Obama Taps Maryland’s Ferro as Next FMCSA Administrator

By Sean McNally, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the June 8 print edition of Transport Topics.

President Obama will nominate Anne Ferro, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association, to head the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the White House announced last week.

Ferro, who ran the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration before going to MMTA, would be the fourth permanent administrator of the nine-year-old truck-safety agency.

She must be confirmed by the Senate.

In the June 4 press release, the White House highlighted Ferro’s “strong record in highway safety, regulatory compliance and agency leadership.”

“She has extensive experience in driver and vehicle safety, having led the agency’s efforts to establish a graduated licensing program for new drivers in Maryland, as well as a model for older driver research,” the White House said in the announcement.

Ferro will succeed John Hill, who was administrator during the Bush administration. Since Obama’s inauguration in January, Rose McMurray, the agency’s chief safety officer, has been serving as acting administrator.

Ferro has run MMTA since 2003 and was Maryland’s motor vehicle administrator from 1997 until she took the MMTA reins.

As head of FMCSA, Ferro would deal with issues ranging from international trade to safety regulations. Among the issues affecting trucking on the agency’s agenda are:

The continuing dispute between the United States and Mexico over cross-border trucking.

The long-running legal and regulatory battle over the hours-of-service regulation for commercial drivers.

Publication of the electronic onboard recorder rule.

Proposed new regulations on driver health issues and drug and alcohol testing databases.

The upcoming highway bill, where much of the nation’s highway safety agenda is to be mapped out.

Shortly after her nomination as FMCSA administrator was announced, Ferro told Transport Topics she was “just delighted and deeply honored that the president would put my name forward.”

Her nomination drew immediate praise from trucking industry officials.

“Ms. Ferro’s extensive experience in promoting driver, vehicle and highway safety will serve the nation well,” Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations, said in a statement. “As administrator of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, she developed a reputation as a tough but fair regulator.”

Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said he thought Ferro’s “diverse background involving commercial motor vehicles . . . certainly [gives her] the qualifications to fill that position.”

Former administrator Hill said he held Ferro “in the highest regard,” since their time working on commercial driver license issues at the state level.

“When you are in the administration — specifically FMCSA — it really does help if you have a safety background, and she does,” said Hill, the longest-serving administrator in the agency’s history.

“But she also understands the industry,” Hill said, “and if you’re going to properly regulate the industry, you have to really understand how it functions. I think that’s a winning combination.”

Steve Campbell, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said Ferro was “obviously superqualified, in our opinion.”

“She’s very professional and very knowledgeable and somebody we believe we can continue to work with,” he said. “She has an unquestioned skill level that we believe can benefit everybody.”

John Conley, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers, said, “President Obama made an outstanding choice.”

Ferro is “very knowledgeable about trucking and the important role that the government has in ensuring safety,” said Conley, who recently served with her on an FMCSA-sponsored CDL advisory committee.

“I have confidence she will keep the same level of professional and competence that we saw from John Hill,” Conley said.