TSA delays some hazmat driver assessment deadlines
Nov 18, 2004 11:22 AM
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has granted states a delay in conducting security assessment (background checks) on drivers seeking transfer and renewal of hazardous materials endorsements for their commercial driver licenses. The delay does not apply to drivers seeking new hazmat endorsements, according to TSA information.
"By any measure, these late-breaking announcements by TSA are too little, too late," says Cliff Harvison, National Tank Truck Carriers president. "For example, the agency will give states the option to choose a TSA agent to perform the fingerprinting and administrative services. Yet here we are just days from the January 31 kick-off (for new applicants). We don't know the name of the agent. We don't know where and how the fingerprints will be collected. We don't know the chain of custody of the prints and associated information.
"For example, in my home state of Virginia, the Department of Motor Vehicles has 76 service centers where drivers can apply for their CDL renewal. Will the TSA agent be available in all 76 locations?"
States can begin the assessments for transfer and renewal endorsements March 31, 2005, and the assessment process becomes effective May 31, 2005. This is an extension from the original January 31, 2005, according to the TSA information.
For drivers seeking hazmat endorsements for the first time, states are required to begin the process January 31, 2005, as originally scheduled.
"Another example worth noting is the fact that the current TSA plan puts a driver applicant for a new endorsement in limbo," Harvison adds. "TSA estimates that it may take up to 60 days for an applicant to go through the entire process. Let's say that a perfectly qualified driver, without an endorsement, tries to get a job with a hazmat carrier. It's not realistic to assume that the carrier will pay the driver for the 60 days that he can't drive; and you can't expect that driver to wait around for 60 days without a paycheck.
"In my opinion, TSA is laying the groundwork to an administrative train wreck. Their best option would be to postpone the entire program or substitute name-based checks, similar to so-called Brady Bill checks for firearm purchases, or wait until the TWIC (Transportation Workers Identity Card) is in place in lieu of the fingerprinting mandate."
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