National Transportation Safety Board's Implementation of GAO Recommendations

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-01-06.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548

           January 6, 2012

           The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV
           The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison
           Ranking Member
           Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
           United States Senate

           The Honorable John L. Mica
           The Honorable Nick J. Rahall, II
           Ranking Member
           Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
           House of Representatives

           Subject: National Transportation Safety Board’s Implementation of GAO

           The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates every civil aviation
           accident in the United States and selected accidents involving other transportation
           modes, determines the probable causes of these accidents, makes recommendations to
           address safety issues identified during accident investigations, performs transportation
           safety studies, and operates a Training Center for NTSB investigators and other
           transportation safety professionals. NTSB is a relatively small federal agency with about
           400 staff and a fiscal year 2011 budget of about $98 million. From 2006 through 2008,
           we made 21 recommendations to NTSB aimed at improving its management,
           information technology, accident investigation criteria, safety studies, and Training
           Center use. In January 2010, we reported that NTSB had fully implemented 9 of our 21
           recommendations and made significant progress in implementing the remaining 12
           recommendations. 1 NTSB’s 2006 reauthorization legislation included language that
           called for us to annually evaluate NTSB’s programs, operations, and activities. 2 As
           agreed with your committees, this report evaluates NTSB’s progress in implementing
           our remaining 12 recommendations as of December 2011.

           To determine the status of NTSB’s implementation of our remaining 12
           recommendations, we reviewed and analyzed documents obtained from NTSB since
           January 2010 on the actions NTSB officials have taken to address our
           recommendations. We also spoke with NTSB officials about these actions.

            GAO, National Transportation Safety Board: Issues Related to the 2010 Reauthorization, GAO-10-
           366T (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 27, 2010).
            The National Transportation Safety Board Reauthorization Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-443, § 5,
           120 Stat. 3297, 3299, adding § 1138 to title 49 U.S.C.

           Page 1                                          GAO-12-306R Status of NTSB Recommendations
We conducted this performance audit from October 2011 to January 2012 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to
provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit
objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

NTSB Has Implemented All of Our Recommendations Made Since 2006

NTSB has fully implemented all of the 21 recommendations we have made to the
agency since 2006. After assessing NTSB’s progress since our 2010 report, we
conclude that NTSB has now fully implemented the 12 recommendations not previously

Among the actions NTSB took since January 2010 are the following:

   •     developed a strategic training plan that is aligned with its revised strategic plan,
   •     established a diversity task force and management development programs to
         address diversity management issues,
   •     deployed an agencywide document management system that improved the
         efficiency of its process for closing recommendations,
   •     implemented an accounting system that tracks the amount of time employees
         spend on each investigation to allow better management of agency resources,
   •     limited users’ ability to load software or modify NTSB workstations to reduce risk
         to NTSB computers and internal network.

All 21 recommendations and their implementation status are listed in figure 1.

Page 2                                         GAO-12-306R Status of NTSB Recommendations
Figure 1: Implementation Status of GAO’s Recommendations to NTSB, as of December 2011

       Page 3                                          GAO-12-306R Status of NTSB Recommendations
Agency Comments

We provided NTSB a draft copy of this report for review and comment and we received
written comments from the Chairman of NTSB, which are reprinted in enclosure I. In its
written comments, NTSB agreed with our characterization of the progress it had made in
implementing our recommendations.


We are sending copies of this report to the Chairman of NTSB, other congressional
committees, and interested parties. In addition, this report will be available at no charge
on the GAO website at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staffs have any questions regarding this report, please contact me at (202)
512-2834 or dillinghamg@gao.gov. Contact points for our Offices of Congressional
Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. Key
contributors to this report were Cathy Colwell (Assistant Director), Andy Clinton, Fred
Evans, Bert Japikse, Elizabeth Eisenstadt, Mary Marshall, Sara Ann Moessbauer, Travis
Thomson, and Jack Warner.

Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph. D.
Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues


Page 4                                           GAO-12-306R Status of NTSB Recommendations
Enclosure I: Comments from the National Transportation Safety Board


Page 5                                GAO-12-306R Status of NTSB Recommendations
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