From 1998 through 2002, a total of 1,770 pipeline accidents occurred, resulting in 100 fatalities and $621 million in property damage. The Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) within the Department of Transportation operates a research and development (R&D) program aimed at advancing the most promising technologies for ensuring the safe operation of pipelines. In fiscal year 2003, OPS received $8.7 million for its R&D program, a sevenfold increase since fiscal year 1998. In response to a directive from the House Committee on Appropriations, GAO (1) assessed OPS's distribution of funding among various areas of R&D and the alignment of this funding with its mission and goals, (2) surveyed experts to obtain their views on R&D priorities, and (3) determined how OPS evaluates R&D outcomes.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. To improve OPS's ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of its R&D program and make the most effective use of program funds, the Secretary of Transportation should direct OPS to develop a systematic process for evaluating the outcomes of its R&D program that incorporates identified best practices.|
|Department of Transportation||2. To improve OPS's ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of its R&D program and make the most effective use of program funds, the Secretary of Transportation should include in the annual reports to Congress, which are required by the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, information on the results of R&D evaluations.|