Anne Ferro, who has served longer than any other head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, will leave her post as administrator in late August to become president and CEO of the American Assn. of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Ferro announced her decision early Friday afternoon in an e-mail message to FMCSA staff. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced her departure a few minutes later in an e-mail message to Dept. of Transportation personnel.

“While the opportunity to assume this position at AAMVA is another personal dream come true, no job can match the immense honor I have had serving President Obama, and Secretaries Foxx and LaHood with you - the dedicated individuals who persevere every day to make safe transportation a reality for all of us,” Ferro told FMCSA colleagues.

Foxx said he was announcing Ferro’s departure “with great disappointment….Anne has been a true leader in safety throughout her time at DOT and has become a trusted advisor and friend to me during my time as Secretary.”

The DOT secretary credited Ferro with introducing “a new culture of safety” into the commercial bus and trucking industries. “She has made it more difficult for companies that jeopardize the public’s well-being to stay in business and easier for consumers to make informed choices when choosing a shipper or buying a bus ticket.”

Some specific initiatives Foxx praised Ferro for were making it easier for veterans to get jobs as commercial drivers and “shutting down more than 100 dangerous bus companies last year alone.” Foxx added that Ferro’s “infectious enthusiasm for our work and our people has made DOT an even better place to work.”

Ferro thanked her colleagues for helping the agency raise the bar for safety in motor carrier operations. “We have worked to ensure that companies and drivers are more accountable for their actions, strengthened our oversight of high-risk carriers, created better tools for our law enforcement partners, and opened up a new world of useful  data to educate both businesses and consumers alike,” she said.

“On a daily basis we have also recognized the significant contributions that commercial truck and bus drivers make to roadway safety and our nation’s economic vitality,” Ferro continued. “As part of that effort, we have highlighted the daily demands and economic pressure drivers often face because they are paid by-the-mile or load instead of their total time on-duty. In the GROW AMERICA Act we are seeking to change that compensation model so drivers receive fair wages for every hour they spend working - including time detained unloading and loading at the mercy of shippers and receivers. “

Ferro’s tenure included some important FMCSA milestones, including the implementation of the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, controversial changes to the hours-of-service regulations and the adoption of new regulations governing electronic logs – a measure that ultimately was struck down in court but that FMCSA is attempting to replace with a rule to mandate electronic logging devices. These actions did not come without criticism. In fact, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. in June called for Ferro’s ouster as FMCSA chief.

Despite its call for Ferro’s resignation, OOIDA was gracious in responding to her announcement. “We would like to congratulate the Administrator on her new position and wish her well as she leads the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA’s president and CEO. “She is well known for having unprecedented personal outreach and engagement with truckers in all the years that we have worked with the agency.”

The American Trucking Assns. also had become increasingly critical of FMCSA under Ferro – especially over the agency’s handling of the HOS restart issue and the data methodology underlying CSA – but the group had not joined OOIDA in pushing for her resignation.

“In her time with FMCSA, Administrator Ferro was a passionate advocate for the agency,” said Bill Graves, ATA’s president and CEO. “We wish her well in her new role at the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and look forward to working with her on commercial driver licensing issues.”

Ferro joined FMCSA in October 2009 as the first and only administrator to serve under the Obama administration so far. Previously, she led the Maryland Motor Truck Assn. as its president and CEO from 2003 to 2009 and was the State of Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administrator from 1997 to 2003.