The Doghouse or the Clearinghouse?

Dog in truck

The New Hampshire Motor Transport Association (NHMTA) held a winter conference on February 23-26 in Key West, Florida. This conference welcomed a number of industry professionals to present over trending topics in the transportation industry, including our very own Steve Howell, AVP of Transportation Sales.

Steve crafted a detailed presentation over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Clearinghouse rule called, “The Doghouse or the Clearinghouse?” This clever presentation compares five emotional stages of getting a new dog to the Clearinghouse. Steve  playfully ties in excitement, preparation, frustration, acceptance, and wonderful as he covers the Clearinghouse implementation from its initial launch date to the current state.

What is the Clearinghouse?

Effective January 6, 2020, the FMCSA established a Clearinghouse rule, which requires mandatory use of the Clearinghouse for employers to identify drivers who are not eligible to perform safety-sensitive job requirements. This replaces the previous process of sending inquiries to former employers of the driver for drug and alcohol violation information and will become obsolete on January 6, 2023. This type of database will include FMCSA drug and alcohol record violations, test refusals, and Return-to-Duty statuses and completions.

Who Does it Affect?

  • Employers of CDL drivers
  • CDL drivers
  • Medical Review Officers (MROs)
  • Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs)
  • State Driver’s License Agencies (SDLAs)
  • Consortium/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs)

The Five Emotional Stages

1) Excitement

The Clearinghouse was announced on December 5, 2016, and officially went into effect January 2020, which caused quite the buzz across the transportation industry. This one-stop-shop type of database was exciting to many as it streamlined the drug testing compliance process, further enhancing safety measurements.

2) Preparation

Just like preparing for a puppy, those affected by the new rule had to do their research to prepare for the implementation date. Employers are required to register with the Clearinghouse, update company policies, designate a C/TPA, purchase query plans, and encourage driver registration. In addition, C/TPAs are required to report violations and test results within three business days of the notification and conduct queries.

3) Frustration

Users found themselves quite frustrated when all systems went live on January 6, 2020, as they faced technical difficulties. Despite all the frustrations, DISA remained vigilant and provided insight on how to resolve issues and helped communicate responses on behalf of the Clearinghouse, such as the Driver Consent Grace Period. In addition, DISA was able to meet the new requirements of the Clearinghouse while issues persisted.

4) Acceptance

The Clearinghouse is here to stay, and that means employers must overcome frustrations to be compliant. Working with TPAs like DISA help to make this transition much smoother. Current issues that employers still face include:

  • Delays in the driver registration process
  • CDL verification problems
  • Inability to link FMCSA accounts to Clearinghouse accounts

5) Wonderful

Employers will find that the Clearinghouse rule helps to organize, maintain, and streamline drug testing compliance, while also improving roadway safety for everyone. The purpose of the Clearinghouse is designed to efficiently report violations while allowing employers to access real-time violations and quicker access to meet pre-employment requirements. The Clearinghouse process also eliminates the possibility of drivers concealing their violations.

How Can DISA Help?

As your trusted TPA, DISA can conduct your queries to check if prospective employees are prohibited from jobs that require safety-sensitive related work, such as operating CMVs, due to an unresolved drug and alcohol program violation. DISA can also assist in the annual queries that employers are required to run. During this time of transition, our professionals at DISA understand the various issues that arise from the new process and will continue to help you meet the requirements of the Clearinghouse.

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About DISA Global Solutions

Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background check, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.

DISA Global Solutions aims to provide accurate and informative content for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. Always consult with a professional or legal expert.