Civil Aeronautics Board Should Expand Its Sunset Planning

CED-80-46: Published: Jan 4, 1980. Publicly Released: Jan 4, 1980.

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GAO studied the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 which provides for gradually phasing out the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) by 1985. Currently, CAB is responsible for administering and enforcing provisions in numerous statutes. As the act's sunset provisions become effective, some of the CAB responsibilities will be transferred to other agencies. To maintain the continuity of statutory objectives set by the Congress, legislation is needed to transfer these functions to other agencies.

In some cases, substituting another agency for CAB in the statute will not suffice because of legislative prohibitions in some agency statutes. Therefore, it is important that CAB review, as soon as possible, all statutes that it administers to determine what legislative changes are required. Most of the provisions relate to nonaviation matters, and legislation could be enacted to transfer these functions immediately or provide for joint authority until 1985. Dual authority could provide for an easier transition by giving the gaining agency more time to gear up for the transfer and an opportunity to learn to administer the provisions being transferred. Legislatively transferring regulations which form the framework for industry compliance along with the basic statutory responsibilities could reduce industry confusion about federal policies and avoid any lapse in industry's obligation to comply. To forestall the expiration of important consumer protections, CAB needs to review existing tariff provisions to identify those which should be continued beyond their 1983 expiration date and incorporate them in CAB regulations. Consideration should be given to including these regulations in the CAB proposal for transferring responsibilities to other agencies. CAB established six task forces to deal with sunset planning, but more needs to be done to expand sunset planning.

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