DOT Revises Reporting Methods for Annual Testing Data

 
Monday, September 1, 2003
 
by Jackson Lewis

The U.S. Department of Transportation has revised the Management Information System (MIS) form used by the five DOT modal agencies, as well as the United States Coast Guard, for employers to submit annual testing program data. The new form will be required for employer MIS submissions in calendar year 2004 documenting calendar year 2003 data.

Under a rule published July 25, 2003, DOT is streamlining the annual reporting by requiring a one-page data collection form for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), in addition to the Coast Guard. The new MIS form standardizes the information collected and reduces the amount of data to be reported by transportation industry testing programs.

Under the new reporting system, there will be some variations in the data sought from agency to agency, based on existing program requirements, and the agencies will continue to determine the dates and manner of submission. Issues arising from agency requests for supplemental data will be addressed separately by DOT. The new rule, together with the standardized MIS Data Collection Form and instructions, is published in the Federal Register Friday, July 25, 2003, at 68 Fed. Reg. 43946-43964. (access 19-page PDF at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2003/pdf/03-18378.pdf to view the form and instructions).

According to DOT, employers immediately should follow the new rule's provisions to begin the collection of the required data and to establish the number of employees upon which the 2003 random testing requirements are based. The rule warns companies that they will have problems completing the form if they do not know how many individuals are employed and released from employment, how many eligible employees are in each random selection pool, and if eligible employees are placed into and taken out of random selection pools.

DOT believes a calculation based on employee averaging will be the best way for employers to determine the number of covered employees eligible for DOT random testing throughout the year. To calculate the total number of covered employees, it suggests that employers add the total numbers of covered employees eligible for testing during each random testing selection period for the year and divide that total by the number of random testing periods. (However, no company will need to factor the average number of employees more often than once per month).

As noted, the amount of data included on the form has been reduced. For example, employers subject to FMCSA no longer will be expected to include such items as the number of persons denied a position following a positive drug test, the number of persons returned to duty following a refusal or positive drug test, supervisor initial drug training data, and the number of employees denied a position following an alcohol test of 0.04 or greater (among others).

Under the new reporting system, DOT will count collections differently than under the old MIS regimen. For instance, under the old requirements, specimen collections resulting in refusals to test -- no matter what the reason -- were not considered appropriate for inclusion as a testing event. However, DOT now will count the number of specimens collected as the number of testing events resulting in negative, positive, and refusals to test, no matter what the reason. (Invalid tests will continue to be excluded.)

DOT is currently working on developing an electronic MIS capable of Internet submission. Unlike the published version, it would be DOT agency-specific and would not show items extraneous to the requirements of that agency.

The Jackson Lewis Workplace Drug Testing and Substance Abuse Practice Group is available to answer questions regarding DOT drug and alcohol testing program compliance. For more information, please contact:
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