Aviation Rulemaking:

Incomplete Implementation Impaired FAA's Reform Efforts

GAO-01-950T: Published: Jul 11, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 2001.

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Gerald Dillingham, Ph.D.
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This testimony discusses the results of GAO's review of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) rulemaking process and ways to improve its efficiency. GAO found that the time FAA took to formally initiate a rule in response to a congressional mandate or a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation varied widely. Between fiscal year 1995 and fiscal year 2000, FAA initiated most such rules within two years, but some rules were initiated many years later. During the entire six-year period GAO reviewed FAA's median time for the final rule phase--about 15 months--was comparable to that of four other federal regulatory agencies. Over a shorter, more recent period, FAA took longer to complete this phase. In 1998, FAA developed reforms to address problems the pace of rulemaking, including the timing of management's involvement, the administration of the process, and human capital management issues. However, the reforms have yet to shorten the rulemaking process because they have not been fully or effectively implemented. Shifting priorities, some brought about by external events and some by internal circumstances, have continued to delay the pace of rulemaking. In addition, difficult policy issues have sometimes remained unresolved late in the process, and management has retained several layers of internal review. Rulemaking participants are unclear about their job responsibilities, and FAA's updated rulemaking information system contains consistent data on only the highest-priority rules. Recommended human capital management initiatives, including the establishment of a system for measuring and evaluating performance and creating performance incentives, have not yet been implemented. This report summarizes a July report (GAO-01-821).

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