WASHINGTON — The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Transportation has initiated an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s so-called “corrective action plan” intended to revamp the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program methodology.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015 (FAST Act) required the agency to commission the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the SMS data and methodology used in the CSA program, which was initiated in December 2010.
In a report issued on June 27, 2017, NAS made six recommendations to help FMCSA improve its data, update the current methodology, and enhance transparency.
Those recommendations were:
- Investigate a new statistical model within the existing structure of SMS over the next two years.
- Improve the quality of Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) data that feeds SMS by continuing to collaborate with states and other entities.
- Explore ways to collect additional data that could enhance the recommended methodology for safety assessment. This data could include carrier characteristics such as driver turnover rate, type of cargo, method and level of compensation, and better information on exposure.
- Make user-friendly versions of the MCMIS data file and computer code used to calculate SMS results, available to the public.
- Conduct a study to better understand if percentile rankings should be available to the public. This study should aim to determine whether percentiles are effective at identifying carriers for intervention. Findings from this study should inform the decision of whether to make percentiles public.
- Use absolute measures, in addition to relative percentiles, to determine which carriers are prioritized for intervention. The percentiles should be calculated within carrier safety event groups and across all carriers.
The FAST Act required FMCSA to give the OIG a corrective action plan that (1) responds to deficiencies or opportunities identified in the NAS report, (2) identifies how FMCSA will address such deficiencies or opportunities, and that (3) provides a cost estimate regarding any changes FMCSA must make to staffing, enforcement, and data collection to address the issues raised.
The commercial motor carrier industry plays a vital role in the nation’s economy, carrying nearly 70 percent of goods shipped to consumers and businesses. In recent years, the number of large trucks and buses on the roads has increased, as have safety issues related to these vehicles. Fatalities in crashes involving large trucks or buses grew from 4,397 in 2012 to 4,844 in 2017, a 10.2 percent increase.
Since December 2010, FMCSA has monitored the safety practices of motor carriers through CSA and its SMS. FMCSA uses SMS to evaluate carrier performance information obtained from roadside inspections, crash reports, compliance reviews, and other data.
The FAST Act mandated that OIG review the extent to which the corrective action plan addresses the NAS recommendations and any relevant recommendations that OIG or the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued before the law was enacted.
After the audit, the OIG is required to submit a report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure that addresses the responsiveness of FMCSA’s corrective action plan to the 2017 NAS report.
The OIG said its audit objectives are to (1) assess the extent to which FMCSA’s corrective action plan addresses the NAS recommendations and relevant OIG and GAO recommendations and (2) identify challenges FMCSA may face when implementing the corrective action plan.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.