Broker transparency comment period extended
October 15, 2020
Truckers and other stakeholders will have more time to file comments on broker transparency now that the comment period has been extended.
On Friday, Oct. 16, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will publish a notice of extension of comment period for petitions regarding broker transparency. Originally, the deadline was set for Oct. 19. Now, the public will have until Nov. 18 to submit comments. The comment period was initiated following a May 19 petition by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to the U.S. Department of Transportation seeking greater transparency with transactions between brokers and owner-operators.
Comments can be sent by going to Regulations.gov, entering the docket number FMCSA-2020-0150 in the “Keyword” block and clicking “Search.” From there, click on the “Comment Now!” button. FMCSA recommends that you include your name, email address, or phone number in the body of your document.
Also, comments can be made during FMCSA’s virtual listening session on broker transparency. The listening session is scheduled for 1-2:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Registration is required in advance at FMCSA.dot.gov. The docket number for the listening session is FMCSA-2020-0190.
As of publication, more than 1,000 comments have been submitted. On Tuesday, the Association answered eight key questions asked by FMCSA covering topics such as statutory authority, enforcement, broker size threshold, and how truckers and carriers would benefit economically.
Broker transparency reform petitions
The federal regulation in question is 49 CFR 371.3, which requires brokers to keep records of transactions with motor carriers. One subsection of that regulation gives each party to the transaction, including the carriers, the right to review the record. This provision allows truckers to see exactly what their cut is of the full rate that the shipper paid.
“Motor carriers have expressed frustration about the lack of transparency between brokers and motor carriers,” FMCSA states in its notice. “OOIDA believes the problem is that the regulations designed to provide transparency are routinely evaded by brokers or simply not enforced by FMCSA.”
Also, OOIDA’s petition explains how brokers intentionally throw out roadblocks in contracts that prevent motor carriers from seeing information. In some cases, carriers can access records only at the broker’s office during normal business hours. Consequently, this makes it virtually impossible for an owner-operator to get information.
To solve some of the issues, OOIDA wants to modernize the regulations. Since the regulation was put in place, many – if not most – business transactions take place electronically. Therefore, requiring electronic copies will address some of the loopholes.
Furthermore, OOIDA also wants an update that will prevent brokers from retaliating against carriers that request information. Some truckers have accused brokers of refusing to offer them loads after requesting transaction information. LL