PennDOT, PAMSP and the 2021 Disaster

For those of you who have not been paying attention (including most of ABATE of PA & the PA legislature, apparently) PennDOT cancelled the PAMSP (Motorcycle Safety Program) contract in 2020 for “convenience” – cancelling a single contract, with a single 3rd party administrator, a single curriculum and a single company to reimburse, measure quality & manage.

Recently PennDOT released an “emergency” contract in which anyone with a company and a curriculum could teach motorcycle courses in Pennsylvania.

Even if they made it up themselves PennDOT, as the sole certifying authority for training, could approve “anything” even if the program lacked NHTSA certification (which does not appear in the emergency contract). Surely that will end well. So far, it’s a free for all. Until December 2020… (likely well before that, weather dependent…).

Well guess what, folks – if one contract isn’t convenient, a Commonwealth-wide standard is too much to manage and consistency of training isn’t a consideration for 2021 PennDOT will continue the 2020 “free for all” in 2021 via RFP 3520R02“seeking multiple Third-Party Motorcycle Training Providers to conduct basic, intermediate, advanced and three wheel motorcycle safety training courses for Pennsylvania residents”.

Yep, you read it right:
PAMSP, as we’ve known it, is over.

The good news for Instructors, ex-Instructors & many who know nothing about the program is that they’ll be able to stop complaining about “Total Control” and see “MSF” curriculum come back to PA. The potential bad news is that if you want to keep existing certifications you’ll need to work at multiple sites, teaching multiple curriculum, if you can find locations to do so…

The good news for PennDOT is that if managing 1 contract was inconvenient managing multiple contracts will certainly be even more convenient – as will managing reimbursement, staffing, scheduling, communications, certification, quality control, liability, etc. (sarcasm).

Instructors and PennDOT will also likely get to see different training vendors compete across the Commonwealth, some who used to be affiliated with Cape Fox (we all know how well that turned out), from other States, etc. so managing vendor quality will certainly be much easier… (more sarcasm).

Multiple vendors will mean that Instructors will have to complete even more paperwork, deal with time tracking and payment from one or more vendors, deal with different scheduling systems, rules and regulations, tax forms, perhaps deal with the “who you know” fiefdoms that used to prevent Instructor portability in the past under a single program, with a single curriculum.

Using multiple vendors will mean more complexity, and likely more work for PennDOT, which given the reliable program funding could work in the favor of additional positions… Instructors likely can’t wait to see what the Policies & Procedures manual for the Commonwealth Motorcycle Safety Program will look like… how ever many of them there will be.

The good news for the “stewards of PAMSP funding” (laughable as no one has even seen a published public audit of PAMSP spending in living memory) if it was a problem keeping track of PAMSP expenditures having many hands in the pot will certainly make whatever oversight is given to the PAMSP ‘account’ more complex, which will disadvantage those trying to keep an eye on it.

The good news for PA riders is that if they are looking to get their licenses they could have just as many or more sites to take their training. The bad news is they could take training at one site, fail, be unable to reschedule at that site and have to go to another – teaching an entirely different curriculum. Bravo, that will certainly be an interesting customer service challenge.

The general thinking is that if 3rd party training and testing works well for tractor trailer training it’s going to work well for motorcycle training. CDL training that takes place at over 60 different schools with costs ranging from 3-10K with people typically driving vehicles with gross vehicle weights many times more than a motorcycle, protected from other vehicles, utilizing a completely different set of skills… sure. Exactly the same (massive sarcasm).

How will PennDOT know which programs are reducing or increasing motorcyclist injuries and/or fatalities with multiple training providers & multiple curricula? They won’t, unless they start interviewing them… which is a potentially massive issue.

As we’ve mentioned on the web site before PennDOT would simply issue it’s decision on training for 2021 as quietly as possible – a declaration, not discourse. They did that on a Friday (8/14/2020) to avoid any scrutiny – not that anyone but a few Instructors seem to actually care – with a posting to the PA eMarketplace site as well as an email to prior/current training solicitors to let them know of the posting.

We’ll go through the contract in more detail in future posts, as well as examination of the potential respondents, but just keep in mind that while the 2020 free for all is going on and most of the 2020 season has been shredded there are no preparations being made for 2021. Preparations which would have normally started well before the end of the current season.

One thing is for sure: 2021 will be a season unlike any ever seen for PAMSP, for PA riders and potentially PA motorcycle fatalities.

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