Two recent notices from the USDOT Inspector General’s office (OIG) caught STC’s attention:
- An OIG report outlining the “top management challenges” for FMCSA in 2020. The report cited an 11 percent increase in fatalities from 2013 to 2018 as a reason FMCSA should focus on some “key challenges,” including “estimating the impact of driver detention on the motor carrier industry.” Say what? Sure, Congress mandated this estimate in a 2015 law, but, as far as priorities go, how does measuring the impact of shipper/receiver habits, which FMCSA may not even have the authority to regulate, improve carrier safety? The OIG may have given FMCSA a pass in light of strong headwinds the agency is likely to face in 2020 regarding big-ticket items like HOS rule changes, implementation of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (for 4-6 million users…), and the first year of fully mandated ELD compliance.
- A notice that announced OIG’s recent decision to audit FMCSA’s oversight of State driver’s licensing agencies’ ability to systematically process out-of-state notifications of driver convictions. The OIG pointed to a problem with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles software that resulted in the State’s failure to suspend or revoke the CDLs of many unqualified drivers. This seems to be a symptom of a larger problem. States are gatekeepers for much of the data FMCSA relies on to make informed enforcement and policy decisions. States stand at the front lines of safety, whether it is their licensing agencies or FMCSA-funded (at least partially) State CMV enforcement divisions. It seems to STC that too little attention has been placed on the quality of data states are producing and the ability of their systems to process data in a timely manner. Cases in point: (a) State participation in the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse and the new Entry-level Driver Training rules is likely to be delayed for 2-3 years, in part, because their IT systems are not ready; and, (b) While state enforcement officers are doing yeoman’s work inspecting trucks, their bureaucratic administrations are not keeping pace. Truck safety will suffer until States agencies are held more accountable for their part in highway safety.