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Audit Reports

Date

Further Actions Are Needed To Improve FAA’s Oversight of the Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program

Requested By
Required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012
Project ID
AV2014036
File Attachment

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Voluntary Disclosure Reporting Program (VDRP) provides air carriers the opportunity to report and correct areas of non-compliance without civil penalty. While VDRP helps FAA identify and mitigate safety issues, it requires close monitoring to ensure the program is not misused. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 mandated that our office examine FAA’s oversight of VDRP.

FAA has made progress in ensuring that air carrier disclosure reports meet VDRP requirements, but the Agency lacks awareness of the root causes that led to reported violations—in part because FAA does not require air carriers to identify or document the root cause of a violation when they submit a self-disclosure. Furthermore, FAA does not ensure that air carriers fully implement corrective actions or verify whether the actions are adequate at resolving problems. We also found that FAA does not effectively collect, analyze, and trend VDRP data to identify safety risks at the national level. As a result, FAA inspectors are not realizing the full potential of VDRP data to target inspections to areas of highest risk.

We made eight recommendations to improve FAA’s VDRP oversight and its ability to identify safety risks using VDRP data. We have requested that FAA provide a written response to our report and recommendations within 30 days.

Recommendations

Closed on
No. 1 to FAA
Add dedicated data fields in the VDRP electronic system for air carriers to describe the root cause(s) associated with the non-compliance and identify whether the violation occurred due to the actions of an individual or a systemic problem.
Closed on
No. 2 to FAA
Require inspectors to evaluate the root causes(s) determination to ensure repeat self-disclosure does not go undetected and potential systemic issues are identified.
Closed on
No. 3 to FAA
Require inspectors to use the dedicated field within the VDRP electronic system to document the surveillance performed as a result of self-disclosures.
Closed on
No. 4 to FAA
Require inspectors to ensure that air carriers track any revisions to programs and procedures resulting from VDRP disclosures to prevent future modification without consideration of VDRP requirements.
Closed on
No. 5 to FAA
Provide familiarization training to inspectors and office managers regarding VDRP guidance that allow the ASAP corrective actions to be used as the comprehensive fix for a voluntary disclosure when certain conditions are met.
Closed on
No. 6 to FAA
Ensure that inspector's ability to obtain safety data is not further restricted through efforts to streamline voluntary safety programs.
Closed on
No. 7 to FAA
Develop a mechanism to assist inspectors with surveillance planning, identification of safety issues, and monitoring trends for Part 121 air carrier.
Closed on
No. 8 to FAA
Analyze VDRP data from a national perspective to aid in the identification of system-wide trends and patterns that represent risks.