FAA Needs To Strengthen Its Risk Assessment and Oversight Approach for Organization Designation Authorization and Risk-Based Resource Targeting Programs
On June 29, 2011, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Organization Designation Authority (ODA) program and Risk Based Resource Targeting (RBRT) system. We conducted our review at the request of Representative Daniel Lipinski. Public law allows FAA to delegate certain aviation functions, such as approving aircraft designs, to private individuals or organizations. The ODA program aims to standardize FAA’s oversight of these organizational designees; the RBRT system assists FAA in evaluating risks in aircraft certification projects and targeting oversight. We found that under the ODA program, FAA has significantly limited its role in approving individuals who perform work on FAA’s behalf by delegating this approval to private companies. Moreover, we identified potential vulnerabilities in FAA’s program oversight similar to those used for past forms of organizational delegations. Further, FAA has not ensured engineers are adequately trained to perform their expanded enforcement responsibilities under ODA. We also found that RBRT has not been effective for measuring risk and directing FAA’s oversight because it relies on subjective input from engineers, does not contain detailed data, and has experienced repeated technical difficulties. We made six recommendations to FAA to improve its oversight of ODA programs and the RBRT system. FAA concurred or partially concurred with all of our recommendations, and its response meets the intent of most of them. Three recommendations remain unresolved pending further action by FAA.