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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Policy on Certification Requirements to Conduct Investigations, Investigations, Audits, and Specialized Reviews (MC-SE-2022-002)

Date:  July 18, 2022

Darrell L. Ruban, Associate Administrator for Safety

All Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Staff and Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program Partners

This memorandum updates the certification requirements for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) employees and non-employees who conduct inspections, safety audits, investigations, and specialized reviews which are uploaded into FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). In addition to implementing the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operational Policy 4 – Inspector Training and Certification for FMCSA employees, Attachment A establishes FMCSA’s certification requirements for employees and non-employees to conduct safety audits, investigations, and specialized reviews.


Reasons for Policy Update
During the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Agency adjusted the requirements for that maintaining certifications of personnel who conduct inspections, safety audits, investigations, and specialized reviews. The main adjustment was waiving the need to conduct comprehensive investigations on-site. Instead, personnel were able to maintain certifications through the conduct of off-site investigations and the tracking of “parts investigated”.

As a result of the lessons learned during COVID-19, FMCSA is adopting and incorporating into this policy, the following:

  1. Certification to conduct investigations (See: Attachment A, Table 2) is now based on the “Parts Investigated” method, unless otherwise noted. All parts investigated may be accomplished off-site.
  2. A certification requirement for hazardous materials (HM) has been added for Safety Investigators at the GS-11 or above levels. (See: Attachment A, Table 2)
  3. A Decertification Letter has been added to aid supervisors in the event a certified individual does not maintain certification.
  4. Certification requirements to conduct Household Goods Reviews, Cargo Tank Facility Reviews, and Americans with Disabilities Act Reviews (ADAR) are now presented in a table format. (See: Attachment A, Table 3). The requirements to conduct the ADARs are now formalized in this policy, and due to statutory requirements, do not apply to non-FMCSA employees.
  5. All documentation in Attachments B and C have been updated to cover the requirements in this policy.

Statutory and Regulatory Background
On March 19, 2002, FMCSA published an interim final rule to carry out the requirements of Section 211 of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (MCSIA) (67 FR 12776). Section 211 required that all individuals conducting driver/vehicle inspections, safety audits, and investigations be qualified and certified to do so (49 U.S.C. 31148). The rule also required the maintenance of certification for individuals conducting these activities. The rule added subpart C to 49 CFR part 385 and was effective on June 17, 2002.

On August 27, 2021, as required by section 5202 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) (note following 49 U.S.C. 31148), FMCSA amended its regulations to incorporate by reference CVSA’s Operational Policy 4 – Inspector Training and Certification (86 FR 48038). As part of the incorporation, CVSA’s policy was removed as Attachment A to FMCSA’s December 2015 certification policy. The rule amended subpart C to 49 CFR part 385 by removing references to inspections and adding a new section 385.207 to address inspections, as well as updating terminology. The rule also replaced the 2002 interim final rule. CVSA’s policy applies only to the certifications required to conduct driver, vehicle, and hazardous materials inspections, but is utilized as the basis for certification of FMCSA and non-FMCSA employees and contractors who conduct inspections, safety audits, investigations, and specialized reviews. The current incorporated version of CVSA’s Operational Policy 4 – Inspector Training and Certification is available on FMCSA’s website and follows this policy for the convenience of users.

Since 2002, FMCSA issued several certification policies as the responsibility of the Agency grew and the program evolved. To address the August 2021, rule that formally implemented the FAST Act requirement to incorporate by reference CVSA’s policy, and to address lessons learned during the COVID-19 National emergency declared in 2020, FMCSA is issuing this policy to provide for a more efficient and effective means of initial and maintenance of certification requirements for individuals who conduct inspections, safety audits, investigations, and reviews.

This policy supersedes the policy titled, “Certification Policy for Employees Who Perform Inspections, Investigations, and Safety Audits” (MC-ECS-2016-003) issued December 29, 2015, as amended, and all previous guidance issued on certification requirements.1

Any individual conducting a driver/vehicle inspection that will be uploaded into MCMIS must meet the requirements of CVSA’s Operational Policy 4 – Inspector Training and Certification requirements. The FMCSA’s requirements relating to implementing CVSA’s policy for FMCSA employees are outlined in Attachment A.

The procedures detailed in CVSA’s Operational Policy 4 – Inspector Training and Certification and Attachment A of this policy, as applicable, must be followed for initial certification, maintenance of certification, a temporary certification extension, and decertification and recertification processes for inspection, safety audit, investigation, and specialized review certifications. 

This memorandum is effective June 1, 2022. 

This policy is applicable and authorized for distribution to FMCSA employees and non-employees (i.e., Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Lead State Agencies and contractor officials) that conduct or intend to conduct inspections, safety audits, and investigations, including specialized reviews, uploaded into MCMIS.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Paul Bomgardner, Chief, Hazardous Materials Division (202) 493-0027 or via e-mail at

Attachment A:    Certification Requirements to Conduct Safety Audits, Investigations, & Specialized Reviews.
Attachment B:    Employee Acknowledgement of Initial Certification Completion and Maintenance Requirements
Attachment C:    Employee Notice of Certification Status 
Attachment D:    Decertification Letter 


1 Inspectors, investigators and auditors who have gained initial certification or maintained certification pursuant to policies and waivers issued by FMCSA during the period covering March 2020 through May 2022 (COVID-19 pandemic) are considered certified to perform the activities either gained or maintained.

Last updated: Wednesday, August 3, 2022