Motor Carrier Safety:

FMCSA Has Devoted a Small but Increasing Amount of Resources to Develop the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program but Is Requesting a Significant Increase for Full Implementation

GAO-11-416R: Published: Feb 25, 2011. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 2011.

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Susan A. Fleming
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In 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began work on its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative to improve the safety of commercial motor vehicles, such as trucks and buses. FMCSA, whose primary mission is to reduce commercial motor vehicle-related crashes, fatalities and injuries, has made progress on CSA but needs to complete both implementation throughout all states and a Carrier Safety Fitness Determination rulemaking before CSA is fully implemented. CSA represents a different, more data-driven approach to motor carrier safety. Under CSA, which introduces a new system for identifying and responding to carrier safety risks, FMCSA intends to increase the number of carriers it evaluates and reduce crashes involving commercial vehicles. In light of delays in implementing CSA, Congress is concerned about FMCSA's ability to implement the program and directed GAO to monitor the program's implementation and review FMCSA's capacity to meet milestones within its planned cost estimates. As part of this work, Congress asked us to provide detailed information on the resources FMCSA has devoted and plans to devote to implementing CSA. This report provides information on (1) the amount of actual and proposed funding for FMCSA to develop and implement CSA to date and how the funding has been used, (2) the number of staff FMCSA has employed to develop and implement CSA to date, and (3) the funding and staffing resources FMCSA anticipates it will need to fully implement CSA going forward.

To date, FMCSA has used a small number of its existing staff, combined with contractors, to implement CSA; however, obligations for CSA have increased, and the agency is requesting significantly more resources for future implementation efforts. (1) Much of FMCSA's early obligations used for CSA development were covered by existing budgetary resources. Specifically, obligations for CSA in fiscal year 2007 were $2.3 million. Obligations increased to $6.6 million in fiscal year 2008 and, as a result of FMCSA-wide software modernization costs, increased significantly over 2008 levels in 2009 and 2010, to $11.8 million and $9.5 million, respectively. FMCSA's budget request for fiscal year 2011 was $14.3 million. (2) In terms of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, FMCSA used a relatively small number of existing staff to develop CSA to date. At most, 5 of its more than 1,000 FTEs have worked full time to develop and implement CSA since 2006. In addition, FMCSA used up to 40 of its staff on CSA development and implementation on a limited basis. Much of CSA's development, however, has been performed by contractors. (3) For 2012, however, FMCSA requested significantly more budgetary and staffing resources to fully implement the program. Specifically, FMCSA is requesting $78 million and 98 new full-time positions in addition to its existing field staff for fiscal year 2012 to fully implement CSA and integrate it into FMCSA's operations.

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