The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plays a vital role in advancing transportation safety by investigating accidents, determining their causes, and issuing safety recommendations. To support its mission, NTSB's training center, which opened in 2003, provides training to NTSB investigators and others. It is important that NTSB use its resources efficiently to carry out its mission. GAO was asked to examine the extent to which NTSB follows leading management practices, how NTSB carries out its transportation safety function, and the extent to which NTSB's training center is cost-effective, including potential options for improving the center's cost-effectiveness. GAO reviewed NTSB documents and data concerning management practices and accident investigations, interviewed relevant NTSB and other federal officials, and evaluated NTSB's management practices based on leading practices identified in prior work.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|National Transportation Safety Board||1. To improve agency performance in the key management areas of IT, knowledge management, and human capital management, NTSB should develop plans or policies for IT and knowledge management and develop a strategic human capital plan that is linked to its overall strategic plan. The human capital plan should include strategies on staffing, training, diversity management, and recruitment and retention. The IT plan should include a strategy to guide IT acquisitions.|
|National Transportation Safety Board||2. To make the most effective use of its investigation resources and increase transparency, NTSB should develop orders for all transportation modes that articulate risk-based criteria for determining which accidents would provide the greatest safety benefit to investigate or, in the case of aviation accidents, explain which accidents are investigated at the scene, or remotely, in a limited manner.|
|National Transportation Safety Board||3. To be more proactive in identifying and correcting safety problems before accidents occur, NTSB should increase utilization of safety studies.|
|National Transportation Safety Board||4. NTSB should develop a business plan to increase the utilization of its training center or vacate it and submit the plan to Congress. As part of this effort, NTSB should determine the costs and feasibility of alternative actions such as adding more courses for NTSB staff, moving headquarters staff to the center, subleasing space to other entities, or buying out the lease.|
|National Transportation Safety Board||5. NTSB should identify and implement actions to correct its violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act and bring the agency in compliance with the act. These actions could include obtaining a deficiency appropriation for the full costs of the lease, renegotiating or terminating the training center lease so that it complies with the Anti-Deficiency Act, or obtaining authority to obligate lease payments using annual funds over the term of the lease.|