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49 U.S. Code § 14701 - General authority

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(a) Investigations.—
The Secretary or the Board, as applicable, may begin an investigation under this part on the Secretary’s or the Board’s own initiative or on complaint. If the Secretary or Board, as applicable, finds that a carrier or broker is violating this part, the Secretary or Board, as applicable, shall take appropriate action to compel compliance with this part. If the Secretary finds that a foreign motor carrier or foreign motor private carrier is violating chapter 139, the Secretary shall take appropriate action to compel compliance with that chapter. The Secretary or Board, as applicable, may take action under this subsection only after giving the carrier or broker notice of the investigation and an opportunity for a proceeding.
(b) Complaints.—
A person, including a governmental authority, may file with the Secretary or Board, as applicable, a complaint about a violation of this part by a carrier providing, or broker for, transportation or service subject to jurisdiction under this part or a foreign motor carrier or foreign motor private carrier providing transportation registered under section 13902 of this title. The complaint must state the facts that are the subject of the violation. The Secretary or Board, as applicable, may dismiss a complaint that it determines does not state reasonable grounds for investigation and action.
(c) Deadline.—
A formal investigative proceeding begun by the Secretary or Board under subsection (a) of this section is dismissed automatically unless it is concluded with administrative finality by the end of the 3d year after the date on which it was begun.
Editorial Notes
Prior Provisions

Provisions similar to those in this section were contained in section 11701 of this title prior to the general amendment of this subtitle by Pub. L. 104–88, § 102(a).

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date

Section effective Jan. 1, 1996, except as otherwise provided in Pub. L. 104–88, see section 2 of Pub. L. 104–88, set out as a note under section 1301 of this title.

Consumer Complaint Information

Pub. L. 109–59, title IV, § 4214, Aug. 10, 2005, 119 Stat. 1759, provided that:

“(a) Establishment of System.—Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act [Aug. 10, 2005], the Secretary shall—
establish (A) a system for filing and logging consumer complaints relating to household goods motor carriers for the purpose of compiling or linking complaint information gathered by the Department of Transportation and the States with regard to such carriers, (B) a database of the complaints, and (C) a procedure for the public to have access, subject to section 552(a) of title 5, United States Code, to aggregated information and for carriers to challenge duplicate or fraudulent information in the database;
“(2) issue regulations requiring each motor carrier of household goods to submit on a quarterly basis a report summarizing—
the number of shipments that originate and are delivered for individual shippers during the reporting period by the carrier;
the number and general category of complaints lodged by consumers with the carrier;
the number of claims filed with the carrier for loss and damage in excess of $500;
the number of such claims resolved during the reporting period;
the number of such claims declined in the reporting period; and
the number of such claims that are pending at the close of the reporting period; and
develop a procedure to forward a complaint, including the motor carrier bill of lading number, if known, related to the complaint to a motor carrier named in such complaint and to an appropriate State authority (as defined in section 14710(d) of title 49, United States Code) in the State in which the complainant resides.
“(b) Use of Information.—
The Secretary shall consider information in the data base established under subsection (a) in its household goods compliance and enforcement program.”

[For definitions of “carrier”, “household goods”, “motor carrier”, and “Secretary” as used in section 4214 of Pub. L. 109–59, set out above, see section 4202(a) of Pub. L. 109–59, set out as a note under section 13102 of this title.]