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Notice

Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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AGENCY:

Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

The information collection requirements described below will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking public comments on its proposal to extend through December 31, 2014, the current OMB clearance for items (a)-(c) below setting out the information collection requirements pertaining to the Commission's administrative activities. That clearance expires on December 31, 2011, and consists of: (a) Applications to the Commission, including applications and notices contained in the Commission's Rules of Practice (primarily Parts I, II, and IV); (b) the FTC's consumer complaint systems; (c) the FTC's program evaluation activities and (d) the FTC's Applicant Background Form. The Commission is not seeking clearance renewal relating to item (d), the Applicant Background Form.

DATES:

Comments must be filed by November 14, 2011.

ADDRESSES:

Interested parties may file a comment online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Request for Comment part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Administrative Activities: FTC File No. P911409” on your comment, and file your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​adminactivitiespra, by following the instructions on the Web-based form. If you prefer to file your comment on paper, mail or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex J), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Requests for additional information should be addressed to Nicholas Start Printed Page 56197Mastrocinque (Nick M) and Ami Dziekan (Ami D), Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade Commission, H-228, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580, Nick M: (202) 326-3188 and Ami D: (202) 326-2648.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Proposed Information Collection Activities

Under the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521, Federal agencies must obtain approval from OMB for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” means agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. 44 U.S.C. 3502(3), 5 CFR 1320.3(c). Because the number of entities affected by the Commission's requests will exceed ten, the Commission plans to seek OMB clearance under the PRA. As required by § 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, the Commission is providing this opportunity for public comment before requesting that OMB extend the existing paperwork clearance for the information collection requirements pertaining to the Commission's administrative activities (OMB Control Number 3084-0047).

The Commission's Administrative Activities clearance consists of: (a) Applications to the Commission, including applications and notices contained in the Commission's Rules of Practice (primarily Parts I, II, and IV); (b) the FTC's consumer complaint systems; (c) FTC program evaluation activities; and (d) the FTC's Applicant Background Form. The FTC is not seeking clearance renewal relating to the Applicant Background Form. After the current clearance expires on December 31, 2011, the FTC plans to use a different form that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is separately seeking PRA approval for from the OMB on behalf of several agencies including the FTC.

Request for Comments

The FTC invites comments on: (1) 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; (2) 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; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to 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. All comments should be filed as prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or before November 14, 2011.

You can file a comment online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before November 14, 2011. Write “Administrative Activities: FTC File No. P911409” on your comment. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/​os/​publiccomments.shtm. As a matter of discretion, the Commission tries to remove individuals' home contact information from comments before placing them on the Commission Web site.

Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment doesn't include any sensitive personal information, like anyone's Social Security number, date of birth, driver's license number or other state identification number or foreign country equivalent, passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment doesn't include any sensitive health information, like medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, don't include any “[t]rade secret or any commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person and which is privileged or confidential,” as provided in Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). In particular, don't include competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

If you want the Commission to give your comment confidential treatment, you must file it in paper form, with a request for confidential treatment, and you have to follow the procedure explained in FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).[1] Your comment will be kept confidential only if the FTC General Counsel, in his or her sole discretion, grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest.

Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/​ftc/​adminactivitiespra, by following the instructions on the Web-based form. If this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

If you file your comment on paper, write “Administrative Activities: FTC File No. P911409” on your comment and on the envelope, and mail or deliver it to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex J), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20580. If possible, submit your paper comment to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before November 14, 2011. You can find more information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, in the Commission's privacy policy, at http://www.ftc.gov/​ftc/​privacy.htm.

Estimated annual hours burden: 187,114 hours (150 + 186,884 + 65 + 15).

(a) Applications to the Commission, including applications and notices contained in the Commission's Rules of Practice: 150 hours.

Most applications to the Commission generally fall within the “law enforcement” exception to the PRA and are mostly found in Part III (Rules of Practice for Adjudicative Proceedings) of the Commission's Rules of Practice. See 16 CFR 3.1-3.83. Nonetheless, there are various applications and notices to the Commission contained in other rules (generally in Parts I, II, and IV of the Commission's Rule of Practice). For example, staff estimates that the FTC annually receives approximately 10 requests for clearance submitted by former FTC employees in order to participate in certain matters and 5 screening affidavits submitted by partners or legal or business associates Start Printed Page 56198of former employees pursuant to Rule 4.1, 16 CFR 4.1. There are also procedures set out in Rule 4.11(e) for agency review of outside requests for Commission employee testimony, through compulsory process or otherwise, in cases or matters to which the agency is not a party. Rule 4.11(e) requires that a person who seeks such testimony submit a statement in support of the request. Staff estimates that agency personnel receive approximately 1 request per month or 12 per year. Other types of applications and notices are either infrequent or difficult to quantify. Nonetheless, in order to cover any potential “collection of information” for which separate clearance has not been sought, staff conservatively projects the FTC will receive 75 applications or notices per year. Staff estimates each respondent will incur, on average, approximately 2 hours of burden to submit an application or notice, resulting in a cumulative annual total of 150 burden hours (75 applications or notices x 2 burden hours).

