Inspector General Audit Finds Deficiency in FMCSA Tracking Medical Qualifications of Drivers
The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General conducted an audit assess the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) process for managing its medical certificate program. The audit focused on how FMCSA validates and maintains data in the National Registry. It also looked into how the agency verifies medical examiners’ eligibility and execution of evaluating driver exams.
In December of 2017, there was an outage of the National Registry that lasted around 7 months. During that time, FMCSA did not allow medical examiners to upload driver examinations until the issue was resolved. There is an estimated 780,000 exams that are potentially missing from the database.
Issues of inadequate data also limits the agency’s efficiency of the program. Results from the audit showed 46% of the 70,208 records of medical examiners as of May 2019 had outdated medical license information. Also found were 21% of 452 driver exams from 3 State Driver’s License Agencies (SDLAs) were not recorded in the National Registry. FMCSA is in the process of rebuilding the National Registry but there is no timeline when it will be complete.
Medical examiners receive an initial review of qualifications when they become certified in the National Registry. The Inspector General found there are no annual reviews conducted to ensure qualifications are still being met. There are also no random selections of examiners for performance monitoring. FMCSA claims this has not been done because of a staff shortage making it almost impossible to do.
Recommendations were made to improve the new National Registry: (1) implement plan to elimination backlog of results held by medical examiners, (2) provide resources to Medical Programs Division, (3) update processes for annual audits and random performance monitoring of medical examiners, and (4) reinstate the conduct of eligibility audits and random selection performance monitoring of medical examiners.
The full report can be found, here.