The Interstate Commerce Commission Can Better Manage Its Enforcement Program

RCED-84-131: Published: May 24, 1984. Publicly Released: May 24, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the management of the Interstate Commerce Commission's (ICC) enforcement program as it relates to motor carriers and examined the feasibility of transferring ICC enforcement activities to other organizations.

To ensure that carriers comply with its statutes, rules, and regulations, ICC investigates alleged violations and takes enforcement actions as necessary. GAO found that guidance regarding the goals of the enforcement program has been confusing and contradictory and has not adequately addressed the changes in new legislation. ICC historically has relied upon self-initiated general compliance surveys to evaluate whether carriers were violating ICC laws and regulations. A factor which limits the ability of ICC regional offices to perform general compliance surveys is the large cut in staffing levels since the passage of reform legislation in 1980. Many of the investigations which arise as a result of complaints to ICC have little deterrent effect on other carriers and do not have a meaningful, far-reaching impact throughout the industry. GAO found that the ICC database is not adequately maintained and is not used to assess the effectiveness of various types of investigations. Because ICC has neither established clear and consistent program goals and priorities nor periodically tracked and assessed the outcome of its enforcement effort, it has a questionable basis for assessing enforcement staffing requirements. Regarding the transfer of ICC enforcement activities to other agencies, GAO believes that ICC expertise and capacity may offer a better potential for proper enforcement.

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, ICC, in conjunction with the entire Commission, should: (1) determine the proper role for ICC enforcement activities as a result of the new legislation by identifying appropriate goals for the program and by establishing meaningful priorities to assist in allocating resources to accomplish these goals; and (2) provide its enforcement staff adequate flexibility to initiate compliance surveys to ensure that designated priority areas are addressed.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

  2. 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, ICC, should improve the maintenance and use of data to clarify how program resources are actually being applied and what results are being achieved relating to the program goals and priorities.

    Agency Affected: Interstate Commerce Commission

 

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