Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Today the Transportation Security Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register (77 FR 35343-35349) concerning the establishment of fees for the security threat assessments (STAs) that serve as the basis for the fees for such identification credentials as the Transportations Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) and the Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME).

Currently the TSA is required to collect fees for the issuance of TWICs and HMEs that cover the cost of the STAs. These fees are currently written into the appropriate regulations; 49 CFR §1572.403, §1572.405, and §1572.501. TSA is proposing to remove the fee amount listing from the CFR and establish a requirement to publish changes to the fee schedule in the Federal Register.

TSA explains the reason for making this change in this way:

“Absent the ability to amend fees through notice rather than rulemaking, TSA is less likely to make timely changes to fees when associated costs change, such as contracts or vendor pricing, and when such changes are made, there is an increased likelihood that they would be more dramatic. Amending fees through notice would allow for more incremental changes and reduce the risk of TSA suspending issuance of credentials to meet HME or TWIC program requirements or decreasing services until a rule change is completed to reflect the new fee amount.” (77 FR 35347)

No Significant Economic Impact

TSA further explains that because this is an ‘administrative’ change making no changes in the procedures that private entities will be following that they certify “that this rulemaking would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. However, TSA invites comments from members of the public who believe there would be a significant impact” (77 FR 35348).

Of course this does not address the potential for more frequent fee changes. Since most of these changes will be increases (Has a government agency ever reduced fees?) in fees and many employers actually pay the TWIC and HME fees, this could result in a ‘significant’ increase in costs.

Public Comment

TSA is soliciting public comment on this NPRM. Comments must be filed by July 30th. Comments can be filed via the Federal eRulemaking Portal (; Docket Number TSA-2004-19605).


John C. W. Bennett said...


The answer to your question “Has a government agency ever reduced fees?” is yes. On December 20, 2011, the FBI published a $2.75 reduction in the cost of finger-print-based Criminal History Record Information checks, effective March 19, 2012. This prompted TSA to announce, sometime before the end of January 2012, that the cost of both TWICs and HMEs would also drop by that amount, as of that date in March.

FBI Federal Register Notice:

TSA Announcement:


Laurie Thomas said...

PJ, thank you for your usual insightful post. I have no doubt that TSA will be granted this "administrative change." "Through notice rather than through rulemaking" is a significant phrase. It indicates the dilemma that agencies find themselves in with these current times. If only the most urgent regulations will pass by the hatchet of OMB, agencies have to find other tools to make needed changes. But those other tools don't come with the safeguards and processes that accompany the regulatory procedure. We are handing over the people's power to the agencies; it behooves us then not to yell and scream if the agencies do what they have to do to get the train moving down the tracks.

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