The Department of the Interior's Office of Aircraft Services Should Not Be Abolished

PLRD-82-5: Published: Oct 7, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1981.

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The Department of the Interior's Office of Aircraft Services (OAS) was established to manage aircraft services to meet the agency's needs. In March 1981, Interior ordered that OAS be abolished on September 30, 1981. GAO evaluated OAS activities, the reasons for the abolishment order, and the possible effects of the OAS elimination on the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of Interior's aircraft services.

GAO found that OAS has been effective in managing aircraft services for Interior's bureaus and offices. Additionally, it has been effective in contracting because of its expertise and ability to consider the varying needs of bureaus and offices. Numerous examples show cost savings through multiple bureau use of services provided by the same contract or contracts. Moreover, OAS has provided valuable contracting services to other government agencies. A GAO review of OAS programs related to safety, such as standards, training, and accident investigations, found them to be effective. Further, OAS has established and maintains an automated management information system and estimates savings of over $20 million during the past 7 years of operation. Thus, justification is needed for decentralizing aircraft services. Interior has not assessed either the cost effectiveness or the impact of returning these responsibilities to bureaus and offices. It has not considered possible alternatives to abolishing OAS and has not developed a plan for providing aircraft services if OAS is abolished. Based on conditions before OAS, the quality of aircraft services will likely be reduced without centralized management, and aircraft safety could be jeopardized. Finally, GAO believes that the bureaus and offices cannot provide the same services as effectively.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. 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 the Interior should rescind the order to abolish OAS.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. 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 the Interior should take no further action to abolish OAS unless Interior can clearly show that the decentralization of aircraft services would be cost effective and would not jeopardize flight safety.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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