[Federal Register: February 25, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 37)]
[Notices]               
[Page 10071-10073]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr25fe08-125]                         

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PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION

 
Submission of Information Collection for OMB Review; Comment 
Request; Multiemployer Plan Regulations

AGENCY: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION: Notice of request for OMB approval.

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SUMMARY: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) is requesting that 
the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approve, under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act, collections of information in PBGC's regulations on 
multiemployer plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act 
of 1974 (ERISA). This notice informs the public of PBGC's request and 
solicits public comment on the collections of information.

DATES: Comments should be submitted by March 26, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk 
Officer for Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, via electronic mail 
at OIRA_DOCKET@omb.eop.gov or by fax to (202) 395-6974.
    Copies of the collection of information may also be obtained 
without charge by writing to the Disclosure Division of the Office of 
the General Counsel of PBGC at the above address or by visiting the 
Disclosure Division or calling 202-326-4040 during normal business 
hours. (TTY and TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free 
at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4040.) PBGC's 
regulations on multiemployer plans may be accessed on PBGC's Web site 
at http://www.pbgc.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Donald F. McCabe, Attorney, 
Legislative and Regulatory Department, Pension Benefit Guaranty 
Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, 202-326-
4024. (For TTY/TDD users, call the Federal relay service toll-free at 
1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4024.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a 
person is not required to respond to, a collection of information 
unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. OMB has 
approved and issued control numbers for the collections of information, 
described below, in PBGC's regulations relating to multiemployer plans 
(OMB approvals expire March 31, 2008). The collections of information 
for

[[Page 10072]]

which PBGC is requesting extension of OMB approval are as follows:

1. Termination of Multiemployer Plans (29 CFR Part 4041A) (OMB Control 
Number 1212-0020)

    Section 4041A(f)(2) of ERISA authorizes PBGC to prescribe reporting 
requirements for and other ``rules and standards for the administration 
of'' terminated multiemployer plans. Section 4041A(c) and (f)(1) of 
ERISA prohibit the payment by a mass-withdrawal-terminated plan of lump 
sums greater than $1,750 or of nonvested plan benefits unless 
authorized by PBGC.
    The regulation requires the plan sponsor of a terminated plan to 
submit a notice of termination to PBGC. It also requires the plan 
sponsor of a mass-withdrawal-terminated plan that is closing out to 
give notices to participants regarding the election of alternative 
forms of benefit distribution and, if the plan is not closing out, to 
obtain PBGC approval to pay lump sums greater than $1,750 or to pay 
nonvested plan benefits.
    PBGC uses the information in a notice of termination to assess the 
likelihood that PBGC financial assistance will be needed. Plan 
participants and beneficiaries use the information on alternative forms 
of benefit to make personal financial decisions. PBGC uses the 
information in an application for approval to pay lump sums greater 
than $1,750 or to pay nonvested plan benefits to determine whether such 
payments should be permitted.
    PBGC estimates that plan sponsors each year (1) submit notices of 
termination for 10 plans, (2) distribute election notices to 
participants in 5 of those plans, and (3) submit requests to pay 
benefits or benefit forms not otherwise permitted for 1 of those plans. 
The estimated annual burden of the collection of information is 19.2 
hours and $16,363.

2. Extension of Special Withdrawal Liability Rules (29 CFR Part 4203) 
(OMB Control Number 1212-0023)

    Sections 4203(f) and 4208(e)(3) of ERISA allow PBGC to permit a 
multiemployer plan to adopt special rules for determining whether a 
withdrawal from the plan has occurred, subject to PBGC approval.
    The regulation specifies the information that a plan that adopts 
special rules must submit to PBGC about the rules, the plan, and the 
industry in which the plan operates. PBGC uses the information to 
determine whether the rules are appropriate for the industry in which 
the plan functions and do not pose a significant risk to the insurance 
system.
    PBGC estimates that at most 1 plan sponsor submits a request each 
year under this regulation. The estimated annual burden of the 
collection of information is 1 hour and $5,600.

3. Variances for Sale of Assets (29 CFR Part 4204) (OMB Control Number 
1212-0021)

    If an employer's covered operations or contribution obligation 
under a plan ceases, the employer must generally pay withdrawal 
liability to the plan. Section 4204 of ERISA provides an exception, 
under certain conditions, where the cessation results from a sale of 
assets. Among other things, the buyer must furnish a bond or escrow, 
and the sale contract must provide for secondary liability of the 
seller.
    The regulation establishes general variances (rules for avoiding 
the bond/escrow and sale-contract requirements) and authorizes plans to 
determine whether the variances apply in particular cases. It also 
allows buyers and sellers to request individual variances from PBGC. 
Plans and PBGC use the information to determine whether employers 
qualify for variances.
    PBGC estimates that each year, 11 employers submit, and 11 plans 
respond to, variance requests under the regulation, and 2 employers 
submit variance requests to PBGC. The estimated annual burden of the 
collection of information is 2.75 hours and $6,213.

