In the Fall of 2018, we advised our newsletter readers that FMCSA was planning to implement its “off-site review” process in all 50 States throughout 2019. FMCSA auditors have been conducting off-site reviews in only 9 States since 2010 but, in late 2018, FMCSA decided to implement this auditing process nationwide. Off-site reviews are ‘DOT audits’ focused on just a few regulatory compliance areas (HOS and/or driver qualifications as an example) that an auditor conducts from his or her office, after contacting and obtaining records electronically from a trucking company.
When we first alerted our readers about FMCSA’s off-site review expansion plans, we also made a pretty safe prediction that the number of off-side audits would go up, and probably pretty quickly. Current numbers of off-site audits are indeed going up across the country – there has been an increase from only 238 in all of FY 2018 to 505 thus far in FY 2019. While these numbers are still relatively low compared to on-site audits, they reflect more than a 100% increase in the first nine months of FY 2019. Given the efficiency of this type of audit, the numbers will continue to climb.
If you’re a fleet representative and FMCSA contacts you for an audit (off-site or otherwise), here are some suggested Dos and Don’ts:
- Verify the credentials of the auditor
- Ask about the reason for the review, the process to be used, and how long it will take
- Cooperate, respond timely and provide the requested records
- Designate a single company point of contact for the auditor to use throughout the process
- Volunteer information beyond what is requested
- Argue with the auditor or start out on the wrong foot
- Act defensive
- Admit violations