On August 27, 2019, FERC issued a final rule amending its regulations at 18 C.F.R. § 385.2001(a) to require that all physical filings and submissions to be delivered to FERC, other than those sent via the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”), are to be sent to FERC’s off-site security screening facility in Rockville, Maryland. FERC’s rule makes no changes to electronic filings submitted through its online system. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on September 4 and will go into effect 60 days later, or on November 4, 2019.
The preamble to the final rule explains that its purpose is to protect both the public as well as FERC staff from security risks related to hardcopy or hand-delivered submissions. It cites the Government Accounting Office’s 2006 report documenting an increased “rate of incidents involving threats via the mail” since 2001, as well as the more recent package bombs sent to politicians and newsrooms in the fall of 2018. It also refers to a Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) recommendation that deliveries to agencies should be “received, screened, sorted, and prepared for delivery” at a secure, off-site facility.
Once the rule goes into effect on November 4, members of the public will be required to send hardcopy submissions (other than those sent via USPS) to FERC’s off-site facility at 12225 Wilkins Avenue, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Deliveries may be made in person by the filing entity or its designee, between the hours of 7:00 am and 3:30 pm. The off-site facility will then sort and screen the submissions before delivering them to FERC. Filings and submissions sent through USPS can continue to be sent to the Commission’s headquarters at 888 First Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20426, because USPS has existing security process that comply with DHS-recommended best practices. Filings and submissions sent directly to FERC’s headquarters—other than those sent via USPS—will be rejected and will not be considered received until they have been re-submitted in accordance with the new rule.
FERC explained that its final rule will not affect the public’s ability to make timely filings. Importantly, the rule does not alter the process for submitting electronic filings with the Commission. For hardcopy submissions sent through means other than USPS, those submissions will be considered “received” by the off-site facility, which will log all deliveries when received and provide the Commission with the log so the documents may be stamped appropriately and recorded by the Commission as having been received on that date reflected on the log.
The final rule is available here.