US Drug Test Centers Blog

What is a Consortium/Third-Party Administrator?

Posted: Nov 21 2023

By: Marissa Mix

Companies and owner-operators working for the Department of Transportation (DOT) likely already know how vital it is to maintain a strict DOT drug and alcohol testing program. This includes pre-employment drug testing, random drug and alcohol testing, post-accident drug and alcohol testing, and more. There's also the matter of how to report drug and alcohol testing results, especially when an employee tests positive.

Fortunately, you don't have to manage your drug-free workplace program alone. You can enlist the help of a qualified C/TPA.

In this blog, we'll talk about what a C/TPA is, how they can help businesses and owner-operators keep their workplaces substance-free, and how they'll support you in complying with all  DOT regulations and testing requirements.

What is a C/TPA?

The "C" stands for "consortium," and "TPA" stands for "third-party administrator."

More specifically, a "consortium" refers to groups of employers who come together as a single entity. All members of this one entity are considered when random drug tests need to be conducted.

In other words, instead of individual companies and owner-operators needing to meet the DOT's requirements for random tests and being treated as separate random testing pools, the entity is treated as one random drug testing pool. This pool is managed by the third-party administrator (TPA).

A C/TPA is a company that manages all of a DOT business's drug and alcohol testing, collecting and reporting drug testing results, and evaluating the overall efficacy of the business's drug and alcohol policy and program.

Why You Need a C/TPA

Staying compliant is an absolute must! Noncompliance can result in fines of up to $10,000 per occurrence. In addition, you risk an out-of-service order, essentially putting you out of business.

What Kinds of Companies Join a Consortium?

Each TPA might make unique recommendations of whether a company should be in a combined consortium versus a stand-alone one. (For instance, if you partner with US Drug Test Centers, companies with 50 employees or more typically operate as stand-alone pools.)

But regardless of the size, we almost always recommend that any DOT company or owner-operator work with a TPA, regardless of the size. If you’re covered by the DOT, then you need to have some sort of random testing pool whether you are enrolled with other employers and their employees or just by yourself. Working with a C/TPA ensures that there is no bias in selecting individuals to undergo the employer's DOT drug and alcohol testing — which is vital for a drug-free workplace policy and program. Additionally, a TPA like US Drug Test Centers assists with other processes, like scheduling testing, Clearinghouse management, and audit support.

Generally speaking, owner-operators, any drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL) used to operate commercial motor vehicles, and any individuals in safety-sensitive positions are required to participate in a consortium to manage random testing.

Truck drivers need to enroll in DOT random testing programs with the help of consortium/third-party administrators

How Does Random Selection Work?

Each DOT agency has different requirements for how many professionals have to get tested and how often. It also varies by substance, meaning drugs vs alcohol.

But to give you an example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has a minimum annual percentage rate of 50% for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing. In other words, 50% of the total number of safety-sensitive drivers enrolled in a random testing pool annually are required to undergo testing every year, and 10% are required to undergo alcohol testing.

This is why a C/TPA can be so helpful. They'll ensure that you are complying with DOT drug and alcohol testing rules at all times

More details about the specific guidelines for controlled substances testing can be found in 49 CFR part 382.

How We Can Help Manage Your Drug and Alcohol Testing Program

Having a strict DOT drug testing policy is important not just to keep your team and the public safe, but also to maintain regulatory compliance.

As your C/TPA, we manage the drug and alcohol testing process from start to finish. This includes crafting your written drug and alcohol testing policy, collecting specimens, submitting them for laboratory testing, and obtaining medical review officer verification.

Remember that if you're a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) agency, you need to get your policy reviewed and approved by your local governing board, or anyone with the necessary delegation of authority. This ensures that you're staying compliant with drug and alcohol testing program requirements.

Learn more about our DOT testing and services and working with us as your C/TPA.

Working with a C/TPA Has Never Been Easier

As your C/TPA, we're committed to making drug and alcohol testing convenient and frictionless.

We'll help you manage your drug-free workplace program from top to bottom, including conducting all drug and alcohol testing, refining your drug testing policies, training your staff, maintaining required testing records, and ensuring that you're always prepared to pass a DOT audit.

In addition, you'll get access to our state-of-the-art, cloud-based software, which allows you to manage your program in its entirety.

We only work with SAMHSA-certified labs, including Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp. Plus, all test results are verified by an MRO for heightened accuracy.

Furthermore, we have more than 20,000 testing locations across the United States, so we're never more than a short drive away. 

Partnering with us is like having a substance abuse professional in your back pocket.

Next Steps

Consortium/third-party administrators play an important part in helping employers maintain regulatory compliance. Ready to take action? Here are your next steps:


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