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Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Publication Date: 03/08/2001

Author: PDD | Policy Development Division/PTAS

Summary: Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Posted on March 9, 2001

Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

March 8, 2001

The Federal Register recently published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for the Department of Education. [A text copy of the ANPRM follows this brief message.] We want to provide you with some background about the ANPRM and to tell you what it is and, more importantly, what it is not.

The ANPRM simply announces that the Secretary will be proposing regulations, that is he will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), to carry out the electronic record retention provisions of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act), Public Law 106-229. The ANPRM is not a proposed rule nor does it suggest, with any specificity, what the proposed rules will be. That detail will be included in the NPRM when it is published.

The ANPRM does provide the public with an opportunity to provide the Secretary with comments on the general issue of performance standards for record retention of electronic records. These comments are due by March 19, 2001. The ANPRM does request comment on three specific issues and the Secretary is anxious to hear from the public on those issues.

It is expected that the NPRM, when it is published, will set forth, in general terms, proposed performance standards regarding the accuracy, integrity, and accessibility of electronic records. It is expected that those standards would apply to lenders, guaranty agencies, schools, and other parties administering the Title IV student assistance programs. As with all proposed rules, the public will be given an opportunity to provide comment, suggestions, ideas, and recommendations for the Secretary’s consideration. After review and careful deliberation of all comments received, the Secretary will publish final the rules.

Text Copy of the ANPRM




34 CFR Part 50

RIN 1845-AA21

Performance Standards for Retention of Electronic Records in the Student Financial Assistance Programs

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY: The Secretary will propose rules to implement section 101(d) of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act), Public Law 106-229. These regulations will set forth proposed performance standards regarding the accuracy, integrity, and accessibility of electronic records that would apply to lenders, guaranty agencies, schools, and other parties administering any student financial assistance program authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before March 19, 2001.

We are offering this limited comment period in order to expedite issuance of the proposed rule. Comments received by this date will be considered in the development of the proposed rule. As a consequence of the publication of this notice, and under section 107 (b) of the E-Sign Act, the authority of a program participant to retain a required record in electronic form, in instances where that authority did not previously exist, will become effective on June 1, 2001, rather than on March 1, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to: Gail McLarnon, U. S. Department of Education, 1990 K St., NW, Room 8062, Washington, DC 20006-8540. If you prefer to send your comments through the Internet, use the following address:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gail McLarnon, 202/219-7048. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339. Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the contact person listed in the preceding paragraph.

Supplementary Information:


The E-Sign Act provides, in part, that a signature, contract, or other record relating to a transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form, or because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation. By eliminating legal barriers, the E-Sign Act will allow lenders, guaranty agencies, schools, and other parties administering the Title IV, HEA student financial assistance programs to use electronic records and electronic signatures in place of records and signatures that, under the HEA and underlying regulations, must be

maintained and provided in writing. Section 104(b)(3) of the E-Sign Act authorizes the Secretary to set forth general requirements regarding the accuracy, integrity, and accessibility of electronic records, and procedures relating to the maintenance of those records. The Secretary will be issuing proposed regulations that will contain such requirements and procedures.

Invitation to Comment: We are seeking comments or suggestions on this notice. We are interested in comments on assuring approaches to assuring the accuracy, integrity, and accessibility of electronic records in the administration of the federal student aid programs. Specifically, we are interested in comments related to the maintenance of electronic records by program participants. Areas of interest include the following:

- The timeframe to implement the use and maintenance of electronic records.

- The impact of using and maintaining electronic records on the integrity of the Federal student financial aid programs.

- The comparability between electronic records and hard copy paper records.

Electronic Access to This Document

You may view this document, as well as all other Department of Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at either of the following sites:

To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at either of the previous sites. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

Note: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at:

List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 50

Colleges and universities, Grant programs-education,

reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Dated: //Feb 27, 2000//


Rod Paige,

Secretary of Education.