4. Reduction or Waiver of Complete Withdrawal Liability (29 CFR Part 
4207) (OMB Control Number 1212-0044)

    Section 4207 of ERISA allows PBGC to provide for abatement of an 
employer's complete withdrawal liability, and for plan adoption of 
alternative abatement rules, where appropriate.
    Under the regulation, an employer applies to a plan for an 
abatement determination, providing information the plan needs to 
determine whether withdrawal liability should be abated, and the plan 
notifies the employer of its determination. The employer may, pending 
plan action, furnish a bond or escrow instead of making withdrawal 
liability payments, and must notify the plan if it does so. When the 
plan then makes its determination, it must so notify the bonding or 
escrow agent.
    The regulation also permits plans to adopt their own abatement 
rules and request PBGC approval. PBGC uses the information in such a 
request to determine whether the amendment should be approved.
    PBGC estimates that each year, 100 employers submit, and 100 plans 
respond to, applications for abatement of complete withdrawal 
liability, and 1 plan sponsor requests approval of plan abatement rules 
from PBGC. The estimated annual burden of the collection of information 
is 25.5 hours and $35,000.

5. Reduction or Waiver of Partial Withdrawal Liability (29 CFR Part 
4208) (OMB Control Number 1212-0039)

    Section 4208 of ERISA provides for abatement, in certain 
circumstances, of an employer's partial withdrawal liability and 
authorizes PBGC to issue additional partial withdrawal liability 
abatement rules.
    Under the regulation, an employer applies to a plan for an 
abatement determination, providing information the plan needs to 
determine whether withdrawal liability should be abated, and the plan 
notifies the employer of its determination. The employer may, pending 
plan action, furnish a bond or escrow instead of making withdrawal 
liability payments, and must notify the plan if it does so. When the 
plan then makes its determination, it must so notify the bonding or 
escrow agent.
    The regulation also permits plans to adopt their own abatement 
rules and request PBGC approval. PBGC uses the information in such a 
request to determine whether the amendment should be approved.
    PBGC estimates that each year, 1,000 employers submit, and 1,000 
plans respond to, applications for abatement of partial withdrawal 
liability and 1 plan sponsor requests approval of plan abatement rules 
from PBGC. The estimated annual burden of the collection of information 
is 250.5 hours and $350,000.

6. Allocating Unfunded Vested Benefits to Withdrawing Employers (29 CFR 
Part 4211) (OMB Control Number 1212-0035)

    Section 4211(c)(5)(A) of ERISA requires PBGC to prescribe how plans 
can, with PBGC approval, change the way they allocate unfunded vested 
benefits to withdrawing employers for purposes of calculating 
withdrawal liability.
    The regulation prescribes the information that must be submitted to 
PBGC by a plan seeking such approval. PBGC uses the information to 
determine how the amendment changes the way the plan allocates unfunded 
vested

[[Page 10073]]

benefits and how it will affect the risk of loss to plan participants 
and PBGC.
    PBGC estimates that 7 plan sponsors submit approval requests each 
year under this regulation. The estimated annual burden of the 
collection of information is 14 hours.

7. Notice, Collection, and Redetermination of Withdrawal Liability (29 
CFR Part 4219) (OMB Control Number 1212-0034)

    Section 4219(c)(1)(D) of ERISA requires that PBGC prescribe 
regulations for the allocation of a plan's total unfunded vested 
benefits in the event of a ``mass withdrawal.'' ERISA section 4209(c) 
deals with an employer's liability for de minimis amounts if the 
employer withdraws in a ``substantial withdrawal.''
    The reporting requirements in the regulation give employers notice 
of a mass withdrawal or substantial withdrawal and advise them of their 
rights and liabilities. They also provide notice to PBGC so that it can 
monitor the plan, and they help PBGC assess the possible impact of a 
withdrawal event on participants and the multiemployer plan insurance 
program.
    PBGC estimates that there is at most 1 mass withdrawal and 1 
substantial withdrawal per year. The plan sponsor of a plan subject to 
a withdrawal covered by the regulation provides notices of the 
withdrawal to PBGC and to employers covered by the plan, liability 
assessments to the employers, and a certification to PBGC that 
assessments have been made. (For a mass withdrawal, there are 2 
assessments and 2 certifications that deal with 2 different types of 
liability. For a substantial withdrawal, there is 1 assessment and 1 
certification (combined with the withdrawal notice to PBGC).) The 
estimated annual burden of the collection of information is 4 hours and 
$9,095.

