[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 52 (Friday, March 17, 2006)]
[Pages 13848-13850]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E6-3937]



Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Modified OGE Form 450 
Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report (New First 
Round Notice)

AGENCY: Office of Government Ethics (OGE).

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: In August of 2005, the Office of Government Ethics published 
in the Federal Register a first round paperwork notice that it intended 
to modify the OGE Form 450 Executive Branch Confidential Financial 
Disclosure Report form, to improve its clarity and design, and to 
change in part the information that it collects. Because we received so 
many helpful comments in response to that notice, we have significantly 
redesigned the proposed new OGE Form 450 and are publishing another 
first round paperwork notice in order to provide a further comment 
period. After this additional first round notice and public comment 
period, OGE plans to submit a modified OGE Form 450 to the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for review and three-year extension of 
approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The modified OGE Form 450 
would be used for confidential disclosure financial disclosure 
reporting starting in 2007 under OGE's proposed amended executive 
branch regulations, once those regulatory revisions are finalized and 
become effective.

DATES: Comments by the public and agencies on this proposal are invited 
and should be received by May 31, 2006.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments to OGE on this paperwork notice by 
any of the following methods:
     E-mail: [email protected] (include reference to ``OGE Form 450 
Paperwork Comment'' in the subject line of the message).
     Fax: 202-482-9237.
     Mail, Hand Delivery/Courier: Office of Government Ethics, 
Suite 500, 1201 New York Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20005-3917, 
Attention: James V. Parle, Associate Director, Information Resources 
Management Division.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: James V. Parle, Associate Director, 
Information Resources Management Division, Office of Government Ethics; 
Telephone: 202-482-9300; TDD: 202-482-9293; Fax: 202-482-9237. A copy 
of the proposed further modified OGE Form 450 may be obtained, without 
charge, by contacting Mr. Parle.

0006) collects information from covered department and agency officials 
as required under OGE's executive branchwide regulatory provisions in 
subpart I of 5 CFR part 2634. The OGE Form 450 serves as the uniform 
report form for collection, on a confidential basis, of financial 
information required by the OGE regulation from covered new entrant and 
incumbent employees of Federal Government executive branch departments 
and agencies. Agency ethics officials then use the completed OGE Form 
450 reports to conduct conflict of interest reviews and to resolve any 
actual or potential conflicts identified.
    The basis for the OGE regulation and the report form is two-fold. 
First, section 201(d) of Executive Order 12674 of April 12, 1989 (as 
modified by Executive Order 12731 of October 17, 1990, 3 CFR, 1990 
Comp., pp. 306-311, at p. 308) makes OGE responsible for the 
establishment of a system of nonpublic (confidential) financial 
disclosure by executive branch employees to complement the system of 
public financial disclosure under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 
(the ``Ethics Act''), as amended, 5 U.S.C. appendix. Second, section 
107(a) of the Ethics Act, 5 U.S.C. app., sec. 107(a), further provides 
authority for OGE as the supervising ethics office for the executive 
branch of the Federal Government to require that appropriate executive 
agency employees file confidential financial disclosure reports, ``in 
such form as the supervising ethics office may prescribe.'' The OGE 
Form 450, and the underlying executive branchwide financial disclosure 
regulation (5 CFR part 2634), constitute the basic reporting system 
that OGE has prescribed for such confidential financial disclosure in 
the executive branch.

Proposed Further Modifications to the Form

    As noted above, in August of 2005, the Office of Government Ethics 
published a first round paperwork notice that it intended to modify the 
OGE Form 450 Executive Branch Confidential Financial Disclosure Report 
form, to improve its clarity and design, and to change in part the 
information that it collects. See 70 FR 47204-47206 (August 12, 2005). 
We also made our draft form as proposed to be modified available for 
public review and comment upon request. OGE received 18 agency comments 
on the proposed revised form, both in response to that paperwork notice 
and form-specific comments in response to the related proposed 
amendments to the confidential disclosure regulation noted below. Based 
thereon, OGE is now proposing further modifications to the OGE Form 
450's design and content, and publishing in the Federal Register this 
additional first round paperwork notice.
    As we noted in our first paperwork notice, the proposed 
modifications to the OGE Form 450 (both the previous and current 
drafts) are intended primarily to make it easier for filers to complete 
the form electronically. Modifications being proposed to the current 
version of the OGE Form 450 (9/02 edition) include changing the form 
layout from landscape to portrait. OGE expects to have a system in 
place by February 2007, not only for electronic completion of the new 
form but also for electronic filing.
    Regardless of whether the form is filed electronically, the 
proposed modifications also are intended to make completion of the OGE 
Form 450 easier overall, by simplifying the instructions and placing 
them on the same pages as the reporting schedules so that filers will 
not have to scroll through multiple screens to read directions. 
Moreover, contacting filers with follow-up questions would be 
facilitated by the addition of space for the filer's e-mail address.
    In response to concerns expressed about the length of the proposed 
modified form, we have decreased the number of pages from nine to five, 
or to one page if the filer has nothing to report. We did this, in 
part, by recombining the ``noninvestment income'' and the ``assets and 
investment income'' subparts into one part entitled

