Author: Jill McBeth
Date: April 4, 2024

Data entry debacle, another waste of taxpayer dollars

This is a quote from the Transportation and Economic Corridors Annual Report 2022-2023, “Innovation is core to TEC’s mandate. In 2022 ‑ 23, TEC delivered on a range of cutting-edge initiatives.” Cutting edge initiatives and you have professional auditors doing data entry because the computer system doesn’t accept time to the second? Really?

Why is Alberta Transportation paying professional auditors to do hours of manual data entry? I can tell you why!

Professional auditors, who command professional wages due to their extensive experience and education, are currently dedicating hours and hours to manual data entry tasks, highlighting the inefficiency of the current process.

The current system ARC (assessment of regulatory compliance) is designed to accept time entries only in 15 minute increments of an hour (8.25, 8.50, 8.75), which is completely unfeasible and inefficient process in 2024. ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) record a driver's time in real-time by the second using data from the truck engine (ECM). Auditors are required to look up converted time information from a paper chart and then enter the data into ARC. In 2024 there exists a more advanced and streamlined solution that should be implemented.

During hours of service reviews, a 30-day sample of drivers RODS (Record of Duty Status) is reviewed and recorded. However, the existing computer program, ARC (Assessment of Regulatory Compliance) was not created to handle time by the second. The ARC system requires auditors to refer to a Conversion Chart in the ARC help manual to translate minutes into the appropriate decimal value for data entry. This cumbersome process not only consumes investigative resources but also contradicts the efficiency goals that technology is meant to enable.

Below is taken from the ARC help manual used by Investigator’s and Third Party Auditors (TPA).

All “Hours” fields in the New ARC take time in decimals of an hour only. For proper calculations please ensure the appropriate decimal of an hour is entered in New ARC.

Conversion Chart

Find the minutes you need to enter under the “Minutes” column and beside it in the right side column is the appropriate decimal conversion. Add this decimal conversion to the total full hours and you will have the appropriate time in decimals of an hour to enter in your field.

Consider this - a standard 5-driver audit sample can lead to 450–900 minutes or 7.5–15 hours simply being spent on manual data entry. These 7.5 – 15 hours represents just entering time, if a violation is detected a descriptive narrative of the violation is also required. If every calendar day has a violation, which happens all the time, that is a significant waste of resources.  ELD systems generate a CSV files in Excel format that contain all the relevant information needed by Investigators and Third Party Auditors.

It is evident that there is a clear need to modernize and integrate ELD systems into the audit process to streamline operations, improve accuracy, and save valuable time and resources. By transitioning to a more technology-driven approach, the Transportation and Economic Corridors sector can enhance efficiency, reduce errors, and ultimately improve overall regulatory compliance.

Transportation and Economic Corridors could have been a leader in technology based solutions but, shortsightedness in leadership will keep Alberta auditors using a abacus.  It is crucial that leadership drive progress and innovation within critical sectors like transportation auditing.