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Notice

Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request

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AGENCY:

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION:

Notice and request for comments.

SUMMARY:

In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces that the Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below is being forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and comment. The ICR describes the nature of the information collection and its expected burden. The Federal Register notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on the following collections of information was published on September 16, 2013 (78 FR 56995).

DATES:

Comments must be submitted on or before December 26, 2013.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mr. Robert Brogan, Office of Planning and Evaluation Division, RRS-21, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Mail Stop 25, Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: (202) 493-6292), or Ms. Kimberly Toone, Office of Information Technology, RAD-20, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Mail Stop 35, Washington, DC 20590 (telephone: (202) 493-6132). (These telephone numbers are not toll-free.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13, section 2, 109 Stat. 163 (1995) (codified as revised at 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, require Federal agencies to issue two notices seeking public comment on information collection activities before OMB may approve paperwork packages. 44 U.S.C. 3506, 3507; 5 CFR 1320.5, 1320.8(d)(1), 1320.12. On September 16, 2013, FRA published a 60-day notice in the Federal Register soliciting comment on ICRs that the agency was seeking OMB approval. 78 FR 56995. FRA received no comments in response to the information collection request (ICR) described in this notice.

Before OMB decides whether to approve these proposed collections of information, it must provide 30 days for public comment. 44 U.S.C. 3507(b); 5 CFR 1320.12(d). Federal law requires OMB to approve or disapprove paperwork packages between 30 and 60 days after the 30-day notice is published. 44 U.S.C. 3507(b)-(c); 5 CFR 1320.12(d); see also 60 FR 44978, 44983, Aug. 29, 1995. OMB believes that the 30-day notice informs the regulated community to file relevant comments and affords the agency adequate time to digest public comments before it renders a decision. 60 FR 44983, Aug. 29, 1995. Therefore, respondents should submit their respective comments to OMB within 30 days of publication to best ensure having their full effect. 5 CFR 1320.12(c); see also 60 FR 44983, Aug. 29, 1995.

The summary below describes the nature of the information collection request (ICR) and the expected burden. The revised request is being submitted for clearance by OMB as required by the PRA.

Title: Confidential Close Call Reporting System Evaluation-Related Interview Data Collection.

OMB Control Number: 2130-0574.

Type of Request: Extension with change of a currently approved collection.

Abstract: In the U.S. railroad industry, injury rates have been declining over the last 25 years. Indeed, the industry incident rate fell from a high of 12.1 incidents per 100 workers per year in 1978 to 3.66 in 1996. As the number of incidents has decreased, the mix of causes has also changed toward a higher proportion of incidents that can be attributed to human and organizational factors. This combination of trends—decrease in overall rates but increasing proportion of human factors-related incidents—has left safety managers with a need to shift tactics in reducing injuries to even lower rates than they are now.

In recognition of the need for new approaches to improving safety, FRA has instituted the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3 RS). The operating assumption behind C3 RS is that by assuring confidentiality, employees will report events which, if dealt with, will decrease the likelihood of accidents. C3 RS, therefore, has both a confidential reporting component, and a problem analysis/solution component. C3 RS is expected to affect safety in two ways. First, it will lead to problem solving concerning specific safety conditions. Second, it will engender an organizational culture and climate that supports greater awareness of safety and a greater cooperative willingness to improve safety.

If C3 RS works as intended, it could have an important impact on improving safety and safety culture in the railroad industry. While C3 RS has been developed and implemented with the participation of FRA, railroad labor, and railroad management, there are legitimate questions about whether it is being implemented in the most beneficial way, and whether it will have its intended effect. Further, even if C3 RS is successful, it will be necessary to know if it is successful enough to implement on a wide scale. To address these important questions, FRA is implementing a formative evaluation to guide program development, a summative evaluation to assess impact, and a sustainability evaluation to determine how C3 RS can continue after the test period is over. The evaluation is needed to provide FRA with guidance as to how it can improve the program, and how it might be scaled up throughout the railroad industry.

Program evaluation is an inherently data driven activity. Its basic tenet is that as change is implemented, data can be collected to track the course and consequences of the change. Because of the setting in which C3 RS is being implemented, that data must come from the railroad employees (labor and management) who may be affected. Critical data include beliefs about safety and issues related to safety, and opinions/observations about the operation of C3 RS.

The current study is a five-year demonstration project to improve rail safety, and is designed to identify safety issues and propose corrective action based on voluntary reports of close calls submitted to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Because of the innovative nature of this program, FRA is implementing an evaluation to determine whether the program is succeeding, how it can be improved and, if successful, what is needed to spread the program throughout the railroad industry. Interviews to evaluate the close call reporting system are being conducted with two groups: (1) Key stakeholders to the process (e.g., FRA officials, industry labor, and carrier management within participating railroads); and (2) Employees in participating railroads who are eligible to submit close call reports to the Confidential Close Call Reporting Start Printed Page 70399System. Different questions are addressed to each of these two groups. Interviews are semi-structured, with follow-up questions asked as appropriate depending on the respondent's initial answer.

The confidentiality of the interview data is protected by the Privacy Act of 1974. FRA fully complies with all laws pertaining to confidentiality, including the Privacy Act. Thus, information obtained by or acquired by FRA's contractor, the Volpe Center, from key stakeholders and railroad employees will be used strictly for evaluation purposes. None of the information that might be identifying will be disseminated or disclosed in any way. In addition, the participating railroad sites involved will require Volpe to establish a non-disclosure agreement that prohibits disclosure of company confidential information without the carrier's authorization. Also, the data are protected under the Department of Transportation regulation Title 49 CFR part 9, which is in part concerned with the Department involvement in proceedings between private litigants. According to this statute, if information is subpoenaed, Volpe and Volpe contractors cannot “provide testimony or produce any material contained in the files of the Department, or disclose any information or produce any material acquired as part of the performance of that employee's official duties or because of that employee's official duty status” unless authorized by agency counsel after determining that, in legal proceedings between private litigants, such testimony would be in the best interests of the Department or that of the United States Government if disclosed. Finally, the name of those interviewed will not be requested.

Form Number(s): FRA F 6180.126A; FRA F 6180.126B.

Affected Public: Railroad Employees and Key Non-railroad Stakeholders.

Annual Estimated Burden: 110 hours.

Addressee: Send comments regarding these information collections to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, 725 Seventeenth Street NW., Washington, DC 20503; Attention: FRA Desk Officer. Comments may also be sent via email to OMB at the following address: oira_submissions@omb.eop.gov.

Comments are invited on the following: Whether the proposed collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the functions of FRA, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of FRA's estimates of the burden of the proposed information collections; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collections of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

A comment to OMB is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

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Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520.

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Issued in Washington, DC, on November 20, 2013.

Rebecca Pennington,

Chief Financial Officer.

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[FR Doc. 2013-28165 Filed 11-22-13; 8:45 am]

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