DOT Random Consortium Pool vs Standalone Random Pool

Random drug and alcohol testing is required for United States Department of Transportation (DOT) regulated employers. This includes DOT regulated owner operator truck drivers. For non-regulated employers, random drug and alcohol testing is a best practice and a deterrent to employee drug use. In this article, we will discuss:

Check out also some other articles on our website regarding random drug testing.

Random Drug Testing
Random Drug Testing Guidelines
Owner Operator Random Consortium

Employers needing random testing consortium pool or random testing standalone pool can look to setting up an account with National Drug Screening.

DOT Consortium Random Pool

The DOT allows a consortium random pool and requires this type of random pool for owner operators. The consortium is a grouping of employers into one pool of employees for random testing.For example, our consortium random pool for Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) might contain 500 owner operators, 150 small trucking companies with 2 drivers and 50 small trucking companies with 4 drivers.This now puts 1000 drivers into this consortium random pool and with FMCSA regulations this consortium would do minimum testing annually: 500 random drug tests and 100 alcohol tests. FMCSA requires 50% annual testing for drugs and 10% annual testing for alcohol.

In the above example, if the consortium is in compliance with the required annual percentages and in one particular employer company no one is selected for random testing and no random testing is completed; that company is in compliance for the year.When the consortium random pool is in compliance, the consortium members that follow the rules are in compliance.Consortium random pool programs are typically best to run on a calendar year with monthly or quarterly selections.

We get the question very often, how many employees should be in the consortium.There is really no required minimum or maximum number of employees that can go into random consortium.The one exception is the owner operator that is required to be in a random consortium.In general, our rule of thumb is that an employer with over 20 drivers should be in a standalone random pool (see below) and employers with 20 or less then employers should be in a Consortium random pool.

The term Consortium/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPA) is used by DOT to describe a business that sells services to employers to manage random drug testing programs.There are 100’s of C/TPA’s across the USA who can service employers for their drug and alcohol testing needs.The C/TPA is an integral part of process of managing a consortium random pool.Learn more about Third Party Administration (TPA) For Drug Testing Programs.

It is important to note that employer members in a random consortium pool must follow the rules of the consortium pool.An employer not following the consortium rules will be removed from the random pool.

Standalone Random Pool

In contrast to the consortium random pool, the standalone random pools consists of employees from just one employer company. So, for example if I have 100 drivers in the FMCSA program, then I need annually to complete a minimum of 50 drug tests and 10 alcohol tests.

There is really no required minimum or maximum number of employees that can go into standalone random pool. The one exception is the owner operator that is required to be in a random consortium.As mentioned above the general rule of thumb is that if you have over 20 employees to go into a random pool, the standalone might be better. If you had 2 employees in a standalone pool, you would be testing those same 2 employees over and over again; so, for 2 employees the consortium pool is better.

Like the consortium pool, the standalone pool should be operated over a calendar year and selections done monthly or quarterly. In some cases, an employer might have seasonal operations with no employees working for several months so the schedule for selections might vary.

The standalone random pool might be managed directly by the employer or with the assistance of C/TPA. In either case a scientifically valid method of random selections must be utilized, typically a computer program designed for this function.

Best Practices for Random Drug Testing

The DOT Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC) publishes best practices for random testing programs, these are provided below:

Below are some quick references points for managing a DOT random drug and alcohol testing program. If you have questions or need assistance managing your random testing program, contact National Drug Screening at 866-843-4545.

Random Drug and Alcohol Testing

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