UPDATED -- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is making progress on improving its CSA safety enforcement program, but it needs to step up the pace, says the Transportation Department Inspector General in a new report.

The report was requested by leaders of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit following a 2012 hearing where trucking interests aired concerns about how the agency was implementing CSA.

It is the latest in a series of analyses, the most recent being a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office that said CSA does not track violations closely enough to measure crash risk for individual carriers. The safety agency replied that it has significant disagreements with GAO’s findings.

CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) is the system the agency uses to measure carrier safety performance and determine which carriers pose a higher risk, so it can apply its enforcement resources where they will do the most good.

In his report to the congressmen, Assistant Inspector General Joseph Come’ says that while the agency has strengthened its controls over the quality of data that goes into the system, it still needs to improve the DataQs process it uses to correct errors in that data.

The agency also has not done enough to ensure that carriers are reporting accurate and complete data, the report says.

Another issue is that the agency has not fully implemented its enforcement program. Just 10 states are using the full suite of enforcement interventions. The rest are waiting for the agency to deliver and train their staffs on the use of the software that helps manage the interventions.

And, the agency needs better documentation of its efforts to ensure that it’s using best practices in developing the Carrier Safety Measurement System that underpins CSA data, the report says.

The Inspector General posted a half-dozen recommendations. The agency should:

  • Issue a current guidance on DataQs.
  • Start deactivating carriers’ DOT registration numbers if they do not submit proper census data.
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to implement CSA enforcement interventions in the states that do not already use them.
  • Document the sources of Carrier Safety Measurement Systems data and describe the system’s validation procedures.
  • Implement a process for managing Carrier Safety Measurement System documentation, including a central file for validation records and test results.
  • Implement a management policy that includes documentation of system changes.

 The agency reviewed the report and agreed with the recommendations, the IG said.

American Trucking Associations said the report confirms that CSA data contains significant flaws.

“The audit found that while FMCSA claims to have enough data to evaluate 40% of the industry – 13% of those companies report not owning or operating any trucks,” said executive vice president Dave Osiecki in a statement.

“Serious inaccuracies like this affect the scores of everyone scored under CSA – since carriers are compared to one another,” Osiecki said.

He added: “ATA continues to support the oversight mission and safety goals of CSA – but FMCSA must acknowledge the program’s many problems – and commit to addressing them.”

Update adds ATA comments.