Transportation Safety:

Information Strategy Needed for Hazardous Materials

IMTEC-91-50: Published: Sep 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Transportation's (DOT) efforts to regulate hazardous material (HAZMAT) movement across the nation, focusing on whether: (1) key initiatives to improve long-standing HAZMAT information shortcomings were successful; and (2) any strategy guides DOT in directing information management and technology resources devoted to its hazardous material mission.

GAO found that: (1) DOT lacks accurate, complete data to monitor the vast HAZMAT community, and better support its enforcement activities involving HAZMAT shippers and carriers; (2) despite DOT recognition of a need for better HAZMAT information, its two attempts to improve hazardous materials information management were unsuccessful; and (3) the absence of clearly defined departmental HAZMAT information management responsibilities impaired DOT ability to effectively organize, direct, or implement its departmentwide information resources management (IRM) efforts.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT assigned the Transportation Data Coordinating Committee the responsibility for developing an IRM strategy, plan, and implementation schedule for its HAZMAT program.

    Recommendation: To address the DOT need for improved HAZMAT information, the Secretary of Transportation should assign responsibility to a departmental component to develop a departmentwide information resources strategy, plan, and implementation schedule for the hazardous materials safety program. Such a new strategy should establish information collection and automation program objectives that are linked to the DOT HAZMAT mission, state those objectives in measurable terms to facilitate departmentwide evaluation, and institute priorities for the department's HAZMAT information management and automation efforts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOT Transportation Data Coordinating Committee has created a Data Management Working Group that is formulating an IRM strategy for the department's hazardous materials safety program. It will be published in the fourth quarter of FY 1993.

    Recommendation: To address the DOT need for improved HAZMAT information, the Secretary of Transportation should assign responsibility to a departmental component to develop a departmentwide information resources strategy, plan, and implementation schedule for the hazardous materials safety program. Such a new strategy should specify procedures for defining, managing, and sharing HAZMAT safety data commonly used across all modal administrations involved in the inspection and enforcement activities of the Department.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOT Transportation Data Coordinating Committee is ensuring that the department's IRM strategy for hazardous materials safety defines a systems architecture and establishes a continuous evaluation process for it.

    Recommendation: To address the DOT need for improved HAZMAT information, the Secretary of Transportation should assign responsibility to a departmental component to develop a departmentwide information resources strategy, plan, and implementation schedule for the hazardous materials safety program. Such a new strategy should ensure that automated HAZMAT information systems throughout the department are planned, developed, and enhanced conforming to systems architecture that defines information requirements, flow and system interfaces, and shows how individual HAZMAT systems and major components fit together to satisfy DOT needs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOT Transportation Data Coordinating Committee has taken steps to ensure participation by these modal agencies in constructing an agencywide HAZMAT IRM strategy.

    Recommendation: To address the DOT need for improved HAZMAT information, the Secretary of Transportation should assign responsibility to a departmental component to develop a departmentwide information resources strategy, plan, and implementation schedule for the hazardous materials safety program. Such a new strategy should include departmental participation of the Research and Special Programs Administration, United States Coast Guard, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and the Department's Office of Information Resources Management in the above activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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