National Transportation Safety Board: Preliminary Observations on the Value of Comprehensive Planning, and Greater Use of Leading Practices and the Training Academy Page: 4 of 48
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individual's performance to the agency's strategic goals and objectives.
However, the performance management system will not be fully functional
until NTSB has a strategic plan with results-oriented objectives and
specific strategies for achieving them, which are lacking in the current
strategic plan. In the area of human capital management, NTSB has
recently developed a draft staffing plan that addresses the agency's skills
and competencies needs and includes strategies to increase the number of
investigators and thereby strengthen the agency's ability to carry out its
transportation safety mission. However, the draft plan does not address
organizational structure or the balance between supervisory and
nonsupervisory positions. While NTSB has recently taken positive steps to
improve communications from senior management to the staff-such as
periodically sending e-mail to all staff to share information on new
developments and policies-the agency does not regularly hold general
staff meetings or undertake anonymous surveys to obtain employee
NTSB is accomplishing its accident investigation mission, but it faces
challenges that affect the efficiency of the report production and
recommendation close-out processes. In terms of accomplishing its
mission, since its inception in 1966, NTSB has investigated over 134,000
transportation accidents, and 82 percent of its recommendations have
been implemented, or acceptable progress toward implementation has
been made. However, investigations are often-sometimes necessarily-
lengthy; NTSB routinely takes longer than 2 years to investigate major
accidents. Lengthy investigations, combined with lengthy processes for
federal agencies to regulate and industries to implement NTSB's safety
recommendations, can work against the goal of improving transportation
safety. One factor that adds to the duration of investigations is that when
new investigations are launched, inspectors are pulled from working on
previous accidents to work on new ones. Other factors that may affect the
duration of report production include the multiple revisions of draft
investigation reports at different levels in the organizations and resource
issues. NTSB has recently taken several actions that may help shorten
report development time, such as reemphasizing its policy on holding
report development meetings to obtain early buy-in on report messages
and holding modal directors accountable for specific issuance dates. We
also identified practices in certain offices, such as the use of a project
manager or deputy investigator-in-charge to handle report production,
which may improve the efficiency of report development if used by all
modal offices as they all are similar in what they do. The processes for
implementing NTSB's safety recommendations, and for NTSB to change
the status of recommendations are also lengthy and labor intensive. As a
result, unsafe conditions may continue to exist until federal transportation
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United States. Government Accountability Office. National Transportation Safety Board: Preliminary Observations on the Value of Comprehensive Planning, and Greater Use of Leading Practices and the Training Academy, text, May 24, 2006; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292609/m1/4/: accessed January 16, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.