FY 2014 Budget Request ? PHMSA


Once again, the Administration has proposed a $12 million user fee for special permits and approvals (SP/A) applications.  The fee structure follows:

  • New special permits: $3,000 per application
  • Modification of a special permit: $3,000
  • Renewal special permit: $1,000 per application
  • Party status special manufacturer approvals: $3,000 per application
  • All other approvals: $700 per application

This is the same user fee proposal advocated by the Administration in the FY 2013 budget request and rejected by Congress during consideration of MAP-21.  PHMSA states that it needs the funds to support its oversight of the new conditions it has imposed on SP/A applicants, including “thorough engineering evaluation of each permit application …, increasingly stringent monitoring of a company’s fitness/competence to hold a special permit or approval, continuous evaluation of the technologies and materials subject to special permits …, and accelerated incorporation of special permit … into the HMR.”  PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman stated that the fees would not need approval of congressional authorizing committees, but would be “self-executing.”  This view has not set well with these authorizing committees.   There is no way that PHMSA’s SP/A program costs $12 million/year.  Currently, about 35 full-time positions (FTP) are dedicated to the SP/A program.  $12 million would support a staff of 66 FTPs.  PHMSA has inflated the costs of this program by about 50%.  At the same time, the SP/A workload is decreasing.  For example, applicants for classification approvals are no longer scrutinized for “fitness” and special permits in effect over ten years are being incorporated into the HMR.  Meanwhile, no deaths have been attributed to special permits or approvals since the agency began to keep incident records.  This fee is not fair or equitable but is a hidden tax on companies that innovate and produce goods needed to strengthen and rebuild the US economy.  IME will oppose these fees.