[[Page 13849]]

``Assets and Income''; moving all of the examples to one, removable 
page; and creating a removable cover page.
    In response to other concerns, we have moved the spaces designated 
for the filers' and reviewing officials' signatures from the last page 
to the first page of the form. In addition, we have modified the 
previous draft modified form by removing the column proposed in which 
the filer would have been required to check a box if the value of a 
reported stock exceeded $15,000 or if the value of a reported mutual 
fund exceeded $50,000. Some commenters noted that these boxes often 
would not assist reviewers in determining whether a filer's holdings 
would fall within the de minimis exemptions published at 5 CFR part 
2640. In many cases, a filer's holdings would have to be aggregated 
when applying the de minimis exemptions, so the reviewer still would 
have to contact the employee for additional information.
    Modifications proposed to the content of the OGE Form 450 parallel 
changes OGE has proposed to the executive branch confidential financial 
disclosure regulations in part 2634 of 5 CFR. Filers will be required 
to use the new version of the form once the regulatory revisions are 
finalized and become effective, which OGE anticipates will be on 
January 1, 2007. See OGE's proposed rule published on August 12, 2005 
at 70 FR 47138-47147. Generally, the regulatory revisions proposed 
include: Eliminating the reporting of diversified mutual funds, 
eliminating dates of honoraria, eliminating dates of agreements and 
arrangements (other than those for future employment), eliminating the 
reporting of types of income that assets earned (i.e., dividends, 
capital gains, interest, etc.), and revising reporting requirements 
relating to liabilities by eliminating the requirement to report 
student loans, mortgages on rental property, and credit card debt if 
the loans are granted on terms made available to the general public.
    OGE also is proposing to incorporate in the modified OGE Form 450 
the new aggregation threshold of more than $305 for the reporting of 
gifts and travel reimbursements. This new threshold is based on the 
General Services Administration's (GSA's) increase in ``minimal value'' 
under the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act to $305 or less for 2005-
2007, to which the thresholds are linked by the Ethics Act and OGE 
regulation. See GSA's redefinition at 70 FR 2317-2318 (pt. V) (January 
12, 2005), section 102(a)(2)(A) and (B) of the Ethics Act, OGE's 
regulatory adjustment of the gifts/reimbursements thresholds for both 
public and confidential financial disclosure reports at 70 FR 12111-
12112 (March 11, 2005), and OGE DAEOgram DO-05-007 of March 17, 2005, 
all available on OGE's Web site at www.usoge.gov. (When GSA next 
adjusts minimal value, OGE will accordingly adjust the gifts/
reimbursements reporting thresholds for the three-year period beyond 
    Finally, OGE is proposing to update the OGE Form 450's Privacy Act 
Statement summary of the sixth listed routine use (see OGE's notice of 
revised Privacy Act records systems as published at 68 FR 3097-3109 
(January 22, 2003), and routine use ``f'' at p. 3102 in particular).

Availability and Timing

    After it is finally updated and authorized for use next year, OGE 
will make the modified OGE Form 450 available to departments and 
agencies, and their reporting employees, through the Forms, 
Publications & Other Ethics Documents section of OGE's Web site 
(www.usoge.gov). We will maintain the current version of the form on 
the OGE Web site for the rest of 2006.
    As noted above, OGE does not intend that the modified OGE Form 450 
(once finalized) be utilized until 2007. Therefore, OGE will separately 
request from OMB an extension of paperwork clearance for the current 
version of the report form to allow its continued use for the remainder 
of 2006 and publish in the Federal Register a second round paperwork 
notice with respect to that requested extension. Thus, agencies should 
continue to have their new entrant confidential report filers, 
including special Government employees (SGEs) filing such reports upon 
their reappointment/redesignation or appointment anniversary dates, use 
the current version of the form throughout this year. After the 
forthcoming final clearance of the new modified version of the OGE Form 
450, agencies should require starting in 2007 both new entrant and 
annual incumbent confidential report filers to use the new version of 
the form.
    Furthermore, OGE plans to waive this fall's filing requirement as 
to annual fiscal year (FY05) incumbent reports using the current 
version of the OGE Form 450 that otherwise would be due by October 31, 
2006. Instead, we will require annual confidential filers to file the 
new modified form with their agencies by the new filing deadline of 
February 15, 2007. This first new report will incorporate a 15-month 
reporting period (from October 2005 through December 2006) in order to 
avoid any gap in reporting due to the transition from a fiscal year to 
a calendar year basis for annual reporting. Thereafter, the new annual 
confidential reports due each February will just cover the prior 
calendar year.

