PRISM and CVISN are closely related programs managed by FMCSA. While both programs seek to improve motor carrier safety through information exchange, they have distinct objectives. They have similar, but not identical, requirements for the exchange of interstate registration credential data with the states but different business rules for updating and processing that data. The two programs share the Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) commercial vehicle information exchange system as their common data repository, which is more formally called the SAFER/PRISM Central Site. The white paper CVISN/PRISM Combined Implementation Guidance for States provides background on each program and discusses options for operational implementation of both programs
The Performance and Registration Information Systems Management (PRISM) Program originated as a pilot project mandated by Congress under section 4003 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). The goal of the project was to explore the potential benefits of using state commercial vehicle registration sanctions as an incentive to improve motor carrier safety.
The pilot officially ended on September 30, 1997. A final report assessing the feasibility, costs, and benefits of the PRISM program was submitted to Congress in 1998. The pilot proved conclusively that the possibility of state commercial vehicle registration sanctions could, indeed, serve as a powerful enforcement tool in federal and state motor carrier safety improvement efforts.
In 1998 Congress authorized additional funding through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) to implement the PRISM program nationwide.