Monday, August 14, 2017

OMB Approves PHMSA Shipping Papers ICR Revision

Last Friday the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affair approved the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) information collection request (ICR) revision supporting requirements for hazardous material shipping papers and emergency response information. This ICR was filed in support of the most recent international harmonization of PHMSA hazardous material shipping regulations.

According to the abstract included in the recent notice, the ICR made the following changes to the ICR burden:

“This rulemaking reduced the burden to shippers by removing the requirement to provide a lithium battery handling document when shipping smaller lithium cells and batteries. While the rulemaking decreased the burden overall, the requirement that shippers communicate prototype or low production run battery shipments on a shipping paper resulted in an increase. The rulemaking also added new marine pollutant entries in Appendix B of § 172.101.”

While OIRA did not require any changes to the approved ICR, they did put PHMSA on notice about additional requirements that would be necessary for the next renewal of this ICR next spring. They noted that:

If PHMSA has not published a regulatory notice in the Federal Register seeking public comment on paperless hazard communication by the time PHMSA must publish a 60 day notice to extend OMB approval of this collection, PHMSA should include at least the following information in the 60 and 30 day notices for extending approval of this collection, in addition to the standard information required by the PRA:

• Identification and explanation of any technical and other barriers to paperless hazard communication by mode and environment (e.g., rural, urban) if applicable, and requests for public comment on ways to address those barriers;
• Identification and explanation of any safety problems associated with paperless hazard communication that are not present with paper-based hazard communication;
• Identification of safety, business and any other benefits associated with paperless hazard communication, by mode if possible; and
• At least rough estimates of the potential burden and cost reduction from fully allowing paperless hazard communication, by mode if possible, the methodology/inputs for the estimates, and request public comment on those estimates.

PHMSA will probably have to publish the 60-day ICR notice in the next couple of months to be able to get the comment period and time to review the responses before it becomes necessary to publish the 30-day notice before April 30th, 2018.


This is not the first time that the Trump Administration’s OIRA has provided instructions to regulators to proactively move to electronic submission of information. This continues a regulatory theme that we have been seeing for the last couple of administrations. Not only will the electronic data collection reduce the data handling costs for the government, but it should provide at least some time burden reduction for industry.

As with my earlier post this morning, I do have some concerns about the cybersecurity protections for the data exchange process. If the data is submitted via email (a not very effective form of electronic data submission), this would provide a large number of emails (with attachments) from probably unauthenticated and unknown senders; a very sure method of increasing the general attack surface at PHMSA.

If, on the other hand, the data is directly provided to the database via a public web page, the security of that data can be subverted if the cybersecurity of the database (and the submission page) has not been properly implemented. More importantly, the cybersecurity protections need to be included in the design of the application and periodically reviewed and updated. This is an additional cost associated with electronic data submission that appears to be at least some what overlooked in the discussion of paperless government innovations.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */