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed and continuing collections of information in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA 95) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)). This helps to ensure that requested data can be provided in the desired format, reporting burden (time and financial resources) is minimized, collection instruments are clearly understood, and the impact of collection requirements on respondents can be properly assessed.

Currently, the Employee Benefits Security Administration is soliciting comments concerning the information collection request (ICR) incorporated in the Voluntary Fiduciary Collection Program (the VFC Program) and the Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption (the Exemption) that is used in connection with the VFC Program. The ICR is currently approved under OMB Number 1210-0118. A copy of the ICR may be obtained by contacting the office listed in the addresses section of this notice.


Written comments must be submitted to the office shown in the addresses section below on or before October 20, 2003.


Gerald B. Lindrew, Office of Policy and Research, U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room N-5647, Washington, DC 20210. telephone: (202) 693-8410; Fax: (202) 219-5333. These are not toll-free numbers.Start Printed Page 50194

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I. Background

The VFC program is an enforcement program intended to encourage the full correction of certain breaches of fiduciary responsibility and the restoration of losses resulting from those breaches to participants and beneficiaries in employee benefit plans. For certain eligible breaches that have been corrected according to the terms and conditions of the VFC Program, the Department will issue a “no action” letter, thereby releasing the applicant from possible civil penalties under section 502(a) of ERISA. The VFC Program provides applicants with information both on identifying eligible transactions for correction and on the means for achieving fully acceptable corrections. The information collection consists of an application, description of the transaction and correction, and other appropriate supporting documentation.

The Exemption, used only in conjunction with the VFC Program, permits applicants to the VFC Program to make full correction of certain eligible transactions without incurring sanctions in the form of excise taxes imposed under sections 4975(a) and (b) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) by reason of sections 4975(c)(1)(A) through (E) of the Code. For those fiduciaries wishing to take advantage of the Exemption, the information collection for the VFC Program also includes notification to interested persons, generally participants and beneficiaries, that an application has been submitted under the VFC Program. A copy of the notice must also be furnished to a Regional Office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

II. Desired Focus of Comments

The Department is particularly interested in comments that:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • 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.

III. Current Action

This notice requests comments on the extension of the ICR included in the VFC Program and the Exemption. The Department is not proposing or implementing changes to the existing ICR at this time.

Type or Review: Extension of a currently approved collection of information.

Agency: Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor.

Title: Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and Prohibited Transaction Class Exemption.

OMB Number: 1210-0118.

Affected Public: Individuals or households; Business or other for-profit; Not-for-profit institutions.

Respondents: 150.

Frequency of Response: On occasion.

Responses: 200.

Estimated Total Burden Hours: 1,200.

Total Burden Cost (Operating and Maintenance): $66,970.

Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of the information collection request; they will also become a matter of public record.

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Dated: August 14, 2003.

Joseph S. Piacentini,

Acting Director, Office of Policy and Research, Employee Benefits Security Administration.

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[FR Doc. 03-21271 Filed 8-19-03; 8:45 am]