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Overview for EPA Program and Regional Offices

How & When Does It Apply?

EPA's CROMERR Policy Applies To:

Electronic Reporting Affected:

CROMERR Does Not Apply To:

Purpose

The Cross-Media Electronic Reporting Regulation (CROMERR) provides the legal framework for electronic reporting to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states, tribes and local governments that are authorized to administer EPA programs. CROMERR is intended to reduce the cost and burden of electronic reporting while maintaining the level of corporate and individual responsibility and accountability that exists in the paper environment.

Background

Published on October 13, 2005, the final regulation established a framework by which it will accept electronic reports from regulated entities. CROMERR could apply to any document submissions required by or permitted under any EPA or authorized program governed by EPA's regulations in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), if it is submitted electronically. On October 13, 2005, EPA also published a Federal Register Notice (70 FR 59748) designating as acceptable all existing* EPA systems that were receiving electronic reports as of that date to continue receiving those reports until October 13, 2007. To receive electronic reports after October 13, 2007, existing systems other than CDX must be re-designated by the Administrator.

§3.2000(b) of CROMERR sets standards for electronic report receiving systems operated by states, tribes, and local governments under their authorized programs. In the Preamble to the regulation, EPA commits to meeting those standards for its own electronic report receiving systems. The Preamble states:

EPA's goal is that all its systems for receiving electronic reports be consistent with the CROMERR standards for electronic document receiving systems set forth in 40 CFR 3.2000(b).

Program Impact

EPA Program and Regional operating systems, including CDX data flows, that receive electronic reports (including via email) must document consistency with CROMERR standards and apply to the EPA Technical Review Committee (TRC) for certification of system consistency. System certification is based on an assessment of how electronic reporting systems meet the technology-neutral, performance-based criteria in CROMERR. CROMERR's criteria to evaluate electronic reporting systems are based, in part, on the need to be able to prove in enforcement proceedings the following: electronic reports are what they purport to be, their content is unchanged, and any electronic signatures were actually executed by the designated signatories. The performance-based criteria address a number of topics, including, among other things:

Programs and Regions that did not obtain CROMERR certification for an existing system by September 15, 2007, or did not have an approved CROMERR conformance plan for the system in place by that date need to appeal directly to the Administrator for re-designation of the system. To receive electronic reports after October 13, 2007, existing systems other than CDX must be re-designated by the Administrator.

All new* systems must be certified before going into production. A CROMERR-subject CDX system is considered to be “in production” when regulated entities will start registering in CDX for that data flow. In addition, per the EPA’s Data Exchange Procedure, CDX is the Agency's designated system to support CROMERR implementation. Therefore, new systems subject to CROMERR must use CDX services for their CROMERR functionality to ensure that the data collection or exchange processing has met Agency enforceability requirements. For more information, please refer to CIO 2122-P-04.0 on the EPA Intranet. This policy only applies to the system’s CROMERR functionality; it does not mean that the entire system must be based in CDX.

Procedures for Implementing CROMERR for EPA Systems

Each Program or Region is responsible for determining, in consultation with the Office of Environmental Information (OEI), which of their systems are subject to CROMERR and is expected to work with CROMERR program OEI staff in advance to inform them of their pending application and planned production date. The Program or Region is also responsible for preparing applications demonstrating that the subject systems will be consistent with the CROMERR standards. In addition, the Program or Region is responsible for implementing and operating the system in conformance with the approved application. For systems implemented by CDX, this responsibility is shared.

Program and Regional TRC representatives are available to help. A contact list of all TRC representatives is available on the CROMERR website. For CDX systems, the CROMERR program encourages EPA Programs and Regions to include support for preparing their CROMERR application in their contract with CDX. In addition, Programs and Regions that utilize CDX system functions should consult with their CDX liaison early in the design process to help ensure that a CROMERR application is submitted with sufficient lead time to accommodate their desired production date. CROMERR program OEI and CROMERR TRC representatives are available to work with EPA Programs and Regions together with their CDX liaisons to address complex issues surrounding CROMERR compliance. Typically, CDX systems do not have such issues.

