Saturday, April 10, 2021

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.


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….

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