How To Improve the Federal Aviation Administration's Ability To Deal With Safety Hazards

CED-80-66: Published: Feb 29, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1980.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible by law for ensuring the safe and efficient use of the Nation's airspace and fostering civil aeronautics and air commerce. FAA attaches great importance to its safety-related programs. Aviation, compared with other transportation modes, has a good safety record.

However, FAA has not been effective or timely in developing systems to identify safety hazards because it has not: (1) recognized their importance; (2) emphasized information gathering and analysis, nor (3) undertaken long-term planning for comprehensive identification systems. Organizational problems along with the lack of a comprehensive planning process for addressing aviation safety issues have also hampered the effectivenss of FAA. Without this process, management lacks a reference frame for planning, approving, implementing, and evaluating specific safety projects. Also, once FAA has identified its overall safety priorities, it must have a procedure to ensure that safety project plans are prepared, reviewed, and approved. To date, such a procedure has either been incomplete or nonexistent. Additionally, FAA management needs a system of controls to govern the implementation phase of safety projects. The difficulties that FAA has had regarding priorities, requirements, cost-benefit analyses, interim corrective actions, internal coordination, staffing-workload analyses, and accountability in safety projects need to be documented in project files. Previously, safety projects have not always been adequately monitored as FAA has no agencywide requirement for recording actual time charged on safety project work.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new FAA Administrator directed the Office of Aviation Safety to report directly to him instead of to the Associate Administrator for Aviation Standards in order to be informed and involved with safety activities and problems on a day-to-day basis.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to monitor the progress of the overall safety information effort at the highest management levels within FAA and periodically report progress to the Secretary of Transportation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Milestones are adjusted and approved by the Administrator as part of the budget process.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to adhere to milestones for plan implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to develop a mandatory, written progress report system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to explore all means for obtaining a common FAA/National Transportation Safety Board approach to accident information.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action is intended because agency officials believe that present participation by top management accomplishes the same thing as would the proposed Safety Advisory Group; the present AVS plan and the budget preparation and review process identifies safety program priorities. Top management currently participates in and approves the budget formulation and AVS program and project planning.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to establish a top management group, which might be called Administrator's Safety Advisory Group, to identify overall safety priorities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  6. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The new Administrator plans to emphasize the continued study of human factors.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to achieve better coordination of human factors research by establishing an agencywide human factors spokesman and preparing a comprehensive statement of position on human factors, an FAA human factors definition, an agency long-range plan, and a summary of dollars spent or needed on human factors research.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to implement a system of recording in project folders staff time charged to safety projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to establish a comprehensive planning process which defines organizational goals, objectives, policies and priorities to guide the overall safety mission and provides a frame of reference for planning and approving specific safety efforts, implementing individual safety project plans, and evaluating safety projects.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to develop a comprehensive system of controls to guide and monitor safety project work both before and during the rulemaking actions, record specific key project events and maintain project files.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to develop formal safety project plans showing how the total agencywide solution is to be accomplished. Elements of the formal plan should include a specific and detailed description of at least the following: problem, safety contribution, objectives, requirements, alternative solutions, interim corrective actions, costs and benefits, coordination, resources, milestones, results desired, responsible official, and priority.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to see that each safety project is monitored continually. The monitoring can be done either within each Associated Administrator's office or, as needed, by the recommended Administrator's Safety Advisory Group.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  12. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency believes that the present system of compliance work obtains adequate information. It does not intend to take action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to establish permanent procedures to ensure that adequate feedback about compliance is obtained on nonregulatory safety actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  13. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to require that formal plans for individual safety projects be reviewed and approved at the Associate Administrator level. Where agreement on requirement, resource commitment, etc., between organizational components cannot be effected at the Associate Administrator's level or on broad efforts involving more than two organizational components, a top management group, such as the recommended Administrator's Safety Advisory group, should be the principal body for reviewing and approving specific and detailed safety project plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  14. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency disagrees that an annual report is needed and feels that feedback received after specific evaluations and studies provides sufficient information. Therefore, the agency intends to take no action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to: (1) prepare an annual report on the safety evaluation activities, both as planned and achieved, by the Office of Aviation Safety; and (2) monitor the safety evaluation activities of this office.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  15. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency does not agree that an annual assessment of safety mission management is needed. It believes that ad hoc evaluations are effective, give the agency more flexibility, and are more efficient because of expert staffing.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should have FAA management of its safety mission periodically evaluated, including assessing the annual report on the Office of Aviation Safety's evaluation activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A 10-year Aviation Standards Plan was developed and published in September 1983, and is substantially responsive to this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to prepare a comprehensive long-range plan: (1) to improve FAA identification of safety hazards; and (2) laying out the problems to be solved, the integration of various systems to solve them, and milestones for arriving at solutions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  17. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The agency believes that no new organization component is needed and that the present method of ad hoc appraisals, staffed either from within or from without, is a more effective and efficient use of personnel resources. The agency does not intend to take action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to assign appraisal responsibilities and the requisite manpower resources to the Program Review Staff, Office of the Associate Administrator for Administration, to conduct independent and objective agencywide evaluations of major areas or issues of concern, or assign this responsibility to a new organizational component reporting to the FAA Administrator.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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