[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 18 (Monday, January 29, 2007)]
[Pages 4012-4013]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-1317]

[[Page 4012]]



Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB 
Review; Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Unmodified SF 278 
Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial Disclosure Report

AGENCY: Office of Government Ethics (OGE).

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Office of Government Ethics is publishing this second 
round notice and requesting comment on an unmodified Standard Form (SF) 
278 for extension of approval for three years by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. OGE is 
making no changes to the form at this time. As in the past, OGE will 
ask agencies to notify SF 278 filers of two updates to the information 
contained in the existing SF 278.

DATES: Written comments by the public and the agencies on this proposed 
extension are invited and must be received by February 28, 2007.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Brenda Aguilar, OMB Desk Officer 
for OGE, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of 
Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10235, 
Washington, DC 20503; Telephone: 202-395-7316; FAX: 202-395-6974.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul D. Ledvina, Records Officer, 
Information Resources Management Division at the Office of Government 
Ethics; Telephone: 202-482-9281; TDD: 202-482-9293; FAX: 202-482-9237; 
E-mail: [email protected]. A copy of a blank SF 278 may be obtained, 
without charge, by contacting Mr. Ledvina. Also, a copy of a blank SF 
278 is available through the Forms, Publications & Other Ethics 
Documents section of OGE's Web site at http://www.usoge.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Office of Government Ethics intends to 
submit, shortly after publication of this notice, the unmodified 
Standard Form 278 Executive Branch Personnel Public Financial 
Disclosure Report (OMB control number 3209-0001) for extension of 
approval for three years by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). The current paperwork approval for the SF 
278 expires at the end of February 2007 (the clearance will be further 
extended during OMB review once OGE submits the complete package 
requesting renewed paperwork clearance of the SF 278 to OMB). The 
Office of Government Ethics, as the supervising ethics office for the 
executive branch of the Federal Government under the Ethics in 
Government Act (the Ethics Act), is the sponsoring agency for the 
Standard Form 278. OGE will not request General Services Administration 
(GSA) standard forms clearance for this extension because no 
modification to this standard form is proposed.
    In accordance with section 102 of the Ethics Act, 5 U.S.C. app. 
section 102, and OGE's implementing financial disclosure regulations at 
5 CFR part 2634, the SF 278 collects pertinent financial information 
from certain officers and high-level employees in the executive branch 
on an annual basis and once they terminate their reportable positions, 
for conflicts of interest review and public disclosure. The SF 278 is 
also completed by individuals who are nominated by the President for 
high-level executive branch positions requiring Senate confirmation, 
new entrants to other public reporting positions in the executive 
branch, and candidates for U.S. President and Vice President. The 
financial information collected under the statute and regulations 
relates to: Assets and income; transactions; gifts, reimbursements and 
travel expenses; liabilities; agreements or arrangements; outside 
positions; and compensation over $5,000 paid by a source other than the 
U.S. Government--all subject to various reporting thresholds and 

Current Version of the SF 278

    The Office of Government Ethics is proposing no modifications to 
the SF 278 at this time. OGE will continue to make the unmodified SF 
278 available to departments and agencies and their reporting employees 
through the Forms, Publications & Other Ethics Documents section of 
OGE's Web site. This provides filers with two electronic options for 
preparing their report on a computer (as well as a downloadable blank 
form). There is also a link on the OGE Web site to another electronic 
version of the SF 278 maintained by the Department of Defense. In 
addition, GSA separately maintains two electronic versions of the form 
on its Web site (http://www.gsa.gov).
    The Office of Government Ethics has determined that at this time, 
electronic filing of the SF 278 using an Internet-based system will not 
be permitted. A printout and manual signature of the form are still 
required unless otherwise specifically approved by OGE.

Agency Notification of Updates

    There are two ways in which the content of the current SF 278 
report form is affected. The first concerns adjustments in the gifts/
reimbursements reporting thresholds. The second involves revised 
routine use language contained in the Privacy Act Statement of the 
form. OGE is proposing no revisions to the SF 278, but will continue to 
ask executive branch departments and agencies to inform SF 278 filers, 
through cover memorandum or otherwise, of these two updates when the 
existing March 2000 edition of the SF 278 report forms are provided for 
completion. See OGE's August 25, 2003 memorandum to designated agency 
ethics officials (DO-03-015), posted in the ``DAEOgrams'' section of 
the OGE Web site. Information regarding these changes is also posted 
along with the SF 278 in the forms section of OGE's Web site. In 
addition, OGE will post on its Web site an updated summary of one of 
the Privacy Act routine uses on the report form (see discussion below).

Gifts/Reimbursements Reporting Thresholds

    Every three years OGE issues final rule amendments that revise the 
executive branch financial disclosure regulation to increase the 
aggregation and exception thresholds for reporting of gifts, 
reimbursements and travel expenses for the public and confidential 
report systems. See 5 U.S.C. app. section 102(a)(2)(A) & (B). The OGE 
aggregation threshold provides a limit below which the total value of 
gifts and reimbursements received from a source is not reportable. The 
exception threshold limits the value of individual gifts and 
reimbursements that must be counted toward the aggregation threshold.
    OGE's threshold adjustments are tied to the ``minimal value'' 
threshold of the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, as determined by 
GSA under 5 U.S.C. 7342. Since 2002, OGE has asked agencies to notify 
filers of the SF 278 of the updated adjustments to the reporting 
thresholds for gifts and reimbursements. Effective January 1, 2005, GSA 
raised the ``minimal value'' threshold under 5 U.S.C. 7342 to $305 or 
less for the three-year period 2005-2007. See 70 FR 2317-2318 (part V) 
(January 12, 2005). Following GSA's action, OGE advised agencies of the 
adjusted thresholds and revised its financial disclosure regulation to 
reflect the increase in the thresholds for SF 278 reporting of gifts 
and travel reimbursements received from any one source to ``more than 
$305'' for the aggregation level for reporting and to ``$122 or less'' 
for the de minimis aggregation exception threshold. See the March 17, 
2005 OGE memorandum to

[[Page 4013]]

designated agency ethics officials (DO-05-007) and 70 FR 12111-12112 
(March 11, 2005). Both GSA and OGE rulemakings and OGE's memorandum are 
posted on the OGE Web site.

