GAO Advises FMCSA To Modify CSA

According to a recent statement from the Government Accountability Office, the agency says modifying the FMCSA’s CSA program would “improve the ability to identify high risk carriers.”

In 2012, the GAO was directed to monitor the implementation of CSA. Yesterday, the GAO released the results its findings.

GAO says the CSA program has helped the FMCSA investigate more carriers and has provided the agency with “a range of safety benefits” According to the GAO, FMCSA has doubled the number of annual interventions since CSA was implemented in 2009.

While the CSA program has proven to be more effective than previous programs at identifying potentially dangerous carriers, the GAO says the FMCSA faces 2 challenges in reliably assessing safety risks: 1.) “For SMS to be effective in identifying carriers more

likely to crash, the violations that FMCSA uses to calculate SMS scores should have a strong predictive relationship with crashes.
However, based on GAO’s analysis of available information, most regulations used to calculate SMS scores are not violated often enough to strongly associate them with crash risk for individual carriers. 2.) Most carriers lack sufficient safety performance data to ensure that FMCSA can reliably compare them with other carriers.”

GAO says FMCSA lacks minimum level of information for a carrier to receive an SMS score, which causes the FMCSA to miss opportunities to intervene with carriers that are involved in crashes.

“FMCSA’s methodology is limited because of insufficient information, which reduces the precision of SMS scores. GAO found that by scoring only carriers with more information, FMCSA could better identify high risk carriers likely to be involved in crashes. This illustrative approach involves trade-offs; it would assign SMS scores to fewer carriers, but these scores would generally be more reliable and thus more useful in targeting FMCSA’s scarce resources,” the GAO recommends.

The GAO recommends that FMCSA revise the SMS methodology to account for limitations and determination of a carrier’s fitness to operate should account for limitations in available performance information.”

The American Trucking Association praised the GAO for its report and recommendations.

“The GAO’s review of FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program was comprehensive, thoughtful and balanced,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “While ATA has long supported CSA’s objectives, we can’t help but agree with GAO’s findings that the scores produced by the program don’t present an accurate or precise assessment of the safety of many carriers.”

The ATA had some suggestions of their own.

“Given GAO’s findings, FMCSA should remove all carriers’ scores from public view,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA executive vice president and chief of national advocacy. “Since scores are so often unreliable, third parties are prone to making erroneous judgments based on inaccurate data, an inequity that can only be solved in the near term by removing the scores from public view.”

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-114]. For more
information, contact Susan Fleming at (202) 512-2834 or
[email protected]