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 Washington State's deployment of electronic credentialing for commercial motor carriers has been successful, partly because it enjoys a high level of support from the motor carrier industry. The state has actively sought to engage the motor carrier industry in its CVISN program. Moreover, in this case, the industry receives tangible benefits from the e-credentialing 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 clerical errors. One participating motor carrier estimates a savings of one hour of licensing coordinator labor per power unit by using e-credentialing. The Washington State experience with e-credentialing provides several suggestions for deployers:
- Design a system that meets the specific needs of the target customers. Washington State designed the e-credentialing system with higher-volume users in mind. In general, WSDOL is trying to increase the proportion of vehicles being credentialed electronically, not necessarily the proportion of carriers. A small handful of the highest volume carriers usually represent a disproportionately large segment of the truck population in a state. As of early 2004, the 177 motor carrier accounts using e-credentialing in Washington State (about 4 percent of all interstate carriers) represent about 15 percent of the state's International Registration Plan (IRP) commercial vehicles. Of these 177 carriers, 18 log onto the e-credentialing system directly, and the other 159 carriers engage one of eight private service bureaus authorized to process the carriers' credentials electronically. The state identifies carriers and service bureaus that may be selected to participate in e-credentialing by watching the annual volume of transactions per carrier. With the current e-credentialing program, smaller carriers or independent owner-operators, who might conduct licensing transactions only once or a few times per year, are less likely to benefit from the system.
- Recruit carriers on an individual basis. System administrators do not conduct any mass marketing or promotion for the e-credentialing system, but instead invite motor carriers and service bureaus to participate on a case-by-case basis. The system is expected to grow steadily, but there are no plans to make e-credentialing available for all motor carriers in the state. WSDOL officials estimate that a user population of approximately 40 e-credentialing motor carriers and another 300 motor carriers working through service bureaus would represent the practical capacity of the current system and staffing resources.
- Provide customer support for use of the electronic systems. WSDOL operates a help desk to coordinate support among the e-credentialing participants: motor carriers, the system vendor, and the state offices -- both central and field offices. The state help desk averages about 20 incoming calls from participants per week. Some calls are in turn referred to the system vendor, which maintains a technical support center to resolve software or hardware problems.
- Provide training for use of the electronic systems. When a company signs on to the e-credentialing program, personnel from their licensing and information systems teams attend a training session at the WSDOL in Olympia or at another designated location. Follow-up training may also be held at the motor carrier site after the software is installed. Day-to-day telephone support is available from the WSDOL and from the system vendor.
The e-credentialing system has enabled productivity increases for the participating motor carriers and the enforcement agencies through time and cost savings. By providing state roadside motor vehicle inspectors with real-time data for carriers and vehicles, the e-credentialing system has helped focus attention on trucks that are more likely to be violating weight limits and other laws. The new system has improved the mobility of the compliant motor carriers, as they are less likely to be delayed at the roadside inspection stations. 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.
(Our website has many links to other organizations. While we offer these electronic linkages for your convenience in accessing transportation-related information, please be aware that when you exit our website, the privacy and accessibility policies stated on our website may not be the same as that on other websites.)