The Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces the availability of a website that lists the fees for services provided by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
The USDA posted a Federal Register notice—APHIS User Fee Web Site—on Dec. 2, 2010 providing information on the fees which are charged for goods and services provided by the federal government. The APHIS’ user fee website is located at: www.aphis.usda.gov/userfees/index.shtml.
“The federal government charges user fees only when prescribed or authorized by law,” the notice says. The “user fees are charged for goods and services that directly benefit the recipient or that are necessary to protect the public from incurring costs that may result from the recipient’s activities,” therefore those costs are not borne by the general taxpayer, it says.
The APHIS developed the user fee website to enhance transparency and predictability regarding its fee programs. The website will include a way in the near future for the public to submit comments or questions to APHIS on either the web page or on the user fee programs. The APHIS says it also plans to “allow interested members of the public to sign up to receive notifications when changes are made to the user fee web page.”
The website provides a description of the services or goods for which a fee is charged; the statutory authority for APHIS to collect and retain the fees; the current rates; how APHIS determined the amount of the fees; any scheduled rate changes; and other information pertinent to that user fee program. APHIS says it will add information on the status of collections and expenditures in each user fee program. Additional information on the website includes:
- • General questions and answers about APHIS’ user fees.
- • Why APHIS charges user fees for some activities and not others.
- • What happens to the money that APHIS collects through user fees.
- • How APHIS determines the amount of its fees.
- • How reliable the projections are upon which the fees are based.
- • What happens when variable factors fluctuate.
- • How often the user fees are reviewed and adjusted.
- • What the process is for changing the fees.