(1) Any interested person may file comments challenging a claim. A challenge must include supporting documentation. A challenge of any claimed credit must be received within 60 days of the department's receipt of the credit claimant's annual reports. The 60 days does not begin to run until the department receives the claimant's annual reports or a motion for protective order is determined, whichever occurs later.
(2) If a challenge to a credit is filed, the department shall conduct an initial review of the claim. The review will be concluded within 30 days of the close of the challenge period. The purpose of the initial review shall be to determine the likelihood of the credit qualifying for universal system benefits programs. In performing its review, the department may seek additional information from the interested persons or from the claimant.
(a) After the initial review, if the department concludes that the credit qualifies, it shall dismiss the challenge and provide the interested persons with a statement of reasons for the dismissal.
(b) If the department concludes that the challenged credit is not likely to qualify for universal system benefits programs, the department will forward the matter to the department's office of dispute resolution to schedule a formal review.
(3) If a formal review is conducted the department shall provide public notice of the opportunity to comment to the credit claimant and interested persons. The public notice shall include:
(a) name of the credit claimant;
(b) name of the interested parties challenging the credits;
(c) time period for submitting comments;
(d) where to file the comments; and
(e) date of the initial conference.
(4) The department shall publish the public notice in the six major newspapers of general circulation for the state of Montana. Those newspapers are: Independent Record; Montana Standard; Billings Gazette; Missoulian; Chronicle; and Great Falls Tribune.
(5) The formal review process for a challenged credit shall be governed by the administrative rules found in chapter 2, sub-chapter 6 of the department's rules except that the department's final decision must be completed within 60 days of the public notice of the opportunity to comment on a challenged credit.