As part of the national Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks (CVISN) initiative, the State of Washington deployed an electronic credentialing (e-credentialing) system for commercial vehicle operators. Available on a trial basis beginning in April 2001, the e-credentialing system aims to improve commercial vehicle administration, make roadside inspections more efficient, and speed up the commercial vehicles registration process. The system allows selected motor carriers and private service bureaus (private-sector brokers authorized to process a carrier's credentials) to apply for and print a number of commercial vehicle administrative documents in their own offices via the Internet. The system is connected to Washington State's Commercial Vehicle Information Exchange Window (CVIEW) system, which enables the licensing office to share credential data with roadside operations and with jurisdictions outside the state. Three state agencies have been involved in the design and deployment of the system: the Washington State Department of Transportation, the (WSDOT), the Washington State Department of Licensing (WSDOL), and the Washington State Patrol (WSP). This lesson is based on a U.S. Department of Transportation sponsored evaluation of the Washington State's e-credentialing system deployment.
The purpose of CVISN is to facilitate information exchange among compatible electronic systems in order to manage commercial vehicle operations efficiently. A national CVISN architecture has been defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation, working in conjunction with states, transportation researchers, and motor carriers. Washington State was one of the early adopters of the CVISN architecture, which served as the platform for developing the state's e-credentialing system. The Washington State experience with e-credentialing provides several suggestions for deployers of CVISN projects:
- Participate in information exchange programs sponsored by the federal government. Washington State learned a lot from being an active participant in the FMCSA-sponsored CVISN information exchange and planning programs. These initiatives were designed to bring together ideas from states and other stakeholders during the program development and deployment process. Some of the CVISN workshops offered by FMCSA include scope development, project planning, and design and implementation.
- Participate in information exchange programs with other state governments. WSDOT and WSDOL consulted with other states at all stages of CVISN deployment in areas such as the acquisition process, request for proposal (RFP) development, defining technical specifications and business requirements, and making vendor comparisons and evaluations. State officials also interacted with their counterparts in other jurisdictions to share source code freely. WSDOT modified Utah's e-permitting system to create the "e-SNOOPI" (System Network for Oversize, Overweight Permit Information) application, one of the first e-commerce oversize/overweight permitting programs. Similarly, Alaska used Washington State's Commercial Vehicle Roadside Information Sorting System (CRISS) to develop its own program for electronic screening.
- Create mechanisms for system developers from around the country to talk to one another. WSDOT uses an e-mail information sharing service for CVISN system architects. Information technology specialists use the service to post questions and answers regarding technical topics such as passing XML data packages among systems, installing and configuring wireless systems for roadside enforcement, and standardizing vocabulary.
The e-credentialing system deployment by Washington State has provided several benefits to the state, the motor carrier industry, and the traveling public. The motor carrier industry receives several tangible benefits from the system through quicker credentialing and labor savings. Labor savings for their licensing staff have come from applying for credentials without leaving their offices, less transcription and data entry, and fewer and more quickly identified and corrected clerical errors. One participating motor carrier estimated a savings of one hour of licensing coordinator labor per truck by using e-credentialing. The e-credentialing system also provides data for real-time systems available to state roadside motor vehicle inspectors. This information has helped inspectors focus on trucks that are more likely to be violating weight limits and other laws. Moreover, the Washington State Police have found that that e-screening with CVIEW data has made the highways safer by helping control the volume of traffic flow through and around weigh stations.
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