Aviation Safety:

FAA's Safety Inspection Management System Lacks Adequate Oversight

RCED-90-36: Published: Nov 13, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1989.

Additional Materials:


Kenneth M. Mead
(202) 512-2834


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) internal controls and management practices to ensure district offices' compliance with national work program guidance regarding aircraft maintenance and pilot training inspection requirements.

GAO found that FAA: (1) developed the computer-based Work Program Management Subsystem (WPMS) to serve as a management tool for recording inspection requirements, plans, and results; (2) lacked adequate oversight to detect district offices' inadequate implementation of national inspection guidance, failure to follow FAA inspection policies and practices, and entry of inaccurate and incomplete information into WPMS; (3) used inaccurate and incomplete WPMS data in reporting its inspection accomplishments to Congress; (4) district staff did not enter into WPMS half of the inspections required for national work goals; (5) lacked adequate management oversight to ensure that district offices correctly entered data into WPMS; (6) planned to enhance WPMS hardware and software that did not address data accuracy problems; and (7) inspectors and supervisors who lack confidence in WPMS as an effective management tool to plan and record inspections have established their own handwritten or computer systems to perform the functions WPMS should perform.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In fiscal year 1990, FAA replaced WPMS with the Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS). In a November 1991 report, GAO noted that FAA was experiencing similar data entry problems with PTRS.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator, FAA, to provide adequate supervision, as required by internal control standards, to ensure that national FAA inspection policies are followed by local FAA staff who are responsible for implementing the required national work program. To aid in this supervision, the Secretary should direct the Administrator to establish adequate checks of data entered into WPMS to ensure that the information on inspections in the system is complete and accurate.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Oct 3, 2018

Sep 13, 2018

Sep 5, 2018

Jul 30, 2018

Jul 26, 2018

Jul 19, 2018

Jul 12, 2018

May 31, 2018

May 29, 2018

May 24, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here