TSA seeking comments on hazmat driver background checks
Nov 24, 2004 12:06 PM
Carriers and others interested in the government's plans to conduct background checks on drivers with hazardous materials endorsements on their commercial driver licenses (CDL) have until December 27 to file comments on the issue. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is adding definitions and making organizational and substantive changes to the current CDL standard in 49 CFR Part 1572, according to an interim final rule published in the Federal Register November 24.
Cliff Harvison, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers, earlier said that the efforts by TSA are "too little, too late." He pointed out that only days remain before the January 31, 2005, deadline when states are to begin the background checks on new hazmat applicants. Yet, the agent has not been named, there is no knowledge of where and how the fingerprints will be collected, and the chain of custody of the prints and associated information is undecided.
TSA announced earlier that it was granting states a delay in conducting background checks on drivers seeking transfer and renewal of hazmat endorsements. Those background checks now can begin March 31, 2005, and the assessment process becomes effective May 31, 2005. However, states are required to begin the process January 31, as originally scheduled, for drivers seeking hazmat endorsement for the first time.
Here are other requirements included in the rule on which carriers and others may wish to offer comments:
• To permit certain aliens who are qualified to hold a commercial drivers license to apply for a security threat assessment.
• Removal of one felony offense, simple drug possession, from the list of disqualifying crimes, and adding unlawful purchase, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, import, export, and storage of a firearm or explosives to the list.
• Reclassification of the criminal offense of arson as an interim rather than permanent disqualifier, and reclassifying the offense of murder as a permanent rather than an interim disqualifier. TSA now prohibits individuals convicted of the most serious crimes, such as treason, from applying for a waiver.
• Increase in the response time limits for appeals and waivers.
• Enhancement of the appeal procedures for an individual who is determined to pose a security threat as a result of the intelligence-related check.
• Reduction of the amount of advance notice states must provide to drivers who hold hazardous materials endorsements regarding the need for a security threat assessment upon renewal.
• TSA is changing the rule concerning transferring a hazardous materials endorsement from one state to another so that drivers do not have to undergo a new background check when obtaining a license in a new state, subject to some restrictions.
• The rule no longer requires states to forward all driver applications to TSA, but states must retain the applications for one year.
• States that elect to collect fingerprints and driver information must submit the information and fingerprints electronically, with some initial assistance from TSA.
To see the information in the Federal Register, click here.
Here is information for submitting comments by mail, fax, or in person: Address or deliver written, signed comments to the Docket Management System, Department of Transportation, Room Plaza 401, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington DC 20590-0001 or fax: 202-493-2251.
For more information from TSA, contact Kevin Johnson, Credentialing Program Office, Transportation Security Administration HQ, East Building, 601 South 12th Street, Arlington VA 22202-4220; telephone (571) 227-2155; or e-mail email@example.com.
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