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Research Project
FMCSA IT Modernization Provides Direction for Safety Software

With technology advancing daily, the 15-year-old collection of software that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) uses to collect and analyze commercial vehicle company census and safety data is continuously updated by TSSC staff.

To date, the TSSC's expertise has been primarily in developing the mission-critical software for laptop computers used by federal and state commercial vehicle inspectors and investigators. So it makes sense that the center would play a pivotal role in transforming and updating that software. Having functional systems is critical to tracking the more than 3.5 million commercial vehicle inspections every year. Currently commercial transport companies and enforcement personnel use up to 20 different programs to query, check, and enter data, file required reports and schedule compliance reviews and safety audits.

The effort, called FMCSA IT Modernization, is more far-reaching than updating software. "FMCSA's initiative is transforming the way FMCSA does business and implementing an information technology solution that improves the agency's ability to save lives," notes TSSC director Brenda Lantz. "The initiative is creating a single source for safety data while improving data quality."

The FMCSA is involved in a long-term process of consolidating and updating its computer operations into a system that closely aligns with the agency's objectives. "Combining those systems will make them much more efficient and user friendly," Lantz says. While the existing applications have functioned well, compatibility with new security requirements and computer operating systems is adding urgency to the effort.

The FMCSA IT Modernization is being designed so that it will be flexible enough so that its data and capabilities can be used in new applications designed by other state and federal agencies. In the early stages of the process, TSSC and FMCSA staff along with clients defined strengths and weaknesses of the existing suite of software so those could be considered in the FMCSA IT Modernization initiative. FMCSA and other clients are helping to refine the system, making it more functional and user-friendly.

Each member of the TSSC staff has expertise in specific software related to enforcement and compliance. Because the FMCSA IT Modernization consolidates those applications, TSSC staff members are working together to assure their components are compatible and work together efficiently. "This is really a team effort for us," Lantz notes.

For more information about this project, please email Brenda Lantz brenda.lantz@ndsu.edu.

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