The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General announced on Feb. 20 that it has initiated an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s medical certification program.
The DOT IG office said the self-initiated audit was prompted by a spate of fraudulent activity, pointing out that since August 2014, its own criminal investigations have resulted in eight indictments and six convictions resulting from fraud in the medical certification process. “For example,” the agency stated, “an August 2017 indictment of a medical examiner in Georgia resulted in more than 600 truck operators having to renew their FMCSA medical certifications.”
The audit, which is to begin immediately, will evaluate FMCSA’s procedures for oversight of its medical certificate program, including commercial driver medical certificate data quality, and for validating information in its National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.
The NCRME lists all physicians and other medical professionals authorized to conduct medical examinations and certifications of CDL holders. The registry was intended to improve the DOT physical exam process for drivers and also ensure that medical examiners understand FMCSA regulations and guidance for issuing medical certificates.
DOT stated that it has already been working to combat fraud around medical exams, including by launching in 2015 a database to receive digital copies of medical certificates directly from medical examiners. In addition, FMCSA is implementing a process for States to receive medical certificate information directly from DOT.
It should be noted that FMCSA back in June issued an interim final rule that delays several provisions of its Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration final rule from taking effect until June 22, 2021.
At the time, the agency said the interim rule was necessary to give it “additional time to complete certain information technology (IT) system development tasks” for the NCRME and to provide State Driver’s Licensing Agencies sufficient time to make IT programming changes after upgrades to the National Registry.