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Notice

Recreational Boating Safety Projects, Programs and Activities Funded Under Provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century; Accounting of

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AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

For each of 5 fiscal years starting in 1999, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century has made $5 million available to the Secretary of Transportation for payments of Coast Guard expenses for personnel and activities directly related to coordinating and carrying out the national recreational boating safety program. This notice is being published to satisfy a requirement of the Act that a detailed accounting of the projects, programs, and activities funded under the national recreational boating safety program provision of the Act be published annually in the Federal Register. In this notice, we have specified the amount of monies the Coast Guard has committed, obligated or expended as of September 30, 2003.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Captain Scott Evans, USCG, Chief, Office of Boating Safety, telephone 202-267-1077, fax 202-267-4285, or Mr. Jeffrey N. Hoedt, Chief, Program Management Division, telephone 202-267-0950, fax 202-267-4285.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century became law on June 9, 1998 (Pub. L. 105-178; 112 Stat. 107). The Act required that of the $5 million made available to carry out the national recreational boating safety program each year, $2 million shall be available only to ensure compliance with Chapter 43 of title 46, U.S. Code—Recreational Vessels. The responsibility to administer these funds was delegated to the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. With the transfer of the Coast Guard to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), this authority in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century has been transferred to the Secretary of the DHS from the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (Sec. 888 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002), and redelegated to the Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.).

Subsection (c) of sec. 7405 of the Act directs that no funds available to the Secretary under this subsection may be used to replace funding traditionally provided through general appropriations, nor for any purposes except those purposes authorized; namely, for personnel and activities directly related to coordinating and carrying out the national recreational boating safety program. Amounts made available each fiscal year 1999 through 2003 shall remain available until expended.

Use of these funds requires compliance with standard Federal contracting rules with associated lead and processing times resulting in a lag time between available funds and spending. The following activities have been initiated using fiscal year 1999 through 2003 funds transferred to the Coast Guard from the Aquatic Resources (Wallop-Breaux) Trust Fund. The total amount of fiscal year 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 funding committed, obligated and/or expended for each activity is shown.

Factory Visit Program: An initial contract was awarded to establish a national recreational boat factory visit program using contractor personnel. The contract included the development of a plan of action and an 18-month pilot program to validate the elements of the plan and the concept of the program. The pilot program commenced in the summer of 2000. “Compliance associates” (inspectors) were trained and formal factory visits were initiated in January 2001. The factory visit program currently allows contractor personnel, acting on behalf of the Coast Guard, to visit approximately 2,000 recreational boat manufacturers each year to inspect for compliance with the Federal regulations, communicate with the manufacturers as to why they need to comply with the Federal regulations, and educate them, as necessary, on how to comply with the Federal regulations. ($6,284,665)

Boat Compliance Testing: Funding is provided for expansion of the boat compliance testing program whereby new manually propelled and outboard recreational boats are purchased in the open market and tested for compliance with the Federal flotation standards. The expanded program includes inboard/sterndrive boats and used boats. ($651,381)

Associated Equipment Compliance Testing: A contract was awarded to buy recreational boat “associated equipment” (e.g., starters, alternators, fuel pumps, and bilge pumps) and test this equipment for compliance with Federal safety regulations. This new initiative complements the boat compliance testing program. ($426,220)

Compliance Associated Travel: Travel by employees of the Office of Boating Safety is being performed to carry out additional compliance actions and to gather background and planning information for new compliance initiatives. ($108,395)

New Boat Manufacturer Outreach Package: A contract was awarded to design and develop a comprehensive and user-friendly outreach package for distribution to new recreational boat manufacturers. Included in the package are a brochure and video that outline the many facets of the recreational boat manufacturing business, including Federal regulations, voluntary standards, self-certification, financial aspects, insurance concerns, liability issues, points of contact and the steps necessary to become a new recreational boat manufacturer. The package also includes plain language guidelines that help clarify Federal requirements. The outreach package is aimed at increasing the level of new recreational boat manufacturer compliance with applicable Federal regulations. ($433,995)

National Recreational Boating Survey: The national recreational boating survey was completed on November 30, 2003. The purpose of this project was to obtain up-to-date statistical estimates on recreational boating. Over 25,000 surveys were completed with individuals who boated between September 2001 and September 2002. Survey findings were extrapolated to produce national, regional and State estimates of boat use as well as the characteristics of boat operators, passengers, boats, safety equipment, and Start Printed Page 74626the boating environment. The final report is available upon request to the U.S. Coast Guard Infoline at 1-800-368-5647. ($1,809,144).