Below are the steps involved in a CROMERR application for a system using CDX services – from submission, to review, to certification, to post-certification responsibilities.

Step 1: Submittal

Once a CROMERR application has been prepared for an EPA Program or Region, that Program or Region submits the application via email to CROMERR program OEI staff indicating that they are submitting it for formal review by the TRC.

Step 2: Confirmation and Processing

Once the application is received, the submitter will received a confirmation of receipt within 2-3 business days as well as any requests for further information required for review. Not having all of the required information upfront and/or submitting revised documents mid-process may delay the application’s review. Required information:

Possibly required information: NOTE: It is not necessary to include with the application copies of core CDX CROMERR checklist appendices. However, the prepared checklist should refer only to those core CDX CROMERR checklist appendices that apply to the system as implemented.

Step 3: Review

Key members of the CROMERR TRC will conduct the application review simultaneously. Presentations to the TRC are typically not needed unless the committee is presented with an entirely new approach. The actual time needed to assess a CDX system application tends to be minimal because review committee members focus only on substantively changed text. Regardless, CROMERR OEI program staff typically allows TRC members 2 weeks to conduct a review. If there is no substantively changed text, this step will be skipped. If the system includes custom-built CROMERR functionality and/or presents “new and novel” CROMERR issues, the review process may take longer.

Step 4: Comments and Response

Should the review result in some questions, CROMERR program OEI staff will work with the CDX customer liaison to resolve these questions. In the case of questions around program business processes, questions may be posed to the EPA Program or Regional applicant. Typically, comments on CDX system applications are minimal, if any. However, systems with custom CROMERR functionality can be expected to have substantially more comments and may possibly result in several rounds of comments and responses. If the review resulted in no comments, this step will be skipped.

Step 5: Committee Vote

CROMERR TRC members are given 2 weeks to vote the application “consistent with CROMERR standards” or voice their dissent.

Step 6: Approval Notification

After the voting process has concluded, the EPA Program or Region will receive an email within 2-3 business days confirming that the application has been approved.

Step 7: “Availability of Electronic Reporting” Federal Register Notice

Per CROMERR § 3.2(a)(2), prior to collecting reports electronically, in addition to passing the CROMERR TRC’s review and assessment, EPA Programs and Regions must also publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of electronic reporting under their program(s) as a result of the newly approved system(s). Some Programs and Regions choose to meet this requirement by including text within a rule being published related to the system's regulatory reports or in another Federal Register publication that they may be publishing regarding the system(s), such as a notice about contractors having access to sensitive data. Programs and Regions should, at a minimum, include the following information in the “availability of electronic reporting” notice:

Step 8: Modifications to Approved CROMERR Applications

CROMERR section 3.1000(a)(4) requires authorized programs with approved CROMERR electronic reporting programs to notify EPA, in writing, of any changes to law, policy, or the electronic document receiving system that have the potential to affect the system’s compliance with CROMERR. More information can be found in the document Notification and Approval of Changes to Approved CROMERR Applications (PDF) (4 pp, 70K) available on the CROMERR website. A similar policy applies to EPA Programs and Regions with approved CROMERR systems. Note that it is the CROMERR program’s intent to work with CDX directly if and when updates to CDX CROMERR functionality are “dropped in” to replace existing CROMERR functionality and affect several or all customers; so, it would not be the program’s responsibility to notify the CROMERR of these particular types of changes. However, at this time, Programs or Regions with approved CROMERR applications should notify CROMERR Program OEI staff prior to implementing changes that may affect their system’s conformance with the CROMERR standards. Such changes may or may not trigger a need for a new application.

*Please refer to the CROMERR Glossary for definitions of these and other terms.

More Information

For technical assistance contact:

Karen Seeh
Office of Environmental Information
(202) 566-1175
Karen Seeh (seeh.karen(at)epa.gov)

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