The Trucking Industry's Federal Paperwork Burden Should Be Reduced

GGD-81-32: Published: Mar 3, 1981. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 1981.

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As part of a review on the paperwork burden imposed on American business by federal agencies, GAO examined the efforts of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to manage their paperwork requirements affecting the trucking industry.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) imposes a heavy paperwork burden on the trucking industry. It requires duplicate information and is not using collected data efficiently. In selecting companies for safety inspection, the FHWA Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety investigators generally rely on their own knowledge of motor carrier activities rather than requesting and using available summarized information to identify those companies most needing safety inspections. ICC does not have the controls necessary to ensure that its paperwork requirements are properly prepared and cleared before they are imposed on the public. During the past 6 years, 28 of the 70 currently cleared requirements resubmitted to GAO for approval were either incomplete, contained inadequate justification, or had issues which resulted in conditional clearances; nine other instances were identified where uncleared forms resulted in unauthorized data collection. The ICC commodity statistics report is of little use because it is incomplete, inaccurate, and out of date. As early as 1975, ICC knew that it did not need its quarterly loss and damage report. In 1978, DOT stated that it only needed semiannual rather than quarterly data. In 1978, a task force reviewed the ICC financial and statistical reporting requirements and made recommendations which it estimated would save the Government and businesses millions of dollars. Action was taken on several recommendations, some were disapproved with limited justification, and others were deferred pending possible deregulation of the industry.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The DOT Cargo Security Branch was denied funding; DOT no longer has a need to collect the subject data.

    Matter: Congress should, if it wants DOT to publish loss and damage reports showing industry management and law enforcement agencies the significance of the cargo theft problem, authorize DOT to require the applicable data.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of ICC should complete a determination of whether the commodity statistics data are essential for ICC operations. Based upon this determination, the Chairman should either eliminate the requirement or revise it using a statistical sample of existing company records. The burden imposed by the reporting universe and reporting method of any revised reporting requirement should be compatible with ICC's needs.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Although the audit showed that data were being collected without being used, ICC believes it has already met this recommendation with a policy statement directing agencies and bureaus to collect only data used regularly.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of ICC should direct the ICC Managing Director to initiate action to revise or eliminate reporting requirements immediately after all or part of them have been determined to be unnecessary.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of ICC should strengthen the ICC paperwork management process by establishing controls to ensure that (1) clearance submissions are accurately prepared; (2) justifications for paperwork requirements are properly documented; and (3) requirements are cleared before they are imposed on the public. The Chairman should also evaluate the differences between the final data task force recommendations and the assessment by the Section of Accounting and Reporting's three-man review team and, in instances where the task force recommendations are valid and the team's recommendations are not fully supported, initiate steps to implement the task force recommendations.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should require the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration to (1) routinely provide the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety's field investigators with appropriate summarized data and ensure that they use it to systematically identify and investigate carriers most in need of safety surveys; (2) begin collecting mileage data and reporting accident ratios for all DOT-regulated carriers reporting accidents; (3) summarize safety violations by carrier, and use these summaries to identify high-risk carriers and in followup visits, to evaluate whether the DOT's paperwork requirements contribute to enhancing highway safety; (4) evaluate the usefulness of the Driver's Daily Log in enhancing highway safety to provide a basis for continuing or eliminating the requirement; (5) assure that the Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety uses data developed during its pilot study to expeditiously and systematically develop and carry out an implementation plan for a Department-wide management information system; and (6) eliminate the Accident Register requirement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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