Boating Accident Report Database (BARD): A contract has been awarded to enhance the capability of all States and the Coast Guard for the successful electronic exchange, management, and reporting of recreational boating accident report data using the BARD software application. This contract provides for software module development, software module testing, applicable rework, implementation, maintenance, and technical support for the user community in the 50 States, five Territories, and the District of Columbia. ($2,953,755)

State Incident Notification: The Coast Guard Search and Rescue Management Information System (SARMIS) software has been modified to electronically notify the relevant State boating law administrators regarding any fatal recreational boating incident cases to which the Coast Guard responds. The intent of this notification is to ensure that these cases are captured in the accident report data submitted by the State boating law administrators to the Boating Accident Report Database (BARD). ($12,678)

Articulated Mannequins/Computer Simulation Model: The objective of this contracted program is to improve the safety of recreational boaters by fostering developmental technology for improved personal flotation devices (PFDs). This program is furthering development of flotation mannequins and a water forces computer simulation program to promote the rapid, objective evaluation of different PFD designs on various body types that are representative of the recreational boating population. The computer simulation program will be validated through the use of a family of anthropomorphic, articulated mannequins. Under the contract to develop the articulated mannequins and computer simulation model, a male model has been built and is almost perfected. Currently, a female and a child mannequin are being developed. The development of a computer simulation program will facilitate evaluation of the effectiveness of new and unique PFD designs. ($814,341)

Risk-Based Personal Flotation Device Approval Process: This ongoing effort will improve the approval process for personal flotation devices (PFDs) by developing a risk-based compliance system that is based on an objective Life Saving Index. This index will provide a formal structure and consistency to the process for accepting new approaches to designing devices for drowning prevention. The risk-based process identifies critical factors for evaluating PFD lifesaving potential and defines the minimum level of performance necessary for approval. ($421,509)

Carbon Monoxide Research: The Office of Boating Safety has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Public Health Service, Federal Occupational Health Program, to continue investigation into identifying and classifying additional recreational boating carbon monoxide related deaths and injuries. ($573,475)

Houseboat Manufacturers Workshop/Conference Support: Funding provided support services for a Coast Guard-sponsored gathering of the houseboat industry to explore potential design solutions to the carbon monoxide poisonings that have occurred on recreational houseboats. ($17,030)

Hull Identification Number (HIN) Economic Analysis: This contracted effort provided the Coast Guard with a cost/benefit analysis on the effects of expanding the current 12-character HIN to a 17-character HIN for all newly constructed recreational boats. ($47,626)

Virtual Reality Personal Watercraft (PWC): A virtual reality PWC was developed under contract to provide a platform to gather objective data on operator reactions to various scenarios. This information would otherwise be unobtainable or would require more costly methods and sources, due to the risk of injury to the operator as well as due to the difficulty of accurately replicating conditions for all operators. The virtual reality PWC is being used in various test scenarios to collect human factors data including the measurement of reactive movements and reaction time that will assist in making decisions or taking action to improve personal watercraft safety. The data from this effort will give greater insight into the human-machine interface related to PWC operation and will assist in the effort to attempt to reduce PWC accidents. ($407,638)

Knowledge Management System: The first phase of a proposed three-phase contracted effort to develop a comprehensive Knowledge Management plan for automating office processes within the Office of Boating Safety was successfully completed. This phase provided the system requirements, potential applications and over-arching possible utility of the knowledge management system. Upon review of phase one analysis it was determined that the project should be terminated. This decision was based upon information obtained while performing this segment. In addition, it was determined that with projected changing software systems within the federal government that it was in our best interest to wait until the new federal system was made available. The second and third phases will not be implemented until further federal direction is obtained. Phases two and three, if implemented, would install document imaging software to capture and fully automate product assurance and consumer files and provide support that will ultimately enhance efficiency in supporting customers, partners and stakeholders. This would provide quicker, more effective and efficient program oversight while providing customers with the ability to do business with the Coast Guard via web-based technology, thus enabling the Coast Guard to reduce the amount of paper transactions involved in servicing external customers. This system will assist in the electronic monitoring, storage and daily use of information and materials within the Office of Boating Safety. ($431,890)

Coast Guard Infoline/Office of Boating Safety Web Site: Funding has been provided for both technological and educational enhancements to the toll-free Coast Guard Infoline and the Office of Boating Safety Web site to create a one-stop customer service center. The Infoline provides information about safety, regulations, communications, Coast Guard policy, and available material related to boating safety issues. Additionally, this effort provides a complete interactive recreational boating safety Web site that offers the public and boating safety agencies and organizations real-time information on every aspect of recreational boating safety. One of the goals of this program is to create a one-stop customer service center for all users. ($859,798)

Federal Requirements Publication: A customer-friendly “Federal Requirements and Safety Tips for Recreational Boats” publication was developed based on easy-to-read, high visibility graphics, and with subject-specific safety tips that promote high retention by the reader. Both hard copy and electronic interactive versions have been created for the public. The enhanced Federal Requirements brochure is being widely distributed, and in addition, can be downloaded from the Office of Boating Safety Web site (http://www.uscgboating.org). ($427,000)

