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Week of September 10, 2012
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A Congressional hearing into the CSA compliance monitoring system did not go well for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. After bipartisan criticism, there were calls for the Government Accountability Office to investigate.
NOTE: Issue 755 was delayed in order to report on this hearing in a timely fashion.
As we lead up to the election in November, it is increasingly likely that bipartisanship will become a rare bird. As the parties jostle for positioning, they are less and less likely to try to find common ground.
Unless they are criticizing CSA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s compliance monitoring system, that is. In a highly contentious hearing last week, both Republicans and Democrats used strong terms to repudiate the program as unfair to carriers and lacking in common sense.
The meeting was called by Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., and was intended as a catch-up hearing for the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit after a similar meeting of the House Small Business Committee, raised serious industry concerns about CSA.
In the Small Business Committee meeting, concerns were raised about the data quality FMCSA uses for CSA. Similarly, concerns were raised about the fact that crash accountability was not being considered in the Crash Indicator. SBC chair, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. voiced his concern about carriers being attributed crashes that were not their fault.
Unlike the SBC, however, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit has direct control over FMCSA. This meant that the stakes were higher; if the committee is not happy about what they hear, consequences were possible.
Perhaps acknowledging that this meeting may have more of an effect on CSA’s future than the previous one, FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, personally attended the meeting. She was in for a rough ride as both Republicans and Democrats lashed out at the program.
“It’s been just a little over two years since — prior to [CSA’s] implementation — we held a hearing in this subcommittee regarding this new system, and at that time we expressed a number of concerns that still endure,” Rep. Peter DeFazio D-Ore. complained.
Particular concern was levied against the controversial scoring of carriers with crashes that were not deemed their fault. Currently, FMCSA gives the carrier similar scores for those crashes as for crashes where the carrier was at fault.
This, it has been argued, falsely gives the carrier a bad reputation. For its part, FMCSA insists that even with crashes that are not the carrier’s fault, just being involved in an accident makes the carrier statistically more likely to be in another accident.
“I’m still finding it hard to believe … I’m still having trouble with the validity of that conclusion of the study,” DeFazio said.
Rep. Don Young, R-AK was more direct in his criticism. Young complained that FMCSA was not listening to carriers and other stakeholders that were making valid points about flaws in the system. His frustration seemed to boil over when Ferro repeatedly claimed that the system was ‘sound’
“Then why are we having this hearing if it’s so sound? Someone doesn’t think it’s so sound,” Young said. “There are complaints, I have complaints. There is a reason for those complaints.”
Young went on to request that the Government Accountability Office investigate the CSA system. “It is our job to review and see if there is a problem. And if there is a problem, you will fix it. If you don’t, we will,” Young told Ferro.
The GAO acts as an investigative arm of the Congress. If the inquiry is authorized, the GAO will take a detail-level look at CSA and its state partners and report its findings back to Congress. While not binding, GAO reports are highly influential. A number of high profile transportation regulation changes have occurred after the GAO has become involved. Young has said that he will continue to request the GAO investigation.
Pass Your Audit With These Record Rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires motor carriers to keep records to document compliance with the safety regulations. This documentation must be retained for varying lengths of time as established by the applicable regulations. This post discusses some of these recordkeeping requirements and was written to help carriers purge their files on a regular basis.
Organized Files Streamline Audits
During Safety Audits and Compliance Reviews, auditors will carefully comb through all the paperwork in your DOT compliance records...
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Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 112, No. 755 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2012