Nearly two years after his taking the reins of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in an interim capacity, and a year after being formally nominated for the top job at the agency—but now with less than six months remaining for the Obama administration—the U.S. Senate confirmed Scott Darling as the next administrator in a July 14 voice vote.
Darling was tapped to be acting administrator following the departure of Anne Ferro in 2014.
In announcing the nomination, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx cited Darling’s performance as FMCSA’s top lawyer as well as his stint as the agency’s acting administrator.
“Scott has already demonstrated his ability to lead the Agency. He is committed to making our roads safer for motorists, passengers, and professional truck and bus drivers, and is constantly working with all sides to find solutions to challenges facing the industry and the motoring public,” Foxx said. “As Administrator, FMCSA will continue to benefit from his years of leadership and experience working in the transportation sector. I look forward to our continued work together.”
In his Jan. 20 confirmation hearing, he emphasized the importance of “partnerships” with state enforcement agencies and the trucking industry.
Otherwise, much of Darling’s confirmation testimony was used to assure Commerce committee Republicans that FAST Act-mandated reforms of the agency and its regulatory platform were well underway while he promised Democrats that the Republican-led rollback of driver hours of service limits would soon be addressed.
And Darling has won friends within the trucking industry.
“We have found him to be open and receptive to input from the association, and he appears to appreciate the role of professional truckers," said Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. President and CEO Jim Johnston when Darling was nominated.
OOIDA noted that the small business trucking group had been able to work with Darling on a number of areas, and cited specifically Darling’s leadership in moving forward with long-stalled federal entry-level driver training standards.
An Obama political appointee, Darling joined the agency as chief council in 2012 and has served as the agency’s top legal officer and managed FMCSA’s staff of attorneys. Darling joined FMCSA from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), where he served as the deputy chief of staff and assistant general counsel. He also served previously as the MBTA's Environmental and Land Use Counsel as well as its privacy administrator.
This isn’t the first time FMCSA has gone for an extended period without an administrator: Ten months elapsed between the departure of John Hill in Jan. 2009 and Ferro’s swearing in, according to an FMCSA calendar.