Ray Martinez, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, will be leaving his agency post by the end of this month to take on a different position within the Department of Transportation.
An Oct. 10 DOT news release stated that “Martinez, a New Jersey native, will take the opportunity to move closer to home and oversee the major DOT construction project taking place at the Volpe Center in Massachusetts. We are grateful for Martinez’s service and glad that he will keep serving the Department in this capacity, while also meeting his long-held wishes to be located closer to his family.” His last day in office will be Oct. 28, per a DOT spokesperson.
Martinez stepping down appears to have triggered a musical chair-like restructuring at the agency: Jim Mullen, currently FMCSA Chief Counsel, is moving up to Deputy Administrator, while current Deputy Administrator Alan Hanson is switching over to Chief Counsel.
DOT noted that as the agency’s top lawyer, “Mullen has a strong track record of engaging with all relevant government and industry stakeholders on significant rulemakings that FMCSA is undertaking.” He has been with DOT since June 2018. Hanson has formerly served as an Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice and as Deputy Chief of Staff at DOT.
Once Martinez’s takes on his new role at DOT, Deputy Administrator Jim Mullen is expected to serve as interim administrator of the agency, as that is the usual way of things, until a replacement is nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate. But given how many such appointments remain unfilled by the administration, Mullen’s tenue as interim chief may be lengthy.
Martinez took on the top job at FMCSA about 18 months ago and quickly built a highly visible presence on the industry stage by casting the agency’s mission to better highway safety in a highly positive light that has emphasized both the benefits of interacting with trucking stakeholders to improve regulations and the correctness of maintaining the professional standards adhered to by the agency’s expert staff of civil servants.
Highlights of Martinez’s watch include the rollout of the electronic logging device mandate; the beginning of the launch of the drug and alcohol clearinghouse; the ongoing response to a Congressional demand to improve the CSA safety-measurement protocol; and the effort under way by the agency to reform the central regulation it enforces, the hours-of-service rules for commercial drivers.
"We wish Administrator Martinez well in his new role at the Volpe Center, and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with FMCSA’s new leadership as we work on our shared goal of improving highway safety,” American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear remarked in a statement released after the DOT announcement was made.