PHMSA Has Addressed Most Weaknesses We Identified in Its Special Permit and Approval Processes

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) regulates about 1 million transports of hazardous materials (hazmat) a day under its Hazardous Material Regulations (HMR). However, numerous businesses and Government agencies move many of these materials by truck, rail, and other transportation modes under special permits from PHMSA that provide exceptions to requirements in the HMR. Similarly, entities that want to perform functions that require prior consent under the HMR, such as classifying explosives and manufacturing cylinders for transport, must first receive written approval from PHMSA’s Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety. In 2009 and 2010, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported on weaknesses in PHMSA’s processes for granting special permits and approvals. Specifically, OIG found that PHMSA: (1) did not review incident and enforcement records to establish applicants’ fitness for conducting activities authorized by special permits and approvals; (2) had little or no evidence of its evaluations of applicants’ proposed measures for safely transporting hazmat; (3) rarely coordinated applications with affected operating administrations (OA) before issuing special permits and approvals; (4) had not inspected explosives testing laboratories in 10 years; and (5) did not adequately plan to address necessary information technology improvements within the Agency. OIG conducted this audit to assess PHMSA’s progress in addressing the issues highlighted in the previous work. Specifically, OIG assessed whether PHMSA (1) implemented standard operating procedures (SOPs) and addressed weaknesses highlighted in the prior reports, and (2) has improved information technology that supports its special permit and approval processes.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 20p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01536073
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MH-2014-064
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI, USDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 25 2014 11:52AM