As an owner operator when registering for the FMCSA Clearinghouse, you are asked if you want to designate a C/TPA for your program. You should not do this until you have spoken to a C/TPA and made arrangements for services. The same applies for trucking company employers who are registering in the FMCSA Clearinghouse.
In this article, we will cover:
What Is A C/TPA?
The term C/TPA stands for Consortium/Third Party Administrator. This is a private business that helps DOT-regulated companies comply with DOT drug; alcohol testing regulations and the FMCSA Clearinghouse. You may have a TPA or C/TPA for your drug; alcohol testing needs and a C/TPA for your FMCSA Clearinghouse.
The term Consortium refers to your drivers in a random testing pools with drivers from other companies. If you an owner operator you are required to be in a Consortium. With more than one driver in your company, you can go into a Consortium random testing pool or a Stand-Alone random testing pool. Generally, with 20 or less drivers the Consortium is the better option.
Why Do I Need To Designate A C/TPA?
For the FMCSA Clearinghouse, an owner operator is required to designate a C/TPA to report violations and assist the owner operator with the FMCSA Clearinghouse. An employer with 2 or more drivers regulated by FMCSA is not required to designate a C/TPA. An employer with multiple drivers can report violations directly into the Clearinghouse or ask a C/TPA for assistance. In all cases, drug test positive results are reported to the FMCSA Clearinghouse by the Medical Review Officer (MRO).
It is important that you don’t designate a C/TPA in the Clearinghouse prior to discussing services with the C/TPA and getting approval to designate the particular C/TPA.
The C/TPA can also help you with all of your drug and alcohol testing needs including the required random testing in a Consortium or Stand-Alone random testing Program.
What Can The C/TPA Do For My Trucking Company?
Employer responsibilities in the Clearinghouse which can be handled direct by the employer (except owner operators) or handled by a contracted C/TPA include:
- Report refusals to test that are employer determined refusals
- Report alcohol test violations
- Report negative return to duty test
- Report completion of a follow testing program
- Report actual knowledge violations
- Run required pre-employment and annual queries
- Updating of policies and education programs to notify drivers of what information will be reported to the Clearinghouse
I Operate In Five Cities, Do I Need A C/TPA In Each City?
A good C/TPA operates nationally and can service your needs throughout the Unites States. So, there is not a reason to have more than one C/TPA. Your C/TPA should have an ordering system to order drug test sin all areas of the United States.
Owner-operators will have a special relationship with the C/TPA who is filling in the shoes of the Designated Employer Representative (DER) when providing services to the owner operator.