The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is now one step away from publishing a proposal to create a national database containing driver drug and alcohol test results.

The proposal, a safety management tool that that trucking companies have been seeking for years, has been cleared by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The OMB notice indicates that the safety agency may have to make changes in the proposal it submitted, but typically publication follows soon after OMB clearance.

In general, the proposed rule will require employers to report positive test results and refusals, and prospective employers to query the database, with the applicant’s permission.

The idea is to give carriers a way to make sure that the applicant has completed the return-to-duty process, and to ensure that carriers are doing the required testing.

Details will not be available until the proposal is published but Congress spelled out what it wants the clearinghouse to do in last year’s highway bill.

The bill says that the database should be maintained by a third party contractor and should have security protections to ensure privacy.

Employers would pay a nominal fee to use the system. There would be no charge for drivers who are requesting their own information.

Employers would have to make sure that a driver applicant has been tested within the past three years. If the test was positive, the driver must have completed the required return-to-duty process. The employer also has to check if a driver refused to take the test. And the employer would have to check the database once a year after hiring the driver.

An employer would have to get the driver’s consent before looking at his record. The clearinghouse administrator would have to notify a driver when the clearinghouse has received a record, when a record has been modified or deleted, and when a result has been released to an employer.

Drivers would be able to make sure that their records are accurate, and could make updates if necessary. There would be a dispute procedure, including an appeal process.

Publication of the proposal will be followed by a comment period. A final rule is possible this year.