Transportation Safety Board Could Improve Its Planning Process

CED-80-101: Published: May 28, 1980. Publicly Released: May 28, 1980.

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The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) planning process could be more efficient and comprehensive. The Board is an independent Government agency designated to promote transportation safety by investigating accidents and recommending safety improvements.

Considering the Board's many functions and components and its limited staff and resources, planning should be a key function. A comprehensive planning process involves several steps: defining the organization's mission; setting clear, specific goals and objectives; setting priorities for achieving goals and objectives; implementing the plan; and providing feedback. The Board needs to establish a more effective comprehensive planning process.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: While NTSB has refined its long-range safety objective program to target specific objectives for study and evaluation each year, no separate long-range plan for the entire agency is to be prepared. NTSB views its current planning process as adequate for its needs.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of NTSB should separate strategic planning from the budget process by requiring a specific long-range plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Urban Mass Transportation Administration

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The NTSB 1983 budget submission identifies agency authority and mission, but the objectives established are not significant. No specific priorities are set other than those implied by allocation of funds and personnel as shown in the budget process. In 1982, the occurrence of two major accidents prevented pursuit of planned priority matters.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of NTSB should assure that the long-range plan includes a clear definition of the Board's mission; specific, quantifiable goals and objectives; and priorities for achieving these goals and objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Urban Mass Transportation Administration

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The 1983 NTSB budget shows resources allocation by organization, mode, and function, but does not show resources used or planned on an activity basis when the activity crosses organization, functional, or modal lines. Nothing has been done or is planned to show the relationship of programs and activities to short-term objectives or long-range plans.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of NTSB should strengthen the Board's budget process by requiring that the budget show: (1) the total resources that will be used to carry out specific Board programs, activities, or functions; (2) how Board programs and activities relate to short-term objectives; and (3) how Board programs, activities and short-term objectives relate to the long-range plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Urban Mass Transportation Administration

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: NTSB planned to use the Senior Executive Service and the merit pay system evaluations as a means of determining whether agency goals and objectives were being achieved. If it is found that individual executives and top managers are achieving their objectives, it follows that agency goals and objectives are being achieved.

    Recommendation: The Chairman of NTSB should assure that a formal program evaluation plan is developed for determining whether Board programs and activities are achieving established goals and objectives, meeting performance expectations, or producing other significant effects. Because the Board has only one program analysis officer, who has dual responsibilities, assure that sufficient resources are available to implement the program evaluation plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation: Urban Mass Transportation Administration

 

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