There were few comments concerning this section. Some comments suggested DOT appeal decisions should have mandatory nationwide effect. That is if DOT upheld the decertification action of Recipient A, Recipients B, C, D, E, etc. should automatically decertify the firm. This approach is inconsistent with the administrative review of the record approach this rule takes for appeals to DOT.
A DOT decision that A's decertification was supported by substantial evidence is not a DOT decision that the firm is ineligible. It is only a finding that A had enough evidence to decertify the firm. Other results might also be supported by substantial evidence. Nevertheless, when the Department takes action on an appeal, other recipients would be well advised to review their own decisions to see if any new proceedings are appropriate. One comment suggested the Department should explain a refusal to accept a complaint. This is already the Department's practice.
The SNPRM included a proposal to permit direct third-party complaints to the Department. There were few comments on this proposal, which would have continued an existing DOT practice. Some of these comments suggested dropping this provision, saying it made more sense to have all certification matters handled at the recipient level in the first instance. Others raised procedural issues (e.g., the possibility of the Department holding de novo hearings). The Department has reconsidered this proposal, and we have decided to delete it. We believe it will avoid administrative confusion and simplify procedures for everyone if all certification actions begin at the recipient level, with DOT appellate review on the administrative record.