While safety considerations do not always permit us to provide relief to smaller entities, we are aware of small entity concerns and try, where possible, to accommodate them. In some cases, we have no discretion under our governing statutes to exempt small entities from our requirements.
We have taken many steps to improve our consideration of rulemaking impacts on small entities. We take appropriate follow-up action to ensure that rules are effectively implemented to keep burdens manageable and also consider such things as the size of the regulated entity when trying to enforce compliance. Through regulatory reviews, we also continually monitor the effectiveness of our rules after they are issued and, where necessary, make changes.
We lessen the impact of proposed or existing rules on affected entities, including small entities, where appropriate, by employing practices such as those listed below:
- We do not cover small entities under some regulations, especially if they do not contribute to the problem being addressed.
- We tier or reduce some regulatory requirements for smaller entities, particularly where they could have a disproportionate impact on them.
- We may delay or phase-in implementation of rules based on the size of entities to give them more time to comply or to join consortia with other entities to reduce their compliance costs.
- We generally use performance standards for flexibility in compliance, rather than specific design standards, to allow easier, less-costly, alternative means of compliance that achieve equivalent levels of transportation safety.
- We take steps to improve the ability of small entities to participate in the DOT rulemaking process.
Information about particular proposed and final rules is contained in the specific docket about them for that rulemaking in the Federal Docket Management System. We also disseminate information about them through press releases, conferences, videotapes, DVDs, simple brochures, computer disks, and CD-ROMs, speeches, radio broadcasts, Internet Web sites, and guidance materials to help small entities learn about and understand our programs and proposed and final regulations. To ensure wide dissemination, when appropriate, we specifically distribute information to interest groups representing small entities. We use electronic bulletin boards to provide electronic "Question and Answer" capability and information on implementation issues; we also provide increasing electronic access to documents. The DOT agencies' regulatory Web sites often provide information about hotlines and other telephone numbers that they may use to provide information and compliance assistance for regulated entities and others.