Feds to RFTA: Tweak drug test policy | AspenTimes.com

Feds to RFTA: Tweak drug test policy

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority had to fine-tune its drug and alcohol testing policy Thursday to ensure it was eligible for a $24 million federal grant.

The bus agency had to provide more details about its testing procedures in its written policy. The changes were required after a December audit by the Federal Transit Administration, according to Kent Blackmer, RFTA co-director of operations.

No changes were required for RFTA’s actual testing practices, he said. RFTA has been required since 1996 to test drivers, dispatchers and mechanics – all “safety-sensitive” employees – for drugs and alcohol. About 235 employees in those categories are randomly tested each quarter of the year. Of those employees, 25 percent are tested for drugs ranging from marijuana to PCP and cocaine. In addition, 10 percent are tested for alcohol, according to Blackmer.

The feds required RFTA to spell out four conditions in its written policy: that employees are tested in a random selection by a scientifically valid method; random tests are spread out throughout the year; random tests are unannounced and immediate; and each employee has an equal chance of selection in each testing period.

RFTA’s board of directors adopted the changes with little discussion Thursday in Carbondale. “Failure to adopt the mandated changes could jeopardize FTA funding,” Blackmer said in a memo to the board.

RFTA is seeking the $24 million grant to fund part of an expansion plan it hopes to have in place by fall 2013. The grant is included in President Obama’s budget. It must be approved by Congress.

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