Based on FHWA's reassessment of the reporting and attribution process and on the GAO study, several specific issues were identified. These issues were published in a Federal Register notice for public response.3 Sixteen States provided comments on the issues provided in the Federal Register. Two additional issues were also raised by commenters. The comments may be found at http://dmses.dot.gov; search for docket number FHWA-2000-7635. All of the issues are discussed below. Certain process refinements are required to address these issues; these changes are explained in the following sections.
Some of the issues concern the data reported by the States. Because of differences in State laws, States collect different types of data. Chapter 2 of A Guide to Reporting Highway Statistics4 provides instructions for completing Forms FHWA-551M and FHWA-556.
An implementation timetable for the process refinements is shown in the following table.
Reporting of Public Use of Diesel Fuel
In the past, FHWA instructions to the States called for the inclusion of private and commercial diesel gallons but excluded public diesel gallons. Changes in historical methods for collecting diesel taxes and differences among States concerning tax exemptions for public diesel use have increased the need for a more refined method of reporting diesel fuel usage. Only about seven States can separate public diesel usage from other uses and report the usage correctly according to instructions.
Process Refinement: To ensure equity and consistency, FHWA will utilize total on-highway diesel fuel usage, including private, commercial, and public uses.
Other methods exist for ensuring equity among the States. For example, FHWA could require that States implement procedures to collect the appropriate information, or FHWA could estimate the information for the States. The process refinement noted above involves the least State reporting burden, the least expense, and the most reliable results. Many States do not separately identify publicly used diesel motor fuel. In addition, there would be a reporting burden on counties and school districts reporting to the State.
In comments on the Federal Register notice, five States opposed the proposed change. These five States expressed concerns of not being able to report on gallons of diesel used by public entities because the public use of diesel fuel in these States is currently not taxed and there is no mechanism for obtaining usage reports. One additional concern was that the revision could impact smaller rural States that have a small public use of diesel.
Although these five States opposed the change, other States specifically mentioned that this process refinement would appear to provide equitable treatment.
3 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, "Highway Motor Fuel Reporting Reassessment; Public Workshop," Federal Register, Vol. 65, No. 160, August 17, 2000, pp. 50269-50272.
4 U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, A Guide to Reporting Highway Statistics, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/hsguide/tocpref.pdf
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