DOT begins Congressionally required audit of FMCSA’s outline for overhauling CSA

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s punch list for how it intends to reform the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program is now under an internal audit by the U.S. DOT, as required by Congress in the 2015 FAST Act.

FMCSA released its reform plan in July and filed it to Congress in August — both requisites of the FAST Act, which also required the U.S. DOT’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to assess the agency’s plan. The DOT OIG said Oct. 15 that it “plans to begin the audit immediately.”

The so-called corrective action plan for CSA is based on a report issued by the National Academies of Science and recommendations it offered the agency for how to fix the data and scoring calculation issues that plagued the program from its 2011 onset. The NAS report was also required by 2015’s FAST Act.

In short, FMCSA’s 10-page report calls for replacing the existing CSA Safety Measurement System with a new scoring system and improving the quality of data the agency uses to score carriers. The agency also says it wants to make it easier for carriers to calculate their scores. It may also add an absolute scoring system, instead of relying solely on relative scores that compare carriers to their peers.

The goal of the reforms is to better achieve FMCSA’s goal of identifying unsafe carriers and intervening.

The agency said in July it planned to begin testing a new scoring method in September on a small scale.

The OIG’s review seeks to determine “the extent to which FMCSA’s corrective action plan addresses the NAS recommendations and [other] relevant…recommendations and identify challenges FMCSA may face when implementing the corrective action plan,” according to an OIG memo issued Oct. 15.

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