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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 collections 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 that 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] Start Printed Page 6298

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;

c. any advertisement, pamphlet, circular, form letter or other sales literature addressed or intended for distribution to prospective investors;

d. any record of the initial determination that a director is not an interested person of the fund, and each subsequent determination that the director is not an interested person of the fund, including any questionnaire and any other document used to determine that a director is not an interested person of the company;

e. any materials used by the disinterested directors of a fund to determine that a person who is acting as legal counsel to those directors is an independent legal counsel; and

f. any documents or other written information considered by the directors of the fund pursuant to section 15(c) of the Act in approving the terms or renewal of a contract or agreement between the company and an investment advisor.

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 of 1934 [6] (“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 required 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 [7] (“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, a fund 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 fund, 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.[8]

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 4,920 funds as of December 31, 2006, all of which are required to comply with rule 31a-2. Based on recent conversations with representatives of the fund industry and past estimates, our staff estimates that each fund currently spends 220 hours per year complying with the records preservation required by rule 31a-2. The hour burden is incurred by a variety of fund staff, and the type of staff position used for compliance with the rule varies widely from fund to fund. Based on these estimates, our staff estimates that the total annual burden of a fund to comply with rule 31a-2, is 220 hours, with a total annual burden for all funds of 1,082,400 hours.[9]

The hour burden estimates for retaining records under rule 31a-2 are based on our experience with registrants and our experience with similar requirements under the Act and the rules under the Act. The number of burden hours may vary depending on, among other things, the complexity of the fund, the issues faced by the fund, and the number of series and classes of the fund. The estimated average burden hours are made solely for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act and are not derived from quantitative, comprehensive, or even representative survey or study of the burdens associated with our rules and forms.

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.[10] As of December 31, 2006, our staff estimates total net assets of all funds at about $10 trillion, and that compliance with rule 31a-2 costs the fund industry approximately $350 million per year.[11] Our staff estimates, however, based on conversations with representatives of the fund industry, that funds would already spend half of this amount ($175 million) to preserve these same books and records, as they are also necessary to prepare financial statements, meet various state reporting requirements, and prepare their annual federal and state income tax returns. Therefore, we estimate that the total annual cost burden for registered fund due to compliance with rule 31a-2 is $175 million per year.

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 Start Printed Page 6299the 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 R. Corey Booth, Director/Chief Information Officer, Securities and Exchange Commission, C/O Shirley Martinson 6432 General Green Way, Alexandria, Virginia, 22312; or send an e-mail to: PRA_Mailbox@sec.gov.

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Dated: February 5, 2007.

Florence E. Harmon,

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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8.  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 fund 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 fund, 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 fund, 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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9.  This estimate is based on the following calculation : 4,920 registered investment companies × 220 hours = 1,082,400 total hours.

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10.  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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11.  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 ($10 trillion × .000035 = $350 million).

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[FR Doc. E7-2170 Filed 2-8-07; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P