USDOT/OIG – FMCSA Generally Complies With Statutory Requirements, but Actions Are Needed Prior To Initiating Its NAFTA Cross-Border Trucking Pilot Program

Safe compliant, well maintained Mexican trucks will be allowed access to US within 30 days

On August 19, 2011, the Office of the Inspector General for the United States Department of Transportation, a non-partisan independent office tasked with oversight of the various agencies, released it’s long awaited audit on the Mexican cross border program, preparing to get underway.

This audit was required by Section 6901 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran’s Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007. The objective of the USDOT-OIG was to assess FMCSA’s policy, procedures, and processes for granting operating authority to Mexico–domiciled motor carriers under the pilot program and for monitoring and ensuring the carriers’ compliance with United States laws and regulations.

The Office of the Inspector General found that FMCSA was generally in compliance with all mandates of Congress, including section 350(c), contrary to what opponents have claimed.

The Inspector General found that FMCSA was lacking in 5 areas, none of which was a safety sensitive area.

  1.  FMCSA has not yet identified the specific process it will use to comply with five requirements for conducting fifty percent of the pre-authority safety audits and compliance reviews onsite in Mexico
  2.  FMCSA has not yet  issued site–specific plans for checking drivers and trucks at the border.
  3. FMCSA has not yet established a system to verify driver and truck eligibility for the pilot program
  4.  FMCSA has not yet issued an implementation plan nor acquired electronic monitoring devices for use in the pilot program.
  5. FMCSA has not yet conducted pilot program training for inspection personnel at the border and within the United States.
In other words, the defects the Inspector General found are administrative in nature.
The Inspector General went on to state that FMCSA had concurred with their recommendation to develop an action plan for inclusion in its report to Congress prior to starting the pilot program, and expects to submit its report to Congress in September 2011. The USDOT Inspector General therefore considered their recommendation resolved but open pending completion of the planned action.
You can download the complete report HERE.
HB-2407 Update.
We learned from sources this morning that Rep. Peter DeFazio’s HB-2407, designed to limit the pilot program to 3 years and prohibit granting of permanent operating authority to Mexican carriers, is all but dead, with the withdrawal of 3 of the 19 co-sponsors of the bill.