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Actions Taken and Actions Needed To Improve Pipeline Safety

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The Inspector General testified before two congressional committees regarding OIG’s newly-released report regarding the Research and Special Programs Administration’s (RSPA) progress in implementing OIG’s prior recommendations for improving pipeline safety. Our report, required by the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2002, found that RSPA’s Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) is making considerable progress in issuing regulations required by congressional mandates in 1992, 1996 and 2002, as well as responding to recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board.

We recommended that OPS: 1) complete its actions on remaining congressional mandates and NTSB recommendations; 2) require operators of natural gas distribution pipelines to implement some form of enhanced safety program similar to those used by hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission lines; 3) complete its web-based system for monitoring the cost, schedule and performance of research and development projects; 4) finalize and implement best practices for its internal review process; 5) implement a formal policy and procedures for responding to NTSB recommendations so that key safety recommendations are addressed quickly; and, 7) petition the Department to formalize the security roles and responsibilities of OPS and the Transportation Security Administration.

The IG testified on June 15 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and on June 16 before the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways, Transit and Pipeline. The Deputy Administrator of RSPA, Samuel Bonasso also testified.