Federal Update
Inspector general launches audit of CSA

By Jami Jones, managing editor

At the behest of a House subcommittee, the new compliance measurement system used by FMCSA will undergo an audit.

The ball started rolling when the Comprehensive, Safety, Accountability program – dubbed CSA – drew heavy fire during a mid-September 2012 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

That’s when Rep. Don Young, R-AK, long-time former chairman of the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, upped the ante for the program.

“The reason we have these hearings is we are beginning to get complaints,” Young said in his opening remarks. “My biggest concern, Mr. Chairman (John J. Duncan Jr., R-TN), is I have watched over the years agencies that lose contact with what they are trying to do through what I call gobbledygook. I love that word gobbledygook,” Young said. “Bureaucrats that have a paycheck … are doing it because they can. And that disturbs me.”

Young went on to ask that the Highways and Transit Subcommittee take the lead on requesting an inquiry into CSA from the Government Accountability Office.

About a month later, Duncan and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR – who were the chairman and ranking member of the Highways and Transit subcommittee at the time of the letter – launched scrutiny of the program on a second track when they asked the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General to initiate an audit of the program.

In mid-January, a memo issued by the Office of Inspector General announced the launch of the requested audit. The memo also confirmed that a GAO inquiry is already ongoing into the program, and the two investigations will be coordinated to avoid duplication.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said the investigations are clearly a step in the right direction.

“We have had real concerns with this program for quite a while. While it is a better way for the agency to do what it did through SafeStat, there are still far too many questions,” Spencer said.

He said that the picture that the agency is trying to paint, showing CSA is tied to safety, is a “serious stretch.”

“The shipping community is misinterpreting what CSA is about, making business decisions on faulty information, negatively affecting good, safe, responsible operators.” LL