8. Procedures for PBGC Approval of Plan Amendments (29 CFR Part 4220) 
(OMB Control Number 1212-0031)

    Under section 4220 of ERISA, a plan may within certain limits adopt 
special plan rules regarding when a withdrawal from the plan occurs and 
how the withdrawing employer's withdrawal liability is determined. Any 
such special rule is effective only if, within 90 days after receiving 
notice and a copy of the rule, PBGC either approves or fails to 
disapprove the rule.
    The regulation provides rules for requesting PBGC's approval of an 
amendment. PBGC needs the required information to identify the plan, 
evaluate the risk of loss, if any, posed by the plan amendment, and 
determine whether to approve or disapprove the amendment.
    PBGC estimates that 3 plan sponsors submit approval requests per 
year under this regulation. The estimated annual burden of the 
collection of information is 1.5 hours.

9. Mergers and Transfers Between Multiemployer Plans (29 CFR Part 4231) 
(OMB Control Number 1212-0022)

    Section 4231(a) and (b) of ERISA requires plans that are involved 
in a merger or transfer to give PBGC 120 days' notice of the 
transaction and provides that if PBGC determines that specified 
requirements are satisfied, the transaction will be deemed not to be in 
violation of ERISA section 406(a) or (b)(2) (dealing with prohibited 
transactions).
    This regulation sets forth the procedures for giving notice of a 
merger or transfer under section 4231 and for requesting a 
determination that a transaction complies with section 4231.
    PBGC uses information submitted by plan sponsors under the 
regulation to determine whether mergers and transfers conform to the 
requirements of ERISA section 4231 and the regulation.
    PBGC estimates that there are 35 transactions each year for which 
plan sponsors submit notices and approval requests under this 
regulation. The estimated annual burden of the collection of 
information is 8.75 hours and $9,756.

10. Notice of Insolvency (29 CFR Part 4245) (OMB Control Number 1212-
0033)

    If the plan sponsor of a plan in reorganization under ERISA section 
4241 determines that the plan may become insolvent, ERISA section 
4245(e) requires the plan sponsor to give a ``notice of insolvency'' to 
PBGC, contributing employers, and plan participants and their unions in 
accordance with PBGC rules.
    For each insolvency year under ERISA section 4245(b)(4), ERISA 
section 4245(e) also requires the plan sponsor to give a ``notice of 
insolvency benefit level'' to the same parties.
    This regulation establishes the procedure for giving these notices. 
PBGC uses the information submitted to estimate cash needs for 
financial assistance to troubled plans. Employers and unions use the 
information to decide whether additional plan contributions will be 
made to avoid the insolvency and consequent benefit suspensions. Plan 
participants and beneficiaries use the information in personal 
financial decisions.
    PBGC estimates that 1 plan sponsor of an ongoing plan gives notices 
each year under this regulation. The estimated annual burden of the 
collection of information is 1 hour and $4,741.

11. Duties of Plan Sponsor Following Mass Withdrawal (29 CFR Part 4281) 
(OMB Control Number 1212-0032)

    Section 4281 of ERISA provides rules for plans that have terminated 
by mass withdrawal. Under section 4281, if nonforfeitable benefits 
exceed plan assets, the plan sponsor must amend the plan to reduce 
benefits. If the plan nevertheless becomes insolvent, the plan sponsor 
must suspend certain benefits that cannot be paid. If available 
resources are inadequate to pay guaranteed benefits, the plan sponsor 
must request financial assistance from PBGC.
    The regulation requires a plan sponsor to give notices of benefit 
reduction, notices of insolvency and annual updates, and notices of 
insolvency benefit level to PBGC and to participants and beneficiaries 
and, if necessary, to apply to PBGC for financial assistance.
    PBGC uses the information it receives to make determinations 
required by ERISA, to identify and estimate the cash needed for 
financial assistance to terminated plans, and to verify the 
appropriateness of financial assistance payments. Plan participants and 
beneficiaries use the information to make personal financial decisions.
    PBGC estimates that plan sponsors of terminated plans each year 
give benefit reduction notices for 2 plans and give notices of 
insolvency benefit level and annual updates, and submit requests for 
financial assistance, for 28 plans. Of those 28 plans, PBGC estimates 
that plan sponsors each year give notices of insolvency for 4 plans. 
The estimated annual burden of the collection of information is one 
hour and $701,574.

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 14th day of February, 2008.
John H. Hanley,
Director, Legislative and Regulatory Department, Pension Benefit 
Guaranty Corporation.
 [FR Doc. E8-3410 Filed 2-22-08; 8:45 am]

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