On March 8, 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on the requirement for prospective drivers to complete an employment application when applying for a job. In summarizing its 19-page ANPRM, FMCSA stated that it is seeking “…ways the requirement for an employment application could be changed to reduce the associated paperwork burdens for drivers and motor carriers, including but not limited to the complete elimination of the requirement.” FMCSA provided the following 6 reasons why it is thinking about changing or eliminating the employment application requirement:

  1. it may limit flexibility for prospective drivers and motor carriers, and may be overly prescriptive;
  2. it’s not typical for the Federal government to require employers in DOT-regulated industries to have applicants complete an employment application and provide government-required information (FAA and Federal Railroad Administration were cited as examples);
  3. the required information might be redundant of certain other regulatory requirements and, therefore, may be unnecessary or could be obtained more efficiently from alternative sources;
  4. the application is merely a recordkeeping document and does not determine whether a driver is qualified to operate a CMV;
  5. the recordkeeping requirement imposes significant compliance burdens on the industry; and,
  6. the application and required information constitutes (in government-speak) an “information collection” burden subject to the federal Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA). As it’s name suggests, the PRA requires federal agencies to minimize paperwork and “information collection” burdens on the public.

Taking some key words from each of these reasons, here’s a summary: it’s an overly prescriptive, atypical, redundant, unnecessary and burdensome recordkeeping requirement that creates a large “information collection” burden for the motor carrier industry. Some in the trucking industry might disagree, especially since FMCSA makes clear in its ANPRM that it is not thinking about changing or removing the driver background investigation requirements.

To organize public input on the idea, FMCSA posed 11 questions and requested commenters address their comments specifically to one or more of the questions. FMCSA’s full ANPRM, including all 11 questions, can be found at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/rulemaking/2019-04188