2013 Cross Border Trucking Audit finds few problems in FMCSA’s Border truck enforcement.

The 2013 audit of cross border trucking with Mexico focuses on bus inspections suggesting that FMCSA's management of the Cross Border Pilot Program is compliant with earlier recommendations
The 2013 audit of cross border trucking with Mexico focuses on bus inspections suggesting that FMCSA’s management of the Cross Border Pilot Program is compliant with earlier recommendations

In it’s annual report on the state of cross border trucking with Mexico, the USDOT Inspector General found that FMCSA was generally in compliance with rules established by Congress in 2002 generally referred to as Section 350(c).

This years report covered deficiencies pertaining to bus inspections at border crossings suggesting that few if any problems were found with the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico which allows enrolled and vetted Mexican property carriers to operate in the United States.

One of the failures that was identified was a software glitch in the agencies software routing program known as GATEWAY which prevented states from uploading Mexican driver conviction reports into CDLIS. FMCSA implemented alternative procedures during the disruption that allowed inspectors to access information on Mexican commercial drivers using the SCT site to check the status of Mexican commercial licenses, but states’ transmittal of Mexican driver conviction information to CDLIS was delayed.

The disruption was caused by FMCSA transitioning to a new vendor which provides a platform for it’s CDLIS system.

“The resulting backlog of convictions could have delayed enforcement action against some Mexican drivers, posing a potential adverse impact on safety,” the report states.

During the disruption, FMCSA requested that States mail paper-based convictions to the new vendor for data entry. FMCSA and its contractor established quality control procedures for the management, review, and processing of convictions and license withdrawals. As of August 2013, 3,400 convictions were received by the vendor for input. These conviction records cover citations issued to any and all Mexican trucks and buses which cross the border annually.

The FMCSA subsequently provided the inspector general with documentation that the backlog had been eliminated.

Regarding the cross border operations of Mexican property carriers, and while not specifically identifying the participants in the Cross Border Pilot Program, the USDOT-OIG had this to say.

FMCSA generally complies with Section 350(c) safety requirements. It has staffing, facilities, equipment, and procedures in place to conduct inspections of Mexico-domiciled carriers, vehicles, and drivers. FMCSA’s border staffing has decreased slightly, but the Agency is training new applicants and reviewing its staffing requirements to better identify its personnel needs and allocate its resources

INSPECTOR GENERAL AUDIT HIGHLIGHTS DEFICIENCIES IN CROSS BORDER BUS INSPECTIONS

Interestingly, the Inspector General audit focused on passenger carriers inspections which have nothing to do with the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico. Mexican buses have enjoyed the privilege of providing international services for decades.

As a result of a similar audit in 2009, FMCSA’s agreed to revise its bus safety plan to include the frequency of required bus inspections and identify actions to eliminate obstacles to achieving inspection coverage, and to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the General Services Administration to assess the safety and efficiency of the bus inspection space.

FMCSA updated its bus safety plan in December 2011, but the plan, in the opinion of the auditors, does not adequately address bus inspection frequency or identify actions to eliminate inspection obstacles, the review says. Likewise, FMCSA has not negotiated interagency agreements with CBP to establish standard bus inspection protocols or completed facility and staffing assessments needed to fully address inspection safety and efficiency issues.

FMCSA concurred in principal with the OIG recommendations and indicated that they were still in talks with the GSA and CBP to have access to space to inspect cross border passenger carriers. They did ask the OIG that in the event these efforts failed, to consider the matter closed and indicate that the agency to be in compliance with the recommendations for making a “good faith” effort.

According to Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 421,000 buses carrying more than 5.6 million passengers entered the U.S. from Mexico during fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

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This post is part of the thread: Mexico Cross Border Pilot Program – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.