Privacy Act Statement

    In addition, OGE has updated the OGE/GOVT-1 Privacy Act system of 
records notice (covering SF 278 Public Financial Disclosure Reports and 
other name-retrieved ethics program records). See 68 FR 3097-3109 
(January 22, 2003), as corrected at 68 FR 24744 (May 8, 2003). As a 
result, the Privacy Act Statement, which includes summaries of the 
routine uses on page 11 of the instructions on the SF 278, is affected. 
As explained in the above-noted OGE memorandum DO-03-015 and the SF 278 
notice posted on OGE's Web site, the system notice update added three 
new routine uses applicable to SF 278 reports. Moreover, OGE will also 
ask agencies to inform filers of an update needed to the summary of the 
sixth listed routine use on the form in their periodic notifications to 
filers of changes to the SF 278. See revised routine use ``h'' at 68 FR 
3100 for the OGE/GOVT-1 records system notice. OGE has already updated 
that same sixth routine use summary for three of its other forms, the 
OGE Form 201, the OGE Form 450, and the OGE Optional Form 450-A. These 
forms are posted in the forms section of the OGE Web site. A summary of 
the updates relevant to that SF 278 statement will be included with the 
paperwork clearance submission to OMB.

SF 278 Filers

    The SF 278 is completed by candidates, nominees, new entrants, 
incumbents and terminees of certain high-level positions in the 
executive branch of the Federal Government. These reports are routinely 
reviewed by the agencies concerned. The Office of Government Ethics, 
along with the agencies concerned, conducts the review of the SF 278 
reports of Presidential nominees subject to Senate confirmation and 
incumbents in and terminees from such positions.

Reporting Burden

    The Office of Government Ethics estimates, based on the agency 
ethics program questionnaire responses for 2003-2005, that an average 
of some 23,971 SF 278 report forms are filed annually at departments 
and agencies throughout the executive branch. (Questionnaire responses 
for 2006 are not yet available.) Most of those executive branch filers 
are current Federal employees at the time they file. However, OGE 
estimates that approximately 2,475, or just over 10.3 percent, of the 
branchwide total of SF 278 filers over each of the next three years 
(2007-2009) will be members of the public. This annual estimate 
includes: (a) Private citizen Presidential nominees to executive branch 
positions subject to Senate confirmation (and their private 
representatives--lawyers, accountants, brokers and bankers); (b) other 
private citizen prospective new entrants to such reportable positions; 
(c) those who file termination reports (or combination annual and 
termination reports) from such positions after their Government service 
ends; and (d) Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. The OGE 
estimate includes an anticipated total of some 3,900 SF 278 reports 
(which yields an annualized average of 1,300 per year) that will be 
filed in connection with the fall 2008 Presidential election and 
following transition. In OGE's first round SF 278 paperwork notice 
(noted below), the statistics OGE used to compute the reporting burden 
on the public over the next three years mistakenly omitted the 
estimated additional private citizen filers expected during the 
forthcoming Presidential election/transition.
    The estimated average amount of time to complete the report form, 
including review of the instructions and gathering of needed 
information, remains the same as previously reported, at three hours. 
Thus, the overall estimated annual public burden for the SF 278 for the 
private citizen/representative nominee and terminee report forms 
processed in executive branch agencies, and those report forms 
processed by the OGE, including private citizen Presidential and Vice 
Presidential candidates report forms, is 7,425 hours (rather than the 
3,525 hours as mistakenly indicated in the first round notice).
    The current average yearly paperwork hour burden for the SF 278 
form, based on OGE's prior 2003 annual estimate for the 2003-2005 
period, is 1,347 hours. This burden estimate was based upon an 
anticipated annual average of 449 SF 278 report forms (x 3 hours per 
form) to be received at OGE only from private citizen/representative 
nominee and terminee filers, plus Presidential and Vice Presidential 
candidates whose report forms are also reviewed by OGE. OGE's new 
annual burden estimate for the 2007-2009 period has been adjusted to 
cover private citizen SF 278 filers anticipated throughout the 
executive branch, in accordance with updated OMB guidance for such a 
branchwide form.

Consideration of Comments

    On November 3, 2006, OGE published a first round notice of its 
intent to request paperwork clearance for the proposed unmodified SF 
278. See 71 FR 64708-64710. OGE received only one response to that 
notice, which was critical of the Government, and provided no specific 
comment about the SF 278 form. One other person requested a copy of the 
    In this second notice, public comment is again invited on the SF 
278 Public Financial Disclosure Report as set forth in this notice, 
including specifically views on the need for and practical utility of 
this collection of information, the accuracy of OGE's burden estimate, 
the potential for enhancement of the quality, utility and clarity of 
the information collected, and the minimization of burden (including 
the use of information technology). The Office of Government Ethics, in 
consultation with OMB, will consider all comments received, which will 
become a matter of public record.

    Approved: January 23, 2007.
Robert I. Cusick,
Director, Office of Government Ethics.
[FR Doc. E7-1317 Filed 1-26-07; 8:45 am]