Airports are a vital part of the nation's air transportation system and face many similar challenges. In 2003, the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) was authorized to conduct applied research to help airport operators solve shared challenges that are not addressed by other federal research. As requested, this report addresses (1) the extent to which ACRP's processes reflect criteria for conducting a high-quality research program and (2) ACRP's results to date and their usefulness for the aviation community. GAO reviewed ACRP documentation and compared ACRP processes to criteria previously developed by GAO that can be applied to research programs. These criteria identify three phases of the applied research process and steps to help produce high-quality results. GAO also reviewed ACRP projects and publications and interviewed ACRP stakeholders and airport officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Transportation||1. To better align key program documentation with ACRP program practices as implemented and to increase the transparency and stability of the program over time, the Secretary of Transportation should take steps to revise the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Transportation and the National Academy of Sciences, and other appropriate documentation, such that (1) all organizations, including ex-officio members, that are involved in ACRP Oversight Committee (AOC) proceedings are included in program documentation, and (2) project selection procedures documented in the MOA are supplemented to include, as an option, a consensus-based approach in addition to voting procedures, and a more explicitly defined role for ex-officio members in project selection.|
|Department of Transportation||2. To clarify the role of ACRP in conducting security research, the Secretary of Transportation should take steps to encourage the AOC--in collaboration with other key federal agencies and stakeholders--to clearly articulate ACRP's role, if any, in conducting security research and, subsequently, to ensure that ACRP's program documentation clearly and accurately reflects this role, such that airport operators and others can readily understand what to expect of the program in this area.|