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Commission Issues Regulatory Reform Priorities Plan

January 12, 2018

The Federal Maritime Commission today released a plan that identifies regulations under its purview that are currently suitable for reform or elimination, and establishes a schedule in which to consider further action on each of the items.

The "Plan for Regulatory Reform of Existing FMC Rules" is the product of the Commission’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, which was established on March 13, 2017, and charged with identifying burdensome, unnecessary, and outdated directives and recommending how they should be remedied. Since last spring, the Regulatory Reform Task Force has undertaken a comprehensive examination of Commission rules and regulations, soliciting the views of the public as part of the process, resulting in the release of today’s strategy for reducing compliance requirements.

The plan outlines the steps to systematically review key regulations under the Commission’s authority for provisions that may be burdensome and no longer necessary to meet the agency’s obligations under the Shipping Act.

"I am pleased with the progress the Regulatory Reform Task Force has made since its launch. In what amounts to a very short period of time, they have established a meaningful list of administrative and regulatory provisions that if amended or eliminated, will result in making it easier for companies to do business while permitting the Commission to maintain competition and integrity for America’s ocean supply chain," said Acting Chairman Michael A. Khouri.

Each of the items identified as potential reform initiatives will require detailed review by staff working groups with the goal of initiating individual rulemakings. As part of the rulemaking process, public comments will be solicited before further review and analysis is conducted by staff, and a recommendation for consideration by the full Commission is made.

Work on regulatory reform under the plan has already begun. The Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on November 29, 2017 soliciting comments on a plan to amend its rules governing NVOCC Service Arrangements (NSA) and NVOCC Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRA), making them easier for shippers to use. Comments on that docket are due to the Commission no later than January 29, 2018.

In March 2017, the Commission issued a final rule in Docket 16-05 that significantly reduced regulatory compliance requirements for Service Contracts and NVOCC Service Arrangements in several ways. Most significantly, parties to Service Contracts and NSAs were provided with the ability to allow an amendment to a contract to go into effect upon agreement. Previously, changes to contracts had to be filed at the Commission before becoming effective. The final rule also extends the time in which parties can make corrections to data filed erroneously due to transmission errors, and provides more time to file a service contract correction request.

In February 2017, the Commission transitioned to an online renewal process for Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) licenses and foreign registered Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs), reducing the time and effort required for these regulated entities to meet their compliance obligations.

The Commission’s Regulation Reform Plan follows.

46 CFR Part Heading Action Review Timeframe (Calendar years)
Part 531 NVOCC Service Arrangements Review and modify to remove outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations or costs Status: Docket No. 17-10 NPRM publication 11/30/2017; comments due 1/29/2018
Part 532 NVOCC Negotiated Rate Arrangements
Part 506 Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Review and update consistent with OMB guidance.

Status: To be completed by Direct Final Rule by 1/15/2018

Annual updates required by January 15. Last updated in Docket No. 17-01, effective 2/15/17

Part 535 Ocean Common Carrier and Marine Terminal Operator Agreements Subject to the Shipping Act of 1984 Review and modify to remove outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations or costs Status: January 2018, Recommendations to Commission for consideration
Part 504 Procedures for Environmental Policy Analysis Review and update consistent with NEPA and CEQ guidance Status: Review and update in 2018
Part 515 Licensing, Financial Responsibility Requirements, and General Duties for Ocean Transportation Intermediaries Review and modify to remove outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations or costs Status: 2018 Review and modify
Part 540 Passenger Vessel Financial Responsibility Review for modification or repeal Status: 2019 Review for modification or repeal
Part 520 Carrier Automated Tariffs Review and modify to remove outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations or costs Status: 2019 Review and modify
Part 525 Marine Terminal Operator Schedules Review and modify to remove outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations or costs Status: 2019 Review and modify
Part 530 Service Contracts Review and modify to remove outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations or costs

Status: 2019 Review and modify

Modifications last completed in Docket 16-05, effective 5/5/2017, updating Effective date & Implementation/ Filing Requirements/ Amendments, Correction, Cancellation, and Electronic Transmission Errors regulations