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Understanding the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

Welcome to the Understanding PHMSA transition site page. Here you will find all sorts of useful information about what PHMSA does, how it is organized, and the manner in which it operates. For additional information about PHMSA, please go to or click here to access an electronic version of the PHMSA Modal Transition Highlights book.

Who We Are

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) mission is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives.   PHMSA works in partnership with State and local regulators, first responders, and industry to ensure dangerous products move safely and without incident. PHMSA is responsible for the oversight of more than 40,000 shippers and more than 2.7 million miles of pipeline.  In addition, Congress has reauthorized and expanded PHMSA's safety mission with the passing of the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016.


  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was established on November 30, 2004 by the Norman Y. Mineta Research and Special Programs Improvement Act (Public Law 108-426). The mission of PHMSA is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives.   
  • PHMSA carries out its mission through two primary safety programs: the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) and the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS).  Pipelines transport and supply more than two thirds of the fuel used to heat, cool, and operate American homes, cars, and businesses.  In addition to its pipeline safety role, PHMSA oversees the safe and secure shipment of close to one million daily movements of hazardous materials carried by highway, rail, vessel, and air. These materials are essential to the American economy for use in farming, medical applications, manufacturing, mining, and other industrial processes.  
  • PHMSA is a unique agency housed in the U.S. Department of Transportation because it centers on the safe movement of hazardous materials, making it an inherently multimodal transportation agency.

What We Do

Developing, issuing and enforcing safety regulations are a significant portion of PHMSA's work; however, PHMSA also conducts research, funds State regulatory authorities, emergency responders, and representatives of communities affected by hazardous materials transportation, and educates stakeholder groups – including the general public – through outreach initiatives and training.  PHMSA's 609 employees carry out inspections, provide training to first responders, administer grants, and develop state of the art rules for the safe movement of hazardous materials through pipelines and across roadways, by rail, air, and water.  More than 228 inspectors and enforcement staff work in the most remote areas of the Nation ensuring pipelines function without leaks or spills. Also, more than 50 inspectors check hazardous materials shipments in our ports of entry and throughout our Nation including crude oil by rail, lithium batteries, fireworks and other explosives, and toxic substances.

In FY 2015, PHMSA's pipeline safety program:

  • Spent over 9,900 days conducting 1,317 inspections, including 331 days in the field with pipeline operators on 41 pipeline failure investigations;
  • Issued 206 enforcement actions, proposed a total of nearly $3 million in civil penalties, issued 64 enforcement orders—including the assessment totaling more than $3 million in civil penalties—while collecting 100 percent of the assessed penalties;
  • Awarded $50 million for 62 State Pipeline Safety Base grants, $1.5 million for 19 State Damage Prevention grants, and $1.1 million for One Call Grants to 26 State agencies;
  • Provided 3,628 classes to State and Federal pipeline inspectors;
  • Funded $16.5 million in research and development projects.

In FY 2015, the Hazardous Materials Safety program conducted 1,227 hazardous materials inspections, educated over 3,000 hazmat stakeholders through multimodal seminars and workshops, funded 11 research and development projects, and awarded 73 grants to 50 states, tribes, and non-profit entities.  The program, which is focused on high-risk safety issues, opened 140 new enforcement cases and closed 304 enforcement actions over the course of the year, with a total penalty amount of $1.0 million.

Organization Chart

 P.H.M.S.A. organizational chart

Line of Succession

  1. Purpose. To provide for the continuity of essential functions through the orderly succession of officials of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to the position of Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrator in case of the Administrator's absence, a vacancy in that office, or the inability of the Administrator to act during a disaster or national security crisis.

  2. Order of Succession to the Position of PHMSA Administrator. In accordance with procedures established in the PHMSA Continuity of Operations Plan, the following officials will act in the office of the PHMSA Administrator in case of the Administrator's absence or inability to act, until the absence or inability ceases. In the event that the position of the Administrator is vacant, listed officials will act until a successor is appointed.

a. The Deputy Administrator is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administrator's

"first assistant" for purposes of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (5 U.S.C. §3345, et seq.), and will, in the absence or disability of the Administrator, or in the event of a vacancy in the Office of the Administrator, serve as the Acting Administrator, subject to any limitations established by law.

b. In the event of the absence or disability of the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, or in the event of a vacancy in both the Office of the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, the official incumbents of the following positions will perform, in the sequence shown, all functions and duties of the Administrator, except to the extent that such function and duties may not be delegated by law.

  1. Chief Counsel
  2. Executive Director / Interim Executive Director / Chief Safety Officer
  3. Deputy Chief Counsel
  4. Associate Administrator for Administration
  5. Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety
  6. Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety
  7. Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy & Programs (Pipeline)
  8. Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy & Programs (Hazmat)
  9. Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations (Pipeline)
  10. Deputy Associate Administrator for Field Operations (Hazmat)
  11. Deputy Associate Administrator for Administration/Deputy Chief Financial Officer

c. In the event that the PHMSA Administrator and all of the officials listed above are, by reason of disaster or national security crises, unavailable or unable to act, the Regional Directors will succeed in the following order to the position of PHMSA Deputy Administrator on an "acting" basis:

  1. Regional Director (Hazmat) – Southern Region
  2. Regional Director (Pipeline) – Western Region
  3. Regional Director (Hazmat) – Eastern Region
  4. Regional Director (Pipeline) – Central Region

d. Any such Regional Director who succeeds to the position of Acting Deputy Administrator may discharge the duties of that office in the place he/she may be located at the time of his/her succession, until such time as it is possible to proceed to the Headquarters Office.

Labor Agreements

10-Year Budget History


Congressional Committees of Jurisdiction 

Diagram of P.H.M.S.A. congressional committees by congressional branch

Last updated: Monday, December 30, 2019