Emergency Radio Call Procedures Decal: An emergency radio call procedures decal was produced and disseminated that provides the recreational boater with the proper Start Printed Page 74627procedures to use in making an emergency or distress call via VHF-FM Channel 16. This decal will be distributed via the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, and State boating offices, as well as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Bureau of Land Management. This item also supports the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) program provided by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and States. The VSC program is a free service provided by these organizations offering a safety check of recreational boats 65′ or less in length. ($25,810)

Aids to Navigation Booklet: A full-color booklet, “U.S. Aids to Navigation System,” was produced to assist recreational boaters in better understanding the use and identification of navigational aids. This booklet is now used as an educational adjunct to the safe boating classes taught by the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, and many of the States. It is also distributed in conjunction with the Vessel Safety Check program. ($135,327)

“Operation BoatSmart” Support: Funding support was provided to this initiative which coordinated Coast Guard and other boating safety organizations aims to energize recreational boating safety programs by strengthening and extending partnerships at the national, State and local levels. Through combined and coordinated efforts, the BoatSmart partners targeted those activities and behaviors that presented the greatest risk for the recreational boater. “Operation BoatSmart” brought together these organizations to work in tandem to promote a positive change in boater awareness and behavior, with special emphasis on inland waters where most recreational boating takes place. Special emphasis was focused on encouraging life jacket wear, boater education, and scrupulous enforcement of boating under the influence laws by appropriate authorities. ($273,586)

Recreational Boating Safety Program Marketing Support: A national marketing, awareness and education campaign in support of “Operation BoatSmart,” as well as America's Boating Course, Boating Under the Influence Campaign, and the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) Program, has been funded. America's Boating Course is a joint boating safety education course developed by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadrons, supported by the Coast Guard. This course, available via CD-Rom or Internet will set the standard for recreational boating safety in our country. The Boating Under the Influence (BUI) campaign, “It's a Different World on the Water,” is a multi-year effort to educate the recreational boater about the hazards of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The marketing plan utilizes nationally recognized cartoon characters, Popeye and Olive Oyl, to advertise the VSC program to the boating public at marinas, yacht clubs, boat storage facilities, retail outlets and other recreational outlets. ($98,956)

Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Outreach Program: This program provides full marketing, media, public information, and program strategy support to the RBS effort. The goal is to coordinate the RBS outreach campaigns some of which include: National Boating Under the Influence Campaign (BUI), Operation BoatSmart, PFD Wear, Vessel Safety Check Program (VSC), America's Boating Course, and other recreational boating safety issues on an as needed basis. ($2,189,254)

Kayak/Canoe Sponson Study: Study completed on the efficacy of the use of sponsons on canoes and kayaks. ($26,171)

Field Support—District Funded Projects

Seventeenth Coast Guard District Boating Safety Detachment: Funding was provided on a one-time, non-recurring basis to the Seventeenth Coast Guard District in support of a Coast Guard Boating Safety Detachment to assist in the transition of the State of Alaska's assumption of Recreational Boating Safety Program responsibilities. ($25,000)

Seventeenth Coast Guard District Boating Education and Safety (BEST)Teams: A 3-year effort, the BEST teams operated in the 17th District in 16 separate locations, with more than 30 team members providing educational benefits to the boaters of that district. ($150,000)

Eighth Coast Guard District Western Rivers Strike Team: Similar to the 17th District program these strike teams operated in the western rivers in the 8th District conducting safety education and providing waterway management assistance to various state RBS related activities within the Eighth Coast Guard District on an as needed basis. ($190,000)

National Boating Registration System: As a service for States/Territories that currently have inadequate (or no) computer software program to maintain their vessel numbering system information, funding was provided to the U.S. Coast Guard Operations Systems Center (OSC) to develop a National Boating Registration System software program that can easily be adapted by any State/Territory for their own use. The software that has been provided to States/Territories at no cost includes a function to automatically generate the annual report on numbered vessels that must be submitted to the Coast Guard each year. ($25,000)

Marine Dealer Literature Display Racks: Display racks for U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary literature were purchased to improve distribution of boating safety literature. These display racks are intended to be used at retail outlets and marine dealers. ($23,725)

Personnel Support: Funding is providing for personnel to support the development of new regulations, to support new contracting activities associated with the additional funding, and to monitor and manage the contracts awarded. ($905,791)

Marine Accident Investigating and Reporting: An initial contract was awarded to investigate and provide reports on marine accidents. The contractor also provides statistical analysis on causes. ($95,000)

A total of $20,844,160 of the $25,000,000 made available to the Coast Guard through annual transfers of $5 million in fiscal years 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 has been committed, obligated or expended as of September 30, 2003.

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Dated: December 17, 2003.

Jeffrey J. Hathaway,

Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Director of Operations Policy.

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[FR Doc. 03-31729 Filed 12-23-03; 8:45 am]

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