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ACCESS Committee Ground Rules


Accessible Air Transportation Advisory Committee (ACCESS)

Docket No. DOT-OST-2015-0246

Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

Ground Rules


1.     Goal of the ACCESS Committee (“Committee”)

The goal of the Committee is to reach consensus in good-faith on proposed amendments to the Department’s disability regulation on three issues: (a) whether to require accessible in-flight entertainment (IFE) and strengthen accessibility requirements for other in-flight communications (IFC); (b) whether to require an accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft over a certain size; and (c) whether to amend the definition of “service animals” that may accompany passengers with a disability on a flight. The objective is that each Party will support the consensus recommendation formed by the Committee.

2.     Participants

a.  Interests Represented.  Any interest that would be significantly affected by the rule may be represented in the negotiations.

b.  Parties to the Negotiations.  The Committee consists of those individuals whom the Secretary appoints, as nominated by the affected interests. Each organization or interest caucus that is directly represented on the Committee shall be deemed a Party to the negotiations.  The list of member organizations of the ACCESS committee (hereafter “Parties”) is set forth in Annex A.

c.  Committee Members.  Each Committee member appointed by the Secretary agrees to serve a 2-year term or until the dissolution of the Committee, whichever occurs first, unless that member becomes unable to serve, resigns, or ceases to maintain the representational requirements. 

d.  Alternates for Committee Members.  Each Party to the negotiations may designate an alternate Committee member.  Alternates may substitute for Committee members in the event the member cannot attend a session of the Committee.  Only Committee members may vote on any consensus recommendation, and any alternate casting a vote shall do so on behalf of the Committee member, and not as a representative of their own organization’s interest, if different.  Alternates may vote on the final recommendation only on the instructions of their principal.

e.  Additional Interests.  Additional organizational interests may join the Committee after negotiations have begun only with the consensus of the Committee. Any members determined by the Committee to be necessary additions in order to achieve a balanced membership representing all significantly affected interests will be appointed by the Secretary in accordance with departmental procedures.

f.  Attendance and Participation at Meetings.  

(1) Attendance.  Each Committee member agrees to make a good faith effort to attend every session of the Committee.  In addition, the Committee member's alternate agrees to make a good faith effort to attend all Committee meetings and to represent the interest at any meeting that the member is unable to attend.

(2) Participation.  Only Committee members or their alternates have the privilege of sitting at the negotiating table.  Any person may speak from the floor during the negotiations upon recognition by the facilitator; however, the Committee may limit discussion as needed to resolve issues in a timely manner.

g.  Constituents' Interests.  Committee members are expected to represent the concerns of their interest group to ensure, to the extent reasonably practicable, that any agreement developed by the Committee is acceptable to the organization or caucus which the Committee member represents.

3.         Decision making

a.  Consensus.

The Committee will operate by consensus which, for these purposes, means no more than 2 negative votes in each issue area.  Abstention shall not be construed as a negative vote.  All agreements reached during the negotiations and prior to the final votes are tentative and may be made by the members present at the meeting, or their Alternates who attend a meeting in their stead, until the Committee reaches a final decision.

The Parties recognize that these negotiations will address three disparate issues and that some Parties do not have a stakeholder and/or expert interest with respect to certain issues. Annex A indicates the issues for which each Party has a stakeholder and/or expert interest. Parties shall not be required to participate in deliberations, and hereby agree to abstain in all votes, on issues for which they do not represent a stakeholder and/or expert interest per Annex A. The Committee will submit three recommendations to the Department – one on each of the three separate issues.

b.  Working Groups

(1) Working groups may be formed to address specific issues and to develop information for, advise, and make recommendations to the Committee.  Other individuals who the Committee believes would enhance the functioning of a working group or representatives of interests that would be significantly affected by the topics addressed by the working group but which are not otherwise represented on the Committee may also serve on that working group.  Not all organizations or interest caucuses represented on the Committee need to participate in each working group.

(2) The Department of Transportation (DOT) will provide appropriate support for the Committee and the working groups, including senior technical staff, clerical support, and so forth.

(3) Working groups are not authorized to make decisions for the Committee as a whole, but shall submit their report, including any recommendations, to the full Committee.

(4) Working group meetings will be held between the full sessions and will be scheduled in the same location and time whenever possible.  All Committee and working group members will be notified via email of all working group meetings.

c.  Discontinue if Unproductive.  The Committee may discontinue negotiations in any issue area if at any time if they do not appear productive in that issue area.

d.  Deadline for Negotiations.  Every reasonable effort shall be made to conclude negotiations by October 14, 2016.

4.     Agreement

a.  Written Statement, Term Sheet and supporting explanation.

It is anticipated that any agreement in each issue area will include a Written Statement by the facilitator that includes (a) a Term Sheet agreed to by the Committee outlining the significant terms of the Proposed Rule and (b) supporting explanation of the basis for the agreed-to terms from a legal and policy perspective.  Any member dissenting on particular issues should provide the basis for their negative vote. The Written Statement shall be submitted to DOT within 3 weeks of the conclusion of negotiations, and will contain all final voting results in each of the issue areas separately.

b.  Statement as Basis for Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). 

DOT staff will be responsible for translating this Term Sheet into the language of a proposed rule, its supporting preamble, a Regulatory Impact Analysis, and all other appropriate materials necessary for the publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  In the event the Committee reaches consensus on a package of recommendations in a given issue area (such as IFE/IFC, accessible lavatories and/or service animals) and DOT has not cast a dissenting vote on the consensus Term Sheet for that issue area, DOT agrees to use the Term Sheet and any associated recommended regulations as the basis for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the maximum extent possible. The Department will include the consensus recommendation and a discussion of any dissenting views in any proposal issued. 

The Department considers that the three issue areas addressed in this rulemaking – IFE/IFC, lavatories and service animals – are separate and independent.  In the event the Committee reaches consensus on one or more of these issue areas but not all issue areas, the commitments made in this section shall apply to each issue area separately.

c. Response to Public Comments. 

DOT will consider all relevant comments submitted concerning the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and will make such modifications in the proposed standard and its preamble as are necessary when issuing a final standard.

d. No Challenge. 

[No Challenge. Each Committee member agrees to make good faith efforts to represent its affected interests including raising concerns and dissenting views.  Accordingly, each Party who votes in favor of the Committee’s Term Sheet in any issue area agrees not to take a position materially inconsistent with the Term Sheet during the public comment period of the proposed rule to the extent that the proposed rule has the same substance and effect as the Term Sheet.]

5.       Facilitator

A neutral facilitator will work with all the Parties to ensure that the process runs smoothly.  The facilitator serves at the will of the Committee.

6.      Meetings​

a. FACA and NRA.  The negotiations will be conducted under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and the Negotiated Rulemaking Act of 1990 (NRA).

b. Open Meetings.  Plenary negotiating sessions will be announced in the Federal Register prior to the meeting and will be open to the public.

c. Meeting Summaries.  The proceedings will not be electronically recorded, but summaries of Committee meetings will be circulated for the convenience of the Committee.  Such summaries shall not be approved by the Committee and shall not be construed or taken to represent the official position of the DOT, the Committee or any member as to what transpired at Committee meetings.  No photographs may be taken during meetings without the approval of the Committee.

d. Work Product.  Any documents created during the Committee meeting will be made available to the Committee members as soon as possible.

7.     Future Amendments

Committee members may propose modifications to this document, with due consideration given to such proposals.