Increased Participation and Improved Oversight Mechanisms Would Benefit the NAFTA Pilot Program
On August 16, 2012, we issued an interim report on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) pilot program authorizing long–haul, cross–border trucking services between the United States and Mexico under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This audit was required by Section 6901 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran's Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007. We found that the low participation in the pilot program puts FMCSA at risk of not meeting its goals for providing an adequate and representative sample of Mexico–domiciled carriers and inspections necessary to assess the impact on motor carrier safety. Additionally, FMCSA's oversight mechanisms did not ensure full compliance with pilot program requirements; and at the time of our review, it was still developing certain monitoring mechanisms. Finally, the current low participation rate does not allow us to make reliable statistical projections regarding safety attributes of program participants.
We made four recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of FMCSA’s monitoring and enforcement activities. FMCSA concurred with two recommendations and nonconcurred with two other recommendations, but agreed to re–emphasize and monitor its existing procedures. Given that the program has had minimal participation and thus provided limited operational data for review, we consider FMCSA’s actions to be sufficient at this time. We will evaluate FMCSA’s actions to address all recommendations during our congressionally mandated final audit of the pilot program, which is due 6 months after the pilot program ends.