May 11, 2021

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OMB Denies Request for CG TWIC Risk Assessment ICR

Yesterday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
(OIRA) announced
that it had rejected the Coast Guard’s new information collection request (ICR)
for their “Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Card Readers:
Updated Risk Analysis”. The reason for the rejection was that the CG improperly
submitted the new ICR. According to yesterday’s Notice:

“Terms of Clearance: Improperly
submitted. DHS will resubmit with an information collection instrument and
either a supporting statement B or an explanation of why such an analysis does
not require statistical methods.”

The ICR Notice

According to the 60-day ICR notice published
in the Federal Register
on August 3rd, 2020:

“The Coast Guard is conducting a
risk analysis to determine which maritime facilities subject to TWIC Reader
Rule would most benefit from the electronic TWIC inspection requirements. The
purpose of this information collection is to gather the necessary information
to conduct that analysis.”

The Coast Guard reported in that Notice that the respondents
to the information collection would be “Maritime facility owners, operators and
representatives”, and that the total time burden would be 600 hours. No burden
costs were mentioned in the Notice.

Receiving no comments on the 60-day ICR notice, the CG published
a nearly identical 30-day
ICR notice
on October 15th, 2020.

The ICR Submission

On October 29th the CG submitted a Supporting
Statement A
[.DOCX download link] providing the required justifications for
the ICR. That document, after a discussion of the background of the TWIC
Reader Rule
and the delays
in the implementation
of that Rule, describes the purpose of the new information
collection (page 2):

“The purpose of this collection of
information is to gather the necessary information to conduct the revised risk
analysis and population analysis.  Both
the HSOAC
assessment
[link added] and the
industry petition
[.PDF download link added] stated that the Coast Guard
underestimated the number of facilities that handle CDC in bulk and, in
particular, the number of facilities transferring CDC via non-maritime
means.  In addition, the 2016 TWIC Reader
rule also applied to facilities that receive vessels carrying bulk CDC but do not
transfer the bulk CDC to or from the vessel during the vessel-to-facility
interface.  These facilities were not
included in the original risk analysis for the 2016 TWIC Reader rule and,
therefore, the Coast Guard does not have an accurate population estimate for
these facilities.  The Coast Guard needs
an accurate estimate of the number of facilities subject to the TWIC Reader
rule to better identify which maritime facilities would benefit the most from
the rule.  The information gathered from
this collection of information would allow the Coast Guard to fill in gaps in
the data and increase the accuracy of estimating the impact of the TWIC Reader
rule.  The information necessary for this
effort is not currently gathered by Coast Guard inspectors, nor is it included
in facility security plans.”

The Supporting Statement goes on to explain:

“Given the nature of our collection
of information method—where responses to an interview question may require
follow-up and clarifying questions—the use of an online survey mechanism is not
feasible.  The Coast Guard will manually
collect information through semi-structured interviews.  To minimize the burden on respondents,
interviews will be conducted via phone or in person at the respondent’s
location.  We will create electronic
interview narratives from participants to code and use for our analysis.  We estimate that 75% of the interview will be
conducted via phone.”

The Statement also provides a more detailed burden estimate
(page 3):

• The estimated annual number of
respondents is 300. 

• The estimated annual number of
responses is 300. 

• The estimated annual hour burden
is 600. 

• The estimated annual cost burden
is $39,600. 

No information collection document (survey or list of
questions to be asked) was included in the submission to OIRA.

Commentary

The TWIC Reader Rule… the Grateful
Dead
probably described it best: “what a long, strange trip it’s been”.
Between the Coast Guard and the TSA there have been so many delays and missteps
in the design and implementation of the electronic TWIC readers that this
additional hiccup should probably have been expected.

The data collection documents are not (unfortunately)
typically made public as part of the ICR notice and comment process, so the
Coast Guard may be able to get away with publishing the survey question list
and resubmitting this ICR to OIRA without going back through that Federal
Register publication exercise. That and adding a brief explanation of why they
do not expect to “employ statistical methods” to the data collected will
probably allow OIRA to approve this ICR.

Then we can wait for another year or two for the CG to start
a new rulemaking clarifying the TWIC Reader Rule. Just keep on truckin….