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Alleged Cover-up of Operational Errors at DFW TRACON

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On May 14, 2004 the Secretary of Transportation was asked by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to investigate allegations that managers at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility (TRACON) covered up operational errors that should have been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Secretary asked the Office of Inspector General (OIG) to conduct an investigation. On February 14, 2005 we provided the Secretary with the results of our investigation. On March 10, 2005 the Secretary transmitted our report to OSC and on June 23, 2005 OSC made public its findings, analyses, and comments. In our February 14, 2005 report to the Secretary, we found that FAA DFW TRACON managers had failed to investigate, and therefore, underreported operational errors over a seven-year period. In short, management created an atmosphere of self-reporting and other incentives that discouraged employees from identifying operational errors. As a result of our investigation, FAA has taken several steps to address this issue. In September, 2004 we released a comprehensive audit of FAA’s controls over the reporting of operational errors at its facilities nationwide. Our results showed that FAA cannot rely on a system that is based on facility personnel self-reporting operational errors. FAA concurred with our recommendations and commissioned a work group to develop specific means to implement our recommendations and ensure the accurate and full reporting of operational errors systemwide. To access our audit report on FAA controls over the reporting of operational errors, click To access OSC’s releases, click