FMCSA computer glitch forces Texas motor carrier to shut down

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 5/1/2015

For more than 10 days now, a Texas motor carrier has been trying to obtain approval on its Corrective Action Plan (CAP) that was sent to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Western Service Center in Lakewood, Colo., on Monday, April 20.

While the motor carrier’s CAP was approved by an agent in FMCSA’s field office in Laredo, Texas, on Wednesday, April 29, and was resubmitted to the Western Service Center for final approval, a computer problem prevented a supervisor in that office from issuing a final approval to restore the company’s operating authority.

As of press time on Friday, May 1, the Texas motor carrier, which has nine trucks, currently has three trucks – two under loads – stranded in three states.

And while the center’s computer server has been down for nearly a week, none of the motor carriers in the 16 states, as well as American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, who may have submitted critical documents for approval, were notified, according to Michael Garcia.

Garcia, a former FMCSA investigator who worked for the agency for 12 years, now has his own safety consulting firm. He told Land Line on Friday that his client contacted him weeks ago after receiving a corrective action letter from FMCSA stating that the carrier’s new-entrant registration would be revoked unless the company submitted a written corrective action plan within 30 days. The letter was dated March 30.

“In my client’s case, one of the drivers owed child support so when he went to a weigh station, they found that out and obviously put him out of service for having his CDL revoked,” Garcia said. “While the company had all of its drivers sign forms stating they would notify the carrier if anything happens with their CDLs, revoked or suspended, the driver didn’t let them know in this case.”

Garcia said after advising the motor carrier on Wednesday of the FMCSA service center’s ongoing computer problems, the owner decided not to commit to any more loads and call all of the trucks in until the issue had been resolved.

However, he said some of the trucks didn’t make it home before the out-of-service order was issued on Friday.

“The process would have been fine – we would have made the cutoff – had this computer problem not come into play,” Garcia said. “Because the supervisor wasn’t able to get into the system to verify that the carrier had been approved to continue to operate, the out-of-service order was generated.”

As of press time on Friday, Land Line’s calls to FMCSA’s press office had not been returned.

Garcia said he still has not received a timeframe for when the computer system might be back up and running. He said other motor carriers who may have submitted packets to the service center for approval may want to check and make sure they have not experienced the same computer hang ups as his client.

A customer service representative in FMCSA’s Washington, D.C., office said the agency’s computers have had problems since Tuesday afternoon.

“As of right now, the entire customer service side is down,” the customer service representative told Land Line. “The portal accounts have been currently down for customers, as well.”

Garcia said the ongoing computer issue has been a financial nightmare for his client, who is in limbo until the problem with the server has been corrected.

“This could prove costly to carriers in terms of losing their authority, having trucks and drivers stuck away from their home base or terminal because the company had to shut down,” he said. “Not to mention delays for loads, losing future business and the costs of reactivating their MC and their BOC-3 to start operations again.”

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