FMCSA Has Expanded Offsite Audits in Response to COVID Crisis

Lindsey Bergeron

For carriers that are already on a digital recordkeeping system, this process is fairly straightforward – especially if it’s part of a comprehensive compliance management system.

The FMCSA has announced that compliance reviews will be conducted remotely for the entirety of the COVID-19 health emergency. This decision was made “because of travel restrictions, social distancing and other advisories associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency, and the desire to limit exposure risk to the regulated community and safety investigators.”

On-Demand Webinar: Is Your Business Ready for Offsite Audits?

As we previously reported, the agency has been conducting offsite audits for the past few years – with the number of audits being held offsite quadrupling in the last year alone. Previously, these audits were reserved for new entrant safety audits and carriers with high safety ratings. In light of the current pandemic, however, they will be used much more regularly.

What to Expect from an Offsite Audit

As the name suggests, offsite audits are held remotely – without the auditor coming to the carrier’s place of business. Instead, auditors will ask questions over the phone and request that compliance documentation be sent electronically into the FMCSA portal. For carriers that are already on a digital recordkeeping system, this process is fairly straightforward – especially if it’s part of a comprehensive compliance management system. Foley customers, for example, can download files from their portal accounts and have it to the auditor in just a few minutes. These carriers are also much less likely to have incomplete files, as the portal monitors the compliance of each driver and sends alerts and notifications when files are outdated or incomplete.

For carriers who are still using a paper recordkeeping system, the process will be more tedious. Upon the auditor’s request, all documents must be scanned, saved as a digital file and then either uploaded to the FMCSA portal or emailed directly to the auditor.

Carriers are typically only given about 48 hours to gather and submit documentation so maintaining fully compliant files is important as there isn’t a lot of time to fix incomplete files if a document is missing.

Digital Offsite Audits Are Here. Have You Transfered Your Driver Files Yet? We Can Help!

How to Make Sure You’re Prepared

Although there will be a spike in offsite audits this year due to COVID-19, it’s not a new method of conducting compliance reviews and will likely continue to be used with greater frequency even after the emergency declaration is lifted. The reason, is because the FMCSA has the following to be true about offsite audits:

  • The take 33 percent less time than onsite audits
  • The save 58 percent in agency travel costs
  • The efficiency of conducting each audit increased by about 20 percent

With this in mind, it’s important that you make the switch do a digital recordkeeping system if you don’t already have one in place. When you use the Foley Portal, we’ll convert all paper files into an electronic format, audit them for accuracy and then help manage their compliance on an ongoing basis. To learn more about how the Foley Portal can help prepare you for an offsite audit, click here or call (860) 815-0764.

About the Author

Lindsey Bergeron is Editor of the Foley blog. Serving as transportation guru, she keeps an eye on the industry and its day-to-day evolution and developments, specifically writing about the various lifestyle, business and regulatory topics that are most relevant to motor carriers. Holding a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, she ran a successful content marketing firm before joining Foley at its Hartford hub. Her current expertise in transportation writing is built upon an extensive background in editing, feature writing and content development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *