Aviation Safety:

Slow Progress, Uncertain Future Threaten FAA Program To Measure Safety

T-IMTEC-92-12: Published: Apr 1, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 1, 1992.

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GAO discussed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) efforts to develop its Safety Indicators Program. GAO noted that: (1) the Safety Indicators Program is intended to establish FAA-wide safety indicators, integrate existing databases, and develop computer tools that will perform statistical analyses to enable FAA to make correlations among safety indicators; (2) after 4 years, the Safety Indicators Program has made only minimal progress because potential users have not yet agreed on the type of indicators needed or accepted quickly enough the prototype computer analysis tool; (3) user involvement has increased, but unreliable data and uncertainties about top-level management commitment bear directly on the program's future success; (4) FAA acknowledged that the program lacks management commitment and effective user involvement; and (5) FAA is reevaluating its approach to the Safety Indicators Program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA established a task force with representation from major user organizations, which developed a program implementation plan calling for continuous user involvement in the refinement of indicators. FAA has also established several user work groups to participate in the indicators' refinement.

    Recommendation: As FAA begins to focus increased attention on the Safety Indicators Program, the agency should recognize the need for a revised program plan that is formally endorsed by the FAA Administrator. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop a detailed program plan that provides for effective user involvement throughout the process of developing indicators and the supporting computer analysis tool.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA has completed a program implementation plan and FAA management has committed to providing necessary funding to implement the plan.

    Recommendation: As FAA begins to focus increased attention on the Safety Indicators Program, the agency should recognize the need for a revised program plan that is formally endorsed by the FAA Administrator. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop a detailed program plan that provides the requisite funding base for meeting program milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA is developing a corporate system and architecture for improving FAA-wide data management and a strategy for reengineering existing applications and databases to enhance data quality and sharing.

    Recommendation: As FAA begins to focus increased attention on the Safety Indicators Program, the agency should recognize the need for a revised program plan that is formally endorsed by the FAA Administrator. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop a detailed program plan that addresses the need for ensuring the integrity of source data.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FAA developed a program plan that covers the preponderance of these items.

    Recommendation: As FAA begins to focus increased attention on the Safety Indicators Program, the agency should recognize the need for a revised program plan that is formally endorsed by the FAA Administrator. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to develop a detailed program plan that defines the approach for developing the indicators, specify the respective responsibilities and authority of the program developers and users, cite measurable goals and associated milestones, and cite the resources needed for meeting them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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