Effect on Use of Alternative Reports and OGE Optional Form 450-A

    Since 1992, various departments and agencies have developed, with 
OGE review/approval, alternative reporting formats such as certificates 
of no conflict for certain classes of employees. Other agencies provide 
for additional disclosures pursuant to independent organic statutes and 
in certain other circumstances when authorized by OGE. Moreover, in 
1997, OGE itself developed the OGE Optional Form 450-A (Confidential 
Certificate of No New Interests (Executive Branch)) for possible agency 
and confidential filer employee use in certain years, if applicable. 
That optional confidential form continues in use at various agencies 
throughout the executive branch. The authority to use these alternative 
systems, including the OGE Optional Form 450-A, would not be disturbed 
by OGE's proposed amendments to the confidential disclosure regulation 
or the modifications OGE is proposing to the OGE Form 450. For annual 
reporting, such alternative and optional forms should reflect the shift 
from a fiscal year to a calendar year basis once that change is 
instituted next year.
    OGE notes that the underlying OGE Form 450 itself remains the 
uniform executive branch report form for most of those executive branch 
employees required by their agencies to report confidentially on their 
financial interests.

Reporting Individuals

    The OGE Form 450 is to be filed by each reporting individual with 
the designated agency ethics official at the executive department or 
agency where he or she is or will be employed. Reporting individuals 
are regular employees whose positions have been designated by their 
agency under 5 CFR 2634.904 as requiring confidential financial 
disclosure in order to help avoid conflicts with their assigned 
responsibilities. Under that section, special Government employees are 
also generally required to file. Agencies may, if appropriate under the 
OGE regulation, exclude certain regular employees or SGEs as provided 
in 5 CFR 2634.905 (Sec.  2634.904(b) of the regulation as proposed for 
revision.) Reports are normally required to be filed within 30 days of 
entering a covered position (or earlier if required by the agency

[[Page 13850]]

concerned), and again annually if the employee serves for more than 60 
days in the position.
    Most of the persons who file this report are current executive 
branch Government employees at the time they complete their report. 
However, some filers are private citizens who are asked by their 
prospective agencies to file new entrant reports prior to entering 
Government service in order to permit advance checking for any 
potential conflicts of interest and resolution thereof by recusal, 
divestiture, waiver, etc.

Reporting Burden

    Based on OGE's annual agency ethics program questionnaire responses 
for 2002 through 2004, OGE estimates that an average of approximately 
277,215 OGE Form 450 reports will be filed each year for the next three 
years throughout the executive branch. This estimate is based on the 
number of reports filed branchwide for 2002 through 2004 (272,755 in 
2002, 263,463 in 2003, and 295,426 in 2004) for a total of 831,644, 
with that number then divided by three and rounded, to give the 
projected annual average of 277,215 reports. Of these reports, OGE 
estimates that 7.6 percent, or some 21,068 per year, will be filed by 
private citizens. Private citizen filers are those potential (incoming) 
regular employees whose positions are designated for confidential 
disclosure filing as well as potential special Government employees 
whose agencies require that they file their new entrant reports prior 
to assuming Government responsibilities. No termination reports are 
required for the OGE Form 450.
    Each filing is estimated to take an average of one and one-half 
hours to complete. This yields an annual reporting burden of 31,602 
hours. OGE previously has published an estimate of only 15 hours 
because we were not previously required by OMB to make a branchwide 
estimate, and 15 hours is the applicable regulatory minimum. The 
current burden hours therefore account for private citizen filers whose 
reports were filed each year only with OGE itself. In the past, the 
number of private citizens whose reports were filed each year with OGE 
itself was less than 10, but pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.3(c)(4)(i), the 
lower limit for this general regulatory-based requirement is set at 10 
private persons. Thus, OGE reported the current annual burden of 15 
hours. The proposed estimate of burden hours includes private citizen 
reports filed with departments and agencies throughout the executive 
branch (including OGE).

Consideration of Comments

    As noted, public comment is again invited, this time particularly 
on the proposed further modified OGE Form 450 summarized in this notice 
and available without charge from OGE upon request (see the For Further 
Information Contact section above). In accordance with the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35), public comments are 
invited specifically on the need for and practical utility of this 
proposed modified collection of information, the accuracy of OGE's 
burden estimate, the enhancement of quality, utility and clarity of the 
information collected, and the minimization of burden (including the 
use of information technology).
    The Office of Government Ethics is planning to submit to OMB, after 
this notice and comment period, a modified OGE Form 450 for three-year 
approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act. OGE especially invites 
comments on the further changes to the proposed modified OGE Form 450 
that are intended to make it easier for filers to complete and for 
agencies to review. Comments received in response to this notice will 
be summarized for, and may be included with, OGE's future request for 
OMB paperwork approval for the proposed modified OGE Form 450. Any 
comments received will also become a matter of public record. After 
reviewing any comments and deciding on the proposed modifications to 
the OGE Form 450, OGE will also publish a second paperwork notice in 
the Federal Register to inform the agencies and the public at the time 
it submits the request for OMB paperwork approval.

    Approved: March 14, 2006.
Marilyn L. Glynn,
Acting Director, Office of Government Ethics.
[FR Doc. E6-3937 Filed 3-16-06; 8:45 am]