This General Accounting Office (GAO) study (1) determined the status of the Department of Transportation's (DOT's) private-sector drug-testing programs, (2) evaluated DOT's program implementation, (3) described the present legal challenges to DOT's regulations, and (4) analyzed congressional bills proposing drug testing for certain private-sector transportation industry workers, comparing the bills' provisions with DOT's drug-testing regulations. The six DOT administrations initially required employers with more than 50 covered employees to begin drug testing by the end of 1989 and other employers, a year or more later. However, the three administrations responsible for the rail, maritime, and pipeline industries extended employer implementation dates from 1 to 4 months to allow additional time for legal challenges and program development. The Office of the Secretary played an active role in overseeing the development of each administration's regulations because it wanted consistent drug testing across the transportation industry. The administrations perform the same types of tests and require the same testing procedures. However, the implementation approaches and plans for program management vary across the administrations. For example, the approaches on only two of the six administrations contain management practices, such as monitoring of employer drug-testing programs and procedures, that GAO believes are important for effective program implementation and management. Also, the Office of the Secretary has not provided guidance to the administrations on the types of information needed from employers to evaluate the programs' overall effectiveness. Employee unions and associations have challenged the legality of DOT's regulations, including the constitutionality of random drug testing. The resolution of these cases may take some time. The 101st Congress is considering two bills that differ from DOT's programs by also requiring, among other things, random testing for alcohol abuse. Also, proposed employer penalties for noncompliance may not be clear because each administration is basing penalties on its enabling safety legislation rather than specifically providing a penalty schedule.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, Committee on Public Works and Transportation, House of Representatives.
  • Corporate Authors:

    U.S. General Accounting Office

    441 G Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20548
  • Publication Date: 1989-11

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Tables;
  • Pagination: 54 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00491215
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO/RCED-90-31
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 28 1990 12:00AM