Audit sees areas to improve Mexican program

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A follow-up audit on U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking provisions found that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration took recommended actions to improve border safety, but still needed to enhance certain areas of documentation. For the time being, the recommendations are moot since Congress killed the program earlier this year. But Mexico retaliated with tariffs on certain products, and President Obama promised Mexico he would work to re-establish cross-border trucking.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General found that FMCSA continually took actions to address six of eight of its August 2007 recommendations for improving the border safety program, but needed to enhance the consistency of information reported to the Mexican Conviction Database (MCDB) and its capacity to perform safe and efficient bus inspections at border crossings. DOT-OIG said FMCSA concurred with the report’s recommendations for improvement and provided appropriate planned actions and target completion dates.

Progress hasn’t been made in resuming the cross-border trucking program, but the Senate could consider a long-term transportation funding bill that provides funds for it if congressional concerns are met. Obama and Mexico President Felipe Calderón discussed the issue in August at the North American Leaders Summit in Guadalajara, Mexico.

A report from the Senate Appropriations Committee on the fiscal 2010 DOT funding bill notes that Congress suspended the Mexican pilot program due to safety concerns and expects the Obama administration to refrain from implementing another pilot program until conditions are met.A copy of DOT-OIG’s full audit report is available at www.oig.dot.gov.