April 10, 2007 12:20 PM, EDT

Justice OKs Trucking Survey

Benchmarking Plan ‘Not Likely to Be Anticompetitive’
Larry Smith/Trans Pixs

The Justice Department said Tuesday it will not oppose a proposal by the National Association of Small Trucking Companies to conduct an operational and financial survey of small- and medium-sized trucking firms.

NASTC and Bell & Co. plan to share the collected information in aggregate form with survey participants and others to provide trucking firms with competitive benchmarks. DoJ said the proposal “is not likely to be anticompetitive and could lead to consumer benefits.”

The department’s position was sent in a letter Monday from Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of its antitrust division, to NASTC and Bell. The letter said that those safeguards will ensure that the survey does not result in exchanges of competitively sensitive business information.

“Participation by members of an industry in benchmarking surveys does not necessarily raise antitrust concerns,” Barnett wrote. “In fact, with appropriate safeguards, such surveys can benefit consumers when industry members use information derived from such surveys to gain efficiencies and price their products or services more competitively.”

The survey report will be administered by third parties, will contain only aggregated data that is at least three months old, and will be published only if responses to the survey are received from five or more trucking companies, Justice said.