NFATCA REPORT-Re-Defining the NFA Branch Operations
By John Brown

Several months ago the NFATCA received a call from the NFA Branch Chief, Ed Saveedra, notifying us that the NFA Branch, in an effort to continue to improve efficiency, would be making some changes in how it processes NFA forms. As many of you know, the NFA Branch has been struggling for years to keep up with the increasing numbers of forms coming from the industry. With a drastic slump in the economy many NFA buyers have elected to shy away from the more expensive items and focus on the more affordable ones, such as suppressors, short barreled rifles and short barreled shotguns. When funds are tight it doesn't long to figure out that purchasing a short-barreled Colt rifle for $1,500 makes more sense than buying an M16 for $15,000. Many buyers are holding out for better times but the habit is still there. Satisfying an NFA owner's needs can be easily solved by more affordable venues.

It seems like every time that the NFATCA checks on the status of transfer times the NFA Branch is continuously making progress but the numbers still keep climbing. Even in the roughest economy, the numbers are hanging in there at the 900,000 mark. We are not that far from the one million transfers a year watershed. If you look back at the NFA Branch five or six years ago you will see that an increase in head count has not been in the cards to handle such a drastic increase in industry demands. Over the last five years the Branch has literally been frozen, from everything from Congressional continuing resolutions to freezes in spending. Additionally, handling industry demands in this particular Branch of ATF has literally driven Branch Chiefs away from the job. The day to day demands and the plain pressure of this kind of work would drive anyone crazy. Every time we are afforded the opportunity to sit with the Branch Chief and ask, "How can we help?" I am still dumfounded at the many reasons why some transfers take longer than others. Simple, yet ridiculous issues, such as bad checks, continue to be a problem in this process.

One of the top resources in the NFA Branch is Ted Clutter. Ted is still a good Marine and hard at serving our country in yet another position, managing the examiners. The last time that we spoke with Ted he mentioned that the NFA Branch was considering many issues in an effort to improve the process with the same available resources and thus try to stay ahead of the power curve.

To begin, the Branch will now be handling forms 1, 2, 10, and the 5320.20 to the appropriate legal instruments examiner, according to the State of the applicant's address. Likewise, the NFA Branch will be assigning Forms 3, 4, and 9 applications to examiners by the State of the Transferor's address.

As most of you will remember, NFA examiners were assigned, regardless of the types of forms to be used, by the alphabetical listing of the name of the dealer. This new process will no longer follow that routine. This will mean that many of the transferors and transferees will see different examiners handle forms. Why? The primary reason for this change has more to do with the ever-changing state of affairs within the states and their NFA laws. Not only has the increasing demand been a strain on the Branch but having examiners try and keep up dozens of different state regulations has been an untenable task to most of the examiners. Thus allowing specific examiners to become experts in a limited number of states has allowed these same examiners to know these laws and more efficiently process our forms. This has become one of the tools that Ed Saveedra and Ted Clutter have pulled from their arsenal of changes to increase efficiencies in the Branch.

The following list will represent the process of handling the various NFA Forms by the examiners from July forward:

Examiner/States to handle:

Nicole Dudash: IL, IN, OH, PA
Chris Farris: AK, CT, MA, ME, MI, NH, RI, VT
Ann Feltner: AZ, CA, NM, NV
Jason Frushour: CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WI, WY
Sara Jones: LA, TX
Albert Lamberger: AL, FL, TN
Dana Pickles: DE, KY, MD, NC, NJ, NY, VA, WV
Suzanne Santamaria: GA, SC
William Shipman: AR, HI, IA, KS, MN, MO, MS, NE, OK
Sandra Snook: ID, OR, WA

"Applications for the District of Columbia and US Territories will be assigned to the Supervisory Legal Instruments Examiner."

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V15N1 (October 2011)
and was posted online on November 1, 2011


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