Audit Reports

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FMCSA Has Gaps and Challenges in Its Oversight of CDL Disqualification Regulations

Project ID: 
What We Looked At
The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. To that end, FMCSA regulates commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders involved in interstate commerce and the transportation of hazardous materials. In the last 5 years, fatalities in crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 12.4 percent, from 4,505 in 2014 to 5,064 in 2019. Federal regulations describe the minimum standards States must meet to comply with the Federal CDL program and permits FMCSA to review each State CDL program to determine compliance. Accordingly, the objective for this self-initiated audit was to assess FMCSA’s oversight of States’ actions to disqualify commercial drivers when warranted.
What We Found
States did not timely transmit electronic conviction notifications 17 percent of the time. Specifically, we estimate that States of Conviction did not timely transmit 18 percent of 2,182 major offenses and 17 percent of 23,628 serious traffic violations in our universe. We also estimate that 11 percent of 2,182 major offenses were not timely posted and 2 percent of 23,628 serious traffic violations in our universe were not posted to driver records at all. While States did take action to disqualify CDLs when appropriate, with exceptions, FMCSA’s evaluation of paper conviction notifications is limited by States’ processes for recording and tracking convictions sent by mail. Furthermore, FMCSA's Annual Program Review process lacks adequate quality control measures for verifying that State CDL programs meet Federal requirements. Finally, State noncompliance with Federal CDL disqualification requirements and other State actions pose challenges for FMCSA’s oversight. For example, some States offered administrative appeals to out-of-State drivers, overturned disqualifications, and backdated CDL disqualification periods. As a result, some drivers served shorter disqualification time periods than Federal law requires.
Our Recommendations
We made seven recommendations to strengthen FMCSA’s oversight of States’ actions to comply with Federal CDL disqualification requirements. FMCSA concurred with all seven recommendations, which we consider resolved but open pending completion of the planned actions.




Closed on 11.15.2023
No. 1 to FMCSA

Improve current requirements for States to record, track, and maintain paper-based convictions sent and received via mail by incorporating its standardized method for States to aggregate paper-based convictions to facilitate FMCSA's evaluation of State performance.

Closed on 11.01.2023
No. 2 to FMCSA

Finalize and implement standardized operating procedures for conducting annual program reviews and for supervisory quality control reviews of completed annual program reviews. 

Closed on 11.09.2023
No. 3 to FMCSA

Modify the annual program review checklist to require reviewers to address key factors and determine whether:  a. sampled out-of-State convictions were posted to driver records within the required 10 days; b. results from a review of in-State convictions and paper notifications of out-of-State convictions were documented; c. sample testing was conducted of the greater of 2 percent of electronic transactions in a month or a total of five transactions, in accordance with FMCSA’s 2016 policy memorandum; d. States are sending convictions either electronically or via mail but not using both methods; e. States begin disqualification periods on or after the date the out-of-State conviction is received; and f. States that are offering administrative appeals for out-of-State disqualifications and permitting them to be overturned are identified.    

Closed on 11.09.2023
No. 4 to FMCSA

Finalize and implement a standard operating procedure for determining when a State is not making a good faith effort to timely mitigate compliance issues and when to impose sanctions on noncompliant States.  

Closed on 11.29.2023
No. 5 to FMCSA

Complete the Agency's review of the State Compliance Records Enterprise system and implement identified improvements for managing States' compliance issues.

No. 6 to FMCSA

Develop and implement a process to segregate non-CDL holder convictions from all Commercial Driver's License Information System reports and workbooks utilized to evaluate State's compliance with CDL regulations.

Closed on 11.15.2023
No. 7 to FMCSA

Develop and implement a plan for coordinating with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators to mitigate risks when States transition to new software systems.