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Flaws in state's diesel equipment registration system

The California Air Resources Board's Diesel Off-Road On-Line Reporting System (DOORS) is the primary reporting tool for the Off-Road Diesel Regulation. In theory, DOORS allows fleets subject to the off-road diesel rule to create an account with CARB, download formatted Excel spreadsheets, insert fleet information and upload vehicle and engine data to CARB. CARB also allows contractors to submit information directly through DOORS to report fleet data using online forms without ever having to work with a spreadsheet (for those who are not spreadsheet proficient).

After a couple of months of diesel equipment owners using DOORS, the user feedback coming through the San Diego-based Engineering & General Contractors Association (EGCA) is instructive. Truth in advertising -- DOORS does work. That said, it is a mind-numbing experience. The tool is relatively useful for those that know plenty about the complexities of the state rule. Those that don't know a lot about the rule are going to have to educate themselves or they'll be submitting their fleet information without really knowing what they are doing or how the information may be used.

CARB does have a downloadable Excel spreadsheet to support DOORS. Once you download it off the agency's Web site you can enter the information, create four separate files and then upload the files back into the DOORS Web page and that does the trick. DOORS won't reject uploads that are missing data. However, those files (and that data) will be "flagged," presumably to follow up to get the information before final acceptance will be approved. The exceptions are engine horsepower and vehicle type. DOORS will not accept engine information if the maximum horsepower rating is not included. It will not accept vehicle information if the vehicle type is omitted. The Excel spreadsheet includes macros. Some users will have to lower their security a bit to use the spreadsheet that contains the macros. There is an option to download a spreadsheet without the macros enabled, but it's not nearly as useful. Fleet managers who have already created their own spreadsheets independent of DOORS need to proceed with caution. While it is possible to cut and paste information from a non-DOORS spreadsheet into the DOORS spreadsheet, it's not a simple task. The user must be careful to match the data field in their spreadsheet with the data field in DOORS. If they are not matched exactly, DOORS will likely reject the submittal. Additionally, users must paste only values into the DOORS spreadsheet. If any formatting is copied from an independent spreadsheet and pasted into DOORS, an error is the likely result. Quoting from the DOORS User's Guide, "When uploading information to DOORS, both the entry information and the format may cause errors. Typing in your information and using the dropdown menus prevents most formatting errors, while cutting and pasting information from existing spreadsheets will often cause errors if the information is not prepared and formatted perfectly, and may prevent your information from being correctly uploaded."

The data entry process, whether by spreadsheet upload or direct entry into DOORS, is tedious and time consuming. Fleet managers should not assume that they'll be able to get all of their information entered and transmitted the last day or two before their initial report due date. They may simply run out of time.

"EGCA is holding workshops for diesel equipment owners to educate them in using DOORS," said Executive Director Debbie Day, "and these workshops are open to everyone. You don't need to be an EGCA member to attend these workshops." More information can be found at egca.org or by calling (619) 692-0760.

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