The U.S. Transportation Department this week announced six actions to eliminate “out-of-date or duplicative paperwork, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing the workload for businesses across the country.”
DOT’s announcement comes in response to an executive order issued by President Obama in May, which instructed federal agencies to examine all existing rules and requirements to make sure they are still necessary, streamlined, and up-to-date. The department developed a paperwork reduction plan as part of an “aggressive” effort to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.
The six actions are expected to reduce the amount of time spent on paperwork and reporting by more than 450,000 hours. The changes will be implemented across a range of transportation areas, and include:
- The Federal Railroad Administration is planning to allow some smaller freight and commuter railroads to use a simplified electronic recordkeeping system for hours of service records. By providing an alternative set of requirements specifically tailored to the circumstances of smaller operations, FRA expects a greater number of railroads to move to electronic HOS recordkeeping systems. Electronic records require substantially less time to complete than manual records, and this action could save small rail operators more than 200,000 hours of paperwork, DOT said.
- FRA is also planning revisions to Hours of Service (HOS) regulations which would benefit small railroads that continue to use paper recordkeeping systems. Currently, railroads using electronic HOS recordkeeping systems are allowed to manage their reports internally, rather than submitting every report to the FRA. The revised regulation would extend the same allowances to smaller railroads that still use paper HOS recordkeeping systems, reducing the time required for each individual report by an estimated 30 minutes.
- Portable oxygen concentrators (POC) are sometimes carried by airline passengers with medical conditions that require oxygen therapy, as a safer alternative to an oxygen tank. Currently, passengers are required to carry a doctor’s note authorizing the use of their POC. However, the Federal Aviation Administration is planning a new performance standard that could include a device labeling requirement. That would allow air carriers to check the device to make sure it is compliant, while eliminating the need for travelers to obtain a doctor’s note, saving passengers almost 170,000 hours.
- The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is planning the Hazardous Materials Automated Cargo Communications for Efficient and Safe Shipments (HM-ACCESS) Initiative to reduce the burden associated with hardcopy shipping papers. The initiative will evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of using a paperless system to communicate information about hazardous shipments, rather than the current hardcopy system. Use of a voluntary or mandatory electronic reporting system could “significantly lower costs and reduce workloads for shippers and federal employees,” DOT said.
- FAA is planning to develop an electronic collection system for all of the information and forms required to certify the products and parts used in the aviation system. Testing is expected to begin in 2016, potentially leading to significant cost savings and paperwork reductions.
- FRA is planning revised regulations that would streamline the process for certifying locomotive engineers. “The revisions would eliminate unnecessary redundancies by, for instance, allowing engineers to use a single medical certificate for both the conductor and engineer certification processes. The changes would reduce the burden on the Federal Railroad Administration, the railroads, and the railroad employees,” DOT said.