Annual cost burden:

Using the burden hours estimated above, staff estimates that the total annual labor cost, based on a conservative estimated average of $460/hour for executives' and attorneys' wages, would be approximately $46,000 (100 hours × $460). There are no capital, start-up, operation, maintenance, or other similar costs to respondents.

(b) Complaint Systems: 186,884 annual hours.

Consumer Response Center

Consumers can submit complaints about fraud and other practices to the FTC's Consumer Response Center by telephone or through the FTC's Web site. Telephone complaints and inquiries to the FTC are answered both by FTC staff and contractors. These telephone counselors ask for the same information that consumers would enter on the applicable forms available on the FTC's Web site. For telephone inquiries and complaints, the FTC staff estimates that it takes 6.1 minutes per call to gather information, and an estimated 5.0 minutes for consumers to enter a complaint online. The burden estimate conservatively assumes that all of the phone call is devoted to collecting information from consumers, although frequently telephone counselors devote a small portion of the call to providing requested information to consumers.

Complaints Concerning the National Do Not Call Registry

To receive complaints from consumers of possible violations of the rules governing the National Do Not Call Registry, 16 CFR 310.4(b), the FTC maintains both an online form and a toll free hotline with automated voice response system. Consumer complainants must provide the phone number that was called, whether the call was prerecorded, and the date and time of the call. They may also provide either the name or telephone number of the company about which they are complaining, their name and address so they can be contacted for additional information, as well as for a brief comment regarding their complaint. In addition, complainants have the option of answering three yes-or-no questions to help law enforcement investigating complaints. The FTC staff estimates that the time required of consumer complainants is 3.0 minutes for phone complaints and 2.5 minutes for online complaints.

Identity Theft

To handle complaints about identity theft, the FTC must obtain more detailed information than is required of other complainants. Identity theft complaints generally require more information (such as a description of actions complainants have taken with credit bureaus, companies, and law enforcement, and the identification of multiple suspects) than general consumer complaints and fraud complaints. In addition, the FTC has expanded the information required on its online complaint form (such as collecting additional information about the fraudulent activity at affected companies and creating an attachment summarizing all of the fraudulent account activity as well as all fraudulent information on the consumer's credit report). Consumers can print out a copy of the revised form and use it to assist them in completing a police report, if appropriate, and, as also may be necessary, an identity theft report. See 16 CFR 603.3 (defining the term “identity theft report”). FTC staff estimates that the revised online form takes consumers up to 15 minutes to complete.

The FTC also made some revisions in the information it collects from consumers who call the Consumer Response Center (“CRC”) with identity theft complaints. Staff estimates that it will take 6.2 minutes per call to obtain identity theft-related information. A substantial portion of identity theft-related calls typically consists of counseling consumers on other steps they should consider taking to obtain relief (which may include directing consumers to a revised online complaint form). The time needed for counseling is excluded from the estimate.

Surveys

Consumer customer satisfaction surveys give the agency information about the overall effectiveness and timeliness of the CRC. Subsets of consumers contacted throughout the year are questioned about specific aspects of CRC customer service. Each consumer surveyed is asked several questions chosen from a list prepared by staff. The questions are designed to elicit information from consumers about the overall effectiveness of the call center and online complaint intake. Half of the questions ask consumers to rate CRC performance on a scale or require a yes-or-no response. The second half of the survey asks more open-ended questions seeking a short written or verbal answer. In addition, the CRC may survey a sample of consumers immediately after they file their complaints regarding the services they received. Staff estimates that each respondent will require 4.3 minutes to answer the questions during the phone survey and about 2.7 minutes for the online survey (approximately 20-30 seconds per question).

What follows are staff's estimates of burden for these various collections of information, including the surveys. The figures for the online forms and consumer hotlines are an average of annualized volume for the respective programs including both current and projected volumes over the 3-year clearance period sought and the number of respondents for each activity has been rounded to the nearest thousand.

ActivityNumber of RespondentsNumber of Minutes/ activityTotal hours
Misc. and fraud-related consumer complaints (phone)262,0006.126,724
Misc. and fraud-related consumer complaints (online)281,000523,323
Do-Not-Call related consumer complaints (phone)355,0003.017,750
Do-Not-Call related consumer complaints (online)1,937,0002.581,354
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Identity theft complaints (phone)212,0006.221,836
Identity theft complaints (online)57,0001514,250
Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire (phone)6,0004.3432
Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire (online)27,0002.71,215
Totals3,137,000186,884
* Annual estimate for each of the three years.
** Number of consumer calls and online submissions are calculated by projecting over the 3-year clearance period sought 5% annual growth.

Annual cost burden:

The cost per respondent should be negligible. Participation is voluntary and will not require any labor expenditures by respondents. There are no capital, start-up, operation, maintenance, or other similar costs to the respondents.

(c) Program Evaluations: 80 hours.

Review of Divestiture Orders—65 hours.

The Commission issues, on average, approximately 10-15 orders in merger cases per year that require divestitures. As a result of a 1999 study authorized by the OMB and conducted by the staffs of the Bureau of Competition (“BC”) and the Bureau of Economics, as well as more recent experience, BC monitors these required divestitures by interviewing representatives of the Commission-approved buyers of the divested assets within the first year after the divestiture is completed.

BC staff interviews representatives of the buyers to ask whether all assets required to be divested were, in fact, divested; whether the buyer has used the divested assets to enter the market of concern to the Commission and, if so, the extent to which the buyer is participating in the market; whether the divestiture met the buyer's expectations; and whether the buyer believes the divestiture has been successful. In a few cases, BC staff may also interview monitor trustees, if appropriate. In all these interviews, staff seeks to learn about pricing and other basic facts regarding competition in the markets of concern to the FTC.

Participation by the buyers is voluntary. Each responding company designates the company representative most likely to have the necessary information; typically, a company executive and a lawyer represent the company. Each interview takes less than one hour to complete. BC staff further estimates that it takes each participant no more than one hour to prepare for the interview. Staff conservatively estimates that, for each interview of the responding company, two individuals (a company executive and a lawyer) will devote two hours (one hour preparing and one hour participating) each to responding to questions for a total of four hours. Interviews of monitor trustees typically involve only the monitor trustee and take approximately one hour to complete with no more than one hour to prepare for the interview. Assuming that staff evaluates approximately 15 divestitures per year during the three-year clearance period, the total hours burden for the responding companies will be approximately 60 hours per year (15 divestiture reviews × 4 hours for preparing and participating). Staff may include approximately 2 monitor trustee interviews a year, which would add at most 4 hours (2 interviews × 2 hours for preparing and participating.).

Annual cost burden:

Using the burden hours estimated above, staff estimates that the total annual labor cost, based on a conservative estimated average of $460/hour for executives' and attorneys' wages, would be approximately $30,000 (64 hours × $460). There are no capital, start-up, operation, maintenance, or other similar costs to respondents.

Review of Competition Advocacy Program—15 hours.

The FTC's competition advocacy program draws on the Commission's expertise in competition and consumer protection matters to encourage state and Federal legislators, agencies and regulatory officials, and courts to consider the effects of their decisions on competition and consumer welfare. The Commission and staff send approximately 20 letters to such decision makers annually regarding the likely effects of various bills and regulations.

In the past, the Office of Policy Planning (“OPP”) has evaluated the effectiveness of these advocacy comments by surveying comment recipients and other relevant decision makers. OPP intends to continue this evaluation by sending a paper or electronic questionnaire to relevant parties within a year after sending an advocacy. Most survey questions ask the respondent to agree or disagree with a statement concerning the advocacy comment that they received. Specifically, these questions ask about the consideration, content, influence, and public effect of our comments. The questionnaire also provides respondents with an opportunity to provide additional remarks regarding the comments they received, advocacy comments in general, and the outcome of the matter.

OPP staff estimates that, on average, respondents will take 30 minutes or less to complete the questionnaire. OPP staff estimates that 15 minutes of administrative time will be necessary to prepare a survey for return via mail or e-mail. Accordingly, staff estimates that each respondent will incur 45 minutes of burden, resulting in a cumulative total of 15 burden hours per year (45 minutes of burden per respondent × 20 respondents per year). OPP staff does not intend to conduct any follow-up activities that would involve the respondents' participation.

Annual cost burden:

OPP staff estimates a conservative hourly labor cost of $100 for the time of the survey participants (primarily state representatives and senators) and an hourly labor cost of $17 for administrative support time. Thus, staff estimates a total labor cost of $54.25 for each response (30 minutes of burden at $100 per hour plus 15 minutes of burden at $17 per hour). Assuming 20 respondents will complete the questionnaire on an annual basis, staff estimates the total annual labor costs will be approximately $1,085 ($54.25 per response × 20 respondents). There are no capital, start-up, operation, maintenance, or other similar costs to respondents.

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Willard K. Tom,

General Counsel.

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Footnotes

1.  In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).

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[FR Doc. 2011-23250 Filed 9-9-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6750-01-P