USDOT OIG Denies Trucking Group’s Request to Investigate Alleged Broker Abuse
Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has declined a trucking group’s request to launch an investigation into alleged broker abuse.
On May 6, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) filed a complaint with the USDOT OIG asking for an investigation to be opened into possible “evasion of regulation by big brokers.”
The SBTC’s complaint centers around the federal regulation most of the trucking industry has been discussing for the last few weeks: 49 CFR 371.3, which requires brokers to, upon the carrier’s request, provide a record of each load transaction the carrier has delivered for up to three years.
The SBTC alleges brokers requiring carriers to waive that right under 371.3 represents a violation of 49 U.S. Code § 14906 – evasion of regulation of carriers and brokers.
According to 49 U.S. Code § 14906, “A person, or an officer, employee, or agent of that person, that by any means tries to evade regulation provided under this part for carriers or brokers is liable to the United States for a civil penalty of at least $2,000 for the first violation and at least $5,000 for a subsequent violation, and may be subject to criminal penalties.”
“Insofar as big brokers are coercing carriers in their contracts to waive their rights to paperwork that show shipper payments to evade regulation, the SBTC hereby requests an OIG investigation into this matter,” the SBTC’s complaint states.
On Wednesday, Scott Harding, with the USDOT OIG, informed SBTC president James Lamb by email the group’s request had been denied.
Harding informed officials “determined that your concerns do not warrant a formal OIG Investigation/Inquiry, and the appropriate venue may lie with other established procedures.”
Lamb responded by saying, “We are in discussions with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). Perhaps they will enforce the law.”
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported last week that the DOJ is seeking evidence of potential violations of antitrust laws before it determines whether or not to open an official investigation.
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Meanwhile, the SBTC has also petitioned the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for a rulemaking to add a new requirement to federal regulations involving brokers.
The SBTC is asking the Agency to add the following to 49 CFR 371:
Brokers may not coerce or otherwise require parties to the transaction to waive their right to review the record of the transaction as a condition for doing business. No stipulation or clause in any contract shall exempt any broker from having to comply with this rule, upon demand, by a party to the transaction.
TNN will continue to follow new developments.