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January 20, 2016 12:15 PM, EST
FMCSA’s Scott Darling: CSA Study to Begin Next Month
Drew Angerer/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Next month, the National Academy of Sciences will commence its review of a safety performance scoring program for carriers, the top federal trucking regulator told a Senate panel Jan. 20.

“We are in discussions with the National Academies now. We’ve talked to them about the scope, and we’re now in the process of procuring their services,” Scott Darling, acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told members of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The panel, which has jurisdiction over trucking policy, met to consider Darling’s nomination to become the agency’s administrator. If confirmed, he would no longer lead the agency in an acting capacity. A vote on his nomination has yet to be announced.

Last month, FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores were removed from public view soon after the enactment of a five-year highway bill into law. The CSA scoring system, while touted by the Obama administration, had been largely criticized by industry stakeholders and national business interests. Opponents of the program argued the scores did not accurately reflect carriers’ safety records.

Under the five-year highway law, or the FAST Act, the agency was charged with leading a review of the CSA scores as well as devising a plan to overhaul the program.

At Darling’s confirmation hearing, committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) thanked the nominee for promptly taking the scores down from public view after the FAST Act’s enactment. Thune then added, “We would appreciate your continuing attention to this. It’s an issue that’s created a lot of angst.”