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Notice

Proposed Extension of Information Collection; Comment Request; Final Rule Relating to Notice of Blackout Periods to Participants and Beneficiaries

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ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA 95) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), the Department of Labor (the Department) 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. This program helps to ensure that the data the Department gathers can be provided in the desired format, that the reporting burden on the public (time and financial resources) is minimized, that the public understands the Department's collection instruments, and that the Department can accurately assess the impact of collection requirements on respondents.

By this notice, the Department is soliciting comments concerning the information collection provisions of the regulation under section 101(i) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the SOA), which requires written notice to be provided to affected participants and beneficiaries of individual account plans of any “blackout period” during which their right to direct or diversify investments, obtain a loan, or obtain a distribution under the plan may be temporarily suspended. A copy of the Start Printed Page 4979ICR may be obtained by contacting the office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this notice.

DATES:

Written comments must be submitted to the office shown in the ADDRESSES section below on or before March 30, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties are invited to submit written comments regarding the information collection request and burden estimates to: G. Christopher Cosby, 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) 219-4745. These are not toll-free numbers. Comments may also be submitted electronically to ebsa.opr@dol.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Section 306(b)(1) of the SOA amended section 101 of ERISA to add a new subsection (i), requiring that administrators of individual account plans provide notice to affected participants and beneficiaries in advance of the commencement of any blackout period. For purposes of this notice requirement, a blackout period generally includes any period during which the ability of participants or beneficiaries to direct or diversify assets credited to their accounts, to obtain loans from the plan or to obtain distributions from the plan will be temporarily suspended, limited or restricted. As required by section 306(b)(2) of SOA, the Department of Labor (Department) issued rules necessary to implement the SOA amendments. The Department's regulation at 29 CFR 2520.101-3 specifies when, how, and to whom a blackout notice must be provided and provides model notices to meet the requirements of the regulation.

The Department submitted the information collection provisions of § 2520.101-3 in an ICR to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance at the time of publication of the interim final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on October 21, 2002 (67 FR 64766). OMB approved the ICR under OMB control number 1210-0122. This approval is scheduled to expire on May 31, 2009.

II. Desired Focus of Comments

The Department is particularly interested in comments that:

  • Evaluate whether the collections of information are 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 collections 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., by permitting electronic submission of responses.

III. Current Action

The Department is requesting an extension of the currently approved ICR for the Final Rule Relating to Notice of Blackout Periods to Participants and Beneficiaries. The Department is not proposing or implementing changes to the regulation or to the existing ICR. A summary of the ICR and the current burden estimates follows:

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

Agency: Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor.

Title: Final Rule Relating to Blackout Notices to Participants and Beneficiaries.

OMB Number: 1210-0122.

Affected Public: Individuals or households; business or other for-profit; not-for-profit institutions.

Respondents: 85,150.

Frequency of Response: On occasion.

Responses: 5,400,000.

Estimated Total Burden Hours: 187,686.

Total Annual Cost (Operating and Maintenance): $1,407,000.

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: January 22, 2009.

Joseph S. Piacentini,

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

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[FR Doc. E9-1785 Filed 1-27-09; 8:45 am]

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