Bureau of Enforcement Compliance Program
The Bureau of Enforcement (BOE) actively fosters industry compliance with the Shipping Act and other statutes and regulations within the Commission's authority. BOE promotes voluntary compliance through outreach and education to the shipping public and regulated industry, and works closely with the Commission’s Area Representatives and the Bureau of Certification and Licensing to help OTIs understand their responsibilities and how to comply with the Shipping Act and the Commission’s regulations.
Ocean Transportation Intermediary Compliance Program
The Commission’s Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) Compliance Program is conducted primarily by written correspondence and directly engages the OTI’s management in a quick, high-level review of the OTI’s bonding level, tariff, and current operating status to determine whether additional actions are needed to comply with Commission requirements. The compliance audit also may include review of entities holding themselves out as vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) where Commission staff can find no indication of current vessel operations. BOE then works with the OTI, its tariff publisher, and bonding company, as necessary, to assist the OTI in bringing its operations into compliance.
Starting the Audit Process
A compliance audit starts with a letter of introduction that explains BOE’s authority and purpose for conducting the audit. Included with BOE’s letter is a multi-page questionnaire that requests specific information on matters such as:
- Current address
- Names and information concerning Qualifying Individual(s)
- Structure of the organization
- Nature and extent of current operations of the OTI
A list of OTI regulatory obligations also is provided at the commencement of each compliance audit. The completed questionnaire and any supporting documents must be returned within 30 days.
During a routine compliance audit, BOE may identify one or more areas of non-compliance with Commission regulations. In this case, BOE will follow-up with the OTI in an attempt to resolve any non-compliant aspects of the OTI’s operations. OTI cooperation during the audit is key to achieve prompt completion of the audit and any corrective actions.
Recent Non-Compliance Issues
Based on BOE audit results during the most recent six-month period (ending Sept. 30, 2014), the most common issues encountered during the course of an OTI compliance audit included:
- Failure to update Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) rates or maintaining a tariff that contains one rate applicable to "Cargo NOS"
- Failure to update OTI business address for FMC records and OTI bonding purposes
- Failure to adequately document parties’ agreement contained in NVO Negotiated Rate Arrangements (NRAs)
- Failure to reflect OTI name and license number on OTI’s shipping documents