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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Interstate Commerce Commission's (ICC) railroad regulatory responsibilities and the effect of transferring these regulatory responsibilities to other federal agencies. GAO noted that: (1) ICC regulatory activities attempt to balance the need for reasonable railroad services with the need for railroad revenues; (2) ICC monitors the reasonableness of railroad rates, approves railroad mergers and trackage rights applications, and resolves disputes; (3) in 1993, about 37 percent of ICC resources were dedicated to railroad regulatory activities and about 63 percent were dedicated to motor carrier regulatory activities; (4) many shippers and transportation brokers question the need for ICC motor carrier regulation, since most of its regulatory activities are mere formalities; (5) advocates of motor carrier deregulation believe that ICC ancillary functions should be continued or transferred to another federal agency; (6) transferring ICC regulatory responsibilities to either the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the Department of Justice could compromise ICC decisionmaking processes and create conflicts of interest within DOT; (7) making ICC an independent commission within DOT or merging it with another agency would produce only minimal cost savings; and (8) the federal government needs to determine the cost effectiveness of changing ICC organizational responsibility and the future scope of ICC motor carrier regulation activities in a deregulated environment.

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