On Oct. 4, ARSA commented on the Department of Transportation’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) “Electronic Signatures, Forms and Storage for Drug and Alcohol Testing Records.” DOT sought information – through a series of 11 questions – on how best to amend current regulations in 49 CFR Part 40 to authorize electronic recordkeeping. As it often does, the association provided the agency with a regulatory-based rationale for minimizing changes to existing rules while allowing the broadest possible range of options for those seeking to comply.
“ARSA urges the government to minimize or eliminate any limitations on methods for handling required records,” the association said. “Instead, the regulations should continue to focus on the information that must be documented and set standards for confidentiality in handling that data while remaining agnostic about technical specifics.”
The comments referenced the sections of Part 40 covering content and delivery of required reports as well as the subpart on confidentiality. Based on a plain reading of the current rule, ARSA encouraged DOT that “allowing” electronic recordkeeping is less about changing the regulations than it is about understanding what’s possible under them. In its specific responses to the agency’s questions, the association repeatedly explained how the government should stay out of the details of each service agent or employer’s recordkeeping system.
“Providing flexibility to both service agents and employers ensures each entity may best serve its own business and operational needs. Providing choice in selecting recordkeeping methods…limits the cost burden of compliance by allowing companies to fulfill regulatory obligations in whatever manner is most efficient for their business,” ARSA said while repeatedly pushing back on DOT’s interest in specific system elements like confidentiality, authentication, non-repudiation, and file access. “The rules should maintain [substantive] focus and not add unnecessary heft for the sake of addressing logistical matters.”
DOT has begun the rulemaking process under congressional mandate that includes a February 2025 deadline. The executive branch often allows such timelines to lag and regulatory review can be an incredibly deliberate process. With at least a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) and subsequent final rule publication still ahead, the agency has considerable work ahead of it.