As the congressional session draws to a close and truck safety reform is still in question, the Office of Motor Carrier Safety is preparing for an extended transition into a new stand-alone safety agency.
In October, the office was transferred from the Federal Highway Administration to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation. The organizational change paves the way for a National Motor Carrier Safety Administration dedicated solely to truck and bus safety. Congress is expected to create the new administration with its reform legislation.
The Senate is taking Veterans Day off but will return next week, which means that truck safety reform remains a possibility this year, according to a Senate Commerce Committee spokesman.
Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater and Sen. John McCain are pressing to get the reform bill passed. McCain is trying to clear the bill by unanimous consent, but that process has been snagged on objections by states that would lose revenues due to elimination of the Single State Reporting System.
Meanwhile, OMCS director Julie Cirillo said her staff is preparing a proposal for a new organizational structure suited to the National Motor Carrier Safety Administration. She anticipates a year-long transition to the NMCSA as budgets are set, personnel are hired and an administrator is nominated and approved by the Senate – presuming, of course, that the bill passes.
Cirillo said she and her staff are not distracted by these changes. “The leadership of the career staff will carry through until the political leadership is installed,” she said.
“It will be nice to have closure but we are proceeding in anticipation that the new administration will happen.”