DOT Releases Report Finding FMCSA's CSA Program Is Flawed

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is flawed, adding that the compliance ranking program lacks in several areas, including data collection efforts, enforcement, reporting and even the system itself all came up short in the audit.

“The Inspector General’s report confirms what industry stakeholders, independent researchers and other government watchdogs have found: There continue to be significant flaws in the data FMCSA is using to evaluate and score carriers under CSA,” says ATA Dave Osiecki.

The IG discovered that carrier data submitted by the states is still not completely accurate, though it did note some improvement. It also found that FMCSA has not implemented revisions to its data correction process. Motor carrier reporting also falls short of par.

Less than half of the active interstate carriers are currently submitting their required MCS-150 forms, which causes the data that is collected to be skewed. FMCSA has issued a policy, effective this month, which will deactivate USDOT numbers if carriers do not submit the forms.

The IG audit also found that only 10 of 51 states (including Washington, D.C.) have fully implemented CSA enforcement interventions. The others are waiting on new software from the FMCSA.

The questions surrounding CSA data and enforcement may be moot when considered in the context of the system as a whole. FMCSA did not document the creation process for CSA, so the IG audit could not determine if the agency followed best practices and federal guidance. In particular, FMCSA has not provided a complete list of the 51 data fields CSA uses to calculate motor carrier compliance.

“Without a complete and documented list of the 51 data fields, it is difficult for FMCSA to demonstrate the quality of the data it relies on to calculate percentile rankings,” says the audit.

Further, the agency does not have a formal process to validate data used to calculate carrier ratings. Nor has it shown that it properly tested the system after each stage of implementation. FMCSA reports that it is addressing these problems now.

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