SBA advocates background check reform

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A requirement for duplicative background checks for commercial truck drivers has made the Small Business Administration’s top 10 list of burdensome federal regulations. The agency’s Office of Advocacy announced that a rule to eliminate that duplication was added Friday, Feb. 27, to its Regulatory Review and Reform (r3) initiative top 10 list. The list is of changes that, if adopted by federal agencies, would reduce the cumulative and costly regulatory burden on small businesses.

The selection, one of two named to the r3 initiative Friday, advocates eliminating Transportation Security Administration requirements that a commercial truck driver who holds a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) also must undergo a duplicative security background check when they apply for a hazardous materials endorsement. Congress authorized eliminating this duplication in 2007. SBA estimates that implementing this rule will save the trucking industry up to $150 million over five years.

“Not forcing some TWIC holders to undergo two identical background checks will bring much needed relief to all motor carriers, especially the vast number of small carriers in the industry,” says ATA Chairman Charles “Shorty” Whittington, president of Grammer Industries Inc., based in Grammer, Ind. Congress authorized the combination of these programs as part of implementing the recommendations of the 911 Commission Act of 2007. Section 1556 of the act states that TWIC holders “shall be deemed to have met the background records required” to carry hazardous materials.

“Although implementing Section 1556 does not solve the overall balkanization of transportation security, it represents a significant first step in moving toward a single uniform credential for transportation security,” Whittington says.

Office of Advocacy’s r3 initiative is designed to identify and address existing federal regulations that should be revised because they are ineffective, duplicative or out of date; r3 is a tool for small business stakeholders to suggest needed reforms. Advocacy selected the duplicative background checks for commercial truck drivers rule from 38 nominations in 2009. This rule and one other replace two of the 2008 Top 10 rules that agencies reviewed and reformed during the past year.